- Sermon Notes
Live in Love and Truth
October 16, 2022
After the church was born in Acts chapter 2, it began to grow exponentially as they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to teach the word of God with boldness. 3,000 became believers on the day of Pentecost. Then, after Peter and John healed a man who was lame from birth a great crowd gathered and Peter explained the promise of life and 5,000 more came to faith in Jesus Christ.
As we come to Acts 4:32, we see the early church taking on another interesting dimension; they began to share their lives together communally. They were of one heart and soul together and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.
At some point, human nature would become a factor, and that is certainly part of this story in the book of Acts as well.
God is love, and as such His children should also live in and be driven by love.
Also, Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Spirit of truth. But truth is not just the sum total of what someone knows, truth is what God desires in the inner man.
God wants us to become true and authentic and sincere in our faith living in love and truth.
I. Live in Love
- The early church that came to Christ in the first few days and weeks after the birth of the church started to function together in a very special and interesting way.
- All who were owners of lands or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet. This would then be distributed to each, as any had need.
- They would take their meals together, and literally share their lives with all things in common. They did not do this because it was a law, but they were driven by godly love.
- There is a lot that could be said about these verses and it’s important we understand what God would want us to apply out of this chapter.
A. Be of one heart and Soul
- Verse 32 – The primary words that stand out in this verse is that they were of one heart and soul. This shows that they really understood and acted on the heart of God and His desire for them.
- Jesus said His disciples would be known by their love for one another. With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, this spirit of love and unity was infused into their daily lives. They didn’t just acknowledge the teachings of Jesus and agree with it but started to live it.
- It is important to note that this was not the way that all the local churches of the early church in other cities operated. This was unique to the Jerusalem church.
- Scholars believe that one of the reasons was that they believed that the return of Christ was imminent. So, they sold everything and used all the resources to care for those in need, living communally and sharing everything they had.
- I’ve read people suggest that they were living in an early socialistic or communistic community. I’ve even heard people defend communism with this Scripture.
- It is important to note though that this was not the case, as it was not enforced by law or the leaders. This was the conviction of every person’s own heart to sell their things and lay the proceeds before the feet of the apostles.
- We do see however that this was not sustainable in the long run. Later, Paul taught that he who does not work should not eat, except for the orphans, widows, and disabled who needed care, so as not to be a burden on the churches. Also, in the later stages, they had to take up offerings from churches in other cities to support the church in Jerusalem.
- One thing is for certain, these verses have been distorted and misused by church leaders with wrong motives. You can imagine how a church leader might use these verses to compel people to do something similar today.
- First of all, there’s a vast difference between what was happening in the early church in these chapters and the intent of modern pastors, particularly televangelists, who use these verses for their own purposes.
- Modern prosperity preachers most certainly don’t want to take responsibility for meeting everyone’s needs, they just want people to sell their lands or houses and bring the money to them. If you think there’s something wrong with that picture, you’re most certainly right. What’s wrong with that picture is what’s wrong with our human nature. Greed.
- It’s human nature, or the flesh, that causes the modern church to do some very worldly things. There are conferences, books, and articles written that suggest modern gimmicks to get people to give financially. No thanks.
- The principle we do have to take note of was that they were together with one heart and one soul.
- The heart speaks of the sum total of your life. What does your heart long after? What is your heart filled with? What is it that drives your desires?
- Their selfless way of living shows that their hearts were focused on that which was important to God and on God’s principles.
- They were living out the greatest commandment: love the Lord your God with all your heart, and equal to this love your neighbor as yourself.
- Although we do not live in communal communities today as a church, the Spirit of God calls us to live this principle of unity in the spirit.
- That which is the priority of God’s heart should be the priority of our hearts as well. Seeing that the spirit of God lives in all of us who belong to Him, it would stand to reason that our hearts would be aligned in unity.
- Not only that, but they were of one soul as well. The soul is the seat of the will, thoughts, and emotions. We read in Acts 2 that they were all devoting themselves to the teachings of the apostles, the breaking of bread, and fellowshipping together with gladness of heart worshiping God.
- They were all surrendering themselves to the will of God; their minds, thought processes, will, and emotions aligned with the teachings of Christ.
- This is what happens when we spend time together studying the word. We don’t spend time filling our minds with the philosophies of man and ideologies of worldly systems. We spend time studying the word and as we do this, our will, thoughts, emotions, and hearts get aligned with the will of God.
- This builds true unity in the church as we surrender to the Holy Spirit, and He becomes the driving force of our actions and our direction.
B. Have all things in common with God
- Although the communal living of the early church was not common practice in other cities as the gospel was spreading throughout the world, there is an aspect of that we can apply in our relationship to God when we understand that we surrender all.
- When you have the right relationship to God, it also gives you the right relationship to the stuff of this world. If you have a wrong relationship to mammon, things won’t be right with God either.
Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
- Mammon will always tell you to crave more mammon, but God will always tell you to trust God.
Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”
- In a right relationship to God, we say, “I’m just a steward of what God has entrusted to me. God is the owner, I’m just a steward. I want to honor Him with how I live my life.”
- In other words, it’s having the attitude of saying, “God, we’re in this together; I’ll trust that you’ll provide what I need, and I’ll consider all things as belonging to You.”
Luke 12:6, “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”
II. Live in Truth
- We are not only called to live in love but in truth as well. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of truth. Satan, the enemy, is called the father of lies.
- This is why truth is such a critical component of our faith. We are set free by the truth of the word.
- We stand on the truth in our sanctification process, and truth brings us victory over the lies of the enemy that wants to destroy us. Therefore, we cannot align our lives with lies or live in a lie.
A. Be filled with the Spirit of truth.
- In verse 36, we see that the man called Barnabas, who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. This was a wonderful, beautiful gesture. Nobody asked him to do it, but I believe that he did it out of love for God and his beautiful heart.
- Now in the very next verse, Chapter 5:1, it says the following:
Acts 5:1-2, But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet.
- It is astounding to me that they did this. Why did they have to lie?
- I believe that we can find the reason if we read the last verse of chapter 4 and these first verses of chapter 5 together. They must’ve seen that Barnabas had done this wonderful thing. Although Barnabas did this out of a pure heart, many people must’ve looked at him and said, “Wow, that is amazing!”
- I believe this birthed envy in them, and they might have longed for the praise of man.
- They did this to impress people; to make themselves appear as though they were giving all when in reality, they were only giving a portion.
- There was no obligation to do this at all. They didn’t have to sell their property; they didn’t have to give all; they didn’t have to give any. So why lie about it? Peter points out that Satan filled their heart.
- Jesus spoke boldly about those who would only have the outward appearance of righteousness. If your heart is being filled by the Spirit of God, then He is pouring truth into your soul. Truth is a transforming power.
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed…
- If it bothers us when people put on an act, how much more does it bother God when we do the same?
Illus. – We’ve all seen the candidate running for public office who suddenly makes a point of being spiritual; or the salesman that finds out you’re a Christian and immediately starts using Christian-ese.
- The church was being filled by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit God is doing the work of making us true.
Psalm 51:6, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
Luke 6:45, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”
- There was no obligation for Ananias and Sapphira to give anything, it was all supposed to be out of loving God along with everyone else.
- Our relationship to God is based on love, but God’s love must be trusted.
- If you trust God’s love, you will be open and honest in your relationship with Him.
B. Don’t test the Spirit – trust the Spirit
- When Sapphira came in three hours later, she also lied and Peter replied, “Why did you agree together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test?”
- How do we test the Spirit of the Lord? When we deliberately go against His will and then say essentially, “Let’s see what He’ll do.”
- It’s similar to when a child tests a parent by knowingly going against the parent; testing to see what will happen next.
- The opposite of testing the Spirit is trusting the Spirit. What does that mean? It means understanding that He has an important role in our spiritual life.
- Jesus said to the disciples that it was to their advantage that He ascend to the Father so that He would send the Holy Spirit, the Helper.
John 16:7, “I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”
John 16:15, “All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”
- Trusting in the Holy Spirit is to receive the instruction that He brings; the conviction that He brings, and the transformation that we might be more like our Lord Jesus.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18, Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. We all… are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22, 25, The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace… If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
- God’s heart for us, is that we will live and stay grounded in truth and love as cultivated by His Spirit.
Acts 4:32- 5:16 NASB
32 And the [y]congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them [z]claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. 34 For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the [aa]proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.
36 Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of [ab]Encouragement), 37 and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
1 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s [a]full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not [b]under your control? Why is it that you have [c]conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it. 6 The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him.
7 Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter responded to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land [d]for such and such a price?” And she said, “Yes, [e]that was the price.” 9 Then Peter said to her, “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well.” 10 And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.
12 [f]At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico. 13 But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem. 14 And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, 15 to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. 16 Also the [g]people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick [h]or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.