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Unity and Power in the Early Church

by on September 11, 2015

Acts 4:34 – 5:10 Unity and power in the early church

Intro – The early Church struggled. There were threats from outside and from inside. Religious systems opposed the real Church of Christ. That has been the history of the Church. In spite of those struggles, Jesus Christ is still building His Church.

I. Unity in the early Church
1:13-14 -They continued with one accord
2:42 -Continued steadfastly in Apostles doctrine, fellowship, breaking bread, prayers
2:46 -Singleness of heart
4:19 – United to obey God than to obey religious leaders
4:24 – Lifted their voices in one accord
4:32- Believers were of one heart and one soul
4:33 – They had great power, resurrection witness, great grace was on them all
4:37-38 – Barnabas was willing to sacrifice for the good of the Church
They were unified by the Holy Spirit

II. Persecution
From outside – Threats and prison by religious leaders
Religious leaders were unified against the new believers 4:1, 5-7, 17
They were moved by jealousy 5:17

III. Unity threatened
A. From inside
1. The positive example of Barnabas
Develops unity through sharing “None of them lacked…”

2. The hypocrisy of Ananias and Sapphira
a. Destroys unity through deception
They did not have to sell the land
They wanted honor (like Stephen received)
They agreed to lie
They could have given part but they claimed to give all
They lied to God (to the Holy Spirit-the Holy Spirit is God)
Acts 3:23 –every soul who does not hear Jesus will be destroyed
b. Unity was restored by removing the hypocrisy
The Holy Spirit spoke wisdom and judgment through Peter
People must be held accountable for their behaviors
Godly men must confront leaders when they are wrong I Tim. 5:20

IV. Why does God allow these tests in the Church?
A. To prove those who are faithful and true and to show those who are not faithful. –I Corinthians 11:18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.

B. to exercise the rule of the elders
I Cor. 3:16-17 – the power of the Holy Spirit in the gathered, obedient Church

C. to create fear in those who sin – God will judge

D. to warn His people of willful/corporate sin
Just because others are wrong does not exempt you from doing right

V. Power in the Church
Unity of the Holy Spirit gave the Church its power
Peter was powerful here in this case
In Gal. 2 Paul needed to call Peter to account for Peter’s hypocrisy

VI. Warnings for the future
Paul cautions in Acts 20:28-32 that dangers abound for Church leaders

VII. Need for diligent leaders
“He who rules among men must be just – ruling in the fear of God” II Sam. 23:3
Truth and justice produce trust.
Is the Church about God’s truth or is it about political power?
Teaching Bible is the critical issue for today.

There are only two classifications into which men can be divided-
Those who are servants of the Spirit, and
Those who are prisoners of the organization.
T. Austin Sparks – 1888-1971

Questions:
Barnabas was a man with strengths and weaknesses
Barnabas was a nickname – how did he get this nick name?
James and John were surnamed, “sons of thunder” Why?
Should the Church have all things common today?
How can that principle be applied today?
How can internal church struggles be dealt with today?

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