Monday, July 06, 2015
Great Gospel Themes
By Rick Blumenberg
Sometimes a scripture portion expresses great truth in a few words. One such passage is Acts 4:32-37 where Luke writes about the unity, stewardship, and generosity of God’s people. These three Gospel themes flow out of the greatest truth of all—the Lordship of Christ.
Making Christ Lord of our lives gives us power to leave a life of sin for a life of godliness, and this is the primary result of this reality. Divine power is released into the human heart so God can work all sorts of miracles of understanding and godly living. This greatest miracle—the infilling of Christ’s Spirit and the release of his power into and through our lives—means faith grows exponentially for a lifetime as we continue to serve him. When we live surrendered to Christ and his Spirit, God brings growth and understanding so we become effective Christ witnesses.
Another amazing result of the Lordship of Christ in a person, family, or church, is that God’s unlimited grace is available to all believers. Not limited to clergy, rank, or title, Luke wrote “much grace was with them all.” We can also say, “much grace [is] with [us] all.” God’s favor was not limited to the apostles or to the early church. It is still present, still powerful and still available to all.
Many blessings flow from God’s grace as a result of recognizing the Lordship of Christ. This passage notes three; the unity of believers, the reality of stewardship, and the generosity of Christ expressed in his Church.
Luke wrote (v. 32a) “All the believers were one in heart and mind….” This is important because God’s power was released through that unity. (It is most readily available in a spirit of unity.) Congregations united in God’s love serve best and with great power—both to self and others. True also of the universal church, this does not mean we agree on every doctrine. We don’t now and never will—either in the local church, a movement, association, denomination, or even in the universal church. Our unity is in knowledge of Christ’s Lordship, redemptive death and God’s resurrection. We, who believe this, approximately 2.5 billion strong throughout the planet, are a unified family even though we don’t agree on every doctrine.
Luke also noted the reality of stewardship. “No one claimed any possessions were his own”. (v. 32b) Everything belongs to God regardless of who holds earthly title. We are not owners, but stewards (managers) of God’s possessions. This is expressed even more emphatically in Psalm 24 (v. 1): “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” We have temporary use while we live in this temporary world. If it is mine, it is only mine to use and perhaps give, as directed by God’s Holy Spirit.
And finally, Luke notes the generosity of believers—a natural outgrowth of the stewardship concept. Led by the Holy Spirit, the early church realized when one of God’s less fortunate suffers, those more fortunate to hold God’s possessions must sometimes release some of those possessions for the sufferer’s good. This concept is still taught in the church and to a great extent lived out, even though perhaps not as well as we should.
When we give generously with love and compassion we most perfectly reflect God, who is most generous. This image of God was clearly shown in the early church after the Holy Spirit came. Verses 34 and 35 tell there were no needy among them because “from time to time” (perhaps as God directed?) those who owned property would sell it and give the money to the apostles for the good of all.
Unity, stewardship and generosity; all reflections of God’s love that shines out of the Lordship of Christ.
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