Chapter Four — Part Eight: The Book of ActsBy: Pastors Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne
Publish date: 05/09/2021
1. Great Church.
a. Acts 4:33 AMPC — And with great strength and ability and power the apostles delivered their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace (loving-kindness and favor and goodwill) rested richly upon them all.
b. They ministered in “great power” and all enjoyed “great grace.”
c. Which ought to be the hallmarks of every “great church.”
2. No Lack.
a. Acts 4:34-35 AMPC — Nor was there a destitute or needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses proceeded to sell them, and one by one they brought (gave back) the amount received from the sales 35 And laid it at the feet of the apostles (special messengers). Then distribution was made according as anyone had need.
b. No one ordered them to do this—they did it of their own accord.
c. Those who were rich were able to sell things they owned to share with those who had nothing.
d. This is NOT in any way to be misconstrued as socialism or communism, where ownership is forbidden, and property is extorted by force.
e. 2 Corinthians 9:5 AMPC — That is why I thought it necessary to urge these brethren to go to you before I do and make arrangements in advance for this bountiful, promised gift of yours, so that it may be ready, not as an extortion [wrung out of you] but as a generous and willing gift.
f. They chose Jesus over mammon (Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13).
g. They were in love with Jesus and dead to the world and worldly possessions.
h. And they already had this promise from the Lord that, “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and that which he has given He will repay to him” (Prov. 19:17 AMPC).
i. It was part of their culture, as the people of God, to be generous—to take care of the poor and to defend the weak; and to restore forfeited possessions every fiftieth year—the Year of Jubilee.
j. Jesus referred to the fulfillment of the Year of Jubilee, when He preached that the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him “To proclaim the accepted and acceptable year of the Lord [the day when salvation and the free favors of God profusely abound]” (Luke 4:19 AMPC).
k. In Luke 19:1-9, the tax collector, Zacchaeus, opened his heart to Jesus and was immediately convicted of covetousness, opening his heart in generosity.
l. Luke 19:8 KJV — And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
3. God’s Economy.
a. In God’s economy, they freely chose to have all things in common.
b. This was not a one-way street or an unjust or imbalanced system.
c. The poor were not given liberty to “rob” the rich, or to feel entitled in any way.
d. But the rich were appointed by God to freely relieve the poor.
e. It was never God’s intention for anyone to be burdened, but for all to be blessed, and for every need to be met.
f. 2 Corinthians 8:12-15 AMPC — For if the [eager] readiness to give is there, then it is acceptable and welcomed in proportion to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. 13 For it is not [intended] that other people be eased and relieved [of their responsibility] and you be burdened and suffer [unfairly], 14 But to have equality [share and share alike], your surplus over necessity at the present time going to meet their want and to equalize the difference created by it, so that [at some other time] their surplus in turn may be given to supply your want. Thus there may be equality, 15 As it is written, He who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little did not lack.
4. Blessed to Be a Blessing.
a. It is not a sin to be a rich and God does not despise rich people.
b. He does require, however, that we should never, ever, be covetous, nor lovers of money, nor trust in uncertain riches.
c. 1 Timothy 6:17-19 AMPC — As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be proud and arrogant and contemptuous of others, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches, but on God, Who richly and ceaselessly provides us with everything for [our] enjoyment. 18 [Charge them] to do good, to be rich in good works, to be liberal and generous of heart, ready to share [with others], 19 In this way laying up for themselves [the riches that endure forever as] a good foundation for the future, so that they may grasp that which is life indeed.
d. Luke 6:38 NKJV — Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.
a. Acts 4:36-37 AMPC — Now Joseph, a Levite and native of Cyprus who was surnamed Barnabas by the apostles, which interpreted means Son of Encouragement, 37 Sold a field which belonged to him and brought the sum of money and laid it at the feet of the apostles.
b. Barnabas means: Son of Consolation, or Son of Encouragement.
c. Barnabas was a Levite and one of the two initially selected, but not chosen to take Judas’ place (Acts 1:23-26).
d. Levites were not supposed to own property and there is no explanation of how it came to be in his hands; nevertheless, we do know that he was obviously a generous giver.
e. He is mentioned 25 times in the book of Acts and five times in the epistles.
f. He became a prophet and an apostle (Acts 13:1; 14:14).
g. It was Barnabas who encouraged Paul in his early service for the Lord and became a co-worker with him (Acts 9:26-27; 11:19-30; 12:25; 13:1; 15:41; Gal. 2; 1 Cor. 9:6).
h. He was faithful with his money and God gave him the true riches (Luke 16:11).