Hug a porcupine.
AUGUST 24, 2021
Hug a porcupine. And I’ll explain on this edition of Key Life.
That was Steve Brown. He’s an author, seminary professor and our teacher on Key Life, a program all about God’s radical grace. We’re committed to bringing you Bible teaching that’s honest, straight-forward and street-smart. Keep listening to hear truth that’ll make you free.
Thank you Matthew. We have spent a good many days looking at the first 31 verses of the fourth chapter of Acts. But the final paragraph in that particular chapter is absolutely wonderful. It’s, makes me want to say, God, do it again. Listen to what Luke says and I’m starting at the 32nd verse of the fourth chapter of Acts.
Now the company of those who believed
Now, you’ve got to remember what’s just happened. They’d just had a season of prayer and praise, over an incident that happened when a cripple man was healed and they were brought into court and set free, because the politicians didn’t have any choice. And, all of that has been going on and they’re amazed. They’re just blown away. They are so excited. And then Luke says.
Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were possessors of land or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and distribution was made to each as any had need. Thus Joseph, who was sur-named by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field which belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostle’s feet.
Now, before we get into any detail in this particular text that I read to you, I feel constrained to say something here, because I get asked about it so often. And it is often waved in my face as an example of how the Bible teaches communism. No, it doesn’t. This is a particular situation in a particular church where they have all things in common. You can do that when you have 300 people. You can do that with five people, but you can’t do it with a hundred thousand people and you can’t do it with 250 million people and you can’t do it with billions of people. And do you know why? Because of the fallen nature of human beings, you know, in the church you hear about, I think I told you about the little boy who was getting ready to play baseball. And he had a quarter in his pocket and he, there was a lady standing there watching the ball game and he went over to her and the little boy said to the lady, you go to church? And she said, yes, I go to church. And then he said, will you hold my quarter for me while I, while I go and play baseball? You know, you can ask somebody who goes to church to hold your quarter for most of the time, but you ask a pagan to do that, and they’re going to run with your quarter, and they’re gonna see if they can steal some more quarters and buy some drugs with it, or build a stock brokerage firm and steal some more quarters from some more people. Communism is a wonderful philosophy that doesn’t work, and socialism has some of the similar problems do it. And I’m not making a political statement here. I’m making a Biblical statement. One of the problems is that we have a tendency to lift out a certain section of Scripture and to build an empire on it. You can’t do that. You can’t do it with the book of Acts, because it’s not a doctrinal book. These are not principles that are taught that are being universalized, unless they’re affirmed in other parts of Scripture, because Acts itself is a transitional book. All kinds of things are happening here that are weird, because something really big has taken place in the world. Bigger than anybody ever imagined would happen. God, the sovereign creator, ruler and sustainer of the universe had entered time and space and everything changed and they couldn’t even believe it. They were just getting used to it. Doctrine wasn’t established, ecclesiology was not a established. There were no schools of discipline or discipling in a formal sense. This is a transition time. And Luke reports adequately all of the things that were happening. And I know Luke, he’s a friend of mine, and I know that he would say, as we read the book of Acts, don’t take this too far, but this really happened. And it really happened this way. And that brings me back to the original point. No, the Scripture does not teach communism. The Scripture teaches love. The Scripture teaches that Christians ought to have open hands. The Scripture teaches that nobody in the church ought to go hungry. The Scripture teaches that when we bring our gifts, to the church, they should be used. Our church has an offering once a year and people are very generous on that one offering and you know what it is. It’s when we give money to the leaders of the church to specifically help people in the church who are in need. That’s Biblical and that’s Acts 4, and that’s important, but don’t, but don’t run with that point too far, or you’ll be saying really silly things. Okay. Now let me say a couple of things about that paragraph that are read to you, because they are so important. Notice that Luke opens by saying.
Now of a company of those who believed were of one heart.
John Wesley said.
If your heart is as my heart, give me your hand.
And you know, I do not advocate Christians, not having convictions. People are saying to me, when I say, what church do you belong to? I don’t belong to a church, I’m a Christian. I don’t belong to a denomination, I’m a Christian. And I want to say that means you don’t have any convictions. Is that right? I believe in convictions, I believe that we, that God has in his providence and his sovereignty and his goodness, has aligned Christians on different sides of some divides. And that is a gift not a curse. I know, I know John 17 and Jesus prayed that we would all be one, but I don’t think he was talking about institutionally and theologically, because I think people have a tendency to believe certain things that I don’t believe, to go in ways that I don’t want to go and the same for them. And so, God has fixed an ecclesiastical situation. So, we can have those convictions and differ with each other and still be, as Wesley said.
If your heart be is my heart, give me your hand.
I love the church. And you say which one? I say, all of them, I love Christians and I love being a part of a church. I love the disagreements we have. I love to discuss theology. I love to express convictions, but I love the church. And you know why? Because Jesus loved the church, Paul said, and gave himself up for her. The church is his bride and she’s an ugly bride, but she is his bride. And so, I like Roman Catholics and Lutherans and Baptists and Methodists and Episcopalians and free churches and independent churches. And I like those who dance. And I’m a Presbyterian. We do not do that, because we do things decently in an order. I love to go to churches, where they dance in the aisles. In fact, I have a friend in Cincinnati, a very dear friend. In fact, we write every week. He’s a pastor and his name is Ed Bonniwell. And he asked me one time, and this is where we became friends. He asked me to come and preach at his church, and I did. And, in those days they were pretty heavily charismatic and they were waving banners and dancing in the aisles. And I tried to dance up front and my staff got so tickled at me trying to do that. And they said, you’re a Presbyterian. Just give it up. But I love the church, because Jesus did. You think about that. Amen.
And of course that was Steve Brown, continuing to guide us through Acts, specifically today, we looked at Acts chapter 4, verses 32 through 36. So many exciting things happening in this text. And we will continue discovering all of that tomorrow. So, let me ask you, did you enjoy Steve’s teaching today? I mean, are you, are you digging this series like I am? If so, then you’re going to want to get a special booklet that we’re offering for free right now. It’s called Through the Eyes of Grace: Acts & Romans. It covers early church leadership, the Pentecost, the fellowship of believers, persecution, all of that. And in addition, there Steve’s overview of Romans. You’re going to love this booklet and it’s free, but you have to claim it to get it. So, please call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] and ask for the booklet. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
Key Life Network
P.O. Box 5000
Maitland, Florida 32794
If you’re in Canada, send your request to
Key Life Canada
P.O. Box 28060
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 6J8
Just ask for your free copy of the booklet called Through the Eyes of Grace: Acts & Romans. Also, if you’re able, would you please give to support the work of Key Life? You can charge a gift on your credit card. You can include a gift in your envelope. Or make it easy, just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950. That’s Key Life, one word, two words, doesn’t matter. Just text that to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.