Unity, Generosity And A Great Witness

November 30, 2001 PM
Pastor Chris Abernathy
Columbus, Georgia

Acts chapter four. And when you reach Acts chapter four, just signify by saying amen. In acts chapter four, we'll begin with verse thirty- two. And I'm in the amplified Bible tonight. So I know many of you are in the King James. So read along with me. In verse thirty two, it says,

32. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

33. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

34. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,

35. And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

36. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,

37. Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

Let us pray.

Most holy and gracious heavenly Father, we thank You for the opportunity to be in Your house tonight. Father, let Your Word go forth unhindered by the forces of flesh, by the powers of darkness.

Hide Your son behind the cross, that Your people would see You, and Father, not me. And as I decrease, I ask that You would increase. And let the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart, Lord, be acceptable in Thy sight, oh Lord, my strength, and my Redeemer. In Jesus' Name, amen.

You may be seated in the house of God.

When you look at everything that is said in this great chapter of the book of Acts, God brings it to the conclusion of saying, "Here is what I want my church to be. Here is what I want my church to model. Here is what I want my church to look like."

All believers were one in heart and in mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions were his own. But they shared everything that they had. With great power the apostles continued with the testimony of Jesus Christ. Much grace, much favor, much loving kindness was given unto the church.

When we look at the church (glory to God) in the book of Acts, this is what the New Testament church is supposed to look like. This is what the New Testament church is supposed to be like. We're supposed to mimic the first church (glory to God) in the book of Acts.

There are three essential ingredients of the church in the book of Acts. And the first thing was unity. The second thing was generosity. And the third thing (glory to God) was that they had a great witness about Jesus Christ, the testimony of who He was.

When we look at this great book, there's nothing said about doctrine. Many of us are looking at the doctrine of the church. But when we look at the book of Acts and the first church, there was nothing said about doctrine.

They all had all things common. And they gave to each one as they had need. It's speaking of the church-the church in it's real nature, the church in it's real personality, what the church is really all about.

I'm supposed to be able to give to you. You're supposed to be able to give to me. I'm supposed to be one with you. You're supposed to be one with me. We're supposed to testify of the grace and truth of Jesus Christ together. One mind. One heart. The Bible says one faith, one Lord, one baptism. It's all about oneness in the body of Christ. It's not about individuality. But it's about togetherness.

First of all, the church is to have unity. All the believers were of heart and one mind. What if fifty-five million Christians got together in America, and we decided to pool together our resources? What if we got together all fifty-five million of us, and we decided to have one testimony? What if we pulled together all fifty-five million of us and we believed the same thing? Nothing would be impossible unto us. Unity is what we are supposed to have.

In the book of Ephesians chapter four, in verse three it says, "Be eager, and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of, and produce by the Spirit, in the binding power of peace."

We ought to strive earnestly to keep oneness in the house of God. I know that you got trials right now. I know that you got tribulations right now. I know that you got something on your mind right now.

But I'm supposed to feel you when you're going through. You're supposed to feel me when I'm going through. I'm supposed to rejoice when you rejoice. Do you hear what I'm saying tonight?

There was unity in the house of God. They were together. They didn't have their own agenda. They weren't ambitious to be exalted. Do you hear what I'm saying? But they looked out for the good of each other. They watched each other. They look after each other. That's what it's all about.

Listen. They had much grace given to them because of their unity. Unmerited favor was given to them because they were together. They were not afraid to share with each other.

In the body of Christ we've become afraid to share with each other. Because sometimes people hide what they really have. Oh, hello, somebody. But whatever they had, they bought it and set it at the apostles' feet. They unified themselves.

You know what happens when we unify? When somebody comes to bring deceit, the Holy Spirit is going to take care of them.

In chapter five of the book of Acts, Ananias and Sapphira came walking in. Let me tell you something. When you really share what you have, you don't have to worry about nobody deceiving you about what they really got. Because what's going to happen is, the Holy Ghost is going to expose them for who they really are.

They dropped dead because they were not being truthful. Don't worry about what somebody else has. You just give as much as you can give, and let God take care of the rest.

Saints of God, they were unified. Do you know what that means? That meant that they stood back to back. And when the enemy came in, he was seen from every part of the circle. Because there was oneness.

You've been thinking that you're in this thing all by yourself. But somebody's just looking to be one with you.

Unity in the house of God. Don't just come to the house of God just for you. But come to the house of God for somebody else. Come to be a blessing and not just to get blessed. Oh, I feel the Holy Ghost. Come to offer to God's service. Come to unify with the saints. Come to be one with the saints in the Spirit of God.

They had the same testimony. They put all their resources together. They were of the same faith. There was no denominationalism. There was nothing to separate them. Unification.

In Ephesians chapter four and verse ten, it says, "He who descended is the very same as He who also hath ascended high above all the heavens, that He, His Presence might fill all things, the whole universe, from the lowest to the highest.

"And His gifts were varied. He Himself appointed and gave men to us, some to be apostles, (special messengers), some prophets, (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists, (preachers of the gospels, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock), and teachers.

"His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints, His consecrated people; that they should do the work of the ministry, toward building up Christ's body, the church; that it might develop until we all attain oneness in the faith, and in the comprehension of the full and accurate knowledge of the Son of God;

"That we might arrive at really mature manhood, the completeness of personality, which is nothing less than a standard height of Christ, on perfection, the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, and the completeness found in Him."

Oneness. Look at your neighbor and say, "Unify." Unify. It would be amazing if we could unify. It would truly be amazing if we could really come together. It would truly be amazing if I could welcome you and you could welcome me. It would be amazing. Not having respect of persons, but oneness with the whole body.

Saints of God, the Lord is speaking. Earlier He said a house divided cannot stand. No matter what's going on in your life, stop trying to isolate yourself.

I was talking to my wife today. And I started saying some things to her. And she just looked at me. I said, "I'm expressing my feelings." And it was truly awkward a little bit. Because I said, "I'm going to open up completely, and just give it to you the way that it's in me."

Because I'm seeking that true oneness. I'm opening up myself to any and everyone. I'm not going to put up a wall because I fear that you might hurt me. I decided that I'm truly crucified with Christ. Do you hear what I'm saying?

It's time to take the walls down. If someone hurts you, then let the Lord deal with them. But if you truly want to be one, then you're going to have to open up yourself. Do you hear what I'm saying tonight?

Stop holding back your love because of fear of rejection. Stop holding back your love because you fear that you're going to be hurt, or you're going to look foolish. Open yourself up for whatever is on it's way. That's how we're going to attain unity and oneness in the body of Christ.

You've got something in your past that hurts you to the bone. That's why you have that wall up. That's why that defense mechanism triggers so fast. Take it down. Come on, let's unify like the first church did.

The second thing is generosity. First it was unity, and then it was generosity. No one claimed that their own possessions were exclusively theirs. The Bible says if your brother asks for your coat, give him your coat. It wasn't exclusively theirs. Whatever they had need of, someone had it to provide.

Let me tell you this. Many of us hold up our own blessings. Because somebody has a need. And God has ministered to your heart. But you've held back your hand. But in the first church there was generosity. Nothing was owned by one person. They gave it freely, willingly, whole-heartedly, without worrying about tomorrow, allowing tomorrow to take care of itself.

"You talk like a foolish man, pastor."

Well, it takes the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. Generosity. Does that bother you? Turning the other cheek. Does that bother you? Does it bother you?

Whenever a preacher starts talking about the book of Acts, especially these verses in chapter four, about giving to every man as every man has need, there's a silence that begins to gri the house of God. We clench our fists and hold on to everything that we have, for dear life.

Release your hand, and let it go. It's going to return to you. After some days it's going to come back to you. That's what it said in Ecclesiastes. It'll come back. You don't have to worry about it. And even when you give it, if you're really still holding on to it in your heart... Hello, somebody. (Tongues.) You're going to miss your blessing still. Release it and let it go in the Name of Jesus.

They were generous. We're not generous any more. Listen at that word. Generous. Can you reach inside of yourself and say that, "I'm a generous person"? Or can you say within yourself, "I'm really selfish"? It's real, isn't it? Or can you really say that, "I'm in every line to get, but I'm never in a line to give out"?

They were generous. And that's why the Holy Ghost moved the way He moved. He looked at their hearts. And He saw that they were able to give. Give from a pure heart, not worrying about tomorrow, but letting tomorrow (I feel the Holy Ghost tonight) take care of itself. If He can feed the sparrows, surely...

Generous. Generosity. Put it in your vocabulary. Generosity. Give it away, and stop worrying about it. They were generous. When you've been with Jesus, you can have that mentality. When you truly been with Jesus, when Jesus is really your supply, you can have that mentality.

I'm a generous person, but my wife has always been generous. She would give suits out of her closet that I would look at and say, "I know you're not giving that away."

She'd bake cakes. And I have to admit it. She said, "I'm taking this to church."

And I said, "No you ain't."

It's tight, but it's true. Am I all by myself in the house of God? Real generosity. She cooked dressing on Thanksgiving. After it was all gone, she made some more, and trying to give that away. That's real generosity.

Real generosity is when you really want to give so bad, and you don't have anything to give. And it hurts on the inside. That's real generosity. That's what they did. They sold their land, everything they had, to be a part of the move of God.

That's what Jesus told that rich man. He came to Jesus and said, "I want to follow You."

And Jesus said, "Go sell everything that you got." Hello somebody. And that man went away sorrowful. And Jesus said, "It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to make it into heaven."

We're not even rich, and we can't even pass through... You don't hear me.

Saints, they were generous. They were generous.

Sometimes we have automobiles. And we won't even give folks a ride to church. Hello, somebody. One person riding in the car. What is it about us? What is it? We're just having a little heart to heart tonight. What is it about us? What are we truly holding on to? They were generous.

Went to Pitsview last night and preached. God moved by His Spirit. Came around to give the offering. And when I put my offering in, I looked into the plate. It wasn't nothing but dollar bills up in there. All them folks up in that house. What is it? What's on our minds? What is on our minds?

Generosity. When we're truly generous, the Kingdom of God can truly go forth without any restrictions. It can go forth without any restrictions.

When was the last time God spoke to you to give all that you had, and you did it? When was the last time God didn't have to speak to you, and told you, and you just gave all you had? My God, my God. Where is our mentality?

They were generous. Generosity. That's what it's all about. It's not about the preacher living in a mansion, driving a Rolls Royce. That's what we're really worried about. Hello. Let the Lord take care of that preacher if he's not doing the right thing.

But when the congregation... Listen. If the people want to buy that preacher a Rolls Royce, then let them do it. And you hush it up about it.

It's so true. We're not only tight with what we have. We went to be tight with what everybody else got. Don't give that. But they didn't have that mentality.

They were establishing a work. And they knew that Jesus was in it. When you know that Jesus is in it, it's good ground. If it wasn't good ground, His Presence, it wouldn't even be there. It'd be just as dry. But when He moves, you can know that He is pleased. When He tells you and I to get it right when we're not right, you know that He really loves us.

The third thing was that they had a great witness. In Acts chapter four, and verse thirty three...

End of side 1

They had a great witness. They had a tremendous testimony. And everybody could see it. But the testimony had to start among them. See, we can't go out and have a real testimony, except the testimony start among us. Do you hear what I'm saying? It's got to start right here first. And then we got to let them see it. But if it ain't real here, it ain't going to be real there. Hello, somebody.

They had a great testimony. They saturated Jerusalem. Then they went to Judea and Samaria. And then to the uttermost parts of the world. They started at the house, and then they took it out yonder.

Our testimony has got to be, when they walk through that door, they can see the light. Do you hear what I'm saying? It's got to be real here. Our love has got to be real here. Our faith has got to be real here. Our testimony has got to be real right here in the house of God, in the body of Christ. It's got to be real right here. We got to be unified right here.

You know when a witnessing team goes out and they're not really unified, they can't really be affective. Hello. But if they leave here unified, they'll go out there unified, with a great testimony. And each one of them can add to what the other one has said. It'll be like a burning fire on the inside trying to wait for their turn to speak, when it's real among the saints of God.

Unity, generosity, and a great witness. That's the model church. Unity, generosity, and a great witness. That's a powerful thing. Can't no devil in hell stand against that. It's time to unify.

You know, it's one thing when you're the pastor and people have needs, and they come to you about their needs. They expect the pastor to do something. But what if they come to you? What you going to do? Hello, somebody. Are you going to tell them it's too late, to come back tomorrow? Or are you going to see what you can do?

And if you can't help them, can you at least make a phone call? Hello, somebody. Can we really look out for each other? Can we really fast for each other? You've got to fast for each other. It's got to be real.

Sometimes I fast for you, and you don't even know it. Fast for each other. Pray for each other. Don't just ask somebody to pray for you, but pray for somebody else. Unify. That's what it's time to do. It's time to get together. It's time to come together on one accord, in one place, with one testimony, that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God, the Father.

Is that your testimony tonight? Or is your testimony about your lack? Or is it that Jesus is truly Lord, regardless of what's going on in your life?

I know some folks that barely have a dime. But every time you see them, they're always the same-on fire. Sick in their body, and on fire. Still trying to tell you about the Lord. And they the ones sick. That's their testimony.

What's your testimony? What's your testimony? Think about it. (Tongues.) What's your testimony tonight? (Tongues.) Where's your testimony? Is Jesus your testimony, Him crucified and being raised from the dead? Is He your testimony? Stay focused, stay focused, stay focused, stay focused.

Is He your testimony tonight, that He sits on the right hand of the Father interceding for us, that He shed His Blood on Calvary? Can you be glad about it? I'm glad about it.

I want to see His face. I want to see His face one day. He said only the pure in heart shall see God. I want my heart pure. Because I want to see God. I don't have time to hold nobody in heart with un-forgiveness, because I want to see God.

I don't have time to let these cares keep me down, to consume my mind. I want to see God. I do. I want to sit at my Savior's feet and worship and worship all day and all night, and worship and worship and worship and worship Him. That's my heart's desire. I don't care what's going on in my life. I want to worship Him.

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