Tom: In this, our Understanding the Scripture segment, we are going through the Book of Acts. We are in Acts:2:41-43: “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Verse 43: “And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.” Dave, “…and fear came upon every soul”—does this relate to what we have been talking about?
Dave: I think so. Solomon said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” I haven’t even began to get a proper perspective until I realize who God is, how great He is, how holy and just, uncompromising. That brings a fear of God, and I have often said one of the things missing in today’s modern church is the fear of God. Look at it on Christian television—you know, they almost act like God is their buddy, God is their servant, they can get God to do anything they want, just make a positive confession. You know, the News Alert—we didn’t have time to mention Rodney Howard Brown, the Holy Ghost bartender. I mean, to dare to call yourself the Holy Ghost bartender and to say that the Spirit of God is causing people to laugh hysterically, pulling them to the floor, and so forth! Rodney Howard Brown, as I recall, said the first time this happened he was talking about hell and trying to be solemn and suddenly people began laughing hysterically, and he thought that was the Holy Spirit. I would not call that the Holy Spirit at all. But anyway, when you realize how great God is—this is not my deal, you know, if I happen to be one of the pastors or one of the elders—this is not my church, this is God’s business, this is God’s church, and there ought to be some real fear of the Lord.
But I just don’t see that. Some of the songs are so irreverent—the new ones they’ve got. And, Tom, I don’t want to get off on this because I don’t know anything about music, but I know enough to know that there are some beats that are rebellious, and the way some of the—I’ve been a speaker in some churches where the so-called worship team, I mean, the clothes they wear, the way they act—I don’t think you would do that in front of the throne of God. And I often say to people, “Look, I don’t know anything about music. I don’t care whether it’s rock or country western, or what you are talking about, but let’s make it something that would please God.” We’re not trying to entertain ourselves; we’re trying to worship Him, and there are certain things that I don’t think you would do in front of the throne of God—in fact, we would be on our faces.
So, the fear of God came upon every soul, and because of that, many signs and wonders were done by the apostles. God is honoring them with His presence and with His power. And you don’t get miracles today—oh, you put a big sign out in front of the church: “Miracle Service Tonight!” I don’t think that’s the way they did it. But if we are really following the Lord and living holy lives and walking in obedience to His Word, then He is going to do things.
And it was really very special what He was doing here, because this was the beginning, the church hadn’t yet gone astray.
It’s like the early days of Israel—wow, what power of God there was! The Red Sea opens up, He speaks with an audible voice from Mount Sinai, you get manna every morning, water out of a rock. Yeah, but there was a cost too—a child bad-mouthed his parents, it was stoned. You picked up sticks on the Sabbath day, you were stoned. So, there were strict standards that were adhered to, and finally, as you know, God said, “Look, if I judge you according to My standards, nobody is going to be left alive.” They had to move the Tabernacle, you remember, outside of the camp, and then whoever wanted to meet with God, you go out there. You don’t do it even in the congregation of Israel. And, Hebrews 13 says, “Let us go forth therefore unto Him, outside the camp bearing his reproach.”
So, these people, they have just come to Christ, the church has just been born, it has just been birthed, and the way these people act—their conversation, their lives—everything about them, wow! Others are fearful and they don’t just join them. These people aren’t calling, “Come on, we’ve got some new perks—come and join the church!” It’s just the opposite, Tom, to what we are getting today.
Tom: And, Dave, this isn’t something you are making up. You’re not talking about the church so that they can conform to your standards or what you think. We’re just explaining what God’s Word says, and we encourage our listeners to read the Scriptures for themselves—this is what God’s Word says.
Dave: This is what it says, Tom, and then, here’s the attitude: “Well, yeah, but that was then, and you know, those tactics wouldn’t work today. God shouldn’t be so holy today and so fearful…
Tom: “It just puts people off…”
Dave: Yeah, “You have to use new methods. We could draw in thousands, you know, if we do a little promotion, and we adopt some of the methods of the world and so forth.” Tom, I’m not trying to come down on that, it’s just here in front of us.
Now we are going to come to something that sounds like Communism. Verse 44: “All that believed were together and had all things common and sold their possessions and goods and parted them to all men as every man had need.” Well, what are you going to do with that, Tom? (Chuckling)
Tom: You know, if this isn’t in our heart—the church is far larger today than it was back then—but if these things aren’t in our heart to do, well, I don’t know that you can say you are doing it God’s way.
Dave: James writes the same thing. Here comes a person—he’s destitute, he doesn’t have clothes hardly and you say, “Oh, be ye warmed and filled,” but you don’t give him what he needs, that’s hypocrisy. But notice, Tom, a number of things here. We’re got to be careful. This is not Communism, although the Communists try to say that it was. They have everything common, in other words, if you need something, I’m not going to selfishly keep something from you that you need. On the other hand, there had to be a genuine need. And you hear stories all the time—a panhandler, you know—he’s got nothing and you give to him, and then you follow the guy home, and he’s living quite well, but he’s out there…
Tom: Or he stops in a bar on the way home.
Dave: Right. So I want to know, does the person really need this and what will they do with it? So, these people were accountable to one another—that’s part of it. And then it says, “They sold their possessions and goods.” But we find out if you sell everything, what are you going to do with it? You sell everything, you give the money—to whom do you give it? You have to be a responsible steward of what God has given you.
Furthermore, you get on into chapter 4, it tells how they sold their houses and so forth, their lands. Tom, I think they didn’t just sell everything so now they are living in the street. This would be extra houses, extra land, that they didn’t need, because we get a little farther in the Book of Acts and we find that they are having a prayer meeting in a house. So, apparently that house didn’t get sold. We read of the “church that’s in your house” all through Scripture, so we have to have some common sense also when we read the Word of God.
But I think, as you pointed out, it must be of the heart. Is my heart willing? Am I willing to share with others and to bless others? And certainly, this is what the Spirit of God would do in us. On the other hand, there are some people if I kept giving them and giving them, it would encourage their indolence. They don’t have enough initiative to get a job. They are not taking care of things. We have done a lot of that in our lives, Tom, and, you know, we would give—I remember, we would gather into Sunday School some children that are living in a rather poor section—we would give them clothes. Next Sunday, when we pick them up there are two or three buttons missing from the shirt, because they haven’t had enough sense to sew them back on, you know. So, I don’t want to encourage laziness either. The Bible has plenty to say about being diligent and orderly and so forth.
Tom: Dave, what about giving to a church so that it can add another 6 buildings and another 30 acres and 20 venues?
Dave: Well, Tom, that’s probably something for another time. Our time has run out. You know, it depends, and I can’t judge someone. If this is being used for the Lord, and it’s done in the proper spirit, I can’t say how big a house is to be too big, how a large church building is to be too large. I think we could sometimes do away with some of the luxuries that they have, but the Lord is going to be the judge of that.