Friday: Further Study – The Experience of Unity in the Early Church

Further Study: Ellen G. White, “Pentecost”, pp. 35-46, in The Acts of the Apostles.
“This liberality on the part of the believers [in Acts 2:44, 45 and Acts 4:32-35] was the result of the outpouring of the Spirit. The converts to the Gospel were ‘of one heart and of one soul.’ One common interest controlled them-the success of the mission entrusted to them; and covetousness had no place in their lives. Their love for their brethren and the cause they had espoused was greater than their love of money and possessions. Their works testified that they accounted the souls of men of higher value than earthly wealth.
Image © Stan Myers from GoodSalt.com
Thus it will ever be when the Spirit of God takes possession of the life. Those whose hearts are filled with the love of Christ, will follow the example of Him who for our sake became poor, that through His poverty we might be made rich. Money, time, influence-all the gifts they have received from God’s hand, they will value only as a means of advancing the work of the Gospel. Thus it was in the early church; and when in the church of today it is seen that by the power of the Spirit the members have taken their affections from the things of the world, and that they are willing to make sacrifices in order that their fellow men may hear the Gospel, the truths proclaimed will have a powerful influence upon the hearers.” – Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, pages 70, 71.
Discussion Questions:

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Read over the factors from this week’s lesson that helped create the unity that the early church had experienced. How can we, as a church today, do similar things? That is, what might we be lacking in contrast to what was taking place among those believers at that time?

How is the example of these early New Testament churches giving a generous offering to help the poor in Jerusalem an example of what we should do today? How about other social issues? How can local churches be involved in their communities in order to alleviate poverty and supply other basic needs?

What are some lessons we can take away from the sad story of Ananias and Sapphira? What is the importance of the phrase found in Acts 5:5 and Acts 5:11 about the “great fear” that came upon the church in regard to these two deaths?

 
Summary: The early church experienced rapid growth because Jesus’ disciples intentionally prepared themselves for the outpouring of the promised Holy Spirit. Their fellowship and common faith were the means used by the Holy Spirit to prepare their hearts for Pentecost. After Pentecost the Holy Spirit continued to transform this new community, as is manifested in their generosity toward each other and the rapid growth of the church.
Amen!(15)

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Saturday October 27, 2018

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