ONE IN HEART AND MIND
Acts 4:13-37 Key Verse: 32
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.”
Last week we were amazed by Apostle Peter’s powerful message toward the rulers of Israel; “Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’” Let us continually build our house of life on the cornerstone, Jesus, the true foundation of our life. Today’s passage is the continuation of Peter’s message toward the rulers and tells us the new life style of the early believers. May God fill our hearts with the Holy Spirit so that we all may be one in heart and mind, and joyfully share what we have with others.
Part I: All the believers Prayed Together (13-31)
When the Sanhedrin saw Peter and John’s boldness, they were astonished to see how powerful these former fishermen were. Finally they realized that the apostles had been with Jesus. They wanted to argue with Peter, but they could not say anything because the man who was healed was standing there. Then they commanded the apostles not to speak or teach in Jesus’ name any more. But Peter and John were not afraid. They said, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” The Sanhedrin wanted to punish them, but they could not do anything.
Why? It was because all of the people were praising God for the crippled man who was healed. So after making more threats, they let the apostles go. On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the rulers had said to them. What was their response? Did they chicken out? No. Instead, they raised their voices together in prayer to God; “Sovereign Lord! You made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?” (24-25)
They could see very clearly that everything was going according to God’s words in the Scriptures. They acknowledged God as the Sovereign Lord who guided history according to his plan and purpose. When the believers acknowledged God’s sovereignty over history and life, they were released from the grip of fear. They could be confident that the Sanhedrin could do nothing to them apart from God’s will. Then, they offered their prayer to God; “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
Wow! Their hearts were fully committed to God’s work of saving souls; they did not worry about their life, because it was in God’s hands. When their hearts were fully committed to God, they knew what to do. It was preaching the word of God diligently. When their hearts were fully committed to God, they knew that they needed. It was courage to speak the word of God boldly. They also asked God to support them with his wonders and miracles. When their hearts were fully committed to God, they were bold to ask God for wonders and signs so that they might do the work of God very effectively in such an oppressing environment.
What happened when the believers offered this prayer to God? Let’s all read verse 31 together: “After they prayed, the place where they were staying was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” When God heard their prayer, he was so pleased that he responded immediately by sending the Holy Spirit upon them with such power that it shook the whole building where they were staying. Then they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. Here we learn that God is pleased and answers our prayer when we pray for boldness to proclaim the word of God and for healing and blessing to needy people.
Part II: All the believers were one in heart and mind (32-37)
When the hearts of the early Christians were steadfast, when their hearts and life were fully dedicated to God, nothing, whether life or death, whether riches or poverty, could stop them from loving God and serving God wholeheartedly. Wow! They were untouchable and powerful children of God. Now when these people fully determined and committed to God gathered together for God’s purpose, how was their life? It was really beautiful and powerful. In verses 32 through 37, we see their blessed life in God very well.
Look at verse 32a. “All the believers were one in heart and mind.” There were about 5,000 people, coming from all different life background, and with different characters; some people were residents in Jerusalem, while others were from foreign countries such as Rome or Cappadocia. But verse 32 says that all the believers were one in heart and mind. What does ‘One in heart’ mean? It means that they had the same hearts’ desire – all of them had the same hearts’ natural tendency, that was, for God, for Jesus. What does ‘One in mind’ mean? It means that in their willful decision, and in planning such as choosing their majors or in dealing with their family members, all of them had the same direction, that was, serve God’s work more effectively.
They were one in heart and mind; in their understanding, in their desires, in their future plans, in everything, they were one like family members – more than family members for their family business. Because of this oneness, they could understand each other very well; they could communicate with each other. They identified themselves with each other. This oneness is the exact prayer topic of Jesus Christ for all the believers. Right before his arrest, in his prayer for the disciples, Jesus prayed in John chapter 17, “My prayer is …that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you…they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity…” (Jn17:20-23)
How could they form this kind of a beautiful unity, oneness among themselves? It was because all of them were committed to God seeking God’s purpose, no more self-seeking life, and no more self-centered life. How much were they committed to God? Even to the point of willing to preach the word despite the threat from the authorities – even to the point of losing their own life! So, no one was self-seeking; no one had any second thoughts. Before, when they lived for themselves, they could not be one. But as they repented and turned to God in Christ, their life’s purpose was to serve Jesus Christ and to obey Jesus’ world mission command, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
All of them had this one single desire, that is, for Jesus. As a result, they could form this beautiful unity among themselves; they shared beautiful comradeship with each other; and in this beautiful unity, they enjoyed beautiful fellowship with each other, rejoicing together, working hard for God together. Psalm 133:1 says, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” When they had this kind of beautiful comradeship with each other, they were happy, and excited to live for God; it was fulfilling; no one was lonely. When they were one in heart and mind, they enjoyed a heavenly life.
We cannot find this kind of complete unity in the world. No one can be one with anyone, even with their family members, because in the true sense, each and every one is for himself or herself in the world. Gangsters try to form this kind of unity among themselves by wearing the same kind of clothes, and doing everything together – they say, “One for all, and all for one!” But they never become one, because sinful people cannot become one with anyone. Even husband and wife do not become one; instead, they have separate bank accounts. Some young people even do not want to marry in their selfishness.
But as Jesus prayed, Christians can become one with each other when they repent of their self-seeking life. When we turn to God, and live for God, we can become one with each other. When we no longer live for ourselves, but for Jesus who died for us, then, we come to have the same life purpose, that is, for Jesus, and the same life direction, that is, to live as witnesses of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth; when we repent of our own self-seeking life, we become one with each other in heart and mind, in hope and value system; then, we become comrades with each other fighting together for Jesus Christ. Verse 32b says that no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.
When the believers were fully dedicated to serving God like this, then the things of this world no longer had any hold on them. They were completely free from all materialism. So, no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but shared everything they had. This is amazing. Many husbands and wives do not even share everything they have. Yet when our hearts are fully dedicated to serving God, we are completely free and happy to share all we have with others. These days, gas price is high; people try hard to reduce their gas money; but some bible teachers pick up their sheep, bring them to worship service, and then, take them back home. They never talk about gas money, but instead, they are happy and overjoyed that they serve Jesus in that way.
We have three precious women missionaries who came to America in order to share everything they have. We are so thankful to God whenever we enjoy very delicious lunch that they prepare from their hearts. The early Christians enjoyed their new sharing life in Christ in this way. Because of this freedom from materialism and this giving spirit, there were no needy people in the early church. They shared everything in common. They even shared their precious coworkers with God’s flock of sheep by sending Paul and Bananas to other mission fields joyfully. Sharing everything is not easy, but when we share our precious things with others, God blesses those who give.
Look at verse 33. Let’s read this verse together: “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.” In Acts 2, we learned that the early Christians dedicated themselves to the apostles’ teaching – studying the Bible with the apostles, and meditating on what they learned day and night. They studied the Bible a lot together with the apostles. Now this passage shows that the apostles continued to teach the word of God. This continuous Bible study characterizes the early Christian life, and it was the secret of enjoying such a beautiful fellowship with each other continually.
If Christian fellowship is just about enjoying happiness among them, that kind of fellowship cannot last, because human happiness eventually disappears; it’s the matter of time. But early Christians could enjoy this new life continually because there was the continuous provision of God’s Word through the apostles. The expression in verse 33, “and much grace was upon them all” shows their happiness and thanks they enjoyed in God’s words. As they studied and discovered the deep meaning of God’s word, they rejoiced that they responded to the apostles’ teaching with many Amens and much thanks.
As they spent time and energy in studying and meditating on the word of God, their hearts and spirits were renewed and rejuvenated. “Much grace was upon them all.” This was the secret of enjoying their beautiful Christian fellowship with each other continually. Their fellowship was not only with each other, but also together with God through his words. This characterizes the Christian fellowship called, “Koinonia.” We enjoy beautiful fellowship with each other. How happy we are to gather together on Fridays and share our testimonies; we all become so happy that we become talkative with big smiles.
Every Sunday, we rejoice greatly to see each other and worship together. But our fellowship should not be with each other alone, but always together with God through his words and prayer. On Sunday, it is my divine obligation to prepare the word of God and serve it wholeheartedly. It is the divine obligation of each one of you to meditate and write a deep and sincere testimony for Friday testimony sharing meeting. In this way, we all together participate, uphold and support this beautiful Christian fellowship with the word of God, and we all together grow in Christ as wholesome children of God.
In verses 34 through 37, we see the result of this Christian fellowship supported by the apostles’ continuous teaching. There was a man named, “Joseph.” He was a Levite from Cyprus. He gave such a great influence to all people in the church that the apostles gave him a name, “Barnabas,” which means, “Son of Encouragement.” One day, inspired by the word of God, he sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet so that the money could be given to anyone who needed it. Maybe, he was the first one who did so. It was a great sacrifice and good offering.
When the apostles saw this, they were so happy. When others saw this, they were encouraged greatly to do the same thing. Then, such an act of offering became a good practice of love and thanks in the church. Because of this one man’s good act of faith and offering, a beautiful custom was created in the church; the rich people did not try to enjoy luxury all by themselves, but they were more sacrificial than others, having deep concern for others’ needs, and everyone could enjoy God’s grace abundantly. No one was in need. Thus, the church itself became a kingdom of God where God’s grace was abundant.
When we love Jesus and love each other, then we can become a source of encouragement to our brothers and sisters in Christ by setting many beautiful examples to follow. Our coworkers’ fully dedicated life to one to one battle, despite their hectic schedule is a beautiful offering; our coworkers’ driving so much for God’s work is a beautiful offering. Matthew Monroe brings his precious electric organ and his heavy Euphonium with his father every Sunday morning. After our worship service, Matt Cizke helps him to carry everything and give him a ride. May God establish many sons and daughters of Encouragement like Barnabas among us! May God bless us to establish beautiful and encouraging Christian culture in our society.
*Conclusion: After the church overcame the persecution from the rulers, it grew powerfully both outwardly and inwardly. Outwardly, they proclaimed the word of God boldly. Inwardly, they formed a beautiful unity of love with each other. The kingdom of God grew powerfully among the church fellowship. May God bless DuPage UBF to imitate our early Christians! Lord, please help me to carefully consider other people’s feelings and respect other’s opinions so that I may build up oneness and dedicate my whole life to preach the gospel wherever I go. May God help us to be one mind and one heart in Jesus! May God DuPage Kononia to stand on the promises of Jesus our King!