Now the company of believers was of one heart and soul, and not one of them claimed that anything which he possessed was [exclusively] his own, but everything they had was in common and for the use of all. Nor was there a destitute or needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses proceeded to sell them, and one by one they brought (gave back) the amount received from the sales and laid it at the feet of the apostles. Then distribution was made according as any one had need . . . Now Joseph, a Levite and native of Cyprus who was surnamed Barnabas by the apostles . . . which interpreted means, son of encouragement, sold a field which belonged to him and brought the sum of money and laid it at the feet of the apostles. (Acts 4:32, 34, 36-37, AMP)
For a number of years I have read this passage of Scripture with great awe, and truthfully, more than a little wistful as I pondered, “Lord, why did it work then and not now?”
Many Christian families are struggling to make ends meet. How was it that there wasn’t any destitute or needy person in the church after Pentecost? On a corporate level, with the upcoming harvest of souls and the great need for missionaries, it is critical to find some answers. There are many leaders with an incredible breadth of vision for the nations, but there just never seems to be enough money to go around.
In thinking about this, have you ever wondered what is wrong? Why don’t we have the funds we need? At first, one always wants to blame things like this on the devil. I am well aware that he does his part in strangling the flow of funds from reaching the individuals, churches and ministries longing to do more to reach the lost and needy of the world, but it is also easy to point a finger at every direction except back to ourselves as the Body of Christ.
The book of Acts records that the post-Pentecost church had somehow found a solution for their needs. The King James Version literally says there was no lack.
I am not saying we should all live communally (unless God calls you to do so), but I believe this passage models some spiritual principles which will work today as they did right after Pentecost, releasing financial blessing to the Body of Christ.
As framework for understanding, let’s study two phrases from Acts 4:32. They are a “company of believers” and “of one heart and soul.”
Company of Believers
After Pentecost, we didn’t see the fragmentation of the church as we do today. There was only one church, not para-church ministries or different denominations or independent churches. These have come from many generations’ interpretations of various doctrinal teachings. The basic teachings of the church right after Pentecost were about being born again (through faith in Christ) and experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit (see Heb. 6:1-5). So, one factor in seeing all taken care of was the oneness or unity of the Body of Christ.
The word for “company” or “multitude in the Greek is plethos, meaning “a large number, abundance or increase,” which brings to mind the thought of fullness. I believe God wants us to have this experience today. We are a company of believers made up of Baptists, Methodists, Charismatics, Pentecostals, local churches, para-church ministries, etc. When we become this, I believe we will tap into the financial blessing spoken of in Acts 4.
One Heart and Soul
When they came together they didn’t have to work through all of their differences as believers. This opened the avenue for God to speak clearly to those who needed to give. Could it be that our lack of unity has actually stopped the blessing of God and cut off the flow of finances God desires to release to the Body of Christ?
What would happen if we were to become truly united in Christ as a company of believers with one heart and soul? It might be the very thing God has been waiting for in order to pour out such a measure of blessing upon the church that we could not contain it.
The Gift of Giving
Another thing to note about this passage was there was order in the way the funds were administrated. Those who had offerings brought them to the feet of the apostles and knew they could trust their gifts would be used wisely. It was in this safe environment that Barnabas sold a field and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. How could we create such an environment today?
Barnabas might have had a gift of giving (Romans 12:8). There are many with the gift of giving today who would give more if they knew a safe place to give that would benefit all. Some of these who want to be like Barnabas and be a son of encouragement have been taken advantage of and are so wounded in their gift that they have a stronghold of fear in the area of their greatest strength.
While this passage of scripture relates to meeting the needs of the destitute, I believe the principle of blessing being released when we come together as a company of believers with one heart and soul will work on other levels as well. This principle worked when apostles from the city of Jerusalem came together as a company of believers with one heart and soul.
In Pursuit of Unity
Several years ago, when our ministry was headquartered in Colorado Springs, we were part of a group of leaders who met together on an informal basis simply to pray and seek God. One pastor shared a dream he’d had for years of what it would be like if all the churches and para-church ministries would cover up their individual signs with one which simply stated, “The Church of Colorado Springs.”
Whether this physically happens or not, the spirit of this concept should occur in our city 365 days a year. We are one church with many congregations and that includes the servant ministries (para-church). I’m not trying to advocate everyone closing down their particular local church expression or individual missions board, etc., and opening one large church conglomerate, but what if we pool the strength of our knowledge and resources together in each city on some level to take care of the needs of our city and worldwide missions outreaches? Could there be certain projects we could all agree to work on together both on a home and foreign missions basis?
What about the destitute in our cities, such as the single moms struggling to take care of their families, the elderly, widows, etc? Our nation has a welfare system that is sadly inadequate. Can you imagine a day when the city church has the cooperate funds to take care of those who lack? Is it possible?
Perhaps there are many things God wants to give us revelation about regarding finance in the church as a whole, and through that we will come into the level of anointing which releases a great measure of financial blessing.
What are the possibilities?
Psalms 133:1-3 says the Lord commands the blessing where brethren dwell together in unity. Could it be the Lord is waiting on our coming together as a company of believers with one heart and soul, and then He will command a financial blessing we cannot contain?
Many have talked about God opening up the wealth of the sinner laid up for the righteous (Ecc. 2:6) and pouring out resources to be used for the kingdom of God. Maybe God has been wanting to do this for years, but we haven’t been ready to use it correctly, nor would we know how to administrate the giving of fabulous wealth in a way that would benefit the whole body of Christ.
Pray & Act
- This will not happen without intercession and seeking the Lord’s face. Intercessors, pray and cry out to God for the church in your city to come into unity.
- Pastors and servant ministry leaders, why not set aside some days where small groups of leaders meet together and seek the Lord’s face for revelation on a citywide model. Perhaps you could pool your funds for a certain project or agree to adopt an existing one. What is God saying to the leaders in your city about world evangelization and citywide projects?
- This might even go beyond the Body of Christ as you adopt a project in your city which will show the love of God to the local citizens who aren’t believers yet. Study your city, find out the areas of greatest need in the city and then come together as leadership and meet the need. Contact the city council and tell them the church in their city wants to be a blessing.
- Seek the Lord for the implementation of how to be a company of believers with one heart and soul. This might be done through prayer meetings where the elder pastors of the city meet together with leaders of servant ministries to seek the Lord’s face on how to establish a city church. This could be informal, where the group meets and decides to adopt certain projects and money is given as the Lord leads as Barnabas did through letting the need be known.
- Another idea is an actual pool of certain percentages of resources from each ministry to be used under the direction of the city apostles or eldership.
I might suggest that you invite those who are the leaders in business as the elders who sit at the city gates who have the gift of giving to pray with you at some point and let them help form the city leadership. They are part of the great company of believers also and will add great wisdom to the group.
I earnestly believe if the above things are followed through, God will uniquely speak to the church in each city and give a citywide strategy which will be the kind that the Lord can command the blessing upon until there will be no more lack.