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Mixtape: Acts 2:42-47

• Seth McCoy

In this next installment of our Mixtape series, Seth McCoy explores the richness of the early church as described in Acts 2:42-47. The beauty of the early church is evident as we look at this passage and explore the spirit of this church and how that could affect the spirit of the church today. We also look at the myths of this early church as often perceived or romanticized today and breakdown any misconceptions that might get in the way of living out what God has for His church today.

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The focus of this week in our Mixtape series is the powerful description of the life of the early church in Acts 2:42-47. Seth McCoy walks us through this passage with an eye looking at the radical nature of the early church, but also how that vision draws us forward to the life of the church in our world today. This message consisted of three main directions: 1) The history of the early church and their practices, 2) Myths for how those practices can often be romanticized in the present day church and 3) Practical ways to move in the direction of the Spirit that was so present in the early church.

The history of the early church was marked by fellowship (koinonia). This fellowship was deeply rooted and birthed out of the radical choices of the earliest Christians to leave everything to follow Jesus. These groups of believes would enjoy a meal together intermixed with communion. This group exemplified the communal experience, particularly seen in the use consistent use of the words “all”, “everything”, and “everyone”. This passage occurs directly after an impassioned message by Peter where 3000 people are added to this fledgling community of 120 followers of Jesus. Imagine the chaos that would have ensued as this quickly growing group attempted to assimilate this new group of people. This early group of believers emphasized the core belief of Jesus that there was always enough love to go around. It is also evident in the early church that good leadership is central to the success of the church and that the attitude of the believers was one of gladness and sincerity.

One of the difficulties when discussing the fellowship of the Acts 2 church is that it can often lead to romanticizing the reality of this church over and against the difficulty experiences of forming a church. This leads to myths with the church today that the Acts 2 church was both the model of authentic community and the example of radical discipleship. While the church in Acts 2 was certainly a beautiful community, they were not a community for the sake of community. They were a community that emphasized genuine care and concern for people. They did this through radical generosity and discipleship. You don’t see examples where the early church is simply giving with no purpose, the believers are giving because someone else is lacking and that genuine concern for the other is the core of the community. This church was trying, as best they could and understood, to incarnate the radical community of Jesus in their fledgling community of believers. While we can learn a lot from the early church it can sometimes lead us in the wrong direction by keeping our focus on the past rather than inviting God to guide us to the next cutting edge part of culture where we are to incarnate Jesus.

Finally, Seth highlighted 2 Timothy 1:7 where he noted that the evidence of the Spirit of God working is that there will power, love and self-discipline. Our job is not to simply to copy the practices of the early church, but to tap into that same Spirit that is in our churches today and find ways to contextualize that same power, love and self-discipline. The book of Acts is about the action of the Spirit of God in the lives of real people and our job is to invite that same Spirit to our gatherings today.

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Topics: Community, Discipleship, Presence of God

Sermon Series: Mixtape


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Focus Scripture:

  • Acts 2:42-47

    42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds[a] to all, as any had need. 46 Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home[b] and ate their food with glad and generous[c] hearts, 47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

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8 thoughts on “Mixtape: Acts 2:42-47

    kevin says: Tuesday August 18, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    I agree that those early Christians did not “set out” to develop a new economic model or set out to be radical; it was indeed more organic than that; good point. Now when i hear you say that “some of them sold their possessions in order to meet needs”, i had to pause. ‘Some’ of them? If you’re reading from the NIV, it plainly says that ‘All’ met together and that ‘they’ sold their possessions. When you said that ‘some’ sold, i got a check in my spirit. If you are gonna go with ‘some sold’, you really need to explain that Biblically, yeah? Some of them is not the same as All of them. It sounds like you’re downplaying the fact that All sold; do the names Ananias and Sapphira ring a bell?

    How do we interpret this passage in Acts with the teaching in 2 Corinthians 9:7 “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”?

    Reply
    Vince says: Thursday August 20, 2015 at 10:43 am

    It’s clear that economics was not the goal, yet the need for money in order to spread the gospel message was clear. One question I have is can you point me to where, in the New Testament, money was raised and given to the poor OUTSIDE the church? I’m not saying it wasn’t, but there are a lot of verses where Paul says he needs money for the poor in the church, or for the saints who are in need. Where do we see the Acts church feeding the poor outside the church?

    Reply
    Dave Pritchard says: Thursday August 20, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    Very interesting points Vince!

    This brings up some serious issues of accountability and responsibly – to what extent actually am I my “Brother’s Keeper”? When you read about the feeding of the 5000 ect… the initiative seems really obvious on one level (apart from the layered eschatological and soteriological metaphors within the text) – Feed all those in need; this is the Kingdom mandate – whomever, wherever, ask questions later, if even. But it is interesting though that in John 6:26 & 27 Jesus says –

    “Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”

    So here subtly, Jesus is kind of telling him off for having the wrong motivation based on his receptivity of sustenance, rather than a repentant heart, which yearns after eternal life. So….. on the flip side of this, if we give super philanthropically outside of our local “flock”, so to speak, what is at the core of our motivation? – whether Paul strictly mandates it or not.

    There’s a really great Wiki page on this topic –
    Christian views on poverty and wealth – Wikipedia, the free …
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_views_on_poverty_and_wealth

    When discussing the early church, Historian Alan Kahan points out that –

    “The goal of Christian charity was equality, a notion which was absent in the Greco-Roman attitudes toward the poor.”

    There has been some push back on this issue though (almost unbelievably!) by some who criticize the incarnational prerogatives of Believers such as Shane Claiborne and Jarrod McKenna, whom they see as supposedly turning “poverty” into a kind of virtue lifestyle, which then boarders subtly on becoming a form of “idolatry”. I think this criticism is categorically absurd, but you can see where it might be coming from (?)

    Reply
    Vince says: Saturday August 22, 2015 at 5:03 am

    It was the story of the woman who had the daughter with the unclean spirit that got me wondering about this topic. Jesus ignored her, then after she persisted He made it clear that He wasn’t there to help her, calling her a dog! Then she accepted His description of her, called Him Lord, and made it clear that she was putting her trust in Him. In other words, she became a Jesus follower right at that moment, and THEN Jesus healed her daughter. I know this is crazy, but I thought of what it might look like if the community of believers focused their finances inward on meeting all the needs of the saints and how attractive that would be to those outside the church? Even more so in a third world place if all the billions that are sent to a country was diverted to only the church in the country and how many would be attracted to that group of believers who’s needs were being met and they would be trying to find out how this was happening to all those in the church and wanting to become a part of it? Anyway, I’d like someone to send me verses about giving to the poor that weren’t Jews in the old testament or saints in the new testament so I can get this cleared up?

    Reply
    Dave Pritchard says: Saturday August 22, 2015 at 11:52 am

    Vince,

    “Anyway, I’d like someone to send me verses about giving to the poor that weren’t Jews in the old testament or saints in the new testament so I can get this cleared up?”

    So what you’re saying here, is that you’d like a verse example of an “OT Non – Jew” (assuming you mean someone outside the Abrahamic covenant) and or someone in the NT (other than the Saints) who gives to the poor and or is instructed to do so? That’s a pretty tough bill, but…. how about Senior Nebuchadnezzar?

    In Daniel 4:19 – 37 Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is interpreted by Daniel who advises him in verse 27 –

    “‘King Nebuchadnezzar, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and [be merciful to the poor.] Perhaps then you will continue to prosper.”

    Well, it seems from the text, that he ignores Daniels advice and sure enough, twelve month later essentially gets his butt kicked for being haughty, arrogant and selfish and ends up living like a beast on all fours, chomping grass for dinner!

    Afterwards, when he’s had enough, [possibly 7 years] God restores his senses and prosperity and he declares in verse 36 –

    “When my sanity returned to me, so did my honor and glory and kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored as head of my kingdom, with even greater honor than before.”

    So….did he start giving to the poor? Not completely for certain. But one would sure hope that he did; unless the lesson might be repeated! The gist of the story is clear though, that if one arrogantly hoards material wealth and never shares, you’d darn well better look out for the Karma boomerang- Ha!

    Reply
    Anders Van Western says: Saturday August 22, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    Seth is rather a McCoy fellow…

    Reply
    Vince says: Sunday August 23, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    It’s a stretch, but I’ll take it. How about NT?

    Reply
    Dave Pritchard says: Monday August 24, 2015 at 5:07 am

    Vince,

    Well, whether one see him as a fictitious character within a parable or an actual historical personage, I’d say the “Good Samaritan” Takes the Cake! – Luke 10:29 – 37

    Here’s a guy normally despised by the Jews of the day, supposedly outside “The Covenant” people, who not only comes to the aid of the beaten traveller, but then leaves extra cash to cover future expenses and even promises more towards the bill if necessary when he returns. Holy smokes, it doesn’t get anymore altruistic than that!

    Cheers

    Reply

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