“Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed . . . had all things in common. . .” – Acts 2:43-45
The Spirit built church is reverent. It continues, “Then fear came upon every soul” (Acts 2:43a). The word “fear” (Greek phobos) here probably means “awe” or “reverence.” When the Holy Spirit is working in a church there will be a reverent sense of the presence of the Lord. This is something much of the church has lost today. In our efforts to emphasize relationship rather than a religious pursuit of God, we often become overly informal and lose the sense of God’s presence and awe. There was a holy awe amongst the people in this Spirit filled early church (e.g. Acts 5:5, 11; 19:17).
When we look at some of the incidents of people coming into the presence of Holy God in the Bible what we see is humble bowing to the ground and worship (e.g. Gen. 17:3; Exodus 34:8; Num. 22:31; 2 Chron. 20:18). Even stone pagan idols bow before Holy God (1 Sam. 5:1-5). Reverence should be reflected in our prayers (Neh. 1:4-7). We are to come into God’s presence with a sense of His holiness.
When humanity comes into the presence of God there is an convicting awareness of one’s sinfulness (e.g. Isaiah 6:5). When Jesus brought the huge catch of fish to Peter and the other fishermen who had unsuccessfully been fishing all night, Peter exclaimed, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8).
The Bible states:
- Psalm 89:7- God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, And to be held in reverence by all those around Him.
The Spirit built church is miraculous. This section goes on to say, “and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” (Acts 2:43b). The word “wonders” as described above refers to the fact that there were things happening that only God could have done, there was no natural explanation for what was being done in and amongst God’s people. “Signs” tell us that the wonders done were not just for entertainment or to incite excitement, but they were like road signs that directed people to Jesus. When we see the miracles and wonders done in Acts those used to bring them about always point to Jesus as the Source of the miracles and the works are used to bring people to glorify God.
When considering wonders and signs it is important that they are kept in proper perspective and priority. In Mark when Jesus mentions signs He says they will “follow” or come after the preaching of God’s word:
- Mark 16:15-18 – “nd He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.16 “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.17 “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;18 “they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
The Spirit is able and willing to do signs and wonders today. The problem is that much of the church often seeks the signs and wonders first, before the teaching of God’s word. That is a mistake. Some evangelism strategies seek to manufacture a a miracle in order to bring attention and then preach the gospel. This is opposite to Jesus’ plan.
When signs and wonders are put before the priority of teaching the word of God, the church becomes unstable and emotion oriented. Such a set of priorities also lends itself to the trap of seeking bigger and better signs and wonders, kind of a can you top this mentality. There needs to be a balance, a balance like that held in God’s model for the church in Acts.
Acts is filled with accounts of miracles. One incident of “unusual miracles” is found in Acts 19. Paul traveled to Ephesus and ministers to some seekers who had an incomplete understanding of the gospel and baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-7). Paul ministered there for an extended period of time (Acts 19:8-10). Then we are informed that “God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul” (Acts 19:11). Handkerchiefs and aprons were used by the Spirit to bring healing of those who were sick and diseased (Acts 19:12). These were “unusual” signs. You don’t see the apostles package these handkerchiefs in order to mail them out to make a profit. Some in our day do just that. But this was unusual. It wasn’t something that would commonly happen.
Some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to use the name of Jesus to exorcise but were soundly humiliated and defeated by the demons (Acts 19:13-16). But at the end of the account it states, “fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified” (Acts 19:17). The magnifying of the name of Jesus is the aim of the Spirit in all things. And when Jesus is magnified it leads to life-changing work in people (Acts 19:18-20).
The Spirit built church is giving and helps people. This section continues:
- Acts 2:44-45 – “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common,45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.”
This is not Communism. In fact when we look at the result of such communal type of living we see problems associated with it. It was out of this communal type of living that the first major in church problem arose when Ananias and Sapphira sought to lie to the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:32-37 and 5:1-11). We also see a disturbance associated with the distribution of goods later in Acts when the believers with a Hellenist background felt they were being neglected by the believers who had a Hebrew background (Acts 6:1-7). Later Paul needs to take up a collection for the church in Jerusalem because it would appear that very possibly their communal living has led to a financial problem (1 Corinthians 16:1-4).
In light of these associated problems, it seems best to understand from these verses that when the Holy Spirit is at work in the church, He creates a helpful and giving spirit among believers. God has a heart to lift the poor and needy “out of the ash heap” (Psalm 113:7). Those in Jerusalem may have taken this spirit to an extreme. In giving and helping one another we should proceed in the Spirit as in all things.
When the Spirit comes upon a church there will be a giving spirit. That will start with the tithe. Some discount the tithe stating it is a product of the law. They state to encourage the tithe is legalism. However upon closer study we see that tithing is something we find 400 years before the giving of the Law (Gen. 14:20). In the New Testament we see Jesus affirm the tithe (Mat. 23:23). And while Paul teaches that we should not give grudgingly (2 Cor. 9:7), a bad attitude about giving is not a reason to not tithe. Tithing is one of the areas God calls us to test Him on. Bring in the tithe to the storehouse and see if He won’t open the windows of heaven and pour out blessing (Malachi 3:7 ff.). Go ahead, test God in this. Tithe to the church where you are getting spiritually fed. Then see what happens. Pray about it.
In light of what God has given for us, (His only Son Jesus), we should give cheerfully (2 Cor. 8:9). We are not our own. We belong to God. We have been bought with Jesus shed blood (1 Cor. 6:19-20). When the Spirit comes upon us, this point will be brought home to us. The Spirit will convict us of any ungiving spirit in us. Hopefully we will repent and get right with God.