As we get into ( chapter 6 ) I’d like to point out that we didn’t get into every verse in ( chapter 5 ). I say that because, as a Bible student you might have a desire to dig deeper than I did in your studies. There is always other things to see and learn, even teach whole Sunday School lessons off of single verses if we just seek them out.
If you will notice; I entited this segment ( The problems Begin ). If we will go back to ( chapter 5 ) and look at a couple of verses, one statement that was made; we might learn something about what we will be seeing here:
( Acts 5:38-39 )
And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this councel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: ( 39 ) But if it be of God, we cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.
That was a wise statement made by Gamaliel. In more cases than not, the desruction of any Church or organization comes from within not from outside forces. As I make that statement, it is somewhat always outside forces that destroy however, it the people already in the Church that allow those forces to overtake the power within.
When we consider the very design of the Church ( the body of Christ ). the very way that God the Father chose to set it up, it can be very self destructive. That is, unless we are willing to allow God’s Spirit to dictate our every move. The Church is exactly like our own personal bodies. The only difference is that the Church is made up of many bodies. In the Church all those bodies have to be obedient to the self same Spirit. That spiritual mindset is taught in:
( Ephesians 4:2-3 )
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; ( 3 ) Endeavouring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.
Now, for the sake of understanding and teaching, I’m going to write the next three verses as well:
( Ephesians 4:4-6 )
There is on body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; ( 5 ) One Lord, one faith, one baptism, ( 6 ) One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
As we consider these verses; looking at that body ( the body of Christ ) which is beginning to be built in ( Acts ); what do we see in the first verse of ( Acts 6 )?
( Acts 6:1 )
And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
Up until this point, the only enemy of the new born Church was from the outside. The religious sect were trying to keep them from talking about Jesus Christ and his saving power. Now we see a question being submitted within the body of those that say they believe.
As we get into this I might say some things that will create thought and, you will have to allow the Spirit of God show you or, let you know whether you agree with me or not. I often say, I’m just a vessel with a desire to reveal truth, it takes God’s Spirit within you to teach you spiritual things. We see that in the verses we read in ( Ephesians ). As you look at those verses why would we have different denominations? Since there is one body, one spirit and, one God, wouldn’t that fact all together, reveal each of us the same things? Where the problem comes in is each person excepting that revealed truth and, changing to conform to that truth.
If we are not willing to except truth, truth that is revealed by God’s Spirit then what difference does it make what denomination we follow? Here in ( Acts 6:1 ) we see two groups of people. The Hebrews and, the Grecians. What if we classify this as two different denominations? We see that one feels neglected in the daily ministration of what? I actually don’t know that it matters but, we do know that many of the Hebrew people had sold all they had, then took the money and laid it at the Apostles’ feet.
( Acts 3:37 )
Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the Apostles’ feet.
I just mentioned denominations there to point how denomination are actually started. They come about because of disagreements in how people look at spiritual things which, has nothing to do with the leadership of the Spirit of God.We’ve already seen where there is only one Spirit. Therefore, it becomes a lack of having the ability to hear or to yield to that Spirit that causes division among people. If we truly look at this; we now see at least three different mindsets. We see the ( religious people ) The ( Hebrew people ) and, the ( Grecian people ). When we consider this fact; who is right? The Holy Spirit is right in all cases. The Bible says ( Let God be true and every man a liar ).
( Romans 3:4 )
God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.
As we look at that verse and, what is happening then it becomes who understands what God by his Spirit is saying. That was true then and, it is also ever so true today. It’s just like what I’m about to teach concerning this first few verses in ( Acts 6 ). All that I say, it must be filtered through the teaching of God’s Spirit and, you, as a reader must be willing to hear what he teaches.
I made the statement in the last segment that I did not believe that when the Jews were selling all their possessions and laying the money at the Apostles’ feet that it was something that the Spirit of God led them to do. ( In my opinion ) the Jews were expecting Jesus Christ to soon return and set up his Kingdom. They had been looking for the Messiah to come for years. In their mind; it was about to happen and they were perfectly willing to allow him to be their king in every sense.
Although they had sold everything, they still had to eat and, have the other necessities of life until his return. When you consider the term ( daily ministration ) it appears that the Jews were now going to the Apostles each day to get what they now didn’t have. As we look at this we also see that it was ( the Grecians that were complaining, not the Hebrews.
We can read where the Hebrews had put their all into this mindset but, we can’t see where the Grecians had anything invested. We can assume that many Grecians had started to except Jesus Christ at this point as well as the Hebrews. However, when we consider what they had to do for remission of sin: ( believe and be baptized ). It says nothing about selling all you have and giving it to the Apostles. At the same time we could argue that many people were poor, they didn’t have anything to give but, being a part of the new formed Church, having the Holy Spirit; they had just as much right to be treated the same as anyone else.
At the very same time, how do you look at people and know thay have the Spirit of God within them? Can you see how it could be easy to seek something without being willing to pay the price? If you remember, Ananias and Sapphira had already done that very thing. As we consider these events; It might be a good time to point out that the Church is actually not an institute to provide the physical needs of people but, rather the spiritual needs. It’s not that the members of any Church, those that are truly born again aren’t willing to give to those in need but their main desire , even in that act would be to draw people to their salvation, to get them to know Christ.
We could ask here; did the Grecians have a legitimate complaint? Where the Apostles’ right in seeing to it that the Hegrews were getting more than they were? Those things I can’t say. We do however, see in the next verse that the Apostles did set out to find a way to resolve the problem.
Before we move on to that verse, I’d like to share a personal event that happened to me some years ago and, a few things about me that might help us to realize what might be unfolding here. Some thirty years ago I, and a small group of people set out to start a Church. The best I can remember, it was about twelve people; I being one of them and, I was the pastor. In the process of time the Church begin to grow but, after about eight years we still didn’t have but about twenty five faithful members. It might have been more members but, that all that was faithful.
We bought some land and built a building. Here I was, a man that basically never even attempted to pastor over twenty or twenty five people. I also was simply seeking the leadership of the Lord to guide me in all that I did. As soon as we moved into that brand new building, in a matter of weeks, those twenty five people became almost one hundred and twenty five.
I’m telling you that, I was lost, had no idea how to handle that many people. There was people coming out of the wood work telling me what I was doing wrong, giving their opinion about what we needed to do. To simply put it; I can relate to what the Apostles were facing! The Apostles went from a hundred and twenty believers in the upper room on the day of Pentecost to know well over ten thousand people that say the believe.
To bring my story to a close, I also had some personal problems. We often forget that Apostles or pastors are just as human as anyone else. We just have a passion to allow ourselves to be used to the best of our ability by God’s Holy Spirit. In the gospels, we can read about some of the personal problems that some of the Apostles had. Therefore, we know they weren’t perfect men, just men seeking to learn how to listen to God’s Spirit and led people.
In the ten years that I pastored under circumstances that might cause most people not to even consider starting a Church, I made many mistakes, went through some very hurtful situations, some I hope I never face again but, we, as a Church seen many people come to know Christ and, watched believer’s grow and mature. Therefore, it was worth it all.
If I can boast of anything and, that’s not my desire but, my whole spiritual education has come from study, willingly listening to pastors and teachers, allowing God’s spirit to teach me. I’m not educated. I have learned many thing through my failures and mistakes I have made. I see that as it relates to the Apostles. They didn’t listen to man, they sought to, by trial and error to understand God’s plan as it unfolded. They willingly gave themselves to the cause of Christ. For too often we allow ourselves to be guided by man, we think we dodge trouble by doing just that when; in reality we are not listening to God as he seeks to use us to do his will.
Now, I’d like to build a little more on what is being said in ( verse 1 ). Simply by what is being said in that verse; it appears the Apostles understood that the Hebrews had given all they had therefore, they were the people that were receivung it back daily.I can’t prove that but, that’s how it appears. Another point that needs to be made here and, we know this as a fact as well. If you give all you have, even to the cause of Christ then, simply stop working and wait for his return, sooner or later it all will run out if he doesn’t return quickly. That is exactly what happened at Jerusalem.
( Romans 15:26 )
For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.
The people in these two places, although they were poor themselves were willing to help the people in Jerusalem that had lost everything. I can see how this can be considered a very possitive thing.
Something I continue to ask myself; how much do I love God and, how willing am I to be called according to his purpose?
(Romans 8:28 )
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.
People often do things that are completely out of spiritual ignorance. That doesn’t mean they are not born again or, that they don’t love God and are called according to his purpose. As I’ve already stated; I believe the fact that these people gave all they had to the Apostles was done in ignorance. In their, minds Christ would soon return. Now its been some two thousand years and he still hasn’t returned. He will return but, only God the Father knows when that event will happen.
As I say that, at that time they didn’t understand the Gentiles were going to be a part of them as well. They thought that it was all about Jesus and the Jews. Therefore, can you see how that ( the poor saints at Jerusalem ) receiving money or things from the Gentiles could help build a bond between them? That for the love and purpose of God?
In this one verse; there’s a lot to be learned. For instance. when you place you money in an offering plate, at that point, to whom those that money belong? When you do spiritual things, whatever they are why do you do them? I could write a whole book on what I perceive to be problems in what we can see in this one verse according to the events that have already unfolded in the ( Book of Acts ). That and, how we perceive our roles in our Churches today.
When we place our money in an offering plate, at that very second that belongs to God the Father. You gave it to him. However, you placed it in the hands of men just like the Hebrews did with the Apostles. Whether it’s the Hebrews to the Apostles or , you to your local Church, it then becomes the spiritual responsibility of spiritual leaders to use that money according to the very will of God. That, as led by the very Spirit of God that lives within them.
Actually, It’s all about ( Spiritual leadership ) that beginning with the giver. I believe that to be true whether you give to a Church or, an individual. If I feel impressed to give money to a person and I do, then I allowed God’s Spirit to guide my actions. Once that money is in the hand of that individual, it’s up to him to be led by that same spirit. If you tithe to your local Church and, you do that being led by God to do so, then once that money leaves your hands; your heart is clear between you and God.
Now, let’s consider something here: just because you give money to your Church doesn’t mean ( God led you ) to do so; does it? It could be, your local Church pressured you to give or, you just do what you think is right. In either case. God has nothing to do with it does he? ( In my personal opinion ) most of the money given to a local Church and, the way it’s spent has nothing to do with God’s Spirit and his leadership. ( In my personal opinion ) if the average Church went completely broke; the members would be spiritually better off, even the pastor!
Now, you have a right to ask this question: Did the Spirit of God lead you to make those statements? My answer is ( yes he did )! What you, as an individual do with what I stated is between you and God’s Spirit. I base my statements on this verse of scripture:
( Revelation 3:16-18 )
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. ( 17 ) Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: ( 18 ) I councel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. ( 19 ) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Most of our Churches today have become businesses, money making machines with members of a corporation attending to their affairs. In most cases, the members have fallen in love with a building and, the people, even the pastor. If God’s Spirit doesn’t show, we’ll be fine.
Before I leave this verse, I’d like to make one more statement. The people and the Apostles in ( Acts 6 ) had a very good reason for not completely understanding the whole concept of hearing and obeying God’s Spirit. It was all brand new to them. They were learning and, as we watch it all unfold, it bacame a very powerful vessel for God’s glory.
Look at these verses: ( Acts 17:29-30 )
Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. ( 30 ) And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: ( 31 ) Because he hath appionted a day, in the which he will jugde the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
The word ( ignorance ) simply means ( unaware ). Today we are without excuse. If we say we are born again then, God’s Spirit lives within us. Not only that but, we have now the complete word of God to guide us. In ( Acts 6 ) they didn’t have any of the New Testament.
Friends, I say this with all the love I know how! If you think the money machine in most Churches is done in ignorance, you’re wrong. Most of the leaders know exactly what is going on. We read that in ( Revelation 3 ). As I sit and write the closing to this verse; I tremble! My whole desire is to enlighten people to truth and, allow God’s Spirit to use me to open spiritual eyes. When I consider that any man would deliberately mislead someone for the ( love of Money ); leave those people in spiritual darkness for personal gain. it cause me to spue them out of my mouth.
The Grecians were murmuring; did they have a reason to? They were criticizing the leadership, did they have a true complaint? As we get into ( verse two ) did the Apostles make wise dicisions?
Now let’s look at ( verses 2-6 ).
Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, it is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. ( 3) Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. ( 4 ) But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. ( 5 ) And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: ( 6 ) Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
As I get into this; I want you to remember, I’m simply a vessel that seeks to be used of God that His Spirit might teach each person that reads what I have to say. As you read, you allow God’s Spirit to speak, to determine whether what I have to say is something that is worth hearing and sharing. Actually, we are no different than the disciples of that day. Far too often we simple hear what someone else says and we except it as being truth.
I truly believe that the Apstles were seeking to hear God as he spoke by his spirit and also the disciples wanted to learn. However, that doesn’t mean that every move they made was a move that was inspired by God, just like we are today.
As I make some of the statements I make, you might think I’m being hard on the apostles and the disciples but, that’s truly not my desire. My desire is to provoke thought in the hearts of those that might read, to cause us to consider what is truly God’s will for each of us.
First of all, when this problem arose between to Hebrews and the Grecians, let’s notice what the apostles did. They called the multitude together and, allowed them to pick seven men. This multitude was to find men ( in their opinion ) that was ( of honest report ) ( filled with the Holy Ghost and wisdom ). Do you think that the multitude of disciples could make that call? I would argue; no they couldn’t! They were already disputing about worldly things. I realize that it doesn’t mean that they were all that way but we know, some were.
Second, can you see that the Apostles actually did the same thing they did when Judas had died and they felt they needed another apostle in ( Acts 1 ). If you have followed me through the teaching of Acts, you know that I do not believe the apostles had the authority to pick other apostles, only Jesus can do that. In that case, they themselves cast lots and prayed. It says that Matthias was numbered with the eleven apostles. ( Acts 1:26 ) However, he was not an Apostle. I covered that in the first segment of this study.
Here we see that they allowed ( the multitude ) to pick seven men, they laid their hands on them and prayed. I feel impressed to say something here. Just because we are ( born again ) does not mean we are ( filled with the Holy Ghost ). It doesn’t mean we have spiritual wisdom. In more cases than not; those two attribute of spiritual growth takes time to secure. Therefore, when we leave a responsibility of making wise choices up to ( what I would Call ) ( babes in Christ ) we open ourselves up to tremendous problems.
( In my opinion ) at the time we are speaking of, even to apostles could be considered ( babes in Christ ). Even they had a lot to learn before making wise dicisions. For example: when the disciples began to sell all they had and, bring the money and lay it at the Apostles’ feet; why didn’t they stop that act and, seek Holy Ghost wisdom in that matter? Can you see how spiritual patience can be an asset and, cause us to make wise choices?
Looking at these things; when we make snap dicisions on feelings or things that seen to be wise instead of allowing God’s Spirit to direct us, it will always create another problem down the road. In the case of Mattias as an apostle, how do you explain that later? In the case of taking the money from the disciples, how do you fix that problem once that money is gone?
As I’ve stated before, Paul became the Twelveth Apostle. We read his letters to the Churches as part of the New Testament. Within many of those letters we also read about how those Churches were giving money to the ( poor saints ) at Jerusalem. An end result to what happened in the first days of the new formed Church.
As we read and study God’s word, we must be realistic and, understand that every dicision made is not a decision directed by God’s Spirit. Now, let’s look at something here. When the apostles picked the two men to become candidates for apostleship in ( Acts 1 ),do you realize that; that is the only time their names are mentioned in scripture? When the apostles allowed the disciples to pick those seven men, do you realize that, of those seven; only Stephen and Philip are ever mentioned again? Does that fact mean anything? Maybe not, however, I still contend that the ability to hear God’s Spirit when he speaks to your heart and, a desire to yield to that Spirit is the most powerful lesson that any person will ever learn.
I’ll say a few things about and, how I see it relating to our Churches today and, we’ll close out this segment. I made mention of ( making snap decisions ) and, how they create problems down the road. I also mentioned that simply allowing ( Church members ) to make spiritual decisions can become a problem as well. Sometimes the it’s very hard to admit we made a mistake in our spiritual judgement. We also can call that pride. The Bibles says this:
( James 5:16 )
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
I realize we often like to apply this verse and, the ones around it to physical things in our lives however, when we make spiritual bad choices; we also become spiritually sick. I personally believe that our spiritual condition is basically what ( James ) is speaking of. For instance: what if the apostles would have looked out at the people and said: we made a mistake in spiritual judgement. We were wrong to allow you all to give us your money, we confess that to be a mistake. Then, ask the disciples to please pray for them that the Holy Spirit might help them to be seen as being wise spiritually from then on.
In that case, spiritual people will inderstand the earnest desire to be led by God’s Spirit and, become ( effectual fervent prayer warriors ). You can almost count on the fact that there will be those that will show who they truy are as well. However, in every person’s quest to learn and yield to God’s Spirit, we must be allowed to grow as we learn. That’s what ( the unity of the Spirit ) is all about.
( I believe ) that the way they chose to pick these men is still a problem in our Churches today. If you desire to go back to the Old Testament and, also search the New Testament, I want you to show me one place where God’s Spirit was left up to a vote to decide the outcome. We see it twice here in ( Acts 1&6 ). I see one other place in ( Acts 15 ) we’ll get to that a little later in our study but, even then the choice that was make was all about pleasing those that were involved in the voting. We see the same thing here in the next verses, the people were pleased and ( the Church continued to grow ). At our very best we are just sinful people, seeking to find God’s will. It’s a good point to be made here; when people are pleased that have a better opportunity to be in unity.
In closing, I believe in the local New Testament Church. I also don’t know that I can see the way we govern them as being spiritual, it’s more man made, ( People pleasing ) and that apart from seeking to please God through and by his Spirit.
As I seek to close this segment, I’m struggling about what to teach next. I mentioned Stephen as ( Acts ) continues to unfold however, I also see and, am burdened and impressed by the Spirit to teach about ( deacons and what a local New Testament Church truly is.
Therefore, for now, I’ll say the next segment will be ( as the Spirit leads )
2 Timothy 1:7