#DailyDevotion Is This A Descriptive Or Presciptive Passage of Scripture?
Acts 4:32–35 32 The whole group of believers was one in heart and soul. And no one called anything he had his own, but they shared everything. 33With great power the apostles told the truth that the Lord Jesus had risen, and much good will rested on all of them. 34 None of them was in need, because all who had land or houses would sell them and bring the money they got for them 35and lay it at the apostles’ feet. Then it was distributed to each one as he needed it.
This is as good as time as ever to learn the difference between descriptive passages of Scripture and prescriptive passages of Scripture. Here we see in Acts a descriptive passage of Scripture. Luke is recording how in the early Church believers would sell everything they owned and bring it to the Apostles. The Apostles would then make sure everyone’s needs were taken care of through the common treasury. They were doing this because they were one in heart and soul.
Many people think it would be wonderful for us to do that now. It certainly is attractive. A lot of people try to use this passage to show that the early church was communistic or socialistic. Well, they are not terribly wrong. Yet, we know this didn’t last long. Eventually the Greek speaking widows weren’t getting enough and the apostles were spending too much time on social work and not enough time in prayer and preaching. They began the diaconate to distribute the wealth of the Church to whomever needed it. As we can also tell, the members of Christ also quit selling everything they had and began giving portion of their increases in wealth as they did before under the Torah but not dictated amounts but with a cheerful heart according what they decided in their hearts. Descriptive passages do not dictate what we must do. Nevertheless, I do believe that it is a good principle that the Church take care of her own and should provide the necessities of life to those who belong to her who need them.
Now where did this one in heart and soul come from? The preaching of the Apostles. They “told the truth that the Lord Jesus had risen, and much good will rested on all of them.” The LORD Jesus Christ risen from the dead, this message, is what gave them one heart and soul as well as the good will which rested on all of them. This is the good news which produces a paradigm shift in our hearts, minds and souls. If Jesus is risen from the dead, our sins are forgiven us. Jesus risen from the dead proclaims God’s wrath toward us has been stilled and we are reconciled to God. Jesus risen from the dead means this world isn’t all there is to life. There is a new heavens and a new earth coming where righteousness reigns. Jesus risen from the dead proclaims that we too shall rise from the dead and be like him. We shall reign with him in his kingdom. Jesus risen from the dead proclaims all our desires and needs will be met in the world to come. It also means everyone who sins against us are forgiven by God for the sake of Jesus. These promises apply to them as well. We can begin to live as thought these things are true now with our fellow believers. We can even change how we act towards people who are yet to be united with Christ knowing Christ died and rose for them as well.
Heavenly Father, grant us your Holy Spirit so we are one in Christ may live as one heart and soul in this world and the next by the resurrection of your son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.