Radical Grace Leads To Radical Generosity

What Does The Bible Say About Giving And Generosity?

Jermaine Arphul
Mar 13, 2022    46m
In this lesson taught out of Acts chapter four, we examine the question, "What does the Bible say about giving and generosity?". When we are all united in our belief in Jesus, it fuels us to be generous with our time and belongings. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Jermaine Arphul: [00:00:06] Good morning 121, how are we doing? Ok, Ok. Ok, listen, you guys are here at the 11 o'clock service after the time change, so you all slept in, or at least in my theory, you all slept in. Maybe not, some of you are like, hey, I had to do stuff to get here. Listen, I need energy from you all this morning, Ok? All right? Because you all slept, in my opinion, slept in. Ok, so I need energy from you all.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:00:36] Before we get started, we're going to pick up an Acts chapter 4 verses 32-37. Before we get started, though, let me go ahead and pray and then we will get going. Lord, thank you for blessing us this morning. We are grateful for who you are, what you've done, and what you continue to do for us. I pray that you would speak to us, Holy Spirit, convict us, guide us, teach us, seal whatever it is that you want to say to us in our hearts and let us leave here changed wanting to live for you and for your glory. I pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:01:11] Ok, let's see. How do I want to start? Let's start it this way. Has anyone ever been to maybe an orchestra or a band concert? Anybody raise your hands, a show of hands, remember whenever you guys are 11 o'clock service and I need energy? All right, great, great, then that means we're all in the same boat here. Ok, if any of you ever gone like a little bit early to hear the instruments like tuning and things like that? Like you hear the brass over here, and the strings over here and you know, everyone's tuning and stuff, and sometimes it doesn't sound all that great, right, because they're not really harmonizing yet, they're just kind of like off trying to get in tune separately. And so when you hear them all, it just kind of sounds like random noise, right? It doesn't sound great, it kind of sounds like this sound. Do we have that? Wait for it, it sounds Ok now, but just wait. All right, interesting. Yeah, so sometimes it doesn't sound that great when the instruments aren't all in sync, right?

Jermaine Arphul: [00:02:44] Well, listen, the church is a lot like an orchestra, not in the fact that we sound bad, but we come from different backgrounds, different places, and we all come together as one underneath the banner of Jesus, right, and we all come from different walks of life. So we've got like the brass over here, we've got the strings over here, we've got percussion over there, right? And when we all come together, and we're all harmonizing as one, we sound like this. Have we got it? Do you feel that? I wish everyone had their own walk-in music; this would be mine, like as soon as I walk in through the church doors, that would be awesome.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:04:01] Well, I hope you notice that the sound of that, all the instruments coming together, the percussion, all of them coming together, it sounded really powerful like, well, they start to work together, and the notes start to harmonize and things like that, everything just sounded really powerful and good. And you just can't help but stand up, in my opinion, just like wanting to kind of like, get more of that, right? I think the church, when it's like that, when we're all working together, we are great, we are powerful, and it causes outsiders to go, wow, like, I want to be a part of that. I want to be a part of that, I'm drawn into that, right?

Jermaine Arphul: [00:04:40] And I think when we look at this particular passage in Acts chapter 4 verses 32-37, we're going to see some of those things. We're going to see how radical grace, leads to radical generosity. Radical grace leads to radical generosity, we're going to see lots of different people, as we've been looking at Acts, coming together from different backgrounds, all working in unity together, fueled by the great power and message of Jesus Christ, fueled by great grace leading to great generosity. When we are all together underneath the banner of Jesus, how good and pleasant it is. But the thing that fuels us is that we've received grace, and it shows through our generosity. Radical grace leads to radical generosity. When all of us are working for oneness, for one purpose, as a church, we become very powerful, not just for the church but also in making disciples, and we're going to see that here.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:05:58] So we're picking off where we left off last week, Ross was preaching in the first half of Acts chapter 4 and we're picking up in verse 32. And basically, this is immediately after the church basically had this prayer meeting where they passionately lifted up their hearts to the Lord and they prayed for boldness, and then Luke describes the result of that prayer. He describes that the place they were praying at was shaking, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they continue to speak the word with boldness.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:06:31] And what we're going to see here, is that Luke again describes this ongoing culture and life of the church. And the first thing that we discover is we look at this passage in verse 32 is unity, unity. Read along with me, verse 32, "And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them." Oneness of heart and soul, unity was a guiding principle we see in this first verse. They embrace a common purpose, and it says that they were of one heart and one soul, there was a sense of unity, and purpose among the church, and they had one mission that was of Jesus Christ.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:07:26] And it says at the very beginning, "And the congregation of those who believed." If you look up that word in the Greek, believed, when you look it up, it translates back to, trusting in Jesus Christ. That was their common denominator, everyone trusted in Jesus Christ. And that's what enabled them to have this like deep passion to be able to, even though they were from different backgrounds, different walks of life, they all subscribed to the same set of beliefs, and so they had this mission, this distinct mission, to live for Jesus Christ and to take care of each other. What a radical picture, even now, it's radical to live like this, thinking about giving up your own possessions, it was just as radical then.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:08:17] I think that this picture is so radical that some people have used this particular verse to justify communism, to justify Marxist ideals. To say, oh, look, you know, hey, they're giving stuff away, and you know everyone's sharing and things like that. And yes, this is a community of believers in unity, but it is not communism, it's not, because everyone maintained their personal property rights. Right? This wasn't like an abolition of personal property. And second, they were selling their possessions, not by force or by coercion. Right, the apostles, they weren't these authoritative people making all the followers sell their stuff or redistribute their wealth, right? What was happening here was the Spirit of God was moving in the hearts of believers, and they freely gave this stuff up, they freely gave this stuff up, they voluntarily sold their possessions.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:09:34] Some people, when they look at this passage, they try to maybe dismiss it by saying, Ok, Ok, Ok, sharing was just because the church was, you know, they were just getting started, right, and it's 2022, we don't need to do that anymore. Or they try to dismiss it and say, Ok, all that stuff was going on, but it was going on before people learned how to take advantage of the system. Right? And I say, listen, whatever we do, whatever we do, we cannot dismiss what was going on here. We cannot dismiss this radical generosity that was happening, that caused other people from outside to notice what was going on. Because what they were doing would eventually change the world, this radical generosity would change the world, so we cannot dismiss it.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:10:35] So, I like to go to Wal-Mart late at night, this one right here, here in Grapevine, usually around 9 or 10 p.m. And I'm going to admit it, like it's because I really don't want to talk to anybody, and usually around that time, there's not a huge crowd. I think I've even ran into some people in this church before, maybe the neighborhood wasn't Collierville. But typically likes to go late at night because I can get all my stuff done on the grocery list, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, and not have to worry about anything. But one time I went there, and I just kept having conversation after conversation with people, I was like, what is going on here, right? And this is my own sin I have to wrestle with here, like I should be going like, hey, I can't wait to talk to people and share the Gospel, right? Nope, I was like it's late, I want to go to bed, and I need to get this stuff done, so I don't want to talk to anybody, let me go at 10, right? Well, I was there for like an hour and a half because I kept running into people talking to them. And what was interesting looking back on it, was there was this common bond in our conversations. Do you ever like talking to a perfect stranger and then like you start to realize through conversation, oh, they believe in Jesus? And like, there's just like this spiritual union between you and them, even though you don't know them, even though you have no idea where they're from or anything like that, but when you start talking to somebody that loves the Lord, it's just good, it's pleasant. And so I went in there, like going in there thinking, I just want to scoot by and not talk to people, to be going like, this is amazing, I've had some great spiritual conversations with people, praying with them in the store. I think that's what a picture of unity looks like.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:12:25] Psalm 133:1 says, "How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity." When we look at this verse, we see unity. In fact, I saw unity at a pastoring conference a couple of months ago, fifty-five thousand people, eighteen- to twenty-five-year-olds worshiping Jesus like I've never seen before. And what I also saw, was something to my amazement, and what I'm about to describe, compare this to maybe going to the Cowboy's, Forty Niner's playoff game. Right? When you're leaving the Cowboy's Forty Niner's playoff game, I saw some of this on social media, it looks kind of scary, right? You've got a lot of angry Cowboys fans, you got a lot of 49ers fans who are gloating and boasting, who have been probably under the influence, right? And what do you do, especially if you've got kids? Hold on tight, son, hold my hand, do not stray far away, there are bad people out there. You know, and you're kind of, right? And then like, you're as you're walking out, you're hearing like, move, get out of the way. You know, just a lot of like tense things happening, getting in the car, beep beep, go, go, go. Right?

Jermaine Arphul: [00:13:43] In Atlanta, fifty-five thousand worshipers, all underneath the banner of Jesus. We're walking out, mind you, the weather was like it was on Friday, like thirty-five, windy, rainy, right? For me, I don't know about you, that makes me super annoyed, right? I don't mind the cold weather, but when it's windy and there's a wind chill and it's raining, that drives me insane, that puts me in a bad mood. And if that doesn't do that for you, and you like that, I'm going to pray for you after the service, Ok? But for me, like, oh, that put me in a bad mood, but you would never have known, you would have thought it was like seventy-five degrees outside and sunny with the with all these young adults leaving. We're all just walking coolly and calmly together out the exits, there were no issues. We'd go outside, it was still raining, and we had a mile to get to our hotel. And the way downtown Atlanta is, you don't want to get a cab or Uber or whatever, because there's so much traffic, so you just walk it. And everyone was like, yeah, whoo, and I don't know if that's because they were younger or what, but like compare that picture to what the picture I just described to you about like a Cowboys 49ers game or any sporting event, you know, there wasn't any like any craziness going on, it was just everyone was on the same page. Everyone was united because we had one common belief, and it was Jesus Christ, and when that happens, things are good, and we see that in this passage, we see that in this passage.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:15:25] And I want to affirm, 121, this church, God's doing amazing things in this church. Typically, when you look at a passage like this, you'll hear preachers’ kind of talk about how we need to give more, and you know tithe more, and all these things like that. Well, Ross was just up here last week, I don't know if you remember or not, talking about how giving was incredibly strong at this church, and I constantly hear him say that, by the way. I think the generosity of 121, of this body, is amazing, and I think that we are a picture of this. And if you're on the outside, if you're someone who is not a part of the church, I just want to invite you to come be a part of what God's doing here. There are two things that stand out to me the most when I started coming here 11 years ago. It's the hospitality, I felt extremely welcomed when I was here, and the generosity of this church. And so I want to affirm 121, I saw that throughout our Live weekend last week as well, for students, so I'll explain that in a little bit.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:16:33] But I am just enamored by how the early church, was one heart and one soul, and it says, "And not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own." And so if you're not a part of 121, I want to invite you to come and check us out. And if you've been checking us out, and you're not connected to a life group, I want to invite you to connect to a life group. And here's the reason why, I think it's because, in life groups, people can really realize what your needs are, what your specific needs are. They can pray for you, and pray with you, to meet your specific needs. Look, if you're just coming to 121, you're sitting in here and you're not in the life group, we can't recognize what your specific needs are in this room. But when we're in the living room together, breaking bread, opening up our Bible, praying for each other and with each other, we can know how to specifically meet your needs, and so I just want to invite you to be a part of something like that.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:17:44] I was thinking about it, I've got a single sheet of paper right here, this represents the person who is not necessarily connected to a life group, whether it's with 121 or any church, they're not connected in a meaningful way to somebody or some kind of group around here. And we all know, at least some of the adults, most of your adults would know this, when life gets going, life also gets hard, right? It can get very, very hard sometimes, and sometimes you can feel like there's a lot of pressure going on and coming down onto you. And so sometimes if you, I'd say this, if you don't have a deep relationship with a life group or a group of people who love the Lord around you, those problems can become extremely overwhelming to where they tear you apart. Right? However, when we take a sheet of like three hundred or four hundred, and put them all together, they are much stronger, much stronger when they're stacked up against each other. And when those problems start to happen, and mind you, I'm pretty strong. Ok. All right. When those problems start to happen, it becomes a lot harder for you to be torn apart, right, because you're with each other. Again, I think it's important to be a part of a bigger community of faith than just yourself, we all need each other.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:19:38] In fact, I have somebody who calls me every Thursday just to see how I'm doing, just to see how I'm doing and check in. We all need each other. A lot of you in this room might feel like this single sheet of paper, but what I want to do is I want to invite you to become a part of this church and do what we see here in Acts chapter 4. What we all need are brothers and sisters who will come alongside each other, and minister to each other, and look out for each other. So we have a life group interest lunch, this was not planned, by the way, I'm sitting here praying about how we're going to do this, how I'm going to explain this to you all. And then all of a sudden, I get an email from the church and it's like, hey, there's a life group interest lunch. I'm like, oh, that's perfect, there's a life group interest lunch after this service, so I invite you to attend that. If you're not plugged in to a life group and you're going, Ok, I want to get in, but I don't know where to start, I don't know how to connect, go to that live group interest lunch. Ok?

Jermaine Arphul: [00:20:45] So the question is, what fueled the unity with these believers? What fueled it? We look under the hood, what's the engine that kept things going, that drew people in? We'll find out in verse 33, it says this, "And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all." Underline, if you've got a Bible or a pen, great power, and abundant grace. Abundant could be translated as great as well. So what fueled the unity, it was great power and great grace. Great power, meaning the resurrection of Jesus Christ, meaning the Gospel, the Gospel, that was changing the lives of people. Any time the Apostles would preach, it was so powerful, not the Apostles, the message was powerful enough to bring a dead heart to life. It made people realize, while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me. It made people realize that my sin is so great, yet God's grace is greater. It made people realize that the wages of sin are death, but the free gift of God is Christ Jesus. When you put your faith in him, you become alive. And people started to catch on when they heard this message, and what I love about this is the Apostles, they didn't hold back, they were bold in sharing the message, they didn't dilute the message of Jesus Christ. They've presented it in such a way that where you couldn't help but realize the depth of your sin, and the need for Jesus to save you from it. There was power in their messages, the Gospel.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:23:08] Second Corinthians chapter 8 verse 9 says this, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich." The Gospel, the power of the Gospel changed lives, and it drew people in. And on top of that, God showered the early church with great grace. Knowing that your savior leads to grace is what happens. They had mega grace is what it said, abundant grace, mega grace. They were like the first megachurch, not in like size but because they had great grace upon them. When you see that your salvation is in Jesus, you're attitudes towards your possessions change, completely change. When you realize that you have received grace, that you have not deserved or earned, you change.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:24:21] Reference Scrooge, has anybody ever heard of Scrooge? Yeah, yeah, yeah, Christmas Carol, yeah. What do we know about him? Man, he was really stingy with his possessions, mainly money. He didn't really care about anybody else, especially those who were suffering. And what happened? We had some Christmas ghosts come and basically kind of tell them what's up. And as he's realizing things, they're showing him, these spirits are showing him, his greed and his doom, and how miserable he's going to be after this life is over. And he kind of sees his own grave, and he sees that he's just kind of wasted his life, and his tombstone is going to be all lonely. And then what happens? The grave opens, it's like he's falling into it, he's like, no, no, no, no, right? And then all of a sudden, he wakes up on Christmas morning, and he thought he was dead, but he realized that he had a second chance, he wasn't dead. And all those people that he didn't care about, they were still alive, and he still had an opportunity to make a difference in their lives. And what happens is his attitude completely changes because he got a second chance that he didn't deserve, and so he starts gleefully scheming on how he can bless them with his possessions, his money. That's grace, he got grace undeserved unlooked for, he thought he was dead and gone, and all of a sudden, he got a second chance. And I just wrote down that if Scrooge had his attitude changed simply by the grace of a second chance, how much more should our attitude towards our possessions change because we have been covered by the blood of Jesus Christ? We've been changed by grace, think about that. Our attitudes towards our possessions should change when we truly accept Jesus Christ in our hearts.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:26:49] So great power and great grace leads us to great generosity. This is what we'll see in verses 34-37. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need. 36Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement)..." Good old Barney, "...and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet." When you receive great grace, it leads to great generosity because you're going, this isn't mine anyway, God gave me all of this. And how could I keep it for myself, God's called me to be an ambassador for him, how can I keep it all for myself? It's because they believed and had grace, that it revolutionized their possessions and what we see as an illustration of great generosity through Barnabas.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:28:09] Barnabas, man, Barnabas was from another town. But like many, he saw what was happening in the early church, and he was drawn in. He was drawn in and he wanted to play, he wanted to be a part of what was going on there. He wanted to be a part of the harmony that was going on. He wanted to be a part of the beautiful sound that this early church was making through grace and generosity. He was so radically changed by the message, that he wants to sell his own field, and then get the proceeds off of what he's sold, gives the money to the church, and says, you all do whatever you need to do with that money, you take care of people. He drops one hundred percent in the offering plate, right? All for what? All for the sake of God, and all for the sake of his people. Barnabas, we're going to see as we keep going through Acts, he's going to become a major player. We're going to see him having a major impact as we go through the book of Acts.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:29:27] And so what I hope that you guys see here is this. We, as a church, when we are working together in unity, when we have truly received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we can do amazing and powerful things for the people around us. And so if you're kind of looking at 121 from afar, I want you to know, and not just because I'm on staff before I became my own staff here, I was a member of the church, serving and doing all those things. And I truly believe that 121 is a church of generosity, and I bet you if you turn to your neighbor and ask them for a story about that, they would have story after story after story about how this church has made an impact on this community around us. And so if you're on the outside looking in, if you're going, I'm not sure about 121. I want to invite you to come be a part and come and connect with a life group.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:30:38] But if you are like me and have been coming to 121 for a long time, man, there's still lots of work to be done. So my challenge for you is to pray a dangerous prayer and ask God to show you somebody in need, and not just that, for you to act on it, today. Or it could be, the prayer for you today is, Lord, is there something material that's only proving to be temporal that I'm holding too tightly to? Do I need to loosen my grip on something material that I'm holding on too tightly to? Maybe that's a prayer that you need to ask God about.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:31:31] I'm going to close with this. So last week our students had what we call Live Weekend, and it was incredible, we had over 200 students come and be a part, and we had over 50 youth leaders stay the night with all of these students. We had, gosh, I want to say, close to 30 to 40 host homes who open up their homes so students could come and crash and eat like cheese balls and popcorn and all that stuff, and, you know, shoot off confetti cannons. That was me, actually. Things like that all weekend long. It was funny we went to Andy's Frozen Custard on Saturday night, some of us went there, and we had like a big crowd of people, and so people on the out, like people that weren't a part it was like, what the heck is going on? And I was like, hey, yeah, we're having our Live Weekend, and I tried to explain to them what it was about. And they didn't grow up in the church, I didn't grow up in the church either, and it quickly dawned on me, they're like, that is weird. Like what, you guys go to a host home and all that stuff. I'm like, yeah, but it's amazing, right? And it is amazing to think about, especially as a leader that has helped put it all together, all the different things that have to happen to make a weekend like it was last weekend. So many different pieces had to come together to make this one beautiful sound, to where students would raise their hand and say, yes, I want in on Jesus. To where they would raise their hand and say, yes, I want to take that next step of faith. To where they would leave changed forever. We had youth leaders spend a couple of nights with students over the weekend. And God bless you all, wherever you're at, thank you. Thank you for staying up till 1:30 a.m. sometimes, thank you. You know, giving, that's generosity, that's giving up possession of their time, some of them took time off work to be with them. We had host homes open up their homes, and say, hey, what's yours is mine pretty much. And say, come in, I don't know you, but, yeah, go ahead and set all of your cheese balls on my countertop or whatever. Right? We had drivers, we had over 200 kids that we had to like Shuttle on Saturday from here to there, from here to there, from here to there. They made time available to move kids around. We had, and Lord bless those who came on Friday night, I don't know if you saw the video, but we sprayed a lot of popcorn everywhere. We had people come in Friday night to come help clean up. We had people who couldn't be a part physically, specifically pray during the preaching times from 7:30 to 9:00, just praying Scripture. The list goes on and on, there are so many intricate details that have to happen to make a weekend like last weekend go off.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:35:01] And it's because this church all came together, just like what we see here, they gave up a lot of things so that Christ would be magnified. So that those who came in from the outside would say, I want to be a part of this, not just this weekend, but Wednesday night, Sunday morning, and Sunday afternoon. The church is powerful when we are united. The church is powerful when we all trust in him and understand that we have great grace. And it's just easy to give because we freely received the most amazing gift, which is life eternal in Him.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:35:53] So I bet if I ask some of the host homes and the leaders and all the people who took part in last weekend, they'd go, It's no thing, it's just loving our Lord and taking care of our brothers and sisters. That's what's happening here, that's what happens at 121, so you are invited, you're invited to come and be a part of what's happening.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:36:17] I'm going to pray, and then I just invite you to just take some time to reflect. Maybe you need to be a part of what's happening, maybe you need to come to the life group lunch, talk to God about that. Or maybe there's something that you're holding on to, that's just, it's material, and maybe God's saying, hey, let go. Or maybe you just need to pray a dangerous prayer, Lord, I don't want to do this, but I think you're telling me to care for somebody, make that obvious to me please. Pray those things.

Jermaine Arphul: [00:36:49] Lord, thank you for blessing us today, we love you. We are grateful that the sufferings that we may be going through right now, are nothing compared to the glory that awaits us. We're grateful that you are in all things, working for the good of those who love you. We're grateful that if you are for us, nobody can be against us. We're grateful that in you, we are more than conquerors. We're grateful that absolutely nothing can separate us from your love. So I just pray that you would speak to us in this calm and still moment. Let us leave changed your name. Let's be still.

Summer Moon: [00:38:15] Hi, good morning. My name is Summer Moon, and I and my husband lead a life group here 121. It's families with littles, and we would just really encourage you guys to get connected if you're not, we've been so blessed by that community, and please go if you have an interest this morning after the service. I have the privilege of speaking about the Lord's Supper this morning, so I'm going to read from Matthew 26 verses 26-28, "While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” 27And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. The broken bread represents his body given to us, the cup represents the blood that was poured out, and the blood symbolizes a new covenant that God has with his people. And as believers, we continue this practice in remembrance of what Jesus did and his death and resurrection, when we take the Lord's Supper to remind us that Jesus gave his life so that we may be saved.

David Parker: [00:39:25] And in just a moment, we're going to sing over all of us. And as we sing, and as you're praying and preparing for the Lord's Supper, just want to let you know there are stations all throughout the worship center and there are some crackers and there's some grape juice. And that's set up is for you to take those crackers and dip that in the juice, and that will be your Lord's Supper elements, or there are some self-contained packets if you prefer that. So either way, you want to go, just as the Lord's leading you. Just spend some time with him and then enjoy what God does during this time, as we remember what he did for us.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051