Passage: Acts 4:32-37
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
Gospel movements happen when God’s church witnesses to Him powerfully. The early church witnessed compellingly to God’s reality because it had both an orthodoxy of doctrine and an orthodoxy of community.
The early church’s witness, therefore, included both their words and their deeds. Being a witness involves testifying to who Jesus is and what he has achieved, and thus the apostles “with great power…were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (4:33). Because our salvation is based on historical events, our witness always involves the verbal proclamation of the gospel, as a matter of first priority. This same gospel message, however, creates a beautiful community among those who believe it. The early church community was marked by lavish generosity, and the selling and sharing of possessions to care for the those in need—such that “there was not a needy person among them”! The church held all things in common because they truly saw themselves as a family.
Among this church family, it was their belief (trust) in the gospel message—the message of Christ’s self-giving love on their behalf—that empowered their life together. The gospel is what empowers us to live out “exchanged lives,” marked by serving one another with radical generosity. When the power of our verbal proclamation combines with the beauty of our community, we will together be a compelling witness to Christ, and the gospel will advance!
- The Nature of Our Witness (4:32-35)
- What Empowers Our Witness (4:32; 36-37)
Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide
Re-read the passage (Acts 4:32-37)
The Nature of Our Witness (4:32-35)
Q) INTRO QUESTIONS: What comes to mind when you hear the word “witness”? If you grew up in the church, how would people talk about “witnessing”?
Q) INTRO QUESTIONS: In his introduction, Pastor Bobby shared a quote from Ray Ortlund Jr, who said: “Gospel Doctrine minus Gospel Culture = hypocrisy. Gospel Culture minus Gospel Doctrine = fragility. Gospel Doctrine + Gospel Culture = power.” Do you agree? Why is a church’s witness hindered when it lacks either gospel doctrine or gospel culture? Have you ever experienced this before?
Q) Re-read Acts 4:32-33. What do you notice about the early church’s witness from these verses? How is the church’s verbal witness described? How is their life together described? How do you think their life together and their verbal witness were related?
Q) In verse 32, “no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common,” and in verses 34-35, we read “there was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” How might we practice this same radical generosity in our church today?
Q) Are there any idols you notice in the church today that keep us from practicing radical generosity, as a community? What about in your own life?
Q) Which aspect of being a “witness” to the gospel comes less naturally to you—proclaiming the gospel message verbally, or living with radical generosity because of its implications? What is one practical step you might take this fall to grow in that aspect of being a witness?
Q) What happens when a church is strong in its verbal witness to the gospel, but lacks generous community dynamics? What happens when a church is a generous community but has little to no verbal witness?
What Empowers Our Witness (4:32; 36-37)
Q) In verse 32, the church community is described as “those who believed.” Why do you think Luke described the church this way? What insight does this give into what empowered the early church?
Q) Imagine you’re talking to a friend who is not a Christian. Your friend mentions that they are drawn to something about your church’s sense of community—how people serve each other in practical ways like babysitting for each other’s kids, helping each other move, and bringing each other meals when someone falls sick. While they like the “community feel” of the church, they could never see themselves as part of a church that is “too serious about doctrine,” because
“those types of churches end up excluding people,” they say. In light of this week’s sermon, how might you respond to them?
Additional Application Questions
Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?
Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.