Maintaining the Spirit of Pentecost

The early church, in the 1st century AD, experienced at first a tremendous growth in the spreading of the Gospel and in the number of persons called into the Church.  The church was characterized by a great vitality and genuine enthusiasm. It operated as one big family.

The believers enjoyed a tremendous unity. They made themselves available to each other and helped each other in every way possible.   This harmonious state of affairs among the Christian church in the first century is expressed repeatedly in the book of Acts as being “of one accord” or being “of one mind”.  It means that the brethren were of the same will, the same desire, etc.  Describing the spirit of the people after Pentecost Acts 2:44-45 says:  “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.”  Continuing in Acts 4:32 Luke says: “Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common”.

The believers met and continued daily with one accord for different occasions: in the temple or also breaking bread, i.e. eating meals together in someone’s home.  An important matter in reference to “being of one accord” is also: They praised God!  Acts 2:46-47 reads : And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people.

The Power of One Accord

Acts 5:12: And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch). When the people of God are in one accord, God works mighty miracles among them.  Acts 8:6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. They gave heed with one accord unto the things which Philip spoke as they heard and saw the miracles which happened!  The Lord added to the church such as should be saved. The believers in Christ Jesus were added to the church by the Lord. He added again and again to the church, and that way the church increased and grew.

The church in its early stages of growth gathered daily and they were together daily. They obviously had a desire and the wish to be with each other, they had fixed their eyes on being able to praise God together and to magnify Him. Their view was not directed toward themselves or on any other believer as independent of the others, rather they saw the church in a magnificent position.

What Destroys “One Accord”?

It only takes one person to destroy the “one accord” of an entire congregation. We see this illustrated in the disasterous defeat of Israel at Ai. Israel had just miraculously won a battle in Jericho, because they were in “one accord.” Then one man, Achan, secretly stole certain items from Jericho. The power of God left Israel until that one man and his family were removed from the congregation. (See Josh 7.)  Similarly, one man and his wife secretly agreed to lie to the Apostles in regards to the price of a land sale. In doing this, they failed to realize they were not lying to the Apostles but to the Holy Spirit. God also removed them from the congregation by sudden death. Following this, great fear came upon all the church, “And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women)” (Acts 5:12-14).

The Church Fell into Discord

Unfortunately, this situation was not a lasting one, and we learn from later writings of the apostle Paul in his epistles to Timothy, that already at that time, which is only a few decades after the beginning of the Christian church at Pentecost, many things had changed and turned out for the worse.    Instead of the unity and like-mindedness seen displayed among the believers, now jealousy, hatred, envy and disagreements were spreading and caused divisions within the church.  Believers were judging one another, criticizing others and fighting with each other, and the loving care from before which they had had for one another and the zeal for likemindedness was replaced.  The church developed more and more into “biting and devouring one another” which led to that which Paul already had spoken of in Galatians 5:15 – “they were consumed of one another”.   In Philippians, Paul writes from prison to a church disturbed by envy and rivalry. Philippians 1:15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill:  Philippians 4:2-3 I implore Eu-o-dia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.

They Were Taking Each Other to Court

1 Cor 6:1-11 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? …7 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!

Our Ambition to Serve God Can Turn Into Selfish Ambition

Astonishingly, it is when people are really serious and zealous for their beliefs that they are apt to come in conflict with one another. The greater our enthusiasm for the Church, the greater the danger of colliding with each other.  Because of our human nature, it is tempting for our passion and zeal for the Church to turn inward and become selfish ambition. When we are bright and passionate and gifted we are often tempted to think more highly of ourselves than we ought.

The Apostle Paul understood that because of his brilliance and gifts this was a trap into which he could fall, and that it was the reason God allowed him to experience a thorn in the flesh. In 2 Cor 12:7-10, the Apostle Paul says, And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

How to be of “One Accord”

Being in “one accord” does not mean that every person in a group will “agree” in every opinion or idea. It does mean that everyone is committed to conducting themselves in such a manner that works toward the good of all.  This can be compared to an orchestra which plays under the direction of its conductor where each instruments play different tones and melodies, but they all together harmoniously play the same piece of music.

As we consider this in relation to the church, each member of the church must work together as a big whole under the direction of God cooperating with His Word and his holy spirit, all for the purpose of giving praise and honour to God.  This, of course, is the exact opposite of divisions, jealous envying, fighting and the like. As the church functions correctly, all contribute to the well being of the whole, and no one is just concerned with themselves, rather every one watches out for the other members.

Yes, at times when we are spiritually strong and zealous for the faith, to prevent us from being overtaken by pride and selfish ambition, God allows problems and tribulations in our lives to produce humility in us so we can maintain unity in his Church and make it into His Kingdom.

Let us maintain the Spirit of Pentecost by imitating the example of Christ.  Christ did not consider equality with His Father as something to be held on to. Instead “He  emptied himself taking the form of a servant, becoming in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man he humbled himself becoming obedient unto death even the death of the cross” (Phil 2:7–8).    Christ voluntarily placed Himself in a position low enough to so he could offer up His life for us. Let us offer up our lives for the unity of God’s Church.