“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. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:32-33)
In the edition of the Bible that I use (the Spirit filled life Bible, published by Nelson), there is a thread of annotations called “kingdom dynamics.“ One of the kingdom dynamics themes is the power of unity, and in the commentary on acts 4:32 it says this:
“it is reported that the growing multitude of believers were experiencing a profound dimension of spiritual unity. First, they were “of one heart,“ which is a description in the original Greek meaning “in tune“ or “In sync“ with one another. To put it another way they were all going in the same way, spiritually together. Second they were of “one soul“ (Sometimes translated as “one mind”). This has a wonderfully deep meaning in the original Greek. It literally means “to breathe“ or “to breathe spiritually together.“ The results of this quality of spiritual unity were both powerful and practical. They had all things in common (shared everything they had); they witnessed “with great power“; and “Great Grace was upon them all.“
Jesus made it clear – and through many of the New Testament writings the Holy Spirit abundantly reinforced – that the backbone of our life in the Spirit is that we love one another: without this backbone, the church simply does not stand up. When we love one another, the world can see that we are disciples of Christ. Yet when we think about evangelism we can (and I frequently do) easily head down the exciting track of power evangelism, and all the miraculous works that it implies, and leave behind the main road of love. We can detach the hand that reaches out from the backbone it is connected to. But in these verses, it is clear that the context of revival in the early church was that the multitude of those who believed were are one heart and one soul. In other words, they lived out, in depth, the practicalities of loving one another: the life of Christ that flowed among them was the same Life that reached out to the lost with healing and salvation.
It is clear that a wave of revival is starting to break on the shores of the nations as God fulfils His declaration of Hebrews 12:26: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” Those of us who long to see the power of God move in our churches and on our streets follow the news with an expectation that cries out ”When, Lord?” But God will give to us as many as we can keep. If we want to witness with great power, and experience an outpouring of great grace, we need to be of one heart and one soul. We need to demonstrate the rule of God’s Kingdom in our lives if we want others to respond to an invitation to meet our King. So before we see God’s power break out among us I think we are going to see a re-awakening of genuine love in the church, because if we don’t love one another in the grace of God, how can we love the needy who join us? I think it is when we have truly learned to stretch out our hands to each other that God will stretch out His hand, through us, to the world.