Ecclesia Economics – Ps John Bendixen (WTB)
Scripture Reference: Genesis 1:26-29 (MSG); 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (MSG); 2 Corinthians 4:1-2, 5-7, 16-18 (MSG); Acts 4:31-37 (MSG); Acts 5:1-4 (MSG)
I’m glad you’re back at church, although it’s digital church, online church, wherever you’re watching, however, you are watching, whatever device you’re watching from – I’m glad you’ve chosen to hear the Word of God, to listen to the Word of God and to let the Word enter your heart, let it fill your mind, and let it be a thing that begins to and continues to work in your life. I have an ongoing mandate from the Lord and I have things that need to be said today, and I’m so pleased and delighted that we have this platform that the Word of God can continue to have momentum in our hearts and our lives. And as a community of people, the Word of God continues to work, even though we are at the moment restricted in our ability to come together, the Word of God can still work as a community. Because the power of the community is that we’ve been a community for a long time, and the Word of God has already changed us and worked in our lives. So that even though we are not together, we are still in a place where our togetherness, our collective greatness is still functioning. It’s still in the spirit realm and it’s working. Hallelujah.
So I’m pleased and delighted to be able to minister the Word to you today. I just want to take a moment to say thank you to Pastor Sharon and Pastor Christi, for the outstanding job that they have done over the last number of weeks in ministering the Word to you on finances and Kingdom economics actually is a better term for it – Kingdom economics. And what an amazing revelation, and the way that it has been presented and the way that they flow together to bring the message of the Gospel, the Good News, the economic good news of the Bible. And so what they, you know, what they were covering was something that has always been in God’s heart from the beginning.
I need to just read you a passage of scripture from Genesis chapter one, I mean, it’s something that everybody always refers to, but it is the beginning of what I have to say to you because it’s the framework of how God wanted to interact with people. So I’m going to read from the Message translation, Genesis one verse 26. And it says, 26-28God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature. So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle. And, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.” 27God created human beings; he created them godlike, Reflecting God’s nature. He created them male and female.” (Genesis 1:26-27 MSG)
So this here was in God’s heart; to create man was in God’s heart. And so when it was in God’s heart, He spoke. And when He spoke God made what He spoke. And then verse 28 says, 28God blessed them: “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.” (Genesis 1:28 MSG) So then, you know, God continues to talk about how He’s going to take care of them. And I don’t want to spend too much time on this except verse 29 says, 29Then God said, “I’ve given you every sort of seed-bearing plant on Earth And every kind of fruit-bearing tree, given them to you for food (Genesis 1:29 MSG). So, that is where I want to end up, “I have given them to you for food.”
So God made man in His image. Some of the words that the Message translation use is very good, because He says, “Human beings, let’s make them in Our image and make them reflecting Our nature.” So what does that nature of God look like? The nature of God says, “I’m a responsible being, I take responsibility for what I create.” So when God said, “I’m going to make man in My image, in Our image, in the image of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” naturally, He’s going to make them with an ability to be responsible – take responsibility. And then as we live in our responsibility of all of what’s on the earth, God says He’s going to bless us, He’s going to prosper us, we’re going to reproduce, and we are going to have this wonderful space of being responsible. Other translation says, have dominion. In other words, we are in charge. So in other words, God said, “I must make man, let’s make man, and He’s going to look like Us. He’s going to have Our nature, he’s going to have everything about Us, he’s going to be responsible, he’s going to be in charge over everything that is on the earth.” So there’s nothing in the earth that isn’t in the charge of men. So I just want to say, and then He begins to say, “And then I’ve also taken care of all of the needs that your body needs. It’s all there. So you don’t have to worry about what your body needs. It’s taken care of. I want you to be in charge and to be responsible for the governance of the earth.” So I mean, that’s really important, you know.
I need to go to Corinthians here. I’m looking for my history of the verses that are, was going to… So here is God, He’s made man. He’s made them in His image, His nature. He is responsible, he is in charge, all his needs are taken care of and his whole nature of what he is supposed to do is to be in charge. To be in control, to have dominion, and to be responsible. But, in order for man to be that, he had to be faced with a choice. When God said, “Let us make man,” God was exercising His right of choice. Because as God Himself, He chose to make us. He chose to make the earth, He chose to make everything that is on the earth. He has the right of choice – God. In order for man to have the nature of God, he had to be able to make a choice. So, God has provided. “Take responsibility, have dominion, work with My nature. In order for you to function the way that you need to function, you must have a choice. Here is a tree that I put in the middle of the garden, and it is the tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil, don’t eat of that – that is the only choice. You can eat of everything else, live with dominion, you can live in charge, you can live responsibly, just don’t make that choice.” So, the enemy of God comes in and he sees that this man has been created with the nature of God, the image of God, he’s got dominion, he is in charge, he is responsible, he has got all of this. So he comes to him with a question and he basically – just to make it easier for us to go through this conversation here this morning – he basically says, “Do you really think that God said that if you do this, this won’t happen? Surely, that is not like that, because you are in the image of God, so you can do whatever you like. Why don’t you eat of the tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil, because you won’t die? Because God has given you everything that you need.” So the very thing that God came to do with man, saying be in charge, have dominion, but be responsible, he was challenging them to exercise their responsibility but actually, they should have said no because God said no. So, they said, “Because we are in charge, we can make the choice that we want to make.” I don’t want to focus too much on the beginning, but I want to show you that in the beginning man had everything that he needed. Man had every ability and skill to be in charge. He had everything he needed, and he was given the mandate to be in charge.
When we talk about the heart of God for humanity – I just want to make this point before I go into the rest of my message. When God spoke to Adam and Eve as human beings, when He spoke to them, He wasn’t just speaking to everyone that was going to become a Christian. He was speaking to all of humanity that Adam and Eve represented. So all of humanity had the capability to be dominating, to be in charge, to be responsible and to have choices – all of humanity. Because every seed that would come or everything that would happen after Adam and Eve, whatever their choices would be, they would have the same mandate. Adam and Eve chose to make a choice that was against the commandment of God. The minute they did that, they became aware of things in their lives that they immediately understood they now had lack. They now had need, whereas God had provided everything they had need of, they now recognised that they were naked. Their nakedness created an emotion that they didn’t know before and it was called shame. So, when God comes to talk with them in the cool of the evening, they hide themselves from God. The Lord says, “Why are you hiding?” They said, “Because we were naked,” and He said, “Who told you that you were naked?” He then asked them, “Did you eat of the tree?” And they said, “Yes, we did.”
Then God begins to implement a set of rules. “You can’t live in this Garden because this Garden was created for a man who made the right choices and was going to do and function the way that he was meant to function. You can’t live in this Garden because in this Garden is the Tree of Life. If you have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and now you eat from the Tree of Life, you will forever eternally live like a being. like satan, like the devil. Except that you would have the same authority in the universe as God has. So, I can’t have you do this because you will create havoc – having eaten from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and eat of the Tree of Life, which means you would live eternally.” God takes them out of the Garden, He puts a barrier to the Garden – angels with flaming swords – and they proceed to live. Now, God’s pronouncement on them, “Because you didn’t take charge, because you were not responsible, now you are going to have to work to be in charge. You’re going to have to work with your hands, you’re going to have to do things that I didn’t intend you to do. You are going to have to do things to be in charge, to be responsible, but I will still take care of you and provide for you in the cycle of the way that you work.”
God begins an eternal process. God begins an eternal process of allowing humanity to make choices. And God has a divine plan that as man makes the wrong choices, He has a divine plan to restore man to the same position that Adam and Eve were in originally. Because He wanted man to have dominion, He wanted man to be in charge, to be responsible and to reflect all of the glory of God and have a relationship that was full of the glory of God. Where there was no shame and whatever would make them feel naked or make them feel like they were vulnerable, make them feel like they were incompetent or make them whatever it was that the knowledge of good and evil brought to them, God set about bringing a plan of redemption.
So as men are living their lives, and as they are going about their business, there is a whole history of God seeing what the choices of men were, and then prophetically bringing into the earth His will through men that would make God choices. And that’s the way God has always done. He’s got men that make God choices and then He’s got people that make choices for themselves. He’s got men that make God choices and then He’s got men that make choices for themselves. If you make choices for yourself, you keep eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. If you make choices for God, you always eat of the Tree of Life. So you have these two choices. And as God is looking on the earth for the redemption plan, men are making choices. And all the while, all the while through all the Old Testament, people are making choices. So God wants to reengage with them in a way that there are no barriers. So eventually, He delivers them out of Egypt and He wants to bring them into a land where He can have a relationship with them that is based on His words, His laws, and His order. So that’s what He’s looking for.
Because they were unfamiliar with the voice of God and because they were unfamiliar with the ways of God, they actually say, “We can’t, we don’t know that we can connect with this God that is the delivering God. Even though He keeps us warm at night, He keeps us cool at day, He keeps us fed, He keeps us protected, He keeps us healthy, we’re not sure how we can connect with God.” So they end up making wrong choices. God has to give them a set of orders or commands by which they should live and then He starts to set about because of the way they live, sends messengers. So the essence of my message is, at this point, He sends messengers called prophets into the earth to deliver His words that will bring about His power, His glory, His anointing that would in the time of men begin to bring about the process where Jesus could come into the earth. When Jesus comes into the earth, He talks about the first Adam and the second Adam. The Apostle Peter, the Apostle Paul, the Apostle John, they all talk about the first Adam and the second Adam. And so Jesus is the second Adam. What does Jesus come and do? He comes and He takes dominion over every circumstance, over every environmental issue that touched His world, over the people that God gave Him responsibility for, He takes charge, He takes dominion and He’s responsible. He speaks what God wants Him to speak. He does what God wants Him to do, and He lives in the order of God. So there was never a time when Jesus lacked anything. His life was not about what He needed materially. His life was all about fulfilling what God wanted Him to do on Earth – to restore the nature of God, the nature of God into the hearts of men. Not through a set of laws but to write it on their heart.
So I get to the first passage of Scripture and I want to read to you from second Corinthians chapter three and I urge you to read from the beginning of the second chapter, the second book of Corinthians, because it will talk a lot about Moses and how and it talks about what God requires of us and it talks about Moses, who had to have a veil on his face because people couldn’t see the glory. Because when they looked in his face, it was like looking in the sun because of the glory of God that shined on Moses and so he had to cover his face with a veil, but every day that glory was fading, because when he got away from the presence of God and the glory faded on his face. They didn’t even know that the glory was fading because he had a veil on his face. So, I get to verse 16, 16Whenever, though, they turn they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are – face-to-face! This is the new believer. This is the new Christian. I’m reading from the Message translation. They suddenly recognise, this is second Corinthians chapter 3 verse 16. Now read verse 17, they suddenly recognise that God is a living, personal presence. God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. In other words, not a bunch of laws. And when God is personally present, and living Spirit, that old constructing legislation is recognised as being obsolete. We’re free of all of those laws that dominated us. Now we have the personal presence of God and all of that restored relationship that God wanted with man. All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of His face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like Him (2 Corinthians 3:16-18 MSG). And we become like Him.
So what the Apostle Paul is talking about here is the individual one of us that has a personal life or personal encounter with God, but also all of us together are having encounters with God. And so, when over the last couple of weeks, Pastor Sharon and Pastor Christi have been talking about money or about goods, material issues, there are some things that God has brought into the earth so that we can show God that we have our lives trusting Him. And as we trust Him, we are in a place that our trusting Him, He goes to work on our behalf. So if I want to, if I read this again, and when God is personally present a loving Spirit, that old constricting legislation is recognised that obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our face is shining with the brightness of His face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter, and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18 MSG).
So one of the issues that were talked about or one of the points that we’re talking about is that your personal approach to the way you manage your money has not only a personal impact on your life, but it has a collective impact on the church, to the degree that if you make choices in the way that you manage your finances personally, you are in a place where you say, “If I choose not to tithe, and I choose not to do what God says I must do with my money, I choose to hold on to my money because it’s mine. I want to control it, I want to be in charge of it,” then you’re saying, I can’t give it to God for Him to multiply it. I have to take charge of my own multiplication.
So if you say I want to take charge of my own multiplication, you’re always limited to what you can do. But God is saying, and so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18 MSG). So when we are all becoming like Him, it means He, with His presence, with all of who He is, enters our lives. And as He enters our lives, He’s showing us how to be like Him, and how we can get brighter and brighter and brighter as a group of people.
If we think that money has nothing to do with it, then I say to you, well, okay, why don’t you just stop working for a year and see if money has nothing to do with your life? So Jesus knows that you have need of everything. So then, we don’t need to reinvent what we are as a church. We don’t have to reinvent what God wants for us as a church. We just have to do what He already showed us to do. When we do that, then God begins to unveil and release what He wants for us.
Now I’m going to read chapter four, again, out of the Message translation. I just want to read the first couple of verses, and then I’m going to go to verse five. 1-2Since God has so generously let us in on what He is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times (2 Corinthians 4:1 MSG). In other words, God has given us this great privilege that we together, understand and He’s given us an insight into what He’s doing, what His grand plan is. What’s His grand plan? He wants man to dominate through His light, through His way, through His will. He wants man to be responsible with His life, with His plan, with all of His glory. He wants a man to be responsible just like Adam should have been, just like Jesus was. He now wants us to be that.
1-2Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks. This is not about Covid. This is a different kind of mask. This is; we refuse to present ourselves as something that we are not. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God (2 Corinthians 4:1-2 MSG). So I say to you that if you have listened to what Pastor Christi preached in Johannesburg for three sessions, and or the past couple of weeks watched Pastor Christi and Pastor Sharon preach on money and with what God wants to do with the Ecclesia, and with the money of the individuals through the Ecclesia. They do not and I do not and we do not manipulate the truth for our advantage. We do not do such things to suit ourselves, rather we keep everything we do and say in the open the whole truth on display.
So if God gives us a revelation then we must speak the truth. We can’t hide that truth. If you do not like the truth, then you are in a place where you are like Adam and Eve that says, “I want more than the truth that God has given me. I am making choices for me, not for anybody else. Not for the plan that God has revealed to me.” Then I say that is up to you.
So, verse 5, 5-6Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.” (2 Corinthians 4:5-6 MSG). And so whatever we have to say, we are messengers, we are errand boys. We have no choice but to speak what God has said to us to speak. So when God reveals to a church, to an Ecclesia that He wants us to be a church that understands what firstfruits are. Because firstfruits is not just about the pastor in the church. Firstfruit is a principal and a way that you live your life. Firstfruit is I receive from God something and I give it back to Him as a firstfruit, then the rest of everything is blessed. Tithing is not just about money because it is about money but it is not just about money. It is about the way that God says I want you to order your lives that you give a tenth to Me. In fact, if God’s system of economics was managed, there are a lot of things that God says about life, about land, about animals, about things that are in the Old Testimony that people say that because it is in the Old Testament it is no longer relevant to a modern-day church. But it is because He was talking to His Covenant people. He is still the same God that He was to Adam and Eve. He was still the same God to His people. And whatever He told His people to do in the Old Testament, He said this is the way that if you want rules, this is the rules that as a minimum you must live by these rules. When you get to the New Testament this is a whole different ball game. And if you read in the first, chapter one, chapter two of second Corinthians that we are in, you will read and you will see that if that Old Covenant was filled with glory, like Moses’ face that shined with glory, if that was so glorious, how much more glorious is this Covenant that we live in. So people want to say that Old Covenant was full of rules and regulations and we do not want to live that way because you can’t take those rules into the new covenant. Actually, the New Covenant is more glorious. So if you were a tither in the Old Covenant you were entitled to make some claims from God; “I am a tither, therefore You bless me.” That is what God said. Right? “Prove Me now.” “Bless me. I am a tither. Bless me.”
So in the New Testament how much more do we have a relationship with God where the relationship is; I do not tithe because it is a law I now tithe because it is in the Spirit of God in me to tithe. I do not give firstfruits because it is a law. I give it because it is in the Spirit of God in me. I now give everything because of the Spirit of God in me. And as I give out of that Spirit because the Spirit of God is in me, I now see the Jesus in all of you and the togetherness we begin to go brighter and brighter and brighter.
So what happens if there are people amongst us that say, “I refuse to tithe and I refuse to… It is just I do not see it. I do not get it. I have worked all my life to get the money that I have got. I have worked hard to get to where I am getting. So, why do I have to give any of it away?” Well, you don’t. God is not going to come and knock on your door and say – like some denominational churches might do, come knock on your door – and say where is your tenth? God is not going to do that. But by accepting Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, the very Spirit of Christ that is in you wants you to grow brighter and brighter and remove the darkness out of your life. So what He wants you to do is be free of that spirit that is dominating you that says, “I must look after me because no one else will.” What He wants you to see is that He has already taken care of you because He wants you to live in a way collectively that we reveal Jesus – that is what He wants to do.
So it all started and I say it again from verse 6, it started when God said, 6 “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful. Verse seven, 7If you only look at us, so if you look at us, our bodies and the message that we carry, if you look at us, you might well miss the brightness. What’s the brightness? The brightness of God in us. We carry this precious Message around in unadorned clay, in just human clay bodies, of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us (2 Corinthians 4:6-7 MSG). So, hey, we’ve got to carry this message that’s in the earthen vessels, just normal human people. We are just speaking as normal human people. But the power of the message comes through these clay vessels so that the power can be recognised because it’s only clay vessels bringing it. If it was about the clay vessels, then you would confuse that it was… Is this God or is this clay? Who’s this message coming from? But because it’s coming from normal average clay vessels, no spectacular jewels in us, no spectacular anything special about what we do or who we are. But we are errand boys for the message of Jesus Christ, for the message of what we have to deliver.
I urge you to read the rest of that chapter in the book of Corinthians chapter four. I want to just shift over now. Well, I’m going to go and talk a little bit, some more about Corinthians 4. And I’m going to go to verse 16. 16So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. 17These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. 18 There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 MSG). Here’s what’s happening. We can’t give up because sometimes it’s hard. Hard times. Because these hard times, these things you struggle with in your body, in your mind, in your soul, are small potatoes for the coming good that is about to be revealed. So that is not only what is about to be revealed eternally, it does include that, and it does talk about that, it talks about the new body and the new life that God will eventually, we will put on as we move from this old clay body, this tent that we live in, and we move into heaven. It does talk about this. But what we are doing while we are on this earth, there is far more to it than meets the eye. So, even though you are doling out money, or giving money into what seems to be a very natural environment, what’s going on here is far more powerful than what meets the eye. Because what you’re doing with your money is not just giving money, it’s giving of yourself so that the glory of God can be manifest in you. Just note what he says here. He says here, 16 …it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life. 16…God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace (2 Corinthians 4:16 MSG). In other words, He’s saying here, God is taking care of us every day, every day, every day.
So there’s a lot more going on here with the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, and He is looking for people that will give themselves to prayer. He’s looking for people that will give their possessions to Him, not to man, to Him. Man may receive your tithes and your offerings here on earth but He receives them here in heaven. So you’re not giving them to men, we may receive them but the book of Hebrews – and as they talked about last week – says God receives them in heaven. So when you give anything on the earth, whether you give to the poor, whether you give your tithes, whether you give your firstfruits, all of what you’re doing is giving to God. And God is watching. He’s watching what you give and He’s watching what you keep because there’s more to this than meets the eye.
And so, I’m going to close with this. I heard a man, a preacher, once say, “I’m allowed three closes before it becomes a lie”. But I am, I’m going to finish off this part of the conversation today with this. In Acts chapter 4 and verse 31 says, 31While they were praying. So there was a whole lot of threats to them that they may not preach the Gospel, they may not preach in the name of Jesus. And so they go and talk to the people. And so, 31While they were praying, the place where they were meeting trembled and shook. 31While they were praying … the place trembled and shook (Acts 4:31 MSG). What kind of power is present? Like if we were in this room, what kind of power is present that this place would tremble and shake? It’s the power of God that created heaven and earth. His presence comes so strong that it trembles and shakes. I tell you what, I wonder what would happen to the people if they came into the church service one day, and we’re having such an awesome prayer meeting or such an amazing church service that actually the whole building starts to shake and tremble. I wonder if their natural mind would think, “Oh no, an earthquake or a sinkhole,” or whether the presence of God would just lead them to understand He’s here. And when He shows up with such power, even the earth can’t handle His power. It has to tremble and shake. Why? Because when in the beginning He said, “Let light and darkness separate from each other, let the light be,” it had to obey God because He is the creator of all things. So that’s the God you want to deny when He says, “Let me take care of you.” Anyway, they were all filled. 31So the place trembled and shook and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continue to speak God’s Word with fearless confidence (Acts 4:31 MSG).
So we are messengers, we are in clay pots, we are just errand boys for God. But that doesn’t mean to say that we should not declare the message that He has given us with confidence and boldness. Our confidence doesn’t come because of our clay pots, doesn’t come because of our humanity. It comes because we are filled with the Holy Spirit. We have the very Christ-nature in us that commands and demands that we speak. 32The whole congregation of believers was united as one heart (Acts 4:32 MSG). Why did this message come to you – about firstfruits, tithing, offerings – why did this message come in a time when the world’s economies are struggling and having such a hard time? Because God wants you to trust Him so that He can do a mighty work so that His glory can become evident. Because when you’re all together in one accord, one heart, one mind, look what happened, 32They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, “That’s mine. You can’t have it.” (Acts 4:32 MSG). No one said, “That’s mine. You can’t have it.” Why did that happen? The power of God was so strong when they experienced God’s power shaking even buildings, working through them with the Holy Spirit, they recognised, that all our possessions, not one of these things belong to me. I’m here as a servant of God. We’re not talking about the apostles; we’re talking about all the believers, all the Christians.
32The whole congregation of believers was united as one heart, one mind, they didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, “That’s mine. You can’t have it.” They shared everything (Acts 4:32 MSG). Now, look, I want to say to you that was an amazing thing that God did. He wants our hearts to be like that with Him. I’m not for one minute suggesting that anybody and everybody should go and sell their houses and bring all their money and bring all this stuff and bring it to the Church. This is something that you are led to do by the Holy Spirit, whatever He is leading you to do. What I’m suggesting that you need to do, is you need to find that place where you walk with God, where we are of one heart and one mind, in the Word together. 32They shared everything. 33The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them (Acts 4:32-33 MSG). The one thing that separates our entire belief system, our whole walk with God, is that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. And that same power that God put on Jesus to raise Him from the dead, that same powerful grace is upon us and it is that grace that was on them that caused them to say, “My possessions don’t belong to me. None of this stuff is mine. You can’t have it.” You can’t do that without the grace. You can’t do that without the grace coming because you’re one mind, one heart and one spirit.
And so that’s why God is not just looking for a church gathering. God’s looking for an Ecclesia, He’s looking for an authority people, a ruling people, a governing people who say, “Mine is not my own. I’m here to do the work of the Father. Mine is not my own. It doesn’t belong to me, I’m here to give it to God.” Because when you’re in that space of Ecclesia and the government of the Lord Jesus, you understand that the prayers that you pray shake places, they cause things to happen. You understand that boldness comes upon you, you operate fearlessly because you’re in this place where you are one heart with God, one heart with His Word, you’re engaged with Him in Spirit. And because of that, other people that you can see, they have the same spirit, we are the same mind, we are the same heart, we are the same thing. We can function together. God says, “That’s My Ecclesia. And then you can preach boldly and confidently and My glory will shine in this church”. And in a time when the world is in turmoil, in a time when the world has no answers, He’s saying, “Church, I want to teach you about money that if you will take this whole thing into your heart, and you become one mind and one heart with the Word of God, I will shine My glory.” Places will shake, nations will tremble, cities will fall before God if there will be a Church like this. Because, 33the apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them. 34And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them, and brought the price of the sale to the apostles and made an offering of it. The apostles then distributed according to each person’s need (Acts 4:34-35 MSG).
Wow. These people had houses and lands and so what they did was they put them all up for sale. And when they sold it they brought all of the money and they came and laid it at the feet of the apostles. Can you imagine the holiness? Can you imagine the one accord, the grace, the awesome glory of God that was on them that people would go and sell their possessions because it doesn’t belong to me? God has given me resurrection life. I was someone that had no place to go because my life was all about rules, it was all about orders which I could never uphold. And now I found the very life of Christ, I don’t have to look through a veil to try and see if there is glory anymore. The veil is split and now I see Jesus face to face. The very essence of the presence of Jesus, the very awesomeness of having this new life of Christ inside of me, it’s so beautiful and so amazing and I recognise it in all of these people that are also giving their all and are experiencing Jesus. What use and what good is my goods if I can’t experience this goodness of God in each other. And I see the brightness of God in your face and I see Him coming through your spirit and I see Him working in your life. And the glorious thing that is Jesus in you, I want more of Him and I want to see Him in you and I want you to see Him in me. So what good is my possessions if my possessions keep me from that?
So they just sold their lands. And they sold their houses. And they came and they brought their money and they brought it to the feet of the apostles. And it’s a holy transaction as they bring it because they know that all of their history, all of their investment, all of the stuff that they had that was good for their entire future and their children’s future and children’s children. They realised that actually there is no future without Jesus. So they put their whole future on the line; all of their past legacy on the line; and they brought it and put it at the apostles’ feet. What was so special about the apostles? Nothing much. They were just errand boys. They were just people. Clay vessels. But the transaction wasn’t with the man that was standing there. The transaction was with a holy God and a dynamic holy church in which Jesus lived in all of the people so that the church was a witness to every transaction that was happening at the feet of the apostle.
The church witnessed it. The people witnessed. The glory of God was there with every holy transaction. And so, verse 36 says, 36Joseph, called by the apostles “Barnabas” (which means “Son of Comfort”), a Levite born in Cyprus, 37sold a field that he owned, brought the money, and made an offering of it to the apostles (Act 4:36-37 MSG) The reason there is a special mention made here is because for a Levite in any way to own property was a big deal. And so, any Levite that owned property would not really willingly give it up because as a Levite, he was supposed to live off all the money of the people. So, he already underwent a transaction in his heart that says, “My status as a Levite to serve all of Israel where they bring their tithes and offerings to the House of Levi to serve in the temple, to serve before God; to serve sacrifices – my job is over. I’m now coming under the new dispensation of grace. And under grace, whatever I own, is no longer necessary. I come to serve, not as a Levite. I come to serve as a believer.”
That transaction was not a small thing. That transaction was a recognition that the old order of the priesthood and the Levite service was no longer needed. When Barnabas came to give his money, he said, “My past is over. My whole future of serving God comes to a new level.” The only way he could show it was by giving his property, selling his property and putting the money at the hands of the people.
In this place of holiness; in this place of the Ecclesia, the believers who were all in one accord sitting together, all of these people, looking at everybody bringing their goods, bringing their offerings, bringing their stuff to the feet of the apostles, in this holy atmosphere along comes a man. His name is 1Ananias and his wife – Sapphira conniving in this with him – sold a piece of land, 2secretly kept part of the price for himself, and then brought the rest to the apostles and made an offering of it. 3Peter said, “Ananias, how did Satan get you to lie to the Holy Spirit and secretly keep back part of the price of the field? 4Before you sold it, it was all yours, and after you sold it, the money was yours too to do with as you wished. So what got into you to pull a trick like this? You didn’t lie to men but to God” (Act 5:1-4 MSG). You see, the transaction of bringing money to the apostles’ feet, putting your tithes and your offerings and your firstfruits into an account that is here for the church, that is here for Pastor Sharon and me, and for the serving believers – the transaction is not with man. The transaction is with God. And so, these men were watching over these transactions and they saw the holiness of it. They saw the glory of it. And they said, “We want in on the glory but we also want to stay in the old life.” It’s not possible. You can’t stay in the old life. And he made the point, the Apostle Peter made the point, “When you had the house, was it not yours? When you had the property, was it not yours? Everything was yours to do but now you have come and you have come to lie to the Holy Spirit.”
I tell you people, God has a new order in this day. It is the order of the witness of those believers that are completely sold out for Him. It is the order of God in the believer’s life that says, “I recognise in you, I see in you, I see in you no veil, not your flesh. I see the Spirit of Christ in you. I see the life of God in you. I see the glory of God in you. I see you as Christ. I don’t see you anymore as a clay vessel. I see you as the life of God. And as you bring your tithes and your offerings and as you recognise that nothing is your own, and you bring it and you bring it to the people, it’s the witness of the people that judged Ananias and Sapphira. It wasn’t just the Apostle Peter. It was the holy transactions of every other believer that they were making their … as they made their holy transactions that were a witness. That was a judgment against people that bring money with impure motives.
God has brought a new order. And let me tell you, it happened at a time when the Roman Empire was dominant. It happened at a time when they permitted Israel to just serve God the way that they wanted to. They gave them permission. Anytime they could revoke that permission. It came at a time when there was empire-building. There was violence. There was tremendous abuse on the earth, and while this violence and abuse was happening on the earth, the religious order wanted to hold to itself religion as the order.
And Jesus said, “I come into this empire-building, I come into this religious order, and I lay My life down and the Father raises Me from the dead and now My life is given to everyone.” And now we have this open relationship. And yes, Lord, we receive, we receive through the very Spirit of Christ the grace and the ability to dominate and to govern, and to take responsibility for all that You place in our hands that is no longer ours but it is ours to be responsible with – however, You choose to let us use it. And as we make these choices, the glory belongs to You. Hallelujah.
I trust this message stands as a marker, a marker in the history of our ministry, this church, this Ecclesia where God has given us a mandate to pray. We are a House of prayer. We are certainly a people of faith. We are certainly a people who understand that we are accountable to each other, we are accountable to God and His words. We are certainly a people that honour God, honour His Word, and we honour the life of God in each other. The Bible puts it this way; submit yourselves one to another. So we say in more modern language that we are accountable to each other, and we also honour each other. Because when I see Christ in you, I want to be receiving the Christ that’s in you into my life. And together, we have such grace. Together we pronounce judgments and the order of God is established so that day by day the church can grow. Day by day His presence and His glory can be seen on the earth. This is not about a single moment. This is about the eternal Jesus, the Eternal Father who is wanting to make a statement on the earth now that as empires are being built, and they’re building empires on the back of viruses that are bringing down economies, that are terrifying men. Those empires are motivated and they are inspired by demonic forces that want to decimate the church and want to pull the church apart. And they want to isolate the church and they want to devastate the church. Those forces who want to raise themselves up above the knowledge of Jesus Christ and all that He is. He says, “I’ll pull to Me a church that will pray. I’ll pull to Me a church that will bring offerings and tithes and giving. I will bring to Me a church that will believe Me, and I will release through that church the glory of God daily, the grace of God daily, and no one will need anything because every need will be taken care of in that church. And I will add to the church daily, and My glory shall be seen.” Hallelujah. Glory to God.
It is my prayer, Father, that these words that have been spoken not just through this message, but all the previous messages spoken by Pastor Sharon and Pastor Christi, all of the messages that You have released into this Ecclesia, this church, that we will take our place as responsible life-givers, life bringers, life messengers. We will take up our responsibility and we will declare, Father that all that is ours belongs to You. Our lives belong to You, our breath belongs to You. Our gifts belong to You, our anointings, our callings, our money, our everything belongs to You. Hallelujah.
And I pray Father, that wherever darkness wants to overwhelm the human mind, and dominate the Spirit of Christ that is in earthen vessels, I pray, Father that Your Word will hold them, Your Holy Spirit will keep this word in their hearts. And I pray, Father that they will allow this Word to grow stronger in their hearts. And that we will gain the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and we receive and we ask You according to Your Word, we ask You for the wisdom we need to move forward, and how to move forward, and the timings to move forward. And how we should do things the way You want them to be done. We ask You for wisdom, Father.
And if you’re still watching and listening, I would like you to agree with me according to the Word of God that you will receive the wisdom of God; how you should obey God in this because truly, our destiny and the destiny of many people’s lives is at stake. May the peace of God rest upon you. May His joy fill you. And may you understand the fullness and the goodness and the glory of God, from this day, and every other day in Jesus’ name. Thank you for listening. God bless you.