Gathering of Christians and Holding Possessions in Common
It is right to state at the outset, that gathering together in the name of the Lord (in Truth) is absolutely the right thing to do.
Unfortunately, there are many different divisions in "Christendom" which creates a serious problem for the sincere Bible student. There can be no doubt that where the heart and mind are sincere before the Lord and the Almighty, to know Truth, that with due diligence, prayer and effort, much startling and often new information emerges from Scripture.
The fact is that this "new information" is not new, but is re-emerging or uncovering of what has been available for many centuries, and is what the early Church was already aware of, discussed enthusiastically and actively, the points which Scripture raises. That was healthy, and was stopped in its tracks primarily by Constantine the Great and his mother Helena, who "unified" all doctrine and teaching into conformity of Roman interpretation of Scripture and their own motivation of control of the Empire and people, under pain of death.
That stifling of healthy enquiry and diligent working at Scripture, which is clearly exhorted by the Apostle Paul (2Tim. 2:15); under the Holy Roman Empire led to the corruption that is well-known and documented by the Roman Church, and still applies. It took the courage of Martin Luther to begin the process of undoing and unpicking the power of the Roman Church with his "re-discovering" that Salvation is by faith alone in the work of Christ Jesus on The Cross (Eph. 2:8-9), as opposed to the practise of the Roman Church at that time of selling indulgences (a paper which gave permission to sin in the future for a price), and pardons (a paper which gave forgiveness of sin for a price).
That outrageous degree of corruption perpetrated by men in the Roman Church calling themselves Bishops, Priests and Popes, must eternally be guarded against in its lesser forms now prevalent, but equally if not more pernicious miss-teaching.
The basic principle underlying any sincere Christian's natural desire to meet with like minded persons, must include the basic premise that Christ died for the sin of the world and the individual, that He is The Son of God, (not a son), and that He will return to the Earth to restore Israel, and the world and set up the 1000 year reign as shown in Scripture. See: God's Only Begotten Son.
The simple statement above clearly shows that any group that calls itself Christian must be open to questions as regards its teachings and its leadership. If it will not allow such questions, there is clearly a force at work that must not be accepted by an openhearted and sincere Christian.
It is clear that a Christian who is attending a group, is showing support for that group to human kind and also to Heavenly witness (Eph. 3:10).
This does not mean that there are not many sincere Christians abroad on the face of the Earth, but it does mean that many are deliberately submerging their doubts and perhaps their knowledge, so as to be members of a group which allows them some degree of what they can accept as fellowship.
The argument is presented frequently that such principles as laid out above should be submerged by the individual. That the individual or individuals should attempt within the framework of membership to conform to the groups teaching and norms. Any questions and doubts that may be held by the individual should be presented in an open way at a group forum. In practice this may not work, as the attempts nearly always create insecurity and friction in many groupings; with perceived threat to the groups membership and hierarchy. This can lead to closing of ranks, and possibly sanctions on the Christians doing the questioning. To greater or lesser degree this type of response to questioning of a groups teachings is unfortunately quite common.
The verse in Hebrews 10:25, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the Day approaching", which is usually quoted against such people that show independence of study etc., was in the context of the Hebrew people at the time of Paul's writing to them. There was relatively growing uniformity of teaching at that time, and a clear expectation that the Lord's return was near (which would have been the case had the Jews accepted Christ as their long awaited Messiah, the offer of which expired at Acts 28:28, for the Lo-Ammi period).
Those conditions, or similar, in our opinion will yet re-emerge and are described in the first 3 Chapters of Revelation, when a Jewish context will exist and that verse will apply again, see: The Seven Churches (Ekklesia).
The Lord gave knowledge just prior to his ascending into Heaven that empowerment for special purposes would be given (Acts 1:8). That event took place at Pentecost, which was 50 days (7 Sabbaths) after Our Lord became the wave offering before Jehovah of the first fruit at Passover (Lev. 23:10-15) & (1Cor. 15:23). Our Lord's Ascension to the Father was as the first fruit (wave offering), and hence His command to Mary Magdalene at the tomb not to touch Him, (John 20:17).
Pentecost as is well known is the Jewish Feast to celebrate a number of parts of their history, i.e. the Exodus, etc., but also concentrates on thanksgiving for expiation of sin together with sin offerings. A major part of the celebration is for the FIRST FRUITS of the harvest, as it was after this stage that it is released for general consumption prior to which it is in the domain of Jehovah only.
Christ (Messiah), is the first fruit of those that have eternal life (1Cor. 15:20-23). The fact that the Holy Spirit gave empowerment at that moment for initially the evangelising (general consumption) of the Jews (Acts 2), clearly points to the yet future celebration of the feast of Booths!
At the Pentecost feast, many foreign Jews were in Jerusalem with many different languages spoken. Peter the fisherman later the disciple and very close friend of Jesus, despite his denials, was given the special task to care for and to feed Christ's (Messiah's) lambs and sheep, which confirmed Christ's statement that He came only to the lost sheep of Israel (Matt. 15:24), (at that time).
Peter spoke at the moment of empowering to explain what was happening. He referred to Joel (2:28-31) where the prophecy was given that such would happen. The reading of Joel in the context of Peter's comment clearly shows together with other cross references in Scripture, that this was a particularly critical moment in the history of the Jewish people, as the Joel prophecy refers to the end Age events for Israel, and the dealing of the Almighty with the Nations of the world, (see Revelation).
The special gifts that were given of tongues (languages), were meant for translation of the Gospel of Christ which was the Kingdom Gospel, to the foreign Jews (Acts 2), there at Jerusalem at that time, and also in the following years as the apostles and evangelists moved out into those territories.
The special empowerment at that time (called by some the gifts of the Spirit, as such they were), continued for a number of years with various of Christ's disciples and apostles, with remarkable effect both in terms of healing, but particularly as regards the spreading of the Gospel of Messiah come to the Jews! Unfortunately, as the evangelistic work progressed so did the opposition of the Enemy particularly through the hierarchical Jewish priesthood etc., and important Synagogues throughout the known world rejected the message of Paul (which Paul had been uniquely commissioned to present by Christ on the Damascus road).
Despite the rebuffing by the Synagogues and the Jewish hierarchy, Jews and Gentiles formed into separate groups (Churches), and many miraculous events and happenings are recorded.
In Acts 2:44-45, is recorded the fact that at that remarkable time when so many Jews and some Gentiles were being converted to Christ Messiah, the principle of common ownership of peoples possessions was readily accepted for the common good. This was clearly a major departure from the norm of personal property, which has been and is the basis of personal security and motivation.
For this to have happened so soon after the events of The Holy Spirit, described in Acts 2:1-21, emphasises the powerful change that had in fact taken place in the people involved in Jerusalem and environs, and would be impossible without the de-facto Force of God Almighty via The Holy Spirit.
The fact that the Acts 2 events were indeed the work of God, and that a new condition prevailed for the Jews and their Gentile counterparts and that a change was about to transpire on Earth, is underlined by the events described in Acts 5:1-11. Ananias and his wife Sapphira conspired to defraud the group on the sale of some of their property, they lied about the price received. They did not need to, as they could have openly stated that it was only part of the total price! This example clearly showed a new era (Age) was in formation, when the ways of the world in delusion and deceit (propagated by the prince of this world, Satan) would no longer exist, and The Holy Spirit would be aware of all actions!
The fact that “Satan filled” the heart of Ananias, showed clearly that he was not yet “bound” (Rev. 20:2), and that the Acts period was a precursor to the events of Revelation; and that the “fulfilment” of the “hope of Israel” (Jer. 17:13) was still contingent on the acceptance of Jesus the Christ by the Sanhedrin of the Jews!
Peter in Acts 2:17 stated clearly that he was quoting the prophet Joel in the context of the “last days”! Had the Sanhedrin accepted Christ Jesus as their long awaited Messiah, those days would have been “the last days” of that Age (Dispensation), but as history and the Bible records, in Acts 28:28, they rejected Him, and they became Lo-Ammi (not My people, Hosea), and the Gentiles became prime object of God’s Grace in Christ Jesus, and are still up to this present date (2014)!
Some Church groups still try to live as was intended in the Acts period. They all eventually fail because of the reversal at Acts 28:28. Goods cannot be held in common in this time (Age), except for Legal Entities in usually small numbers.
At the present time, and were the apostle Paul to be here on the scene now, he would be appalled at the corruption of the teaching in many groups, especially those that advocate miracles etc., as proof of the individual's Salvation. Also those that do not accept Christ as God’s Son, but a son!
However, the studying of Scripture, and the search for like minded Christians should continue until this Administration (Age) is complete.
The unity of the Body Of The Lord will eventually be without question, without any division, striving or different interpretation of Truth. In Psm. 86:11 the principle of unity in truth is without question expressed; "Teach me Thy way, O Jehovah (Lord); I will walk in Thy truth: Unite my heart to fear Thy Name". When the principle is followed here expressed, whilst in the flesh, we shall be the nearest possible to unity and truth until Christ Reigns!