And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common" Acts 4:32
I was listening to a radio program this morning, enjoying the holiday when I heard a conversation between the announcer and a young man. The discussion was regarding the resignation of Van Jones, the environmental czar. After some dialog, the announcer finally asked the young man if he minded that Mr. Jones was a communist? He said he didn't. But then came the shocker. The announcer then asked if he would vote for him as present. He said he would. When asked if he know that communism meant that all land belonged to the government, he remarked that he understood that. I was shocked but yet, maybe I shouldn't have been.
I recall an experience I had when I was in Haiti a little over twenty years ago. We were riding with a young man from that country and he proudly proclaimed that he was a Christian Communist. I'd never heard of such of a thing. He claimed that, while he was a Christian, he also was a communist because the government would provide milk for his baby and food for his family.
From the above scripture, many conjure that the Bible teaches socialism and communism. It even goes on further and relates more in Acts 4:34-37.
"Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet."
Here we have further cause for their belief where there is the account of Barnabas selling land and laying the money at the apostles' feet. Sounds like communism and/or socialism? Well let's see. First, let's define socialism. It is basically defined as, "a political theory advocating state ownership of industry, An economic system based on state ownership of capital." Communism is defined as, "a form of socialism that abolishes private ownership, A political theory favoring collectivism in a classless society." So, does the Bible teach socialism or communism? No! Here are some reasons why.
- There were of one heart and soul: They were in a state of the most perfect friendship and affection. In all the 5000 there appeared to be but one heart and one soul; so perfectly did they agree in all their views, religious opinions, and holy affections.' Adam Clark This is unachievable in a communist state as man all have their own opinions. It will never be achieved until Jesus comes back to rule.
- God is the provider: In Exodus 16:18 we read, "And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating." One may say that God was the perfect example. It's true that everyone had the same amount of manna however he didn't take it from one person to give it to another but God was the giver, not the state.
- This was not continued: Paul brought alms to Jerusalem several years later.
1 Corinthians 16:1 says the following: "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye." Also read Acts 24:17. "Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings." Again in Romans 15: 25-26 we read this. "But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem."
- It was all voluntary: When a nation is under a socialist or communism government, there is no choice as to what one gives, but in this case, there was. We see that in Acts 5:4. "Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God." Here Peter was talking to Ananias who lied about the price he received from selling a piece of land under the guise of giving it all. Peter tells him that the money was his to do as he pleased so why put on the show and lie to the Holy Ghost and the people. Paul further points this out regarding giving in 2 Corinthians 9:7. "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver." Underscore – mine)
- This practice was never later commended or spoken against in scripture.
- Churches shared with each other later and helped each other but still with a willing mind. Read 2 Corinthians 8:10-15.
- While this seemed to be the practice among the disciples and our Lord, it appears that some property was still retained. The apostle John seemed to have a home as we read in John 19:27. "Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home." (underline mine)
- This practice was not unusual for the Jews to do in times of the feasts. It was like a big camp meeting. Many Jews came from around the area to celebrate the feasts, three within a fifty day period therefore the Jews in Jerusalem were accustomed to provide for them. Remember, there were few inns and not enough to accommodate such a crowd.
- This was also vital in that, due to the revival, many stayed longer. God needed time to get his church started so this was the technique used to provide for the masses during this time.
- Even though the Jews provided for the people coming to the feasts, the new Christians may not get the same treatment by embracing Christ therefore it was more vital. It was customary for the Jews to give some of their sacrifices to the poor however this favor may not have been shown to new Christians embracing a Christ that the jewis nation as a whole did not accept.
- It was the cause of the first source of murmuring: Acts 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
- Eventually corruption begins to loom when goods are centralized and under control of one or a few due to the lust for money and power.
This could go on further but we can conclude the following:
- It has been the duty of the church to help their poor and even the poor in general. Gal 2:10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
- The love of money and possessions is addressed by giving. 1Ti 6: 17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
- The end of all things is Christ, and he must be the cornerstone in the church. Bringing one to Him is the most important.
The Bible does NOT teach socialism nor communism and there is no such thing as a Christian Communist. We act in love and our giving and receiving is done in thankfulness, not from entitlement. May God help America and send revival!!