The Sharp Contrast Between the Early Churches and Most Modern Ones When It Comes to Financial Management

The “Social Gospel” is Backed By the Scriptures

by Minister Paul J. Bern

The book of Acts chapters 2 and 4

For this week’s commentary, I will be further clarifying what I mean by the “Social Gospel” as it applies to each and every one of us. Some inquiries are coming from certain “conservative Christians” who accuse me of being a socialist pastor and writer. Several individuals have demanded proof of what I am teaching and preaching about. ‘Proof’ in my mind means proof from the Scriptures. Proof can only be ascertained by the original and untainted Word of God. When we do this we find this brand of gospel steers clear of American politics as it focuses on what really matters most – taking care of others in need.

Early Christians – the “church of Acts”

A look at the early church and how it functioned, and its doctrine.

Acts chapter 2, verses 32-47

32) God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33) Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34) For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, “‘The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand 35) until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’ 36) Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah. 37) When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ 38) Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39) The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.’ 40) With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ 41) Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

The Fellowship of the Believers

42) They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43) Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44) All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45) They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46) Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47) praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

A Kingdom Established

We begin this journey in Jerusalem. The Twelve, and all the other disciples with them, were gathered in the upper room when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them. He was taken up into the skies, then two men appeared, saying the He would return as He had left. So it happened. After a few days, the Holy Spirit was poured out on those who waited. The true ecclesia (that is, Greek for church) was born, and His kingdom has since been established upon earth. It reminds me of how Elisha saw Elijah come by, slaughtered his ox, barbecued it on the embers of his plow and greeted his parents, never to see them again. It takes real discipline and deep faith to take such a radical step. Seek ye first His kingdom….(Matt. 6: 33)

Communal style living Introduced

Soon, communalism was established. Like Jesus said to the rich young man, these people sold whatever they owned and pooled the proceeds. Jesus also taught us not to collect treasures upon earth, but in heaven. In doing so, there was no lack and all looked after another (see that, all you 1%-‘ers?). Then a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, tried to pocket a portion of the proceeds of the gift they brought to Peter. This concerned the sale of some land, and they were trying to cheat on the Holy Spirit. Soon, they were both dead! It reminds me of that Old Testament story of the man who had buried a treasure in a corner of his tent, causing the defeat of the Israel. Seek ye first His kingdom….

God’s Economy

Haggai delivered a decisive message from the Lord, stating that we have lack because we do not build His temple first. The accusation is that we lived in houses of faced stonework and wood paneling, while His house lies in ruins. The promise is given that blessing will follow when the foundations of the Temple are laid, which is what I am doing here, just as thousands of others are doing it. Seek ye first His kingdom….

Is It Sin To Have Assets?

By no margin is it sin to have wealth, yet the legal position is that nothing belongs to either you or me, but to the Lord alone. We are merely in a fiduciary capacity and, if He calls upon you to give all you have, you simply will have to do it. Does this sadden you? Think how the yuppie geek in Jerusalem had felt (Matt. 19: 16-22). Abraham was blessed, so was Job and all the others.

RG (Bob) Le Tourneau, inventor of the bulldozer, went bankrupt several times but ended up wealthy beyond imagination. Even the 5% he eventually kept for himself was so much that he gave most of that away as well! He did sign a contractual partnership agreement with God. It’s like a document made expressly for yourself to the Lord. Seek ye first His Kingdom….

Animosity in Heaven

The obscene wealth of the Vatican gets lamented daily, as I see one post after another stream by. It is just strange that few mention the tremendous wealth of some Protestant churches, pastors or televangelists, etc. In Jeremiah it is said that their fraud is what fattens them.

Fraud in the temple? Yes! Malachi lamented, saying that “if only someone would nail shut the doors of the Temple!” (see Malachi 1:10) He continued by challenging us to take a sick or lame animal as an offering to the White House, or to the Queen of England, or to President Vladimir Putin. Imagine showing up there with a lame duck or a dead chicken under your arm; will the royal leaders be glad to see you? Malachi goes on by saying that His people defraud Him – they rob Him by being untruthful in their supporting of His work, as they keep the best to themselves.

While being wealthy, or even owning a house or a car is no sin, not serving Him with your net worth is stealing from Jesus. Just know that you do not own a thing, as even earning it through hard work is a privilege through Grace. Seek ye His kingdom first….

The Lazy Butts

The Bible never teaches that those who do not work, should not be eating. It only addresses laziness, by clearly stating that those who do not want to work, should not be eating!

Who do I give to?

  • Widows –- by death or divorce
  • Orphans –- by death or divorce
  • Levites –- the unpaid workers in His field, such as organic missionaries, of which I am one
  • Foreigners –- the brother or sister from afar, who is in need, legally or not

Seek ye His kingdom first……..

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I am Rev. Paul J. Bern, a well-known Web pastor and regular blogger on The Social Gospel Blog here on Wordpress, as well as Medium, Booksie, Patreon and Linked In. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, I began my writing and blogging career in 2010 after becoming temporarily disabled in 2008 due to a stroke, a pacemaker implant plus some other health issues. Prior to that occurrence, I was a long-time computer/IT professional and computer shop owner (21 years altogether). I also own the websites Progressive Christian Ministries of Greater Atlanta, Inc, and, I am the published author of “Cannabis Legalization and the Bible: Compatible or Not?”, “The Apostles in Plain English Vol. 1: the Apostle Paul”, "Sole Survivor", "Occupying America: We Shall Overcome", and "The Middle and Working Class Manifesto 4th Edition". They are available on Amazon Books or from my website at I also currently serve as a church keyboardist at Atlanta's Prayer of Faith Church of God in Christ.

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