I don't think it failed, or brought unwanted poverty. People failed to listen to the Spirit.
We might soon experience a need of doing it the Church of Acts way. Soon we might rely on the Chruch for more then a service and a prayer, but actual financial assistance. Several Families living together sharing everything in common may not be uncommon (pardon the pun) soon in our country.
The Traditional Churches haven't built those kind of strong relationships. If a time of trouble comes... Everyone will be for himself and his family. The Church shouldn't operate that way, but because they aren't truly brothers and sisters they will claim they don't know you for the safety of their own families.
Famines, Economies Crashing, Governments crumbling shouldn't phase the Church, but should be ready to seize the that time for extraordinary, abundant Outreach Opportunity!
God did that to Israel may times, that it would turn back to Him. We aren't Israel, but God will cut off our wealth if it will bring us back to Him. It will give the Church, mostly simple churches who don't have multimillion dollar buildings and who will open their homes, the opportunity to call America back to God!
It's easier to outreach to a people whose idols have been SMASHED to pieces! A people who called out to their god and they finally realized their god is useless. Then see the Body of Christ in action, seeing that the LORD's People may be crushed like the rest of the country but they are still prospering!
Dave Lee, agape (nothing withheld) relationships are extraordinary to be seen in this world. Being relational has gained some popularity among small groups, but are we getting bogged down a bit in the effort to Nurture private relationships? And when a stranger comes in, must they wait in line to build individual relationships with each of us?
Focusing on personal relationship is not simple nor ideal. Let's not neglect relationship with the Body of Christ that functions beautifully less any mandate to first build an extended relationship with His every hand, foot, kidney & ear.
To respond to your breakdown of your question.
If I may attempt to break down this forum question a bit...
Was the Holy Spirit prompting these people of Acts 2 & 4 record to sell their properties?
Probably not. They thought the kingdom of God was coming immediately, in which case, they didn't need more than they could use for daily living. They sold lands -- plural, their extra properties, not their own houses and goods.They simply reduced the size of their holdings -- reduced and simplified their business activities.
Did some of the believers actually continue to sell their personal property gains, even past the timeline of Acts 2-28?
Probably not. There is no record of it past that immediate post-Pentecost events.
Could the impact of the famine been reduced if they had held onto their things?
No! The famine was a district wide crop failure due to poor weather for several growing seasons. It is recorded in secular Roman history. The Romans sent relief but the Christian food relief sent to the Jerusalem believers by the northern gentiles churches arrived months before the Roman grain supply ships sailing from Egypt to Rome were diverted to Palestine. (historical fact)
Did the early sell-off in Acts create unwelcomed poverty for the church?
No. The Jerusalem church was not in poverty. Do not confuse a province wide crop failure with financial poverty.Much of what the northern gentile churches sent was in the form of bags of grain and money to purchase expensive food. Some of it was also used to finance moving families out of Judea to more productive and prosperous districts.
Was the selling & sharing with all in need an expression in Socialism, and if so, was it a failed experiment?
No. Do not confuse a modern political philosophy with the love of God in action executed by believers, as others have noted in this thread. There is nowhere in scripture any foundation or hint of socialism without degrading and twisting passages out of their cultural and historical context to 'proof text' a uniquely modern agenda, foreign to the text.
When Paul later writes of equality in I Corinthians 9, is he writing of equality in spiritual things only?
Paul is not talking about equality at all in 1 Cor. 9. He is talking about his right to be supported in his ministry (the same right as the other apostles). But it is a right he has forfeited for the sake of the gospel preferring to support himself. He exercises self discipline like an athlete in his execution of his ministry. He is adaptable to all situations and toward all kinds of persons that he might win them for Christ. Equality in scripture has to do with all being equal before God. After that, we are all very different from one another.
Our unity is in our diversity. That message is unmistakable throughout the New Testament. Even though the holy spirit inspires great diversity in services, helps, activities, gifts, and many other things we are nonetheless a single body of Christ. Spiritual equality in scripture should never be confused with the modern philosophical concept of socialism or communism. These latter and very modern political philosophies stand contrary to scripture, not that the kingdom of God cannot be preached under such systems, it can but NEVER confuse modern politics and philosophy with scriptural teachings.
curious things, John...
"They [the Acts 2 & 4 saints] thought the kingdom of God was coming immediately,..."
How do we know that this first "Pentecost" group had immediate expectation that the Kingdom of God would fill the earth? And if so, why would God permit these newborn children of His to believe this lie (a deception common to some sects/cults)?
Are we permitted to understand that they, having received the Spirit of Truth, knew the Kingdom of God had come among them?
[Matthew 12:28; Luke 11:20; 17:21]
"Paul is not talking about equality at all in 1 Cor. 9. [II Corinthians 8, as per correction we earlier posted] He is talking about his right to be supported in his ministry (the same right as the other apostles)"
isotes is understood to mean equitable; equality. Without speculation, how do you understand Paul's quoting within this context, of Exodus 16:18 (at II Corinthians 8:15)?
At the beginning of chapter 8, Paul refers to having received support from the churches of Macedonia (ref also: Philippians 4:10-17). Must you believe Paul is referring specifically to his own support, rather than more broadly to that of others in their need --- even such as Titus, who is the man named in the surrounding context?
"The famine was a district wide crop failure due to poor weather for several growing seasons."
John, to clarify: the question presented was, Could the impact of the famine been reduced if they had held onto their things? And not for whether the famine itself could have been reduced.
As to the last comment, 'famine impact reduced?' No, famine is not a recession. The food chain was interrupted. Hanging onto houses and property does not alter the availability of food. You can't eat clothes, houses, or rental property. If they hadn't done that, nothing would have changed. Everyone was effected, believer, non-believer, poor and rich alike. Some people were starving in luxury.
John, as today and during ancient times, assets may be at any point sold/converted to the transportation of food from other areas less affected; to purchase stored food, etc. Also, from Acts 11, Agabus prophesied of the famine coming -- serving an advance notice. Consequently, the disciples "determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren".
So then, the last question presented would relate to the size of this "contribution". If property had been held rather than dispersed at Acts 2 and forward, would the size of the contribution & aide be increased?
It didn't matter if people had assets or not. There was very little to buy. If you have a stack of gold coin but the markets have almost nothing to sell, your gold wouldn't matter. Roman historical records say that shipments of grain from Egypt had to be diverted to Judea because of a gross lack of grain available. Some of the support Paul delivered was in the form of actual food stuffs. Some of the funds the apostle Paul delivered to Judea also helped financed moving out of the area.
Don't forget too, about the timing. The famine was at least a decade (maybe two) or longer after Pentecost. There is no indication that selling off surpluses was the continued way of the Jerusalem believers. By the time of the famine, by all indications, that practice had ceased. If the store is empty, no amount of assets will buy you food.
John, at this point it appears you have a set of assumed changes that will not allow for the "contribution" to have made a significant difference in food stores among the disciples for the famine that was then to come. Such assumptions effect to alter the basis of the question being asked.
I thought your question was generic and that's what I responded to the "impact of the famine been reduced ..." Apparently what you mean is the impact upon the Jerusalem church. Yes, the contributions did make a difference for them but not for anyone else. The contributions apparently arrived before the storehouses ran. However, if the believers had not sold their extra possessions 10-20 years earlier, it still would not have made much difference. Food was scarce and the contributions of funds and food helped them a lot (I doubt in a famine [depression for an agricultural society] you could sell property anyway). Roman history also suggests the principle of supply and demand was in effect. What little food was available, was imported and expensive.