In Part 1, we introduced the three levels of the unity of the Spirit that was present in the early church. To recap:
Three distinct "levels" of unity of the Holy Spirit as found in Acts 2:42-47 are:
Level 1 – LCD (Lowest Common Denominator)
(v. 42): "They continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers."
Level 2 – Signs and Wonders
(v. 43) "Fear came to every soul. And many wonders and signs were done through the apostles."
Level 3 – A lifestyle of mutual support and sharing all things
(vv. 44-47) "All who believed were together and had all things in common. They sold their property and goods and distributed them to all, according to their need. And continuing daily with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."
In Parts 2-4, we considered four questions about Level 1 unity:
- What does this level of unity look like in the church?
- What conditions are necessary for this level of unity to exist in the church?
- How can the church enter in/rise to this level of unity?
- What responsibilities do church pastors and clergy have to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in His work of unity at this level?
In Part 5, we continue with these four questions as we examine Level 2 unity.
Level 2 Unity: Signs and Wonders Through Apostles
"Fear came to every soul. And many wonders and signs were done through the apostles" (Acts 2:43).
The first question for Level 2 unity:
- What does Level 2 unity look like?
Level 2 unity in the church is characterized by the presence of "signs and wonders."
Typical in both the Old and New Testaments, these categories of signs and wonders are represented:
- Suspension of nature/natural laws
However, the same Greek words are used for both heavenly and demonic signs and wonders. And unfortunately, much of the church is turned "off" to signs and wonders due to a fear of the demonic counterfeit. But, we want to press in to this higher level of unity that includes these realities.
So, how can we tell the genuine from the counterfeit?
The inferences in Acts 2:43 provide some differentiators. Characteristics of genuine signs (Acts 2:43) include:
- Originate through several apostles
- A sense (awareness) of fear (awe) of the Lord
- Testifies of Jesus
On the other hand, counterfeit signs:
- Originate from one man exclusively
- No fear of the Lord is present
- Testify to the man performing the act
The acts of Simon the magician (Acts 8) and Peter, Stephen, Paul and others (Acts 3, 5, 6 and so on) are examples of counterfeit and genuine signs, respectively, which exhibit these characteristic differentiators.
The Greek words ("apostle," "fear," "every man") used in describing genuine signs in Acts 2: 43 illuminate the context of genuine signs. Taken together, these terms imply that the individuals who perform signs are doing so in the name of Christ and there is a reverence for God present with the group overall.
Level 2 unity (evidenced by occurrences of miracles) occurs with preaching and believing the gospel as declared in Mark 16:15-18:
He said to them, "Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved. But he who does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover (Acts 16:15-18).
Some signs that follow believers that exhibit Level 2 unity:
- Cast out demons in My name
- Speak in new tongues
- Take up serpents
- If one drinks any deadly thing, it will not harm them
- Lay hands on the sick and they will recover
These are representative but not exhaustive. (Commentary on these signs is pertinent for a sound theology but beyond the scope of this series.)
So, what Level 2 unity looks like is:
"A body of believers both proclaiming and believing the whole gospel and living in the fear of the Lord. And this results in signs and wonders in their midst."
Next time we will consider the second of the four questions about level 2 unity:
- What conditions are necessary for Level 2 unity to exist in the church?
Louis Posthauer is the executive director of Hunters of the Harvest Ministry. He has been actively involved in the local church for more than 37 years and currently serves as a lay leader and teacher at Living Word Church of the Nazarene in Houston. For more information, visit www.huntersoftheharvest.org.
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