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By Martyn Lloyd-Jones

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
(Acts 2:46-47)

The central error of modern thinking, surely, is that today men and women imagine they have the right to decide for themselves, anew and afresh, what Christianity is, what the church is, and what her message is. This is not only presumption, it is unutterable folly, because we are dealing here with something that is historical. Today is Palm Sunday. Why do people call it Palm Sunday? It is because it is connected with certain facts of history. The message of the Gospel is not a philosophy; it is not just a teaching amid many other teachings. It is based upon facts: the fact of Palm Sunday, the fact that this person, Jesus of Nazareth, rode on the foal of a donkey and the people crowded around Him, shouting, “Hosanna!” And further, the fact of the trial and the scourging and Christ’s death upon the cross on Good Friday and His burial in the tomb, followed by the Resurrection.

These are facts of history, and the church came into being as the result. So if we really want to know what Christianity is and what the Christian church is, then in common honesty there is, I repeat, only one thing to do, and that is to go back to the record.

So we have been considering the account in Acts 2 of these early Christians. The words and expressions used here were not chosen at random. They were inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself. And we have here the marks and characteristics of the true Christian. The moment men and women become Christians, these are the ways in which they show it. And we come now to one of the most interesting: “They . . .did eat their meat” not only with “gladness” but also with “singleness of heart.”

This most important statement means, first and foremost, that these Jerusalem Christians were all of one mind, that they were experiencing a wonderful unity. “Singleness of heart”! Their hearts, as it were, were melted into one another. It is a description, then, of the company, the society, of these believing people looked at in general. Our Lord had prayed that His disciples might be one, even as He and His Father were one (John 17:21), and here they were giving expression to this oneness. They had different temperaments, different backgrounds, different upbringings. They differed in almost every conceivable way, and yet they were all melted into one in this extraordinary unity.

The New Testament constantly emphasizes that great truth. The apostle Paul was particularly proud of it. He was called to be the apostle to the Gentiles. Though he had been a narrow and rabid Jew in his old life, he now said, “There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all” (Col 3:11). All are one in Christ Jesus, and that is amazing. The Christian church, when she functions truly as the church, is the greatest phenomenon the world has ever known. It is the only thing that ever can unite people.

The world is disunited. We see groups and classes and divisions. But in the true church, all are one, “Singleness of heart”—melted into one in Christ Jesus. This is astounding. Here in Acts we are given a picture of what the world will eventually be like when Christ comes back to reign, having conquered all His enemies, to set up His glorious kingdom. “Singleness of heart”! A day is coming when wars shall cease. But this will not be the result of human organizations. They will never come to anything: “Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars” (Matt. 24:6). Politicians and foolish idealists constantly claim they will produce a state in which there will be no war. They never will. But Christ will put an end to war when He returns. He will reign from shore to shore, and there shall be “peace. . .as a river” and “righteousness as the waves of the sea” (Isa. 48:18) over the whole universe and cosmos. What we see here in Acts in embryo will someday be world wide.

But the question that arises is: Why were they thus manifesting this great unity? And the answer is that they showed this “singleness of heart” because each one of them separately had a single heart. Each one had been made a unit, had been unified. This is one of the most remarkable things about the Gospel, and it is one of the greatest characteristics of the Christian life. Our Lord said, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness” (Matt. 6:22-23). There is this same expression—“if thine eye be single.” What does our Lord mean by that?

It is a great principle that when men and women believe the Christian Gospel, the main effect it has upon them is to unify their life, to make them “single.” Men and women apart from Christ, outside the life of God, have double vision. They do not see things properly. They do not see them unified. They do not see them steadily and as a whole. What Christianity does is get rid of the complications and produce an essential simplicity.

I can show you in general as well as in particular that the effect of Christianity is always to simplify, to make single. We see it in the history of the Christian church. Here is a lyrical picture of the church at the beginning. The believers went at first to the temple because they had been brought up to do so, and it was available for them to have their meetings. But that was supplemented by their meeting together in one another’s houses—“breaking bread from house to house.” And we read in the epistles about “the church that is in their [Priscilla and Aquila’s] house” (Rom. 16:5), and so on. That is Christianity as it was at the first. We, of course, inevitably tend to think of the church as some great institution with buildings, and people dressed up in robes, and pomp and ceremony and processions. How different it has all become from what we find here in the second chapter of Acts.

Why has the