WITH ONE ACCORD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-30-77 7:30 p.m.
It is a high privilege God hath given us to share this evening hour of praise and preaching with you who are listening on KRLD radio and on the radio of our Bible Institute, KCBI. This is the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is also the pastor of the congregation bringing the message entitled With One Accord. In our preaching through the Word of God, we are in the second chapter of the Book of Acts, the Pentecostal chapter. And the text and the title are found in the first verse of this second chapter:
When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
Suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of a rushing mighty wind. It filled the house where they were sitting.
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues, parting tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other languages, other glōssa, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
And there were in Jerusalem at that Pentecostal feast. . .
And there were three feasts in the year to which all of the Jewish people tried to convene in Jerusalem. One was Passover [Exodus 12:1-28, 43-49; Leviticus 5:1-19]. One was Pentecost [Leviticus 23:15-22; Numbers 28:26-31; Deuteronomy 16:9-12]. And the other was the Feast of Tabernacles [Leviticus 23:33-43; Numbers 29:12-38; Deuteronomy 16:13-17]. They were there from all over the Greco-Roman world, “and they amazed, marveling saying, `Are not all these that speak Galileans? How hear we then every man in his own language, in his own glōssa, wherein we were born?’“ [Acts 2:7-8], the marvelous works of God” [Acts 2:11].
“With one accord” [Acts 2:1], there is a word that Luke, Dr. Luke loved to use. It is peculiar to him. He will use it again and again and again. Only one time does one other author use that word, and that’s Paul. He, incidentally, uses it in Romans 15:6. Other than that, only Dr. Luke uses it, and he seems to love it. It is homothumadon, translated here “with one accord,” homothumadon [Acts 2:1]. And he uses it again and again. It is an adverb. It is made out of two basics words. Homo means “the same,” homo. If a thing is homogenous, homogeneous, it means the same consistency all the way through. If a man is a homosexual, he has the same sex. If milk is homogenized it is the same all the way through. It doesn’t separate between cream and “blue John.” It is homogenized. Homo, homo means “the same.”
The other Greek word that this is built upon is thuma. It kind of changes there because thuma refers to heat, or to anger, or to a volative spirit. But when the Greeks put the words together, homothumadon, making an adverb out of it, it refers to “one in spirit, one in heart, one in accord, unanimous.” And Luke loved to use it, and it is peculiar to him. For example, in Acts 1:14 he says, “These all continued homothumadon in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother, and with His brethren. These all continued homothumadon with one accord.” He uses it again here in the second chapter and the first verse, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all homothumadon, with one accord in one place” [Acts 2:1].
In the same chapter, verse 46, he says, “And they, continuing daily homothumadon with one accord in the temple; did eat their meat with gladness, singleness of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people” [Acts 2:46-47]. Look again in chapter 4, verse 24, “And when the disciples were interdicted from preaching the gospel” in Acts 4:24. “And when the disciples heard that, when the church heard that, they lifted up their voice to God, homothumadon and said, `Lord, Thou art God,’” and then speaking to God, asked for power to witness [Acts 4:29-30].
Just turn the page one other time. In 5:12, “By the hands of the apostles, many signs and wonders were wrought, and they were all homothumadon, with one accord in Solomon’s porch [Acts 5:12], and believers were the more added to the church, multitudes both of men and women” [Acts 5:14]. Now in just those few pages and I have turned to four pages in my Bible, how many times does he use that word homothumadon, “with one accord, with one heart, with one prayer, with one spirit, with one dedication in a common determination?”
Now, these that were gathered here in the presence of the Lord were gathered there in one heart and in one spirit. First, they were that in their inward commitment to God and to one another. They were not divided. They were one in accord in their hearts and in their spirits, and how easy it is to fall away from that, and how the temptation always is for us to be critical of one another and to find fault with one another. And I think of that little group there, one hundred twenty of them [Acts 1:14-15].
When the Lord went away and left them, they had just a Savior and a promise [Acts 1:9-11]. They had no guns. They had no tanks. They had no armies. They had no social standing. They had no political power. They had no status. They had nothing at all but a Savior and a glorious promise. But they resolved to do two things, one, to pray together, and the other, to stay together [Acts 1:14]. And while they prayed together and stayed together, and stayed together and prayed together, the Pentecostal power fell upon them [Acts 2:1-4]. That is the first thing that Luke describes here of that little one hundred twenty. With one accord, they were together in supplication before God [Acts 1:14].
As I say, how easy it is for us to fall into divisiveness and to find fault with one another and to ruin our spirit of community and communion. Why, I could easily imagine that little band of one hundred and twenty, looking over there at Simon Peter and saying, “There is Simon Peter, you know, I kind of feel he is still following afar off.” And how in the world could anybody ever forget that he denied that he even knew the Lord? [Matthew 26:69-74]. “Look at that Simon Peter. I have no confidence in him.” Or I could easily imagine that little band of one hundred twenty saying, “Look there at Thomas, look at that Thomas [John 20:24-25]. He is still doubting. I know that he is. He drags his feet. He is no encouragement to us in the work of Jesus. He’s still full of doubt. He’s not fully committed, and he doesn’t fully believe, look at that Thomas.” And they have no confidence in him.
And I could easily think of that little band of one hundred and twenty looking over there at John and his brother, James; these two sons of Zebedee [Acts 1:13]. They had gone to the Lord Jesus and said, “Lord, in Thy kingdom grant that one of us may sit on Your right hand and the other one of us sit on Your left hand. Will You do that for us, Lord?” [Mark 10:35-37]. And I can imagine the one hundred and twenty looking at James and John and saying, “You know, I believe they are still as ambitious as they ever were. All they want to do is to be exalted. They want to be presented. They are just as selfish as they were when we first began to follow the Lord Jesus. And I don’t have any confidence in them.” I can imagine that.
You know it is very easy to do that today in the house of the Lord. All of us have had our faults and our failures, and it is easy to remember them, and to say, “I have no communion and I have no confidence.” Not so in the house of God in the Pentecostal blessing, they were all homothumadon, with one accord [Acts 1:14]. Will you notice again, they were not only one in their heart, they were not only one in their spirit, they were also one in their convening, in their convocation, in their presence? They were all there. The apostles were there. All twelve of them now with Matthias [Acts 1:13, 26].
And the women were there [Acts 1:14]. One of the great, marvelous, glorious, wonderful things about the Christian religion is it’s a women’s religion, it’s a mother’s religion, it’s a wife’s religion, it’s a girl’s religion. There is room in God’s house for the dedicated women to shine and to serve in the work of the Lord. The women were there. Luke especially notices, “And the women were there with Mary the mother of Jesus and with her family” [Acts 1:14].
Do you notice the laymen were there? There were only twelve apostles. There were one hundred twenty present to start off with [Acts 1:15]. That means most of them there were laymen! “Why, pastor, you don’t think of laymen as being workers in the kingdom? That’s what the preacher is to do. He’s the one to pray. He’s the one to soul win. He’s the one to visit. He’s the one to work.” Oh, no. It is a mighty and a powerful witness when the church is filled with dedicated laymen!
All of his life he was “Mr. Moody.” He was never an ordained preacher. He was never a licensed preacher. He was a layman; Mr. Dwight L. Moody. When he started going to church after he was saved, they had pews that were rented in those days. He took a whole section of the church, and he paid for the pew rental, and he filled them every service with men and women and boys and girls who needed the Lord. Finally, he started teaching them in a Sunday school class. Then God so blessed that layman that he began preaching to them, and God so blessed him that he began to preach all over America. And then God so blessed that layman that he began to preach all over England. But he was always “Mr. Moody!”
Oh, what a wonderful church when you have consecrated ministers, an order of elders, and you also have by their side a glorious band of laywomen and laymen. And the young people were there. How do you know that? Because when the apostle Peter says, “This is that,” this is the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy—and Joel said, “In that day will I pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh. And your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions” [Acts 2:16-17]. They were there, these young people, thinking things and dreaming dreams and getting ready for the greatest assignment God ever gave to youth, serving Jesus in manhood and in womanhood. They were all there homothumadon, with one accord [Acts 2:1].
There is a tragic weakness in the Christian faith and in religion itself. And that is its tendency to bog down in the morass and the quagmire of divisiveness and criticism and bitterness. But look at Israel. Wouldn’t you suppose that the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Exodus comes before the twentieth chapter of the Book of Exodus? That’s normal to suppose, wouldn’t you? It is that way in my Bible, and I bet you it is that way in your Bible. The nineteenth chapter is before the twentieth chapter. Now the twentieth chapter of Exodus is the one where God gave them the Ten Commandments, the Mosaic law [Exodus 20:1-17]. But the nineteenth chapter comes before the twentieth chapter. And in the nineteenth chapter, the Lord God said, “Israel is to be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation” [Exodus 19:6].
What is a kingdom of priests? Priests are people who represent us to God and represent God to us. That is, the Lord chose Israel to be the missionaries, and the teachers, and the priests, and the preachers, and the evangelists of the whole world! “They are to be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation” [Exodus 19:6]. And then the twentieth chapter, and God gave to them the Mosaic legislation; the covenant [Exodus 20:1-17].
But, what did Israel do? Instead of being the missionaries of the world, they wrapped their garments around them and called everybody else a “Gentile dog.” And when you read the New Testament, they have divided into Pharisees and into Sadducees and into Herodians and into Zealots [Matthew 22:23, 34; Mark 12:13; Acts 5:37], and they all bitterly are warring against each other. Now you think, “Well, that’s the Jewish people.” The Christian people are worse. They are worse. The divisiveness that enters into the body of Christ is almost unholy and ungodly and unbelievable.
Look at this. In those first Christian centuries, those preachers were evangelizing the entire civilized world, and literally they set it upon new hinges. They swung in another direction the entire gate of humanity. And do you know at the end of those first three centuries, the whole Christian world fell into an actual war over homoousios? “The same essence,” as Athanasius said. And homoiousios, “of a similar essence,” as Arius said.
And they divided and tore asunder the entire Christian faith and went to war over an Edward Gibbon who was not a Christian. He was an agnostic. Edward Gibbon wrote the greatest history in human speech, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Edward Gibbon writing about that sarcastically said, “They divided, the Christian church divided the entire civilized world over a Greek iota; the difference between homoousios and homoiousios, just a little Greek iota in there.”
And we are the worst of all; Baptist. When they call us the “Fighting Baptists,” brother, they sure know us well; the battling Baptists. Why, our churches will divide over anything. The division that comes into our fellowship is almost unthinkable. When I was in the seminary, all of those professors used the church out there in Warren County as an example of how they can go to war over an inconsequential minutia. It was over the piano. It was over the piano. Whether it was there, right there in front of the pulpit or whether it was over here where the choir was seated. And they went to war over it. And all of the seminary professors went over there to that Cox’s Creek Church in order to settle that fight over the piano. And they failed ignominiously.
And the entire executive board of Kentucky went out there to Cox’s Creek Church to settle that battle over the piano. And they failed ingloriously! So the church split wide open. Part of the people who wanted the piano over there stayed in the church. And the other people who wanted the piano over there, on the platform, they moved out and organized the Riverview Baptist Church. Well, did you know I was called to be a pastor in that Warren Association? And to my amazement, the old war horse who led that battle in the Cox’s Creek Church over that piano was in that church! He was old at that time and living in a little cottage with his maiden sister, Lucy.
Well, I went to see him and he became senile. And all I had to do in order to resurrect that old boy to life, I’d say, “Brother Q. J., Brother Q. J., where did you want that? Brother Q. J. tell me, Brother Q. J. tell me all about that piano. Tell me about that piano.” And he would go through that story and he had a gold-headed cane. He would sit there in that chair, and as he would come to life, his eyes would flash and his voice would be raised, and he would beat on the floor with that cane as he would tell me how he fit them and how he fought them over that piano.
Well, you know as the days passed and multiplied, why, I was with him one evening and he was telling me about how he fit them and he fought them over the piano, and I put my hand over there on his arm and I said, “Wait a minute, Brother Q. J., wait a minute. Where did you want that piano? Did you want it in front of the pulpit or did you want it over there on the side? Where did you want it?”
The old man began to think and to think and to think, and then he began to tap on the floor with that gold-headed cane, and finally he lifted up his voice and said, “Lizzie, Lizzie, hey, Lizzie!” And his maiden sister came and stood in the doorway and asked him what he wanted. And the old man said, “Lizzie, where did I want that piano?”
Isn’t that typical? Most of the things over which we war and fight are inconsequential. Whether it was here or there, we even forget. And it is not worth decimating the fellowship of the body of Christ. O Lord, if there is anything that ever separates us, let it be hell itself. But keep us together in the faith and in the body of Christ, homothumadon with one accord.
I have one other thing. My time is just about already gone. You know what pulls people together is a tremendous commitment; a tremendous dedication; a vast assignment. And that’s these. He said, “You wait and you pray because into your hands I commit the evangelization of the whole world” [Acts 1:8].
Think of that. Matching these souls, just one hundred and twenty in number [Acts 1:15], against the whole world and until the Lord brings us to the consummation of the age, that little band, but it pulled them together. It bowed them to their knees, and homothumadon, in a common dedication and in a common determination, they faced the evangelization of the civilized world, and they did it! Not anything pulls together like a great commitment and a great assignment.
A hundred and fifty years ago our Baptist churches were little tiny things, warring, battling, debating up and down the eastern seaboard. And in those days, Adoniram Judson and his wife Hasseltine, and their friend Luther Rice found themselves Baptists in India. It was decided that Luther Rice would return home and tell these little warring, debating Baptist churches that they had a missionary couple, Adoniram and Ann Hasseltine Judson, on the mission field. Up and down the eastern seaboard, he visited those little churches and told them about the evangelization of the world and the great mission enterprise. He organized themselves into associations, and he organized them into the tribunal convention. And he founded Columbia College in Washington D. C. for the education and the preparation of the great mission enterprise. And our Baptist churches pulled together. And our preachers began to pray together. And they forgot their fifth Sunday debates. And they forgot their bitternesses and their arguing, and they bound themselves together, homothumadon in a great determination back of the evangelization of the world.
That’s what we need. My sweet people, when we fall into divisiveness, it is because we turn aside from the great assignment, and we’re beginning to look at pecunious things, little things, inconsequential. We haven’t time for it. The whole world lies upon our hearts. The vast mission enterprise has been committed to our souls. And the evangelization of our city of Dallas and of our great metroplex is laid by the Holy Spirit upon our hearts. Homothumadon, we must be together. Homothumadon, we must pray together. Homothumadon we must dedicate our lives together for the saving of the lost and for the winning of these souls to the blessed Jesus.
Now we’re going to stand in a moment and sing our hymn of appeal, and someone here tonight to give himself to the Lord, someone to put his life in the fellowship of the church, a family, a couple or just you, on the first note of the first stanza, come. May the Lord open the door. May angels precede you. And may Jesus Himself welcome you as we grasp your hand in Christian fellowship and welcome. Make the decision now in your heart and come. Do it now, while we stand and while we sing.
A. Word peculiar to
B. Greek homo, thuma
(Acts 1:14, 2:1, 46, 4:24, 5:12)
II. Inward commitment to God and to one
A. Prayed together –
united in spirit
B. Stayed together –
united in presence
1. From apostles
to laymen and women, to young people (Joel 2:17)
III. Our tendency to fall into bitterness
A. Israel (Exodus 19:6,
B. Ancient Christian
IV. The uniting spirit of advance
A. A common
determination and assignment