Summary: Sometimes we get lost in the details, and a larger view would be helpful. Here is a bird’s eye view of the war going on between Satan and God.
Passage: Acts 5:12-16
Intro: One of the most important aspects of war is reconnaissance.
1. great to know that the other side is doing, where they are, if your forces are aligned correctly.
PP Civil War balloons
PP WW 2 shots, including Omaha Beach, Auschwitz, Bismarck
2. having the big picture, the bird’s eye view, is incredibly valuable.
3. and this passage gives us that view, not only for the early church, but for us
4. the antagonists have not changed, and neither have the tactics.
5. God has His plan and purpose, and Satan opposes it. And we can align with one or be the victim of the other.
6. in this short little summary statement, this “bird’s eye view”, we will see the principles that govern this battle, learn to identify the sides, and find our part.
I. God Works Through the Positive Demonstration of Truth
1. “signs and wonders” have become a controversial area between two camps.
2. one; those who want to make them the major focus and purpose.
3. the other, those who want to be rid of them completely.
4. as usual, Biblical view in neither extreme.
5. v12, here is God working signs and wonders thru the apostles.
6. verb tense=repeated occurrence
7. certainly the demand for signs indicative of unbelief.
8. but the clear teaching of Scripture is the our God is a God of miracles, of signs, or amazing wonders.
9. that was certainly the experience of the Old Testament, the life of Jesus, and the early church.
10. and these signs and wonders are consistently positive, life-giving
PP The sick are healed, blind see, deaf hear, mute speak, dead raised, fearful become faithful, thieves become honest, alcoholics get sober, darkness becomes light, sinners become saints,
11. in the process, God reveals Himself as not only powerful, but loving, merciful, kind, gracious
12. these signs and wonders draw people to Him, as we see in verses 13-16
13. the most consistent question of the Jewish leaders was this: “By whose authority do you do these things?”
14. asked of Jesus, asked of apostles.
15. signs and wonders that are from God bear the unmistakable fingerprints of God.
16. the are redeeming, life-giving, overcoming the results of sin.
Il) even deaths of Ananias and Sapphira bore the fingerprints of God, because God could not allow the lies of Satan to cause the critically important light of the church to flicker. Also exposed the results of sin in a very powerful way.
17. God is driven to manifest His character, which He did most powerfully through Christ and now does through those whom have been transformed by Christ.
18. so what characterizes Satan’s counter-attack?
II. Satan Responds With Deception and Fear
1. this should come as no surprise, since Satan responds according to his nature.
PP John 88:44b
il) when Jesus was born to save the world, Satan’s first tactic was to try and kill him.
2. here in the early church, the same thing was happening.
3. there were great things going on in Jerusalem, people being saved, signs and wonders, healings.
4. v13 very instructive, compelling in its revelation of how Satan works.
5. “No one else dared join them”
6. two probably reasons:
7. first, they heard about Ananias and Sapphiras death.
Il) National Enquirer ran a story, convoluted the facts.
9. second, and I think their greatest fear was the opposition of the Sanhedrin
10. so what? Remember that this was a huge deal for the Jews of this time.
PP Jesus had been crucified by this same group, preaching outlawed, death penalty a common practice with Romans, “street justice” practiced by Jews, resistance to authority a capital crime in OT
11. Satan’s response to the positive proclamation of God is to promote fear, question the source of the power.
12. you’ll notice that the power of God continues to be manifested in vv13-16
13. goes beyond Jerusalem, which had gotten the goat of the Pharisees during the ministry of Jesus.
14. this is how you can identify the enemy of our souls.
15. seeks to distort the revelation of God, uses fear as the basis for rejecting God.
Il) Muslim believers threatened with expulsion from family, death. Vast majority of religious martyrdom among Jews and Christians, rare among Muslims, and then typically Muslim on Muslim, Shiite by Sunni
16. you will also notice that Satan’s lies fly directly in the face of the facts.
Il) used to be abortion debate over when life begins. Have you noticed it is now about “choice?” The facts were even too overwhelming for the devil!
17. now that we have the overview, how do we respond?
III. So Let Your Light Shine