Summary: 'A Disaster and a Healing' Acts chapter 5 verses 1-16 - sermon by Gordon Curley (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
(1). A contrast worth noting (vs 1-2).
(2). A pair as bad as each other (vs 1-2).
(3). A charge of deceit and lying (vs :3-4,9).
(4). A warning they will never forget (vs 11).
(5). A ministry back on track (vs 12-16)
• One summer morning in the 1920s,
• A Scotsman named Arthur Ferguson was casually standing in London's Trafalgar Square.
• His eyes fixed upon some obviously wealthy American tourists,
• Who were admiring the statue of Admiral Lord Nelson and the column it rested on.
• Sudden Ferguson had an idea,
• And he put his remarkable selling ability to work,
• And "sold" Nelson's column to the American for about £6000!
• Realising he was onto a winner,
• Ferguson went on to sell the famous clock Big Ben taking a £1,000 down payment.
• He also took a £2,000 for a down payment from another American tourist,
• As a down payment on Buckingham Palace.
• By the time justice caught up with him,
• Ferguson had added the Eiffel Tower & the Statue of Liberty to the list of his amazing "sales"!
• He spent several years in prison for his remarkable deceptions.
• TRANSITION: Well, that story is quite amusing,
• And we can smile because none of us were his victims,
• It is true to say nobody likes being conned, ripped off,
• And if we do not like it,
• Then we should not be surprised to find that God also does not like it!
• We have been reminded in our songs of worship that the God of the Bible,
• Is a Holy God, he does not like lies and he does not like deceit and hypocrisy!
• But sadly, deceit and hypocrisy are found in todays Bible passage.
(1). A contrast to note (vs 1-2).
“Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.”
• The N.I.V. begins verse 1 with the word ‘now.’
• Most other English translations prefer the word, ‘but.’
• Remember that chapter breaks, and verse numbers were only added for quick reference,
• They are not there in the original text,
• They were added for our convenience,
• So that we can quickly zoom in on a phrase or passage.
• So, verse 1 of this chapter is in many ways linked to chapter 4 verse 36-77.
“Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas…
sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.”
• This incident of Ananias and Sapphira is not an interruption in the flow of the book,
• Rather, it is an integral part of the narrative.
• Ananias, has just seen what Barnabas did and the way people reacted to his generosity,
• That he and his wife thought, “I want some of that recognition!”
• So they decide to do the same thing, that is sell a property.
• The big difference is,
• Their actions are motivated by a completely different spirit than that of Barnabas.
• Barnabas was moved by the Holy Spirit to do this act of selflessness,
• And for that he won much praise and favour from God and men,
• Ananias and Sapphira are moved by a different spirit, a spirit of selfishness,
• Their motivation is envy or jealousy or pride,
• A very different motivation to Barnabas.
Remember that the amount that they give is insignificant,
• The principle is always better to give a smaller amount from a genuine heart,
• Than to give a lot from a resentful or a deceitful heart.
• Or better still, to give generously from a genuine heart!
• The spirit behind the gift is as important as the gift itself.
• God allows every Christian to, ‘decide in his own heart’ what he or she should give.
• Quote: 2 Corinthians chapter 9 verse 7.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
• It is encouraging to note that most of us will not be an apostle Peter or a John.
• We might not be able to perform miracles or preach great sermons,
• Or see hundreds or thousands coming to Christ.
• But each one of us can be a Barnabas, we can be encouragers,
• We can be ‘cheerful givers.’
• Or as one translation puts it, ‘one who gives gladly.’
(2). A pair as bad as each other (vs 1-2).