Summary: How many times do we sing All to Jesus I Surrender…but not come back to church for just the slightest excuse.Or, Sweet Hour of Prayer, knowing we haven’t prayed 10 minutes!? Or, sang a special for our own glory and not the Lord’s? Or, debated about the
Acts 4:32-37; 5:1-11
Pastor Allan H. Kircher
Sermon Series; Acts
The story of Ananias and Sapphira illustrates a recurring theme in Luke's writings in his gospel as well as the Acts of the Apostles.
The recurring theme is hypocrisy and God's outrage in the face of it.
In classical Greek HUPOKRITES meant "actor", a theatre actor.
Gradually the word was extended to mean "dissembler, deceiver";
Then the word was extended again to include all the connotations of someone who is intentionally a fake, a phony, a fraud.
Over and over in Luke's gospel Jesus is found hissing, "Hypocrites!"
HYPOCRISY, a practice that Jesus repeatedly condemned as He did in Matthew 6:1-2 when He said,
"Be careful not to do your 'ACTS of righteousness', [or PRETENDING], before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy do not announce it with trumpets, as the HYPOCRITES do in the synagogues and on the streets."
Later in Matthew's gospel our Lord went so far as to warn that Hell would be populated by hypocrites. (Matthew 24:51)
And the fact is, one of the ways that we all sin is by doing the same thing, we deceive others by donning "masks" of various kinds in order to PRETEND to be something we're not.
When our Lord came upon the calculated deceptions of religious phony’s he denounced them on the spot.
Few things provoked his rage like the calculated conniving of pretending to be holy.
Jesus does not flay those who aspire to godliness and transparency yet fall short of their aspiration.
Any sincere person falls short.
And for all sincere people who fall short our Lord has the tenderest word of mercy.
But falling short of godly aspiration is as far from calculated deception as the east is from the west.
Our Lord leaves no doubt of this at all.
Peter told Ananias and Sapphira that by their crafty, cunning, two-faced racket they had "tempted God", "tested God".
Now to "test God" is a Semitism, a Hebrew idiom that means, "to see what one can get away with".
When Jesus was tempted or tested in the wilderness he refused to throw himself off the highest point of the temple and see if he would land on the ground intact.
Quoting the older testament he had replied to the tempter,
"You shall not tempt the Lord your God" -- meaning, "We ought never to see what we can get away with."
Christians love God. Loving God includes obeying God.
Then how can anyone who loves God try to see what they can get away with?
We try to see what we can get away with only when, in a moment of sin-born folly,
Our folly-fuelled craftiness overshadows our love for God.
Folly? Yes, folly, because the truth is, in life we get away with nothing.
Only a fool thinks that the holy God indulges unrighteousness.
The prelude to Ananias and Sapphira
Let’s go back now and look very closely at what has happened here.
First, I want you to note that this "chapter" from the history of the first church starts out great!
I mean, the first few verses of this portion of Luke's history book record further proof of the health of this amazing church.
They enjoyed powerful teaching through the apostles, which means Peter and John were doing what the Sanhedrin told them NOT to do, teach about the resurrection of Jesus.
And they also had a wonderful fellowship; truly, there was a "sweet, sweet Spirit" in that place!
As Luke says in verse 32, "All the believers were ONE in heart and mind!"
These first Christians actually experienced the UNITY that Jesus had prayed for that night in the Garden.
Plus, they readily ministered to each other's needs.
These Christians enjoyed powerful Bible teaching and moving worship but they actually let it impact their daily lives!
Their worship experiences issued forth into powerful ministry as they worked to meet practical needs,
feeding the hungry, providing clothing, shelter, ALL IN JESUS' NAME.
In fact, as verse 34 says, they were so faithful in this practice, that there "were no needy persons among them."
And I'm glad to say that for the most part, Christians in churches STILL behave this way today.
Christians still work to help meet the physical needs of their fellow man.
I mean, there are still mature Christians who, like those first believers, know that being a Christian, following Jesus Christ as Lord, means BEING A GIVER.
They know that Christian worship is more than what we do in sanctuaries like this on Sundays,
It is a lifestyle of sacrificially giving to meet physical needs.
Luke tells us that it became a common practice for someone to sell property and bring the proceeds to the apostles to be distributed to anyone who needed funds.