Summary: We are called to live the truth. Hypocrisy and pretensions do not belong to the life of a Christian.
Good morning. Let us look to the Word of God in ACTS again.
• Today’s passage is an important one. We are going to see, for the first time, the judgement of God in the community of faith. We have 2 deaths in a span of 3 hours.
• And for the first time in the book of Acts we are seeing threats against the church, not from without but within.
• Let us pray before we read the Scriptures and share the Word.
Sovereign Lord, we are grateful for Your care and provision, we thank You for being good to us. We are thankful for your presence with us each day.
We pray for the many places struggling to manage the pandemic and the many people who are badly affected by it, in one way or another. Grant them Your grace and help, so that they may find rest and hope in you, through the help and testimony of believers around them.
We pray for the racial unrest in the United States. Pray for good sense and wisdom for all involved, for hearts to be changed and for those with authority and power to exercise them wisely and make good decisions for change in their society.
Forgive us Lord for our sin and evil deeds. Help us return to you, our righteous and holy God. Speak to us again through Your Word, this we pray in Jesus’ Name, AMEN.
Turn with me to Acts 4:32-5:11. (May the Lord bless the reading of His Word.)
Luke (author) paints for us again, the beautiful life of the church. The believers were one in heart and mind, supporting one another.
• Acts 4:34-35 “There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.”
• From time to time when the need arises, the community comes together and provides for the needy, even to the extent of selling their lands or houses.
• It is out of love, voluntary and without compulsion. No one is forced to give.
• The believers love God and they love one another. The rich helping the poor, those who have supporting those who have not.
Barnabas is such a person. His name was Joseph and he was from Cyprus, an island blessed with natural resources; a rich land.
• He sold his field and gave the money to the church. The people were blessed.
• We are told that the apostles soon called this caring brother, Barnabas, meaning son of encouragement.
We have here a beautiful picture of the community of faith. And it would have remained so, in our mind, if Luke had not told us of another story.
• In the next verse, Luke went on to say (5:1) “NOW a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, ALSO sold a piece of property…” (NIV)
• KJV/ESV/NASV: “BUT a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property…”
• Clearly the conjunction connects the two, linking what he is about to share next with the preceding comment about Barnabas.
• A couple, Ananias and Sapphira, did the same. They too, like Barnabas, sold their property and brought the money to the apostles.
BUT something was not the same. Luke set the two contrasting incidents of givings next to each other on purpose.
• We do not know the time lapse between the two, but that is not important.
• Luke wants to show us that the second offering was not like the first.
THE COUPLE LIED. They kept part of the proceeds from the sale of their property and pretended that they gave it all.
• Ananias and Sapphira might have come to Peter at different times, but they were in it together. They agreed to deceive.
• 5:2 “With his wife’s full knowledge, he kept back part of the money…”
• 5:9 after Sapphira lied, Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord?” They planned the deceit together.
Peter said to Ananias: 5:3-4 3 …"Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God."
• Ananias’ heart must have crushed at the moment. He was expecting praise for his gift, but ended up being exposed and rebuked instead.