Summary: This expository sermon series is adapted from Max Lucado's book, Out Live Your Life, and credit for most the series belong to him. Outlines are original. In Acts 5, we find the early church doing good deeds authentically, abundantly, and adventurously! Cu
Made to Make a Difference: Acts 5
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 7/17/2011
This series is inspired by and portions adapted from Max Lucado’s Out Live Your Life.
Even after their first taste of persecution and prison food, the message of the resurrection of Jesus continued to spread rapidly throughout Jerusalem, as Spirit-empowered believers shared the gospel with a spiritually lost and lonely populace. The church was making a difference in the lives of untold thousands, and Satan wasn’t going to stand for it. He wanted to see the church divided, disgraced and destroyed. In chapter 4, he tried to destroy the church from without through persecution. But in chapter 5, he’ll try to destroy it from within through hypocrisy.
Acts 5, like the other chapters before it, offers us continued insight into the priorities and principles that guided the early church. Because of what they believed and how they behaved, this grass-roots movement propelled by tax collectors, net casters and soccer moms exploded into a world-changing force for Jesus Christ. Like them, you and I were made to make a difference. When we follow in their footsteps, believing and behaving like them, we have the potential to make a real difference in the world.
Last week, in Acts 4, we learned that the apostles were fearless with persecution, faithful with prayer, and free with possessions. This week, in Acts 5, we find one simple message: Do Good! And while it a good thing to do good things, we also find three qualifiers to that imperative. Rather than just doing good, we are called to do good authentically, abundantly, and adventurously. So let’s get into Acts 5, and start exploring the call to do good authentically.
• DO GOOD AUTHENTICALLY
As Acts 5 begins, we find the startling story of a married couple named Ananias and Sapphira, who were not so authentic. Last week we discovered that the early church just exploded with generosity. Wealthy Christian who owned extra fields or houses were selling them and giving the money to the apostles to share with less fortunate believers. Ananias and Sapphira must have seen what was going on and maybe they got jealous of all the praise and appreciation being lavished on these generous donors. One of them remembered a piece of property that had probably been in the family a while and they decided together to sell it, give the money to church and maybe they’d get a foyer named after them or something.
Now, I don’t know exactly why they did it, but the Bible says, “He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest” (Acts 5:2 NLT). When he presented his offering to Peter, the apostle responded with four questions.
Question 1: “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?” (Acts 5:3 NIV). So much for the cover-up. Peter’s phrase for “kept” actually means “misappropriate.” The apostle’s sniffed out the couple’s scheme for what it was: financial fraud.
Question 2: “Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold?” (Acts 5:4 NIV). No one forced the couple to sell the property. They did it for the glory and recognition.
Question 3: “And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal?” (Acts 5:4 NIV). At any point the couple could have changed their minds or altered their pledge. The sin wasn’t in keeping a portion of the proceeds, but in pretending they gave it all.
Question 4: “What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God” (Acts 5:4 NIV). This wasn’t an impulsive stumble, but a calculated, premeditated swindle.
Once the interrogation was over, God rendered the verdict. The Bible says, “When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died” (Acts 5:6 NIV). The message: doing good for the wrong reasons, isn’t good. Jesus had a word for such behavior: hypocrisy. The Greek word for hypocrite originally referred to a stage actor—someone who wore a mask and pretended to someone he wasn’t.
Jesus wants us to do good deeds. He even said, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NIV). So it’s good to do good deeds publically—as long as God is the one who gets the credit. When we pretend to be someone we’re not and do good to get the praise and glory for ourselves, we embarrass God and give a black-eye to the church.
Hypocrisy turns people away from God. When God-hungry souls walk into a congregation of wannabe pretenders, they know it. I love how the Message translates Jesus words: “Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding” (Matthew 6:1 MSG). Bottom line: don’t make a theater production out of your faith. Do good authentically. Also, we should do good abundantly!