Summary: What keeps you from giving everything to God? Check out two sets of people who were following Christ and made two different decisions about their lives, causing two different outcomes.

This morning I want us to look at two sets of people: one set held nothing back from God, and God used them to change their world and ours too. The other set, not so much. Because they kept something back from God, their lives came to a quick end. Before we look into the lives and circumstances of these two sets of people, let’s get a little background info. Turn to the book of Acts.

It is has been a short time since Jesus has ascended into heaven, the promised Holy Spirit has come, Peter has stood up on the day of Pentecost, he has preached the gospel, over 3000 men have been saved and baptized, and as we look back we can see this as the beginning of God's church. But this church isn't a building with a sign in front like we see it today. It is in its rawest form. When you break a church down to its foundation, the church is simply you, God's people. So at this time there were building programs, no choir rehearsal, no 5th Sunday singing's, it was simply people coming together, caring for one another, sharing and growing in their faith, simply for one purpose: so that others would believe is the Gospel that they had received and that had changed their life and eternity.

There is a verse in Acts chapter 2 that puts it this way:

Acts 2:42-47 (ESV)

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.

44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.

45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,

47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

This time in history was the beginning of what we call the church age. People began to tell others about Jesus Christ. It began with those apostles who had seen the life of Jesus, his death and resurrection, and was followed by those who believed the Gospel as it was told, and were brought to salvation because of the work of the Holy Spirit.

What I want you to see from the verses that we just read was verses 44 & 45


Acts 2:44-45 (ESV)

44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.

45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

Think about this. Their attitude was not, this is mine, it belongs to me. Their attitude was, I will not hold onto to anything that will keep someone from coming to Christ. So they looked at the things they owned and knew that they could be used to help bring someone to Christ. They held nothing back.

And as the church began to grow, it became a thorn in the side of the religious leaders known as the Sadducee's? Why? Because they were speaking of a King, a Savior, who had died, had been resurrected, and one day would return. The Sadducee's did not like all of this talk from the people known as Christians.

So, this morning I want us to look at two different sets of people, one set of people held nothing back and because of this you and I know of the Gospel today. The other set held something back, and it costs them their lives.

Let's look at the first set of people. Open your Bibles to Acts 4

Peter and John had just been presenting the gospel in an open area after the healing of a blind man, and they were about to be arrested.

Read Acts 4:1-20

Peter and John held nothing back. Even in the face of death, they would not hide their devotion from the God that saved them and gave them eternal life. Peter and John gave us an example of living a life for God where you hold nothing back.

Now let’s look at another set of people, turn to Acts 5

In Acts Chapter 5 we see two people who have a chance to hold nothing back, but did they? They're names were Ananias and Sapphira, husband and wife. They were part of the early believers and considered disciples. Now remember when we hear the word disciple, we think of the 12, but there were many disciples. Remember in Luke he sent out 70 disciples? A disciple is simply a follower of Christ. So Ananias and Sapphira were followers of Christ in the early church. Let's look at their story.

Read Acts 5:1-11

Ananias and Sapphira had witnesses what everyone else were doing. Because they were apart of those early believers, they saw first-hand people giving up of their possessions. They saw the account of Barnabas that is stated at the end of the 4th chapter of Acts (Acts 4:27-31), where he sold a piece of land and brought the money and laid it at the apostle’s feet so it could be used for the furthering of the gospel. Ananias was compelled to do the same. He wanted to give so the gospel could go forward, he wanted to give to that others would call upon the name of the Lord, and he had something that could make all of that possible; a piece of land.

But Ananias held something back. And not only did he hold it back, he lied about it, not to man but to God. You heard the story, Ananias sold the piece of property, and kept some of the money, but presented it like he had given it all. Even his wife knew of this. The Scripture says that when Peter confronted him about his lie to God, he breathed his last breath and died. The same was true for his wife. You see Ananias and Sapphira kept something back from God. They didn't give them their best.

So this leads me to this question, "are you holding anything back from God?" Are you giving him your absolute best? Are you giving him the best part of the day? Are you giving him your time, your heart, your mind, your resources? Or are you saying to him, "I will give you this, but I am still going to manage this." If you are doing that, he may not strike you down like Ananias and Sapphira, but one day we will all stand before him, and on that day wouldn't it be great to be able to say to Him, I gave everything I could, and for him to say, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master." Matthew 25:23

How can we keep from holding things back?

1. Know This: The Things we have are not even ours.

To have this attitude and hold it up to the “things” in our lives, is life changing. When my wife and I sold nearly all of our possessions before moving to the mission field in Nigeria, we realized that it is just stuff. A couch that did not mean anything, a TV, a bedroom set, tools from my garage, all just stuff. Even the house we were living in. Now it’s nice to have stuff, but we need to understand that the ability to have these things come from God. He allows us to manage these things, even our money, and we are to become good stewards of these things. We need to make sure that we don’t hold onto “things” so tightly that they become worth more than our dependence on God.

The apostle John said it this way:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17

2. Know This: All you accumulate stay’s here.

A famous quote by Billy Graham goes this way, “I have never seen a U-Haul behind a hearse.” Everything you accumulate, every bit of money you earn stays right here on planet Earth when you leave. Paul wrote in his first letter to Timothy “for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” (1 Timothy 6:7)

3. Know This: If you release the things of this world, you can change this world.

The words of Jesus speak to this: Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:39) Jesus is saying that if you put your time and energy only into yourself and the things you want to have for yourself, you are just wasting your time, and you are keeping things from God because your eyes are only on yourself and your own needs. But, as Jesus said, if we take our eyes off of only ourselves and put them on Him, this is life… eternal life. And before that time comes when we enter into heaven, we can help others come to Christ.

Ananias and Sapphira held back their best, and only gave a part of themselves to God. Peter and John told those Sadducees and Sanhedrin, say what you want, do what you want, but we will never stop talking about what Jesus did. They didn’t hold anything back. They stayed true until the very end.

Don't hold anything back. At the end of your life, I promise you, on your death bed you will not be thinking, I should have worked more, I should have made more money, I should have tried harder to make a name for myself. Instead, I guarantee you will be thinking, I should have made a bigger difference for Christ, I should have loved people more. I hope this doesn't enter your mind at that time, and a way that it won't is my holding nothing back right now.