Summary: This message shows us the power of real, unselfish service. It is a concept that has faded from today’s world.
“Putting Your Best Foot Forward”
Acts 5: 12-42
One of the things that has happened in our society across the years is that our concept of service has greatly changed. What we have seen is that real service has almost become a thing of the past and has been replaced by convenience. Some of you can recall pulling into a gas station, which by the way was referred to as a service station and a couple fo attendants would come out, check you oil, wash your windows, check your tires and then fill your car up with gas. And all of these services were free. And then they said thank you.
Now we buy our gas at a convenience store. We can check the oil ourselves, and we can put air in the tires if we want to pay for it and most of us pay at the pump and it’s entirely possible to do all of this without speaking to anyone. But it’s convenient. We have drive through service for everything. You can order food but be aware there are even more things you can do now. Some of the pharmacies offer drive through flu shots, in Las Vegas you can get married at a drive through, never even have to get out of the car, I guess instead of playing here comes the bride, it’s here comes a Buick. Pensacola has had in recent years
drive through funeral visitation, but has not shut down.
As far as the church is concerned one of the things we want to do is to put our best foot forward. The NT church here in the book of Acts understood this concept called service. This story we will see today is told in 5 events. What we have seen so far in this chapter is that there has been a REBELLION IN THE CHURCH. Vv.1-4 A couple named Ananias and Sapphira conspired together to sell a piece of property, then told the church they were giving all of the proceeds from the sale to the church but they didn’t do it. They lied to the Holy Spirit and God held them accountable. It is a remarkable story that shows us that God hates hypocrisy...when we say one thing but do another. When our commitments we make publicly are not kept in private. Clearly they rebelled against God and against the church.
Then we see a 2nd event. It is GOD’S RESPONSE TO THEIR CRIME. Vv. 5-11 They were both struck dead right on the spot. Ananias first, then Sapphira. We wonder why this was such a serious crime that they should receive the death penalty. Too many times in the church we use phony excuses to avoid our responsibilites as a member. Our priorities get reversed and confused and we need God to straighten them out, to take our pride away. And to ultimately do what’s best for His church and the Kingdom. And that’s what God does. Seems drastic. But remember God’s Kingdom is much bigger than any one of us and ultimately much more important.
Now the 3rd event we see explained here is THE REPUTATION OF THE CHURCH IN THE CITY. VV. 12-16. Look with me at verse 12. Verse 17 reminds us that one of the things that triggered the arrest of the apostles which we see in v. 18 was that the Saducees were jealous. Jealousy can drive people to do some terrible things. One of the laws that the Saducees had put into effect was a “no witnessing” law. The apostles were told they could not preach, teach, heal or share their faith in any way. But guess what...they didn’t listen. A careful reading of the book of Acts shows us they referred to the law, the OT scripture that Moses wrote down. 15 times they referenced OT prophecies, they referred to the resurrection 12 times, 8 times they talked about repentance, 5 times they referred to the cross...then they gave 5 warnings about the coming judgement. Twice they remind us that God is creator.
Now why would they continue to share in this way even in the face of death? The answer is simple...it was not about them. John says he must increase, you and I must decrease. And all of these scriptures they references all tell us one thing .. the law makes us aware of our sin, the prophecies point us to God’s solution for sin; the resurrection proves there is hope, without repentance of course, there is no salvation. Most references to creation spell out the fact that we are responsible to our creator.... to someone much bigger than us. So they knew they must present the gospel even in the face of persecution.
But not only did they witness, not only did they heal a man lame from birth but ALL of the apostles performed miracles and on top of that they continued to hold church right in the very place where that first miracle happened. And that miracle continued to attract unbelievers to the faith. So much so that a very interesting thing happens here. Vv. 15-16. Instead of going to the Colonnade which was a porch on the East side of Solomon’s temple, instead of going there they brought their loved ones who were sick into the streets so that Peter’s shadow might fall on them as he walked by. Now this sounds strange. But even today, people search for some kind of physical demonstration of God’s presence in their lives. In the ancient world a person’s shadow represented that person so that they were doing what their culture taught them. The text here does not say they were healed by the shadow, but the people did believe there was healing power there.