Summary: This sermon deals with what happens when a church is cleansed of hypocrisy and its members begin to live authentic Christian lives.
The Church in Jerusalem: Pure, Salty, Blessed
February 8, 2015
TEXT: Please turn in your Bibles to Acts 5
Illus. – A man woke up one Sunday morning, and instead of getting ready for church as usual, he just dawdled around, read the paper and ate breakfast. His wife, almost ready and having gotten the kids ready, looked at him in surprise and said, “Jim, why aren’t you dressed for church?”
“Because I'm not going to church, that’s why.” he answered.
Concerned, she asked, “Jim, you always to go church. Can you give me a reason?”
He said, “Yeah. As a matter of fact I give you THREE reasons: First, the congregation is cold. Second, no one likes me. And third, I just don’t want to go.”
The wife replied, “Well, honey, I have three reasons why you SHOULD go: First, many in the congregation ARE warm. Second, there are at least a few people there who like you. And third…well, Honey, YOU’RE THE PASTOR! So get dressed!”
What kind of a church do you think people want to go to? In today’s text, we’re going to see how people not serious about following Christ decided the church in Jerusalem just might not be for them. The real question I want us to consider today is this: Since “the church” is really the PEOPLE who make up that church, what kind of church does GOD want us to be?
I don’t think there will ever be a church like the church of Jerusalem in its initial stages. The church in Jerusalem was “ground zero”—the place where the whole concept of the local church began, and God saw that it was imperative for that church to be a model church for all other local churches to be able to look back on and follow its example.
Let’s look at that church…
I. CONSIDER FIRST WITH ME THAT THE JERUSALEM CHURCH HAD INTERNAL PURITY – Acts 5:12-13a – “And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch. 13 And of the rest durst no man join himself to them…”
Remember last week we read the sad story of Ananias and Sapphira in verses 1-11. Ananias and Sapphira, a married couple, were hypocritical liars. They lied to the Holy Spirit and the church in Jerusalem, claiming they had given to God the entire sum of the sale of a piece of land, when in fact, in order to look magnanimous and generous, they had kept a portion of it for themselves. Because of their hypocrisy, God killed them both on the spot.
You say, “Whoa! That’s a little harsh, isn’t it?” Well, the truth is that, as we saw last week, God hates hypocrisy.
So what was really going on here in the story of Ananias and Sapphira? God was trying to safeguard the purity of the church in its very beginning. He was laying down the truth that He takes sin seriously. We’re often quick to judge big sins in OTHERS, like adultery or stealing, especially if they’re PUBLIC, yet we excuse our own sins and hypocrisies because they’re hidden and maybe not so earth shattering in our view. Yet in the story of Ananias and Sapphira, we’re reminded that even hidden sins that don’t seem so big in the big scheme of things are serious business with God.
When I first read this, I really didn’t get it. I couldn’t grasp such a harsh judgment for what didn’t appear to me to be such a big sin, and which nobody would have known about had not God revealed it. How was this such a threat to the church that God had to called two saints home?
And then I remembered how Solomon in Song of Solomon speaks of “little foxes, that spoil the vines” (Song of Songs 2:15). [COMMENT ON SLIDE OF CUTE LITTLE FOXES: “They little fellers really look cute, don’t they.”] You see, what we see as “little” can have BIG consequences in our lives.
Illus. – In 1997 USA Today ran an article about the Titanic, considered an unsinkable ship in 1912 when on its maiden voyage, it sank, killing 1500 people. For years scientists assumed that what sunk the Titanic was a giant gash in the hull caused by a collision with an iceberg. But an international team of divers and scientists had used sound waves to probe through the wreckage, and what they found surprised them. Rather than a huge gash, they found six relatively small, narrow slits across the six watertight holds. Through those little holes, water came seeping in until the ship sank.
When we allow “little” sins in our lives, we may not realize the destructive power we set loose in our spiritual lives until it’s too late.