Summary: God would rather have a small church that is pure than a large church whose commitment is watered down. With electricity, the larger the connection(wire), the more power can flow through it. This is true of the purity of the church.
THE MAN WHO DROPPED DEAD IN CHURCH
A. HUMOR: Neither Necessary
1. A pastor once met an old schoolmate and finding him a judge of good standing congratulated him upon his success in life. As they were parting, the pastor said to him, "And best of all, Judge, I find you are a member of our church."
2. "Well," said the judge, "that's more a matter of chance than anything else. You see, my wife and I thought we ought to join a church, so we settled down with a certain church. But they kept harping on faith and we discovered that they required more faith than we wanted to muster; so it became necessary to make a change.
3. “We joined another church. Here we found the demand was work, work incessantly; and it was presently apparent that they demanded more work than we wanted to perform. We concluded that we must change again.
4. “We looked around with caution, and at last we chose your church, and we’ve gotten along just fine with neither faith nor works."
5. This morning we’re going to look at a couple who were very similar to them.
5 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 3 Then Peter said, “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.” 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” 9 Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
1. Many people have asked me about this passage. "Hey, isn't this the New Testament -- the age of grace?" "Why would God put someone to death for lying?"
2. "If God went through this church and rubbed out everyone who had lied in the last year, there probably wouldn't be anyone left."
3. Question is, "Why did this happen and what implications does this have for us today?"
I. GOD MUST HAVE A PURE CHURCH
A. IMPORTANCE OF OUR MOTIVES
1. THE SETTING. 32 “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 34 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 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. 36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet” Acts 4:32, 34-37.
2. Barnabas and Ananias! Two persons may perform the same act, but in the eyes of God it may be far from being the same (Cain and Abel).
3. To those who looked on as A & S brought the money and laid it at the Apostle's feet, their action must have seemed pious and generous.
4. Even A & S themselves probably imagined that what they were doing wasn't really wrong; they were giving to the church, even if it was to gain status/respect.
5. But God was judging their motives. The lie to the Apostles and Church was really to lie to God!
B. DANGERS WITHIN & WITHOUT
1. This was a precarious moment for the Church -- it was so small and new that there was a real danger it could be stopped if the Sanhedrin moved quickly to execute its leaders.