Sermons

Summary: Learning how to be the church in today's world through learning from the book of Acts.

[2] Boy if there’s one thing that’s irritating its hypocrisy.

[Al Gore’s house, doctor’s office with ash tray examples.]

Hypocrisy is a hard thing to deal with. But you know what, all of us at one time or another find ourselves being a hypocrite. All of us at one time or another find ourselves not walking the talk. We say we believe this or that and yet we live contrary to what we say.

And sometimes that hypocrisy is on full display in the church. We come in here acting so holy, so together, so knowledgeable – and yet we aren’t living like we want others to think we are. Hypocrisy. It’s a bad thing.

Hypocrisy is also a dangerous thing because hypocrisy can grow into self-righteousness. Eventually, hypocrisy renders our lives powerless when it comes to the things of God. We find ourselves with a form of godliness but with now real power.

Now probably none of us here want that kind of faith. We don’t just want a superficial, put on, phony faith. We want the real thing! We want to walk with God. So what do we do when we find ourselves being hypocrites? Well, purge or be purged of the sin in your life.

You see God loves His children. And as a loving Father He disciplines His children when they’re harboring sin in their lives. Especially when they’re walking in hypocrisy. So either we can repent of our sinful ways and walk the talk or God will get our attention.

The early church that we’ve been studying about in the book of Acts had to go through some serious purging very early in their history. Even though the church was booming, God was still God and Father of His children there. Turn with me to Acts 4.

As we read about the early church we see an exciting church of [3] purpose. I mean this place was an incredible display of what it really meant to love God and love others.

[Read Acts 4:31-37.]

Now this was a great church. Remember, the leaders of the church had just been released from jail and had been warned not to speak about Jesus any more. But it didn’t intimidate them or slow them down in the least. They continued to boldly teach and preach about Jesus Christ in the face of persecution.

They had a great reputation amongst the non-church goers in the community.

They were completely unified as a church sharing “one heart and soul”.

And nobody in that church went without the necessities of life. Nobody got hungry, no one’s bills went overdue, everyone had a place to live and clothes to wear.

People who had means realized there were people who had needs and they did whatever it took to provide for others. Even to the point of selling off their houses and land that they didn’t need and giving the money to the poor.

Now this wasn’t compulsory. And this wasn’t some form of communism or socialism. People simply gave sacrificially to provide for others.

An example of that was given here of when Joseph the Levite sold a piece of land he owned to provide for others. His act of generosity was so impressive that they renamed him Barnabas which literally meant Son of Encouragement. (Remember that name Barnabas because he’s going to show up many times through the book of Acts.)

The point is, this was a happening church. They got together every day simply to express their love for God and for each other. And they didn’t just talk it – they walked it!

But then Ananias and Sapphira show up. Have you ever met or even heard of someone named Ananias or Sapphira? There’s a reason for that. They were the ultimate kill-joys at that church. Everything was going so good!

[Derek at Ben’s 21st birthday party.]

Ananias and Sapphira show up at church one day and literally killed the joy that was in that place – all because of their blatant hypocrisy. [4] So some purging had to take place.

[Read Acts 5:1-10.]

Now let’s make sure we understand what’s going on here. Peter calls attention to the fact that Ananias and Sapphira could do whatever they wanted to with their own land. The giving of money to the church was always a free-will thing. But at some point in time Ananias and Sapphira decided to sell their property and give the money to the church. And I’ll bet at church one day they got excited and made it public. “We’re going to sell our beach home and give you all the money so you can feed the poor!” (Yea!!! Pats on the back all around.)

But somewhere along the line they decided together that they’d give only some of the money to the church and keep the rest for themselves. Now that probably would have been alright if they would have been honest about it. But they acted like they were giving all their money to the church, when in reality they just weren’t that generous.

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