Read - Acts 5v1-11
Message - Scott Woodburn
The church has never gone through a golden age. We look back to Acts and think "wouldn't it be wonderful if the church was like that today...we need another Pentecost and become the New Testament church once again" Truth be told, the church has never been perfect and it has always known difficulty.
As chapter four came to a close we saw the church at her best. Grace and generosity abounded and it was a beautiful sight, but not everyone bought into the vision. Chapter five begins and we meet Ananias and his wife Sapphira. They sell some property, keep some of the proceeds for themselves and bring the rest to the Apostles (v1-2). Straight away we see that they have done something perfectly legitimate. Indeed Peter tells Ananias that he was under no obligation to sell the property or distribute the proceeds (v4). No one forced him into this. So what's the problem?
Ananias had promised that all of the proceeds of the sale would go to the church. Let's argue he sold his property for one million pounds, all of it was for the work of the church. Ananias promised that this would be so. Instead when the money arrived in his bank account he decided that his promise would be broken. The church would only receive a quarter or a half or perhaps even 99% but not all that had been promised.
This seems quite trivial to our modern ears but Peter was clear that Ananias' actions were inspired by Satan (v3). This man was guilty of lying to the Holy Spirit (v3b). He had lied to God Himself (v4b). Brothers and sisters pause for a moment and marvel at the holiness and wrath of God.
The Lord is not a bloke down the street who we can treat however we want. The Lord is not a slightly better version of sinful humanity. The Lord is a not a genie in a bottle who jumps when we command. Our God is a holy God. In Him no sin is found. He is perfect in every way. Brothers and sisters do not play foolish games with such a God. He is righteous and just and His wrath burns against sin. Ananias had treated God with contempt and both he (v5) and his wife (v10) fell down dead before Peter.
Let's not try and whitewash this passage by suggesting the shock of their actions caused their untimely demise. Ananaias and Sapphira's lives were taken by God Himself. Brothers and sisters, pause and tremble. God will execute His judgement on the last day but He executes judgement today. May we not trifle with our holy God. Today we respond to such a passage with holy fear. Just as fear fell upon the church in response to the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira so too we fear God and keep His commandments. Our yes is yes and our no is no. We strive for the peace of the local church. We close the door to Satan and his devices. The church is not a playground where anything goes, it belongs to Jesus and He will roar against any foe who seeks to wound His bride.
Q80 What is required in the tenth commandment? The tenth commandment requireth full contentment with our own condition, with a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbor, and all that is his.