ANANIAS & SAPPHIRA
Text: ACTS 5:1-14
- We know from the Bible and from experience that after enjoying a season of great blessings and spiritual victories, the devil will soon show up.
- God has been good to us and we have seen souls saved and new members baptized. We just had a great week of revival meetings with Bro. Burden. Our building program is going forward and our church is growing.
- Therefore, we need to be careful. Surely, the devil will try and trip us up.
- In the first four chapters of the book of Acts, we see great things happening (Acts 2:37-47).
- In chapter 4 we are introduced to Barnabas, one of the great men of God in the early church. He became the apostle Paulís first missionary partner.
- His name means "The son of consolation (or exhortation)" (4:36). He was an encourager.
- Barnabas had given a large sum of money to the church (4:36,37). God was really blessing, but watch out. Chapter 5 begins with the word, "ButÖ"
- We are going to see this morning how the devil got into the early church, and the people he used were a couple of regular church members by the names of Ananias and Sapphira (5:1).
I. THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN
- If you really want to understand why this world is so mixed up, just read your Bible. And as you read your Bible, mark out the deceitfulness of sin (cf. Heb.3:13).
- Read your Bible, and mark out the deceitfulness of sin. Go way back to the Garden of Eden and see how the devil deceived Eve.
- Then keep reading and see how ever since then he has been successfully blinding the minds of most people.
- We see here in Acts 5 that Satan led Ananias and Sapphira "to lie to the Holy Ghost" (5:3). This means they lied to God because the Holy Ghost is God (5:4b).
- Before we go any further, let me emphasize that there was nothing wrong with the fact that they kept back part of the money. It was their money. If they wanted to keep back part of it, that was their prerogative.
- The property had been theirs and they had the right to do whatever they wanted with the money (after paying their tithe, of course).
- Their problem was that they lied about it (5:1-10). This was their great sin, and this was what brought down the swift judgment of God.
- They said they were giving all when actually they were keeping part of it for themselves. They sinned against the Holy Spirit in pretending to a state of devotedness that they did genuinely possess. They committed the sin unto death (I John 5:16).
- Ananias and Sapphira were singing "I Surrender All," but they were lying. They wanted others to think they were very spiritual (like Barnabas) but they were just pretending, so God killed them. Can you imagine if God was to strike dead all the religious deceivers in our churches today?
- Harry Ironside said, "If the Spirit of God were working in that way today, what a lot of work there would be for the undertakers! There would not be enough of them in any of our cities to bury those who dropped dead!"
- So many come up to the altar on Sunday morning but by Sunday afternoon itís back to normal. They got their spiritual fix and they just go back to their worldly ways.
- We need to be honest with God, and if we havenít been real, we need to get right with God. And if we havenít been genuine, we need to get that right today. Thatís one thing I appreciate about Bro. Burden. Heís real. And he wants all Christians to be real.
- Can you imagine if God was to strike dead all those that arenít real. If we were to judge all the religious deceivers in our churches today? We have been studying the Gospel of Matthew on Sunday nights, and we are presently in chapter 18. Tonight we will be looking at church discipline. Beloved, what we have here in Acts 5 is a case of instant church discipline.
- This grievous sin brought down the swift judgment of God.
II. LET US SEE HERE THE SWIFT JUDGMENT OF GOD
- Every now and then I will hear some one say they like the God of the NT but they do not like the God of the OT. How foolish! The God of the OT is the same God of the NT. "For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed" (Malachi 3:6).
- Occasionally, some one will say, "You preach too much from the OT." These critics should study the book of Revelation. That is in the NT.
- And the story of Ananias and Sapphira is in the NT. God judged Ananias and Sapphira. And God killed Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:5-11). And God could do the same thing today if He wants to.
- We read in the OT that God killed Nadab and Abihu, and God killed Korah and the other rebels, and God killed Achan and his entire family. And God killed Ananias and Sapphira. God does not play around with sin.
- Bro. Burden preached a great message Thursday night on Reuben Ė "Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel" (Gen.49:4). And he reminded us that only two descendants of Reuben are mentioned in the Bible Ė Dathan and Abiram, two wicked rebels that God killed. God opened up the earth and sent them right down to hell (express trip). I preached about them a while back (Numbers 16).
- God deals with sin. I would like to say this: The Bible does not say whether or not Ananias and Sapphira were saved. That is not the point. The point is God wants a pure church, a holy church, a clean church, an honest church. And Ananias and Sapphira allowed the devil to trip them up. And this brought down the swift judgment of God.
- You may be thinking, "How could God kill two Christians?" Just as easily as He can kill two non-Christians! This is Godís universe. God created us. God can do whatever He pleases. We are breathing His air, eating His food, and living on His planet.
- You may still be thinking, "But why would God kill two Christians?" Because they sinned against Him. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezek.18:4; cf. Heb.10:30,31).
- There are several warnings in the NT about God killing unrepentant Christians. This is what John means by the "sin unto death" (I John 5:16).
- God chastens His children (Heb.12:5-11). If you are not being chastened, then maybe you are illegitimate (Heb.12:8).
- I am not insisting that Ananias and Sapphira were genuinely saved, but I think it is very likely they were saved. God cuts down people, both saved and unsaved alike (cf. I Cor.11:27-32; James 1:13-16).
- Just because you are saved, brother, do not think the devil canít mess you up (cf. Eph.6:11-17).
- Beloved, God wants reality. Too many church members are phony. We had several trouble-makers leave our church and go to the Spanish department of another church, not very far from here. They caused a lot of trouble over there, and the church closed down the Spanish department.
- The Spanish pastor told me they had to clean house. Well, sometimes God has to clean house, and that is what we see here in Acts 5.
III. THE BLESSINGS THAT FOLLOWED (5:11)
- Normally, God blesses a church by addition, but sometimes He blesses by subtraction. And what usually happens is that after God removes those that are not right, the church grows and prospers. We see that here in Acts 5 (5:14).
- This was a shocking example of the judgment of God Ė two dead bodies being carried out of the church building and buried outside (Acts 5:9,10). Apparently this is when they started burying church members next to the church building.
- It was a shocking experience, but look at the good that followed Ė "great fear came on all them that heard these things" (5:5,11).
- This fear of God is sadly missing today. There are many church people who lie, and steal, and gossip, and commit adultery, and read pornography, and skip church services, and drink and smoke, and live just like devils. Then we wonder why more people donít come to church, and why more people are not getting saved.
- We see here in Acts 5 how God dealt with bad church members. "And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things" (5:11). The news got out. And "multitudes" were "added to the Lord" (5:14).
- But not everyone. Back then there was a clear line of demarcation between the saved and the unsaved, between the holy and the unholy, between those who believed in Jesus and those who rejected Jesus.
- The believers "were all with one accord in Solomonís porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them" (5:12,13). It is better that way. We want to reach everyone with the Gospel, but if they will not repent and get right with God they should not join the church. Churches that open their membership to unsaved people cannot expect Godís favor.
- Men were filled with fear because of what happened to Ananias and Sapphira, and so they thought carefully about joining the church. Itís not that way today. Worldly people join worldly churches and this hurts the cause of Christ.
- One night, a few years back, I was out knocking on doors in Queens Village. I met an Irishman who invited me into his house. He was a singer and a musician. We had mutual friends (e.g. Pat Floody), and so the conversation started out very nice and cordial.
- Like many Irishmen he was charming and witty. But things changed quickly when I steered the conversation towards salvation. He told me he had been a member of an independent Baptist church in Queens a number of years back but had left and had no intention of ever going back to church.
- He said many disturbing things that night but one thing that sticks in my mind was his views about Ananias and Sapphira. He said that he could no longer accept the Bible because God is no longer striking people dead like He did back in Acts 5.
- I tried to explain that the book of Acts describes the beginning of a new dispensation and that there are many things we see in the book of Acts that we should not expect to see today. This is true for every dispensation (e.g., Moses and his miracles).
- But without getting too deep into dispensational teachings, I tried to explain that God still deals with sin, and God still judges sin, and even though I have never seen Him strike down a man in church I have seen Him deal with sinners many, many times in many different ways.
- He scoffed at all of this and so I left. A few days later I was walking down Jamaica Avenue and saw his picture in the window of a grubby little bar. He was performing on Saturday nights in this little dive on Jamaica Avenue in Queens Village.
- My friends, it wasnít Ananias and Sapphira that kept him from getting right with God. It was this crummy little tavern on Jamaica Avenue.
- Unsaved friend; or backslidden Christian: what is keeping you from God?
Pastor James J. Barker
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