Books of the Book: Acts

Living a Life

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Jim & Mark Howard


Series Code: ABOTB

Program Code: ABOTB00008A

00:21 Welcome to Books of the Book. We're so glad you could join us
00:25 today. My name is Jim Howard and I'm here with my brother Mark
00:28 Howard. We both pastor in the Michigan Conference of Seventh
00:31 day Adventists. Mark, the last time we were here to study this
00:35 book of Acts that we've been going through, we saw one of the
00:39 most fearless sermons ever given in the Bible by the apostle
00:44 Peter, the same apostle who had denied Jesus vindicated himself
00:49 as it were with a fearless and courageous address that actually
00:54 had not only the power of convicting those that he was
00:58 speaking to but also of turning many to the Lord. And where we
01:03 pick up or where we left off I should say was in verse 31 and
01:06 where we're going to pick up is in verse 32 of Acts chapter 4.
01:10 So if our viewers have their Bibles, we would invite you to
01:13 join us. But before we dive in, we would like to start with a
01:17 word of prayer. So let's ask God to bless our study of his word.
01:21 Father in heaven, we're so grateful for the opportunity
01:25 to study the Bible. Make it come alive to us today and speak to
01:30 our hearts is our prayer, in Jesus' name, Amen.
01:33 Now we're begin reading in verse 32 just at the conclusion of
01:39 some wonderful preaching and then a beautiful prayer in which
01:44 the disciples were given great boldness to speak the word of
01:48 God. It talks about the impact on the church. Verse 32 says,
01:52 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and
01:55 one soul. Neither did anyone say that any of the things he
01:59 possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And
02:02 with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection
02:05 of the Lord Jesus and great grace was upon them all, nor
02:08 was there anyone among them who lacked for all who were
02:12 possessors of lands or houses sold them and brought the
02:15 proceeds of the things that were sold and laid them at the
02:18 apostles feet and they distributed to each as anyone
02:22 had need. Now as we read this account, we're reminded that
02:26 there was a reality here in the book of Acts that we don't
02:29 experience too often. This fledgling group of 120 had very
02:34 quickly become 5000, men only, right, that's not counting the
02:39 women and children. So this was a large group of people that now
02:44 they've got to figure out how they're going to minister to.
02:47 And of course we recognize that later they'll establish some
02:50 special help in the structure, but even here early on in the
02:53 book of Acts they are talking about how they needed to
02:58 sacrifice for the sake of those who had less. It just seems that
03:02 the heart of sacrifice is built into the church in the book of
03:06 Acts. Right from the very beginning they saw this need
03:09 to if others had need to sacrifice their plenty to help
03:14 others. The story brings us to an account that is little bit
03:20 unique and it's really the focal point of our study today in the
03:23 book of Acts when it comes to chapter 5. Let's pick up in
03:27 verse 36 where it says, and this is in chapter 4, and Joses
03:33 who was also named Barnabas by the apostles which is translated
03:37 son of encouragement, a Levite of the country of Cypress,
03:41 having land sold it and brought the money and laid it at the
03:44 apostles' feet. The chapter 5 verse 1 begins with the word
03:48 but. Everything was going well but as a certain man named
03:54 Ananias with Sapphira his wife sold a possession. Why don't you
03:59 pick up there in the story? Okay. Well in chapter 5, and
04:02 it's interesting; it doesn't seem, Jim, that everybody is
04:05 selling things. It says back in chapter 4 verse 34 all who were
04:09 possessors of lands or houses sold them. In fact, Jesus
04:14 himself said the poor will always be with you. There are
04:17 always those who have more and those who have less and God's
04:20 intent is that those who have more would share and that's
04:23 what we see happening here. Those who did have an abundance
04:26 were selling it off and apparently Ananias and Sapphira
04:28 his wife fit that category. And it goes on there in chapter 5 to
04:33 say that when they sold their possession, verse 2 he kept back
04:37 part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it and
04:41 brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles feet. But
04:45 Peter said Ananias why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the
04:49 Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for
04:52 yourself. While it remained was it not your own and after it was
04:56 sold was it not in your own control. Why have you conceived
04:59 this thing in your heart. You have not lied to men but to God.
05:03 Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed
05:07 his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these
05:13 things. I mean, that was pretty swift. And it goes on to say in
05:17 verse 6, and the young men arose and wrapped his up, carried him
05:21 out and buried him. Now it was about three hours later when his
05:25 wife came in not knowing what had happened. I mean, I guess we
05:28 don't know how far they lived from the church or from where
05:31 they were meeting and collecting the money but evidently three
05:34 hours had been quite a long time and his wife, Sapphira, came
05:37 looking for her husband. And verse 8 says, and Peter answered
05:41 her tell me whether you sold the land for so much. She said
05:46 yes for so much. Then Peter said to her, how is it that you have
05:50 agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord. Look, the
05:53 feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door
05:55 and they will carry you out. And immediately she fell down at his
05:59 feet and breathed her last and the young men came in and found
06:03 her dead and carrying her out buried her by her husband.
06:06 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard
06:11 these things. That's an incredible story. When
06:15 I look at what happened here in chapter 5 and specifically
06:20 Ananias and Sapphira's particular hypocrisy, we could
06:26 call it, it's notable that this was not really something that
06:31 God was forcing them to do. As you look at this in verse 4 it
06:35 says... Well even before you go there
06:37 it's interesting along those lines in verse 3 the question
06:41 was asked Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the
06:45 Holy Spirit? Now we talked about this already a little bit.
06:50 The Holy Spirit works through bringing conviction of truth and
06:54 we studied that in one of our previous episodes where we
06:57 looked at John chapter 16 verse 8 where it says, Then when he
07:00 the Spirit of Truth has come he will convict you of truth and of
07:02 righteousness and of judgment. So evidently as we see the
07:07 people distributing their possessions it would appear here
07:10 that in one of the apostles, at least one of the apostles
07:14 addresses the Holy Spirit had brought conviction on those who
07:18 had possessions to sell them to help those in need and Ananias
07:22 and Sapphira evidently had responded to that conviction.
07:26 That's the only way you could be said to have lied to the Holy
07:29 Spirit. In other words, they were under conviction much like
07:31 when we hear the preaching of the word or when we're studying
07:34 the word when the Holy Spirit pricks our hearts and brings
07:38 conviction and calls us to do something about it and we make a
07:41 decision. Okay Lord I'm going to do it. Okay Lord I'm going to
07:45 follow you we are making a commitment to the Holy Spirit
07:49 and ultimately to God and that's what it says here. He says,
07:52 Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy
07:56 Spirit and keep back a part. So they had evidently pledged
08:01 something under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and then when
08:06 it came time, when they left that atmosphere, and I say this
08:10 because this can happen to us when sometimes we're convicted
08:14 that we need to make a change, we're hearing a powerful sermon
08:18 or in some other way God is bringing the truth to our heart
08:22 and our mind and we're convicted that we need to do something and
08:24 we say I'm going to do it and then we leave that atmosphere
08:27 and then we start to rationalize and it would appear that they
08:31 began to rationalize here and decided that they weren't going
08:34 to follow through. Therefore, what they said they were going
08:37 to do they didn't do. They lied about what they were going to
08:40 do and they lied, not to man, but to God.
08:42 That's exactly right. Going back to that... That was an excellent
08:46 point. Going back to verse 4 where it talks about the freedom
08:50 that they had to make a decision Sometimes we look at this and
08:54 think that everybody had to get rid of their things and so poor
08:58 Ananias and Sapphira were just trying to find a way out of this
09:01 oppressive... They were manipulated...
09:05 Right. But this statement by the apostle is very clear. While it
09:09 remained was it not your own, it says in verse 4. And after it
09:12 was sold was it not in your own control. They didn't have to
09:16 pledge everything that they had from this sale. They didn't even
09:20 have to sell it at all. That's exactly right. But this makes
09:23 very clear that the fact that they were moved by some
09:27 conviction that they should do what's right and they did pledge
09:32 to give that money. Well now it brings in another entire
09:36 equation and that is that when we make a commitment to God we
09:40 need to keep our commitments. When we make a commitment to
09:44 our spouse in marriage we need to keep that commitment.
09:48 It's one thing if we decide that we want to break off an
09:52 arrangement before we've made that commitment. But once that
09:55 commitment is made we need to keep it and that's what they're
09:59 being held accountable for here. And it seems to me that, and we
10:02 don't have all of the details, but you can imagine that Ananias
10:06 and Sapphira after coming to this realization that, wow, we
10:09 should be giving of our proceeds we should sell what we have,
10:13 because we have much, we have plenty and helping these out,
10:17 that after that happened and they began to rationalize. You
10:21 know, maybe there's other people around who have money and
10:24 they're not doing that. Or maybe they think about the fact that
10:29 well these people who didn't do anything to give their money are
10:34 being helped by this common pool Perhaps if we just gave half
10:38 that will still be more than what some are giving. If we give
10:42 half then we can keep back the other part for ourself. It does
10:45 not specifically say half but they kept a part and they gave a
10:49 part and you know I think that sometimes we have that same
10:53 thing happen in the church today We have those who decide well
10:58 you know, the Bible is clear that I need to return a faithful
11:03 tithe to the Lord, but the interesting thing about this is
11:08 if it weren't for the Holy Spirit revealing it to Peter
11:13 they would not have known that Ananias and Sapphira gave only
11:18 part of the price. Nobody would have known except God, but that
11:23 same scenario happens today. We may say well I return a full
11:27 tithe to the Lord and nobody knows. The treasurer of the
11:32 church doesn't know, because they see a number in there but
11:36 really we maybe not returning a full tithe which means a tenth
11:40 but maybe a part of the price.
11:42 But why would anybody even go that route?
11:44 Well the reality is that there is inside each one of us a
11:49 danger that when nobody knows the temptation is stronger. When
11:55 somebody travels and stays in a hotel and nobody knows what they
12:01 are watching, nobody knows what they're doing, we find that
12:04 awful things sometimes happen. When there's no accountability
12:08 in those areas that are private in our life we find that they're
12:12 hardest areas to be true to God. But being true to God is
12:17 revealed in our private life. We can be true to God outwardly
12:21 that which people can see because reputation would drive
12:25 us to be that way. But to be true to God in our heart of
12:29 hearts and in our private life is the true test of character.
12:33 Ananias and Sapphira didn't pass that test.
12:35 No they didn't. What we're talking about here is hypocrisy.
12:40 This was not new to the Jewish church. We see Jesus probably in
12:44 the most well-known place in Matthew 23 over and over and
12:47 over referring to the leaders as hypocrites, you scribes and
12:51 Pharisees, hypocrites. The word actually comes from a Greek word
12:54 hupocrites which was a word if we were to use the word today
12:57 it would be an actor. We would talk about some Hollywood actor
13:00 and when we say the word actor, the Greeks would say hupocrites.
13:03 And Jesus was saying, you guys are a bunch of actors. In other
13:06 words, they were living a lie. They were saying one thing,
13:09 their profession was one thing, but what they really were was
13:14 being down inside that nobody else knew was something entirely
13:18 different. This danger of hypocrisy is something Jesus
13:22 warned very strongly about. We're going to actually take a
13:26 break here and when we come back from our break we're going to
13:30 look at some of what the scripture says and warns about
13:34 the danger of hypocrisy; the leaven of hypocrisy. So stay
13:37 tuned. We'll be back in just a minute.


Revised 2014-12-17