Friday, September 14, 2007

Acts 5:1-16

Up to this point, the overwhelming response to what God has been doing has been wonder and awe. Something is about to happen that will turn that response into fear.

There was a married couple in the church named Ananias and Sapphira. Just as many others were doing, they sold a piece of property and gave the proceeds to the community. What they didn't tell Peter and the others was that they had secretly held back some of the money for themselves. When Ananias came to Peter, God revealed to Peter what Ananias had done. He asked, "Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit." This money was theirs. They did not have to give any of it. Yet they claimed to be giving all of it.

After Peter finished speaking, Ananias fell to the ground dead. Three hours later Sapphira came in. Peter asked her if they gave all of the proceeds. She lied and, like her husband, fell to the ground dead.

I am guilty of far greater sins than this. They no doubt had done far worse than this over the course of their lives. Why was the judgment this harsh? As John Calvin said, "they hoped to give a little to God but get credit for a lot." It's important to remember that God looks at the heart, not just the actions. Perhaps Ananias and Sapphira (A & S) were present when Barnabas gave the proceeds from the sale of a property. No doubt there was a great deal of talk about Barnabas. Perhaps A & S wanted there to be a lot of talk about them. They wanted people to talk about how great they were. After they sold the property, they began thinking, "It won't hurt if we keep a little of this for ourselves, will it?"

One could also make the point that God was purifying His people for their own good. The Church was about to face some tough times, so holiness and purity were essential. Giving a lecture about holiness and purity is one thing. Seeing people die because of a lack thereof is something completely different.

The other effect of this is that many more (multitudes) believed and were added to the Church.

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