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August 10, 2020 8:00 am
The punishment of Ananias and Sophia wrote from the book of acts seems severe.
They were struck dead by God for a seemingly trivial offense seems like a harsh punishment.
But this story teaches us a very important lesson about God. Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet program with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. Stay tuned now as we continue our study in the book of acts we will look at how God takes the purity of the relationship he has with people very seriously.
Now let's listen to Dr. Boyce Gunter, the fifth chapter of acts in our study of this important New Testament book and to a familiar story. The story of Ananias and Safar are two people who sinned against God lying to him in the midst of the Christian assembly and whom God struck that whenever I think of these two I think of a sermon that was preached here nearly 30 years ago by Donald Ray Barnhouse, a former pastor of this church entitled man whom God struck dead those days you could use the word man to include women and by absence of Ira were both included in that the title embraced more than this one New Testament incident includes the story of Nate AB in the bio the Old Testament to man to priests who offered improper fire upon God's altar and were struck dead for the last, and the story of those who was told about them. Second Samuel the sixth chapter who reached out and touched God's mark when it was being transported up to Jerusalem and the time of David, and who was struck dead last.
This particular sermon that linked all three of these incidents together pointed out, quite rightly, I believe that so far as we can tell each one of these individuals was what we would call a believer as they were not some heathen king who was blaspheming against God.
Some one our girl philosopher who in the arrogance of an unbelieving heart had set himself up against God and his anointed. These were people in the fellowship of the family of God actually engaged in what we would call Christian worship and they were all struck dead for what possibly seem to be. I hate even to use the word but let's use it. They seem to us to be trivial offenses interesting thing to put those together because it tells us of it tells us nothing else that God thinks about these things differently than we do. Said they were all apparently believers and all were struck dead for what were apparently trivial offenses while were linking them together. Let's notice a couple of other things, all as I said before, were engaged in God's service.
The case of the two priests bio and they that they were offering fire upon the altar of God. Flame flew out from the ark of the covenant in the tabernacle and killed them, and whose earth was transporting the ark up to Jerusalem on a joyous occasion with thousands of people gathered around leading in that great ceremony of worship been Ananias and Sapphire two were taking parts in the Christian assembly at the time of the offering. In the midst of Christian worship. We also should notice that I think this is perhaps the explanation of the severity of this punishment that in each instance. These were important new beginnings in God's dealings with his people. Something new was being inaugurated a new era was about to come in and so these were initial events. God, it would seem the pains to establish the beginning of these new ventures that the relationship of his people to himself as a serious serious one in the hour not here to study the earlier stories, but we are here to study the story of Ananias and Sophia were chapter 5. As I said we can't do that, plunging in chapter 5, without just looking back a few verses to what we saw at the end of chapter 4 that's because there's a deliberate setting of the story by the author of the book you look back to those verses, beginning with verse 32. In chapter 4.
You'll find that what Lucas describing for us. There is a picture of unusual unity and harmony in the early Christian church. We didn't have to do that at this point, we were talking about that last week I pointed out that in some ways it's a repetition of parallel passage to what we've already found the end of chapter 2 very end of chapter 2 after Pentecost in Peter's great sermon after the Holy Spirit in common. So many have been brought into the church were given a picture of that early fellowship of believers.
It's a delightful thing indeed told that they continued in the apostles teaching that is they were one in doctrine and in fellowship. They were one in heart and mind.
The very phrase that is used later and they took part in worship together in the breaking of bread and the prayers and moreover I know that there came a generosity of spirit in behalf of these early Christians so they sold what they had. They pooled it and when anybody had need. They took what they had in that common treasury and saw that the person wasn't lacking when we come to chapter 4 we find exactly the same thing all the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claim that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had and they spent their whole time testifying the resurrection of their Lord and Savior see this description in chapter 4 is a repetition are parallel to what we have in chapter 2, and when we realize that we understand that Luke is giving that here, not merely to repeat himself because he is far too good in the story and that but in order to set up a contrast between this moment of harmony in the early church on the disruption or disharmony that came as a result of Ananias and Sapphire is deception see it in another way as well. Not only does Luke describe in general terms what this time of sharing was about. But in verse 36 he brings in a particular individual man's name was Joseph and he came from Cyprus. Like they say, so someone is a parenthesis that may be a significant comment and why he in particular is singled out. Must remember and it probably throws light on this time of unique sharing in the early history of the church that Jesus master of these disciples had prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem said it was going to call that would come soon and that when his disciples saw they were to leave the city immediately got out of there when the destruction finally did come under the Roman some of the Christians remember that it did leave the city so Christians were probably living with the thought of that in their minds may well be why they were so willing to sell all they had in these days. I might've said. Now the Lord has told us Jerusalem is going to be overthrown.
Our possessions are not going to do us any good them thing to do is sell them and use them in the Lord's work. Now I said I can't prove that that's the case it's only a bit of what I hope and sanctified speculation on my part would explain why that occurred here early in the church and so far as we know is not repeated elsewhere does have a parallel Sunday you're going to die and so far as you're concerned what you're able to do with your possessions will and them certainly has a parallel application in this area. Take care how you use your possessions now make them count saying sellable in normal situations is an unwise thing to do but make sure you use them for the Lord in any way. I get that from the fact of Joseph, a Levite, being from Cyprus because at least here in the case of this one man here was somebody who had sessions that were not in Jerusalem, and therefore were unlikely to be affected by the judgment, the Jesus said was coming.
That's probably where his field was where his home was loud that's the case then it would explain why this man in particular was remembered by the early church.
It was a man who didn't have to sell what he hadn't even make any sense humanly speaking Joseph to sell what he had, but he did it said I want by possessions to be used as much as possible for my brother here for the needy and in the expansion of the gospel and so when he sold his field. He took the money that he got from it.
Then he put it at the feet of the apostles the way they apparently gave their gifts and their worship in those days tells us that this man was given a new name. By the early Christians.
He was called Barnabas St. Barnabas but later is traveling with Paul. This is where Luke begins to introduce them to put them into the narrative as a character they were going to see later, Barnabas means son of encouragement than it might well be again I say, I'm not sure you can prove this, but the fact that it all occurs together in this verse that suggested that they call in some of encouragement because of the way he acted all undoubtedly because that was his character as well.
What is character and expression in the act. He gave generously of what he had and they said we are encouraged when we are with a man like that encouragement that is Dawson silicone Barnabas, the son of encouragement somewhere, somewhere sitting over on the side of the church there were these two people, Ananias and Sophia. They were looking on. They were saying what I wish people thought about us like that. Look at all the attention they're getting the Barnabas.
He sold his field and gave the money they rename and they call in some of encouragement. How marvelous it would be to be regarded like that by our Christian brother so they said we have a possession. We have a piece of property, field house, let's sell it do the same thing what they wanted to be like was Barnabas to be like him. Certainly that's what Lucas suggesting and yet, as we read the story we find that they were anything but like Barnabas all outwardly. They seem to be, but inwardly they were of quite a different character.
They were as opposite from Barnabas as they could be one of us was getting what he had out of thanksgiving to God and concern for God's people, and he was absolutely open and forthright about it. Ananias and Sapphire wanted to be treated the way Barnabas was treated they were anything but open and honest about they sold the property they had the money. They looked at it, maybe initially they even thought they were going to give it all no money corrupts. While the money it says is the root of all evil and the more they looked at it the more they loved it and saw that hadn't been in their hearts before the evil was hatched now and they said what nobody knows how much we got the sale of this property and God certainly knows Christmas is coming a lot of presence.
We have to buy lots of things said we could use.
Why don't we just keep part of it.
Nobody will know. Let's keep part of it and give the rest and then people will sign.
Here's a couple Ananias and Sapphire and just like Barnabas I wonder what we ought call them a couple of encouragers and nobody will know that we actually are keeping some of it back so they did what they had planned the judgment we find in this chapter. This is one of the sermons.
Why think you have to stop along the way. Make your conclusions. You know some sermons build up nicely to the end buying is a big conclusion. Other ones are like that you have to make them along the way and you just can't pass this why without making the obvious conclusion. There is no perfect church.
I relax 432.
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions were his own. They shared everything they add. I think there's a perfect church but it wasn't juicy as church had within an Ananias so if Ira they were hypocrites and they were about to lie not merely demand but to God.
Someone once gave to Charles Haddon Spurgeon and said to him that they were leaving his church because they were going to go find the perfect church and Spurgeon, who had a great deal of weapon sometimes was more forthright than people dare to be today said well when you find it please don't join it because you will and generally people, and they sometimes are very enthusiastic when they first, they say, I have finally found this is my church and I think all my goodness last week go by month go by year go by, let them get to know us a little bit and some of that enthusiasm is going to evaporate. I would hope, because God does work at all of us.
They find other things as well that they find a genuine fellowship that they find faithfulness to the word of God. They find playing people really are concerned about one another, but all my there is no perfect church. I do say to people when they got unhappy with this will, by all means of urinary with us find a church that is more to your liking right. Some people prefer one kind of thing. Some prefer another by all means find a church that's to your liking. But above all, don't come here because you think it's perfect. There is no perfect church and if it was perfect before you join it isn't anymore. And the sooner we recognize that about one another, the better off will be. That's one reason why we must pray for one another reason why we must pray for our church that God will guard us against the onslaughts of Satan gave us faithful to himself. In spite of the sin in our hearts. So that's the first thing while as I say license if Ira concocted this plan and this chapter tells us about with his wife's full knowledge access. Ananias kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles feet that beginning with verse three we have Peter's reply. It's a very significant reply. Peter said Ananias, how is it that Satan is so filled your heart that you've lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land belong to you before it was sold and after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal. What made you think of doing such a thing. You have not lied to men but to God hears us.
Three important things in that response that I'd like to look good one.
Not the same length. Let's just look at what he says.
The first thing I want to notice is not the first in order.
I want to notice at first because to my mind is the least important, though, it's important Peter says stood.
Ananias didn't belong to you before it was sold and after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal. He is refuting communism even sanctified Christian kind of communism people you say have looked at this period of sharing in the early church held up as an ideal, and said well that's what Christians all we should do if they're obeying God. This makes it perfectly clear that that does not follow your Peter is recognizing the right of private property, and that's not something that Peter was inventing something you have in the Old Testament as well have it in the 10 Commandments, 10 Commandments, say thou shalt not steal in order to steal have to take something that belongs to somebody else in order for to be stealing what you take has to belong to somebody else. I have to have the right to it or they don't have the right to it that it's not stealing. To take it stealing, when you take it to break into their house take it by night unknown stealing when the government takes it. If they do it by what we would call unjust taxation, even though they can get it passed through Congress are such things. You see, the Bible recognizes the right of private property. So to speeder you have the right to it, said Peter you didn't have to sell his soul, and you didn't have to give it problem is not the fact that Ananias didn't give what he had, but that he pretended to get more than he was giving the problem was. This hypocrisy is lying about the fact that he own property. So that's an important point that was I say it's more minor than the rest. The sickening Peter said in his response to Ananias was that this was a matter of spiritual warfare by reference to Satan. How is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit. You see when Peter spoke on this occasion, Peter. If very few other occasions in his life, at least on this occasion was speaking under the direct impress of God's Holy Spirit. All I know there were times in Peter's life, especially before his conversion when, like many of us eat simply blurted out whatever happened to be in his mind wasn't much occasion presented itself. And Peter said whatever nonsense he was thinking. That's just the way Peter Watts. I am sure even after his conversion, though he was a much wiser and steadier manned that there were occasions when Peter said things were true. They thought they were true they just were true, but here if at any time in his life Peter the apostle in this situation being the vehicle of God's judgment. The blessing of God's judgment upon this man Ananias is certainly speaking by the leading of the Holy Spirit had incited the true situation God's judgment came through him, and that means that when on this occasion, Peter says, how is it that you have allowed Satan to fill your heart and soul have done this wicked thing. Certainly it was true that Satan had done it.
I'm emphasizing that because we have a tendency in our speech to refer to Satan and glib term so the devil led me to do this, and the devil led me to do that and I sometimes say that is probably very unlikely that the devil is led you to do any such thing you did it on your own were quite smart to Satan, he would've done it more subtly, but just as bad you can operate very well without Evan generally that's the case, but having said that, I nevertheless have to say that there is such a thing is spiritual warfare going on.
That's what was happening here. These were the early days of the church.
Satan was against what was happening here this Christian fellowship Satan but Wanda wants to take everything for himself.
Satan makes people as selfish as he can possibly make them absolutely hated the spirit of generosity and unity among the early Christians. So he said with that kind of satanic deviance wisdom that he has. I'll just turn that thing around bowel use that spirit of sharing to break down the very thing it's meant to express I'll get them the why bring disharmony to the company. Satan is I set on a number of occasions is a limited being is not omniscience as God is. He does know everything that we can make shrewd guesses he is not omnipotent. Is not all-powerful as God is always very powerful slot on the presence everywhere at once.
As God is.
So he certainly gets around roaming up and down on the earth. He said we have it recorded in the book of Job.
Although Satan is not the equivalent of God. Satan is a powerful follow and Peter. Perhaps because so this incident wrapped because of other things that happened to them in his life when he came later in life to write to the Christians as he did in his first letter warns them to be on their guard against Satan. First Peter 58.
Be self-controlled and alert to say is your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour is true for us. You say if we go through. In our church when God is blessing us. We can expect Satan to attack because Satan does not want the church of Jesus Christ to thrive. All if you're going through the motions, you won't worry a great deal about that you're not attempting anything really great for God and you're not breaking any new ground. If you're not witnessing.
If you're not serving in any particularly effective why you merely put up your notice. Every Sunday and say divine worship will be held here and you go through the motions like without the care much about that I can put people to sleep in church better than to get anywhere else. But this you're trying to do something for God. If the church is really effective if you're breaking new ground. If you have a strong missions program. If you have people out witnessing in the city. If you're trying to embody the gospel in kinds of social work to minister to the needs of real people and demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ and you to be sure that Satan will attack that's what he did here. We have to be on guard against how to do it.
Satan certainly stronger than we are. He was stronger than Ananias, even in the early days of the church.
A man sitting under the apostolic preaching listening to Peter every Sunday. Are you going to resist Satan while James tells us what it's all that difficult. James says submits yourself to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Some of us usually try to resist the devil without first submitting to God, the devil doesn't flee from us. Then the devil runs over us like a tank, because is more powerful than we are. When we submit to God, then you say we stand in God strengthen because of God, the devil flees. We have spiritual battles in our lives or in our church.
We have to draw near to God, we have to become increasingly men and women of prayer wait upon and submit to them through that spiritual exercise. That's the way Satan is over, the gospel goes forward well, let me make a conclusion here before we go on and it's the third point that Peter makes. He said that they had the right of private property pointed out that this was spiritual warfare, but in the third place he says you have not lied to men but to God. He raises it to the highest possible spiritual dimension and the point I want to make a conclusion. This particular section of our study. Is this what you do matters.
Matters to God matters, other people, how you act matters. Matters to God that it matters. Other people say we think sometimes because we live in a world where people never want to take an action seriously and try to put down the consequences of their bad deeds, that what we do really basically doesn't matter, or at least doesn't matter much.
We say all I do something bad, but it doesn't really hurt anybody much I do something good, but it doesn't really accomplish anything much, and so we somehow think were unimportant. Always help me when I find myself drifting in the back kind of thought, to remember the way CS Lewis put it, when he was talking about men and women made in the image of God for communion with God as being eternal beings. You see, that's what makes the difference. If we are only creatures on the moment there were only creatures of this life that we live now die. And that's the end of it doesn't really matter a whole lot what we do know you could be as evil as Dorian Gray the end of it all you have is a wretched picturing you.it's all over my heart. A few people but not many are eternal beings, beings that survive death survive death eternally and you see the choices we make in this life only matter. They matter infinitely because, as Lewis points out, you're either on your way to becoming what he calls an eternal splendor, you're on your way to becoming what he calls an eternal horror as you get more and more selfish and more turned in upon yourself. Maybe that's why got treated so seriously here at the beginning of the church. It was God's way of saying graphically before the early Christian Fellowship. What you do matters. Matters to me matters to one another and it matters to yourself, your choices for good now lead in the direction of your conformity to Jesus Christ and you go the other way you bear eternal consequences. Well this one last part of the story it has to do was to fire a Ananias, his wife is important to consider that because it involves her guilt and her responsibility tells the story points out her guilt in two ways. First of all, in verse two he adds the phrase with his wife's full knowledge that I was talking about Ananias and his family says that supplier was in on it from the beginning she didn't, initially as it seems and present the money.
The Peter say here it is all from God and its the whole result of the sale of our property. She was home, but she knew about it so he was involved in the beginning and then later on after Ananias and been judged and died been taken out and buried. Three hours later, as a matter of fact, his wife came in not knowing what it happened in Peter asked her the question tell me is this the price you and Ananias got for the land that is the money that Ananias had brought what he pretended was the full price for the land and here she sealed her doom by saying yes. In other words, joining Ananias her husband and is why and judgment came to her as well so she had responsibility and that's the point I really want to emphasize since virus case when you and I do things longer when our culture does things wrong today we have great ability to somehow pass the responsibility off in one form of determinism or another. Determinism means that something has made me do what I do and therefore it's not my fault that you not operate. Sometimes we think in terms of an environmental determinism on the way I am because that's what my parents were like her because I grew up in a particular neighborhood or because when I went to preschool at a young age. Somebody didn't treat me properly or some such thing. That's an external kind of determinism that we use a lot of one way that we excuse crime. The only problem with it in our day is a crime is gotten so bad. The people of gotten unhappy with that determinism so you five people live in the media from secular perspectives, denying that sort of thing.
Today they been saying and they're saying rightly know you're responsible.
Oh, it's so you may be learned by circumstances. It is true. You may have a much greater time fighting against sin because of circumstances or environment, but nevertheless, in the final analysis, you are responsible and I noticed some people speaking to those of the poorest or most deprived communities of our country say saved in a positive way to those who were there. They say the only one who's going to help you with yourself in the right in that again you might have some external helps the government might be able to do something so the groups might be able to do something, but in the final analysis, the only thing is to help you is yourself.
We have a tendency to move away from that today, but that's one kind of excuse made for our bad conduct. Sometimes there is an internal kind of determinism we say will I'm just like that. What were talking about is our genes now we can get that from external sources. But that's just the way we are that bad temper were born crooked. We were born a liar or whatever it may be a problem with that kind of excuses that we use it for ourselves, but we disallowed in the case of other people. We always hold them accountable little boy once said to his mother.
Mother why is it that whenever I do something wrong, I'm a bad boy.
But whenever you do something wrong it's your nerves, say the mother was recognizing that the little boy was a creature made in the image of God was responsible for what he did in her case well it was genetic but we do that, you say there's a kind of Christian determinism.
That's particularly appropriate to think about in this context there is a you in our land may be a misrepresentation of the person who originated it, but there's a view in our lab the ghosts by words chain of command to say whoever was over me tells me what to do and I have to do what they do and, therefore, that I do with the doing is wrong. It's not me that's responsible is been used to justify wrong conduct by wives because husbands or their head or by husbands or citizens because the state tells them to do something that's wrong in the state is over the so they try to excuse their conduct. In that way, let me say that that is wrong is wrong such a thing as balance affording the state as a valid authority. The church is a valid authority father mother valid authorities over their children. Husband is a valid authority over his wife, but that does not excuse wrong conduct is always wrong to do all somebody else tells you to do somebody important tells you to do it. The king tells you to do it wrong is wrong.
It is always wrong to do wrong and in the same way it always right to do right now in Jesus day. They didn't want them to do right on the Sabbath. They said we can do things on the south wall.
Jesus response was, it is always like to do good on the Sabbath is always likes to do right. Whatever it is the same way it is always wrong wrong you and I do when we blame somebody else for our conduct is in the final analysis blame God's work on a determinism you have with its environmental determinism while God's responsible for the environment, or maybe other people of hell debated the mess and it is good to want to cause me to be born there as well allow me to be exposed to the circumstances. If it's an internal kind of determinism it's my jeans.
Well, when the game is James R Brault. He made me I could make myself if it's kind of chain of command determinism while God gave me my husband God put me in this state. God gave me the kind of parents. I have therefore it's his fault.
Ultimately, Adam and Eve did you know they were the first ones to think it up. They blames one another. Adam blamed his wife, but it was like God gave them Eve played the serpent but after all, who was it who let that serpent get into the garden and say ultimately they were blaming God.
So when we come to this story of Joseph Ira teaches what it teaches. Clearly, we are responsible for what we do is always wrong to do evil. Well, I want to make a final conclusion.
I made a number of them throughout the study might one last one is justice. God intends to judge sin. We talk about these people.
Ananias and Sapphire, who was far as we know over believing people would not understand that this judgment upon them the judgment by death was the equivalent of consigning the hellfire Christians not lose their salvation are cut off from God because they sent because they liar because they do something else. Christians do like Christians Dusan and God is not indifference to the violation take you to one last verse. It's in first Peter again. I think perhaps because this incident made such an impression on Peter these early days of the church. Verse 17 of the fourth chapter of that letter he says it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God, as he knew how bad things were. He knew that the church of his day wasn't perfect and he said it's time for judgment to begin with us but now notice what he goes on to say it's time for judgment to begin with the family of God, and if it begins with us. What will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel when we said the devil is always there to say it doesn't matter and the Dell wasn't there to say it.
We think it up by ourselves. It doesn't matter. It really won't hurt. God doesn't care wasn't relax five. God does care. God take sin seriously, and every sin and life will be judged since a believer's terms of their eternal destiny are judged at the cross of Jesus Christ. God took sin so seriously that he sent Jesus Christ to die for whatever Christians believe God expects them to live like his people anywhere will not allow them to go on and on and on and sin indefinitely. Here was an extreme example of judgment, but there are others.
Paul said writing to the Corinthians that some of them so abused the Lord's supper that many had fallen asleep. He met many of them died because of it.
He said her sick because of the mistreatment God take sin seriously listen to God take sin seriously, if God judges sin even in the lives of his people.
How dreadful is the case of those who have not responded to the gospel.
If you haven't come to faith in Jesus Christ.
Read the story and see the fates that awaits you in that day when you stand before the justice bar of God, pretending to be something you are not God himself, Peter.
The human minister Martin airing child of Adam, but God himself Lord Jesus Christ looks into your hearts and says the part for me. Your worker of iniquity because I never knew you. God calls you to faith in Jesus Christ. Now spray our father, we ask that the words of these verses might burn their way into our hearts and minds.
Those who have been listening who have not responded to the gospel to impress upon them. Don't let them escape to let them walk away saying to themselves. That's just that man's opinion God doesn't care about bison on the cause of words to burn into their hearts, they might turn from it and find salvation in the Lord Jesus.
I know our father for those who know Christ as Savior. Give us such a sense a renewed sense of your holiness that we countenance horrible thing to sin, and instead submit ourselves to you and resist Satan in order that he might flee from us, and we might go in the way of Jesus Christ, which is life eternal, a man you are listening to the Bible study hour with a Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Aiken, God's living word with pastor, the Rev. Richard Phillips and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888. You can also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia PA 19103, you can visit us email@example.com for Canadian gifts mail those 2237 Rouge Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON M1 C2 line 9 ask for your free resource catalog featuring books, audio commentaries, booklets, videos, and a wealth of other materials from outstanding reformed teachers and theologian. Thank you again for your continued support and for listening to Bible study hour