Acts 5 contains 2 distinct stories both that point to how powerless non-believers are to stop the will of God and the spreading of His Holy Name. In the first we learn of Ananias and Sapphira, the first church vandals, who attempt to sully the early church from within. Then we learn about the the high priest, his associates and all of the Sanhedrin. In Chapter 4, they locked up 2 apostles over night and used threats to attempt to get them to be quiet. In Chapter 5 they escalate to locking up everyone and flog them. The chapter closes with an unintended endorsement of the church from a member of the sanhedrin. He points out that all man made initiatives have come and gone and will come and go. If this is man-made, let’s not worry about it. The only way it could last is if it is from God. The Apostles rejoice for being flogged and “never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.” (Don’t you hate it when you are right, Mr. Sanhedrinman?)
8. a. Acts 5:3 “that you have lied to the Holy Spirit”, Acts 5:9, “how could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord”
b. God’s heart is in His church. The major sin, in my eyes, of Ananias and Sapphira wasn’t that they were stingy or deceitful, proud or even hypocrites, although they were clearly all of those. To me, what satan filled their heart to do was to attempt to join the church without joining God. They saw all of the neat things going on in this community of believers. They saw the joy and fellowship and thought – ‘we want us some of that’. Did they want to devote themselves fully to God? Clearly not, they just wanted to be part of the movement, part of the church.
Interesting how this tactic by satan comes up over and over again, and I think most of us can see it in our churches today. The number of people who want to be considered a christian, but don’t really want to devote any part of their life to God. Interesting as well the rebukes the churches receive in the Book of Revelation for this very thing. To me this is a heart breaking story, because we can almost feel the pain and sadness this caused Christ, to see His church treated this way. Once their sin was revealed, it was also heartbreaking to Ananias and Saphira. God didn’t strike them dead, he simply opened their eyes and it broke their heart (literally).
9. a. Acts 5:19, The Angel of the Lord
b. Acts 5:32 – “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him”
10. a. Acts 5:41 They left rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name and 5:42, Day aft day they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is Christ. They did this house to house and in the temple courts (doesn’t sound like they were hiding)
b. My experience has been minimal. As I study more and get more involved in leadership within church and BSF, I definately see the whispers of satan trying to move tripping stones into the path. If anything is going to go wrong with our family, it happens on Sunday morning (church) or Monday (BSF night). But I’ve not been called to rejoice for a flogging as these great men did.
In a conversation with a BSF leader one time, she pointed out that one sure sign you are on the right path of following God’s will for your life and furthering the kingdom of God is when you face great adversity. If you are on the wrong path, why would satan try to get in your way?
There are 3 verses in this chapter that really touched my heart. First, verses 13 and 14. The Ananias and Sapphira story is not normally seen as an uplifting story, but it is in the way it shows God’s passion and direction for the work of His church. I see it in this blog that I write. While I started it for me, the stats show that now hundreds of people are reading it each day. However, what really lights my heart is the comment from an individual who saw a deeper revelation of God by sharing this avenue of fellowship with me. I don’t think God’s design for His church is simply for us to fill up the seats and build ever bigger churches of people who want to belong to something. I think He wants the people who believe in Him. This shines out to me in Acts 5:13-14. The healthy fear of God puts a damper on the “tag-alongs”, but more and more men and women believed in the Lord!
The other verse is 5:17. In previous chapters there has been much talk about the Apostles and believers being filled with the Holy Spirit and all of the power and strength and joy that created in them. In 5:17 it says “Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.” I think this really highlights that we are all filled with something. My pastor once put it in a sermon, “all men are born with a God-Sized hole in their hearts”. During our life we try to fill it up, either with the gift of the Holy Spirit that satisfies because it fits perfectly, or with other stuff (such as jealousy) which doesn’t really fit and leaves us unsatisfied and unhappy because the hole is still there. Remember John 10:10b from yesterday? Christ wants us to have fullness.