Now we saw that in the early church there was tremendous enthusiasm… and sometimes enthusiasm can get misdirected.
*Paul said* "For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge."
In the early church, because of their excitement and their zeal and because they were expecting the Lord to return at any time, they would come into the fellowship would sell everything.
They would bring the money and lay it at the apostles’ feet.
So there was sort of a community that was formed.
So that everyone received then from the church according to their needs.
There is no indication that God directed it.
It would seem that it was something that just grew out of the enthusiasm because of how God was working and the mighty things that were being done.
Everyone was excited.
It was not something that was required.
It was something that was just freely done by the people in their excitement and zeal for God.
As I said, they believed the Lord was going to return at any time so they probably thought /“we are not going to need it anyhow so let’s just give everything away.”/
/They may also be another reason:/
remember that Jesus had prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem.
He had said that it was going to come soon and that when his disciples saw it, they were to leave the city immediately (Matt.
When the destruction finally did come in a.d.
70, some of the Christians remembered Jesus’ words and left the city.
In these early days the Christians were no doubt living with thoughts of the destruction of the city, and this may be why they were so willing to sell all they had.
They might have thought, The Lord has told us that Jerusalem is going to be overthrown.
Our possessions are not going to do us any good then.
The thing to do is sell them and use them in the Lord’s work now.
Either view is probable
But there were problems that developed from this.
In chapter five we come across the first problem.
However in order to understand chapter 5, we need to go back a little bit to chapter 4. At the end of the fourth chapter, it tells how no one lacked anything for those that possessed land or houses, they sold them and they brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Distribution was made to everyone according to his need.
It tells how Barnabas sold his land and brought the money in.
Someday we are going to die, and the good we can do with our possessions will end then.
Doesn’t it make sense to take care how we use our possessions and use them well now?
We should make them count.
I am not saying sell all you have.
Normally that would be an unwise thing to do.
But make sure you use your possessions for the Lord.
*/Barnabas/* means /“Son of encouragement”/ so the early church named him Barnabas because of the way he acted.
Unfortunately, as it was soon to turn out, sitting over on the side of the church somewhere there were two people who noticed what was going on and who wanted to be acclaimed like Barnabas.
Their names were Ananias and Sapphira.
They thought, I wish people were praising us like that.
Look at the attention Barnabas is getting.
He sold his field and gave them money.
They named him “Son of Encouragement.”
How marvelous it would be to be thought of like that by our friends.
So they decided to sell their piece of property and do the same thing.
Sadly, as we read the story we find that they were not at all like Barnabas.
Outwardly they seemed to be, but inwardly they were of quite a different character.
\\ !! A. The Imperfect Church (5:1-2).
!!! 1. “Ananias and Saphira sold a possession…” (v.1a).
!!!! a) No church is perfect.
!!!!! (1) There is no perfect church, not even the church of the apostles.
*I read Acts 4:32*,
/“All the believers were one in heart and mind.
No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had,”/ and I think, ah, there’s the perfect church.
But even this church had Ananias and Sapphira in it.
!!!!! (2) Someone once told Charles Spurgeon that they were leaving his church because they were going to find a perfect church.
Spurgeon, who had a great deal of wit and sometimes was more forthright than people dare to be today, said, /“When you find it, please don’t join it, because you’ll ruin it/.”
!!!!! (3) I get excited and concerned at the same time when people come to Calvary Chapel in La Mirada, where I serve, and people will express an exalted idea of what they find there.
!!!!!! (a) Nobody has ever told me that they are joining Calvary la Mirada because it is perfect—But often people are quite enthusiastic when they come.
They say things like, “I have finally found it.
This is the church for me.
It is what I have always wanted.”
!!!!!! (b) Again, I get excited and concerned because I think, just let a week go by, a month, a year.
Let them get to know us a little bit, and that enthusiasm will vanish.
I would hope, because God does work in us, that they also find good things as well as disappointments.
!!!!!! (c) I know they can find fellowship, faithfulness to the Word of God, people who will be concerned for them and pray for them.
Calvary La Mirada is a good church.
But there is no perfect church, and there was not even in Jerusalem.
!!!!!! (d) We need to pray for our congregations.
We need to pray that God will help us do better, protect us from Satan, and keep us faithful to himself.
!!! 2. “He kept back part of the proceeds, his wife being aware of it…” (v.2a).
!!!! a) Keeping back is partial commitment.
!!!!! (1) Ananias and Sapphira refused to give everything beyond their own necessities.
They kept back /part/ of the money.
They chose to hang on to /part/ of the world.
“And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).
“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col.
“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim.
“There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty” (Proverbs 11:24).
“Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard” (Proverbs 21:13).
“He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse” (Proverbs 28:27).
“There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt” (Eccles.
“For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely” (Jeremiah 6:13).
“And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness” (Ezekiel 33:31).
“And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage” (Micah 2:2).
!!!! b) Keeping back is deception:
!!!!! (1) If they were not believers:
!!!!!! (a) Then Ananias and Sapphira would wanted the church to think they were /fellow believers/.
They wanted the acceptance and the fellowship of believers without paying the price of commitment and loyalty to Christ and His church.
!! B. Peters Reply to Ananias (v.3-6).
!!! 1. “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart…” (v.3a).
!!!! a) The role of Satan.
!!!!! (1) */Being a mouthpiece for Satan: /*When Peter spoke on this occasion, he was conscious of speaking under the direct impress of the Holy Spirit.
There were times in Peter’s life, especially before his conversion, when like many of us he simply blurted out whatever happened to be in his mind.
!!!!!! (a) Remember when Jesus began to tell His disciples He must be killed?
*Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him,* saying, “God forbid it, Lord!
This shall never happen to You.”
But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan!
You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”"