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Ananias & Sapphira

9th February 2007

Hi Guys,

I've looked at Acts 5 again after discussion with some brethren and I think it shows us a pattern of the Old persisting into the New.
All things in scriptures are included for our learning and admonition and this is not a condemnation of events in the scriptures, but rather a learning exercise.

The scene is set in Acts 5:

Act 5:1  But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
Act 5:2  And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
Act 5:3  But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
Act 5:4  Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
Act 5:5  And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
Act 5:6  And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
Act 5:7  And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
Act 5:8  And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
Act 5:9  Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
Act 5:10  Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
Act 5:11  And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
Act 5:12  And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.
Act 5:13  And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.
Act 5:14  And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)

What is clear from this event is that there was no cessation of God's Power. People were added to the church, miracles continued to occur. What changed was the people's  attitude to the Apostles.

Let's see Acts 2:

Act 2:37  Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Act 2:38  Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Act 2:39  For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
Act 2:40  And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
Act 2:41  Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Act 2:42  And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Act 2:43  And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
Act 2:44  And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
Act 2:45  And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
Act 2:46  And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
Act 2:47  Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Do you see a difference?

I have no accusation of Ananias and Sapphira (A & S) or Peter's response. This is just a reflection on what these passages can show us.

Many have done the same as A & S in attempting to look pleasing in the eyes of men, but really knew it was unpleasing to God.

What A & S did, continues to be done by many of us in the Church - seeking man's approval despite the convictions of the Holy Spirit within us. Being knowingly pretentious.

But the word of knowledge came to Peter; it tore through that veneer. Peter had a choice: Not Justice or Mercy, but Justice with Mercy. This is the New Way! John the Baptist with all the Old Testament prophets followed the Old pattern, Jesus brought the New Pattern - the New Commandment!

As Christians we must always remember our words have power. Whether life or death via our tongue (Proverbs 18:21).

But Peter didn't slay Ananias. God didn't slay Ananias. Ananias slew himself! In our modern day language: he suffered a heart attack from overwhelming sorrow for what he had done and died because of it! Ananias 'heard these words' - the words had pricked him!
If he had cried out, 'Lord forgive me!' Would he have been forgiven? I will leave that for you to muse on.

We are reminded of our Pattern - Jesus Christ. Remember the woman at the well? (John 4:16-17).
Jesus could have said, 'You adulteress! Change your ways or face the wrath of God!' But here we see Justice with Mercy. He knew all about her ways already and knew she was playing games with Him.
The Pharisees are accused by Him as a 'generation of vipers' (Matt12:24; Matt23:33), yet Matt23:33 is tempered with vs 37. He knew the insincerity of their hearts, but if only they would listen to Him!

Our Lord spoke about Mercy and sacrifice:

Mat 9:13  But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

This was a quote from Hosea:

Hos 6:6  For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

So why do I bring all this up?

The events of Acts 5  was an Old Testament Pattern that induced great fear rather than awe of God in the 1st century Christians. God's gifts and callings occur despite ourselves and the miracles and additions to the church continued. But there began to be a separation, a distinction - the clergy and the laity! They began to look up to the Apostles (the people magnified them..) rather than look up to the Words of the Apostles!

Did you read Acts 2 and 5?
In Chapter 2 they continued in the Apostles Words and there was a sense of Holy Awe (fear) and shared living. In Chapter 5 they literally became afraid of what would happen to them (great fear) if they didn't stay in line (Remember Mount Sinai? Exo20:18-21). You will notice lack and other problems creep in from Chapter 6.
The scriptures say that 'fear hath torment' (1John 4:18).

'What about Sapphira?', you ask.
A prophetic word was pronounced over her and she died. Another Old Testament Pattern. (2Cor 3:6-10)

Peter was still early in his career and still had lots to learn. You'll notice he was much calmer with Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:20-23); and then when speaking of those who wrestled with Paul's words, he left them to the Judge of All, '...unto their own destruction'. (2Pet3:15-18). May we follow the words of Peter!
This is one reason why attempting to follow a New Testament Church pattern will only lead to heartache; no such perfect order has ever existed. The Book of Acts was a young church, though we have strayed even further from that!

All this is an admonition to the end-time assembly. We have not keenly followed as we ought to. But God has Mercy and will transform us into what He desires of us. We can't do this on our own. As He transformed Peter, so may He transform us. Amen.

Stay blessed,