Monday, April 25, 2016


For the week beginning Sunday April 24, 2016

Acts 5:1-11

   Failure in our honesty, talent, and diligence amounts to sin against GOD. It was the great violinmaker Antonio Stradivari who said, “If my hands slacked, I would rob GOD”. In Acts chapter 5, verses 1-10, Luke gives us a vivid example of a couple who “failed in their honesty”, because “they were driven by their jealousy” of the respect that had been won by Barnabas and others when they sold their possessions to make contributions to the poor (Acts 4:32-37).
    Scripture tells us that there was a man named Ananias, who, along with his wife Sapphira, sold some of their property, with the intention of giving the proceeds to the needy in the church. However, after selling the property they decided that they would keep some of the proceeds for themselves. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this type of action, because the money was theirs to do with as they wished. The problem came when they decided to deceive the church into thinking that they were giving the Apostles all of the proceeds they had received from the sale of their property.
    In this particular passage, we see just one of the many ways we, as professed Christians, grieve the HOLY SPIRIT. Here we see, even by the New Testament standard of “grace”, just how our sins toward one another, as harmless as they may seem to us, will not be taken lightly by GOD. After we accept CHRIST and receive the gift of the HOLY SPIRIT from our FATHER GOD, each time we contemplate sin thereafter, we grieve the HOLY SPIRIT within us, as well as offend CHRIST JESUS WHO died for us, and we also show a lack of reverence for GOD THE FATHER, WHO created us.
    Ananias and Sapphira weren’t condemned because they failed to give all, but rather, they were condemned because their deceit re-introduced the hypocrisy that had corrupted so many in the church that operated under the banner of Judaism. Christianity, the only religion that is a product of GOD’s mind, was intended to be “that faith which reflected GOD’s image more clearly to man”, here on earth.
    This new Christian doctrine was to instill new hope in the hearts and minds of GOD’s greatest creation, man. It would be a hope that would forever serve as motivation to make life on earth conform more fully with HIS Word, just as it was presented to us by JESUS CHRIST, during HIS lifetime here on earth.
    In Acts 5:3-4 Peter says to Ananias, “…why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!” (NLT).
    As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell dead. Three hours later, his wife Sapphira came in, not knowing what had happened to her husband. When Peter asked her, “Was this the price you and your husband received for your land? She replied, “Yes, that was the price”. Peter then rebuked her, and she, as well, fell dead.
    The LORD’s response to this situation was intended to put fear in the hearts of those who might attempt to deceive HIS Church through “the spirit of hypocrisy”, both then, and, in the future (Acts 5:13). This passage serves to show us that GOD will not hold blameless, those who attempt to deceive the Church for personal financial gain, or reasons, nor, will HE hold blameless, those who use the Church for self-promotion, especially when it is brought on by jealousy, as Ananias and Sapphira attempted to do.
    GOD never intended for HIS Church to look like, or conform to the World, but rather, HE intended for the World to transform itself to look like HIS Church, which is, by the way, supposed to reflect the image of CHRIST JESUS. And when we try to do it any way, other than GOD’s way, we will always grieve the HOLY SPIRIT in the process.

Acts 5:12-16

   At the hands of GOD’s “special messengers” (the apostles), many signs and wonders were performed among the people of the assembly of CHRIST JESUS in Jerusalem. They were, perhaps, for the only time in Church history, truly united in one mind and spirit, and they worshiped and praised GOD daily under the covered walk of the temple known as “Solomon’s Porch”.
    After seeing what happened to Ananias and Sapphira, no one else (“ton loipon oudeis” – which means, in the Greek “none of the rest”) tried to enter the church under false pretenses. Only those who were absolutely sincere about the LORD dared tried to join the established Christian Church assembly now operating in Jerusalem under the watchful eye of the apostles and the ever-present HOLY SPIRIT.
    Over time, more and more men and women, who were sincere about their belief in CHRIST JESUS, were added to the body of CHRIST, and served with all of their minds, bodies, and, strength. Many sick, diseased, and demonically possessed people were brought out into the streets from various towns and hamlets around Jerusalem on beds and mats so that even Peter’s shadow might fall across them as he passed by, and scripture tells us that, they were all healed.

Acts 5:17-42

   Taking up at verse 17 we see how more of the problems of “violent jealousy” begin to rise up in the Church, this time, coming from the ranks of the high priest and his friends, the Sadducees. Jealous of the popularity of the apostles in the Church, they decided to arrest them, and throw them in jail. However, an angel of the LORD came down that same night and miraculously released the men from their incarceration, opening the gates, without alarming the guards, and then leading them away from the jail.
    The guards remained unaware that the apostles were even gone until it was discovered the next morning. In verse 20 we see that, instead of directing the apostles to go and hide themselves somewhere, the angel directed them to go to the temple and teach GOD’s message to the people concerning the doctrine of eternal life through CHRIST JESUS (Vs. 19-20).
    The apostles went into the temple around daybreak and begin to preach the message that had been taught to them by JESUS during HIS life personal time with them here on earth. Soon the Church hierarchy (the Sanhedrin) arrived and called their council together, and sent summons that the guards bring the apostles over to them from their prison cell for a hearing.
    When the guards arrived at the jail they saw no signs of the apostles, and were perplexed as to how they could have escaped with the doors to their cells still being securely locked, and two guards still standing watch just outside the doors. Just then someone came up and told the captain of the guards that the apostles were over at the temple teaching the people.   
    When the captain of the guards received word that the apostles were over in the temple teaching, he and his men went over and non-violently re-arrested them and brought them before the council of the high priest and elders of Israel for trial. During the trial, the apostles defiance toward the council, and their continued preaching and bold testimony about CHRIST, even in their presence, infuriated and offended the council greatly.
    Peter and the other apostles were very bold in their defense of JESUS, even while under threat and duress from the religious hierarchy. They boldly stated to the council that, “We must obey GOD rather than human authority. The GOD of our ancestors raised JESUS from the dead after you killed HIM by crucifying HIM. Then GOD put HIM in the place of honor at HIS right hand as PRINCE and SAVIOR. HE did this to give the people of Israel an opportunity to turn from their sins and turn to GOD so their sins would be forgiven. We are witnesses of these things and so is the HOLY SPIRIT, WHO is given by GOD to those who obey HIM” (Vs.29-32).
    It is at this point, that the council was ready to make a decision to kill all of the apostles; however, in verse 34, we are introduced to a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a very popular teacher of religious law in Israel in those days. In fact, Gamaliel was the mentor of Saul (otherwise known as the “Apostle Paul”), while he attended seminary training at the School of Hillel, where Gamaliel served as an instructor.  Gamaliel’s words of wisdom (Vs.35-39) calmed the angry council down, and they received his advice to them, not kill the apostles, but rather, let their actions play out, and let GOD decide whether they are HIS legit representatives or not (Vs. 35-39).
    Even still, the angry council ordered the men to be flogged, and gave them another stern warning not to speak in the powerful name of JESUS anymore (v. 40). The apostles, nevertheless, left the trial rejoicing that GOD had counted them worthy to suffer dishonor by taking a beating for the name of JESUS. And every day forward, in the temple, and in their homes, they continued to preach this message: “The MESSIAH you are looking for is JESUS” (Vs. 41-42). Amen.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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