The Prescription For A Pure Church

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The Prescription For A Pure Church

Book of Acts Chapter 5

Before we begin we found at the end of chapter 4 these words written about Barnabas.

Act 4:36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,
Act 4:37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

We will meet Barnabas many times as we continue our study of the Book of
Acts as he was one of the saints of the early church. We can see that Barnabas gave himself totally into the hands of the Lord.

Some will say that a Levite could not own land but that is not entirely true. God told Jeremiah to buy a piece of land and it was done according to the Law.

Jer 32:11 So I took the evidence of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open:

So, Barnabas had made a generous contribution to the early church and no doubt there was much talk of it.

And, Barnabas had a clear understanding of the words of Jesus:

Mat 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, o children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

This act of Barnabas was deliberate and voluntary. One evidence of this early “Spirit Filled” church was the way they sacrificed and shared with one another.

We can see that giving was a blessing and not a burden!

So today we get to see a lesson in “hypocrisy”.

The Lord Jesus Christ personally used the word “hypocrites” 17 times in the Gospels.

And, The Lord Jesus pronounced “severe judgment” on the hypocrite including the “7 woes”!

So let’s begin:

*****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.

We should be aware that it is not hypocrisy to set high goals for ourselves even though we may never reach them.

Failure to reach a “Spiritual Goal” does not make us hypocrites!

It Is The “Deliberate” Deception That Is Hypocrisy!

A hypocrite is a “pretender”!

Every “actor” plays the hypocrite!

When we try to be more spiritual than we really are we are hypocrites!

The name Ananias means “God is gracious”. He learned that God was not only gracious but God is first “Holy”.

The name Sapphira means “beautiful” but in her heart Sapphira was ugly as sin and full of it.

I believe we can see that these two intended to get the same admiration that had been given to Barnabas.

We know of many things that are an abomination to the Lord and a “hypocrite” full of pride is one also one of them:

Pro 16:5 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.

*****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?

The sin of Ananias and Sapphira was not greed. They did give a substantial gift to the Church. Their sin was “Pride” that came because of “Covetousness”!

They desired the praise of others in the Church!

They lied in order to gain prestige in the Church!

And they had committed this sin against the Body of Christ, God’s Church!

This may not seem such a crime that required death but we must remember that the punishment came from God and not from the Apostle Peter!

God simply would not allow “hypocrisy” to gain a foot hold in the early Church!

This is not the first time we see this from Our God, when He has begun a new period of salvation history.

Remember Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron who died for presenting “false fire” in the Tabernacle.

Remember Achan who took of the accursed thing when Israel first entered the Promised Land.

What we see in these two people is the working of Satan trying to hinder the early Church!

Satan had failed to stop the Church from the outside and he would now begin his attack on the inside of the Church.

Satan knows our weaknesses and for this reason God told us all to wear His Armor:

Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

*****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].

There are too many people of the church today that deny that the Holy Spirit is God. We have proof in these verses that The Holy Spirit and God are synonymous because they are the same!

Satan will always attack with his lies!

The Church is God’s Temple in which He dwells!

Satan wants to move in but he cannot move into a Holy Ghost filled Church.

A Holy Ghost filled Church will preach the true Gospel and follow the Apostle’s Doctrine.

1Ti 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God “which is the church of the living God, [the pillar and ground of the truth]”.

God will judge His people and that judgment will begin with His Church!

Ananias and Sapphira had it in their own power to know right from wrong and they chose to be unrighteous!

*****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.

We should not get confused, this was not church discipline.

This was the Judgment of God!

Heb 10:30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
Heb 10:31 [It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God].

To be quiet honest, I believe this happens today more often than we think.

We are to judge our own actions by the Word of God!

1Co 11:31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

When we knowingly refuse to judge our own actions then we place ourselves in the hands of the Holy and Almighty God!

We sometimes bring God down to our level or put God in a box, thinking we can release Him at will.

But God is God and It is He that sits on His Throne of this universe!

2Co 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, [let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness “in the fear of God”].

God does not need our permission to act upon His Own Word!

Verse 6 again shows us that at death that Jewish person was wrapped in linen cloth and spices:

Joh 19:40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.

*****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.

We can be sure that Satan always keeps his servants in the dark of sin and it’s consequences!

But, God always gives His servants the truth:

Joh 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall “make” you free.

Sapphira may have come into the Temple expecting her husband to be exalted but what she found out was that none of us can defy God, none of us can dare God to act on His Word and not suffer for it!

Mat 4:7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God”.

Their sin was not in robbing God of some money!

Their sin was lying to God and robbing Him of His Glory!

They were not required to sell their land!

And having sold that land it was not required that they give any of it to the Church!

It was their “lust for recognition” that brought on this terrible sin and the results of this sin!

Jas 1:15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
Jas 1:16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.

*****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.

We need to realize that God would not allow a lie such as these two were committing to exist in the early Church.

God expected “Holiness” to reign in His Church. These things have not changed as God still expects His Church to be Holy!

1Pe 1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
1Pe 1:16 Because it is written, [Be ye holy; for I am holy].

We must realize that there is still sin that brings death to the believer:

1Jn 5:16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. “There is a sin unto death”: I do not say that he shall pray for it.
1Jn 5:17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

This kind of sin was not allowed to exist in the early church!

The act of “giving” is the will of God!

Act 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, [It is more blessed to give than to receive].

God requires absolute honesty in our relationship with Him and Jesus spoke harsh words about “hypocrites”!

Every hypocrite casts a dark shadow on the work of the Body of Christ wherever God’s people are located!

So what were the results of this incident?

*****Act 5:11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

Again we see the word “Church” this is the second time we see it in this Book of Acts.

The Greek word “ecclesia” used here for “Church” is used 117 times in the New Testament.

Up until this incident the early church had all things in common. We can see that sin takes this away!

Great fear came on all the Church and many have been saved who witnessed the “Power of God”.

There is the great “Power” of the Holy Spirit to form the Church.

There is the great “Grace” of God to keep His Church.

There is now the great “Fear” of God to maintain the Church and this was brought on when sin entered the Church.

The Bible says:

Heb 12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
Heb 12:29 [For our God is a consuming fire].

*****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.

It is very important for us to realize that the office of “Apostle” was limited to the eleven that remained after Judas died and the Apostle Paul.

The Apostle Paul’s situation was unique as he said himself, he was untimely born:

1Co 15:8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
1Co 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

The Bible also states that the Church must be built on upon the foundation of the Apostles and the Prophets but Jesus Christ Is The Chief Cornerstone!

Eph 2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Eph 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
Eph 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
Eph 2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
Eph 2:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

We now have the complete written Word of God which contains the “Apostle’s Doctrine” given to them by Jesus Christ and led by the Holy Spirit in the believer.

Therefore the office of the Apostle has ceased.

It is these 12 men who were given great powers and authority and these powers also have ceased and not given to any other men!

To be an Apostle, a man had to have seen the risen Christ!

During the time of the early Church the wonders performed by these Apostles were the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to them!

It is now in the power of the pastors, the teachers and the evangelist to build on to the Church but only if they use the “Apostle’s Doctrine”.

The most important thing today is not miracles but whether the message we hear is the true Word of God!

*****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.)

We can see that no more hypocrites tried to enter the Church at this time and it was the Apostles that were magnified.

We can see that true believers were added because all the unbelievers kept their distance in the “fear of God”!

Today the world has lost this fear of God and this in itself is a sign of the end times!

*****Act 5:15 Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
Act 5:16 There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.

We can see that people would crowd these Apostles as they walked down the streets and even had the superstitious belief that was healing in the “shadow” of the Apostle Peter!

The Bible does not say anyone was healed by lying in Peter’s shadow these people only supposed it might!

Verse 16 does not say that these that were healed were healed by faith but only that they were all healed.

Modern day “so called” faith healers are never able to heal never heal all that come to them or they could empty out the hospitals.

The gift of healing by the Apostles did not require some super faith by the receiver!

We can also see that some people were sick and some people were vexed with evil spirits.

These were two different groups of people!

None of these people went without a cure. This confirmed the Gospel preached by the Apostles and it irritated and provoked the enemies of God!

The Sadducees led the persecution of the early Church!

AND, Here is how John the Baptist described this ultra religious group:

Mat 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

*****Act 5:41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
Act 5:42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

The purpose of this lesson is to show us that God takes “hypocrisy” seriously!

Jesus said we must worship in spirit and in truth:

Joh 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
Joh 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

These Jewish religious leaders along with the governmental leaders of Israel had decided to kill all these Apostles to stop the early Church but God had a better plan.

God used Gamaliel a well respected Pharisee to give this evil council the truth.

Act 5:38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
Act 5:39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

We live today in a world that refuses to deal with disagreements on the basis of principle and truth. When understanding fails people usually resort to violence!

We can see that the Apostles did what was required of the Lord, “They Rejoiced”!

They were beaten and warned by the government of that day and by false religion but yet they still rejoiced!

Their ministry went on without ceasing!

This opposition of men meant the approval of God!

When we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ we accept the fact that we will suffer in His Name!

We simply cannot cease to teach and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ Our Lord!

God will simply not allow His Word to stop until He is ready!

To follow in the foot steps of the Apostles is to be obedient to God’s Word!

Act 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

We are not to go about arguing religion or condemning the establish religions of this world, we are simply to tell the people about Jesus Christ!

2Co 4:5 For we preach not ourselves,[but Christ Jesus the Lord]; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.

And that message is:

Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Pride is the gateway to sin. Pride will lead to lies as we saw today where pride can also cost us our physical lives.

Spiritual matters are matters of life and death and we must be honest with ourselves and God at all times!

Questions?

Let’s Pray!

5 thoughts on “The Prescription For A Pure Church

    • Try Windows Live Writer if that wont work try Notepad++. Copy and paste to Notepad++ then format your notes to USC-2 Big Endian then copy and paste to you blog. Notepad++ is a free download and is very helpful in keeping your notes straight.

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