Loose wires - Acts 4:32 - 5:11

This is a sermon by Melvin Tinker from 8th November 2020.

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Loose Wires

Acts 4:32-5:11

  • ‘Houston- the church has a problem!’

 

  • A delightful devotion – 4:32-37

V33a underscores the importance of Gospel integrity- what is practiced gives credence to what is proclaimed. The resurrection life of the church community somehow feeds the proclamation of the Gospel of the resurrection by the apostles.

The Gospel of generosity speaks powerfully into our situation today. To be a Gospel community of ‘one heart and one mind’ is a great aspiration under God!

There will be outstanding individuals of grace we are to emulate e.g.  Joseph – the ‘son of a preacherman!’- Barnabas. He acts as a foil for what comes next:

 

  • A dangerous deceit –5:1-11

Greed is not the issue- jealousy and pride are.

This was not a momentary moral lapse but a considered plan to embezzle God (‘hold back’)! Vv 2-4. An echo of the Fall in Eden.

The warning: it is possible for a believer and to throw away the integrity of our faith for the sake of a false reputation. This is the desire for a reputation without the reality (self-sacrifice). There is fake faith as well as fake news- presenting a falsehood to others. There are consequences:

 

  • A divine discipline – 5:5-6; 10-11

V11- this God is not to be trifled with, little wonder that responses to evangelism took a hit!

Although this was a striking example of divine discipline in the church, it was not unique - 1 Corinthians 11:29ff, some of the believers had been struck down with illness and had even died because they were not behaving properly at Holy Communion! The reason why this episode is recorded is that nothing less than the life and future of the church is at stake!

At the end of chapter 4 Luke links the purity of the church with the progress of the Gospel. However, supposing Ananias and Sapphira had been allowed to get away with their cheating (at this early stage no one else knew about it except God), then what would happen to such progress?

  • It would only be a matter of time before the deceit did get out.
  • If they had gained a reputation like that of Barnabas so that they, like him, were given positions of leadership then the damage to the church would have been great- the moral fibre would have been weakened at the outset with a compromised church-concerned with show than reality, open to the charge of hypocrisy by outsiders and not worth considering.
  • Ananias and Sapphira would have gone on from bad to worse and may have been lost eternally-their death was a severe mercy for them.

Drastic steps are sometimes necessary to remedy a drastic situation. God will do what is right and best for his glory and his people.

Questions

  • What produces a group of believers who are ‘one in heart and mind’?
  • How do we view our possessions? What steps can we take at CCN to make vv32-34 a reality?
  • What light do these verses shed on the real nature and necessity of God’s grace (v33)?
  • What do you look for in a church leader? Is it the same as what these people saw on Barnabas?
  • How much does a desire for a reputation affect our behaviour in front of others? What might offset such tendencies?
  • When a temptation comes to us with the attendant suggestion ‘No one will know’- how might this passage help us confront it?
  • What warnings do this passage and 1 Corinthians 11:29ff have for the way we conduct ourselves as a church?

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