That Doesn't Seem Seeker Friendly
5 But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. 2 He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest.
3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. 4 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!”
5 As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the floor and died. Everyone who heard about it was terrified. 6 Then some young men got up, wrapped him in a sheet, and took him out and buried him.
7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Was this the price you and your husband received for your land?”
“Yes,” she replied, “that was the price.”
9 And Peter said, “How could the two of you even think of conspiring to test the Spirit of the Lord like this? The young men who buried your husband are just outside the door, and they will carry you out, too.”
10 Instantly, she fell to the floor and died. When the young men came in and saw that she was dead, they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear gripped the entire church and everyone else who heard what had happened.
The Apostles Heal Many
12 The apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers were meeting regularly at the Temple in the area known as Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 But no one else dared to join them, even though all the people had high regard for them. 14 Yet more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord—crowds of both men and women. 15 As a result of the apostles’ work, sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter’s shadow might fall across some of them as he went by. 16 Crowds came from the villages around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those possessed by evil spirits, and they were all healed.
Yikes, what an intense story. Could you imagine being a visitor at that church service? You and everyone else would be freaking out, as you drop your complimentary latte and grab your kid off of the indoor playground equipment to rush out the door. If this happened in the modern day American Church there would be a media frenzy.The headline would read, “Eccentric, charismatic preacher proclaims death on a charitable couple, who then die”. There would probably be an investigation done on Peter and his ministry, to go along with the indefinite leave of absence the Church Council would put him on, to save face from all the public backlash. Then there would be countless youtube preachers and bloggers profiting off of the mayhem with hot takes on why Peter was definitely preaching false doctrine. All the while no one would be humble enough to say, “ God we might not understand or even like what’s going on, but if this is you, help us not to miss it.”
Of course, this is certainly not Scripture that gives you that warm fuzzy feeling as you read by the fire. As uncomfortable as it is, it is Scripture and a true account of revival history in the Church. Thus, these passages demand our attention and hearts. So here are my humble thoughts on a very deep, real and life giving story of Scripture.
What a sobering scene. Revival has broken out in the very young and fledgling first church. A grace and anointing for signs, wonders and miracles begins pouring out on the believers. This outpouring of grace convicts the believers to forsake their earthly possessions and give all they have to the expansion of God’s Kingdom among them. Their response to God’s grace is radical generosity. It's authentic, humbling, and challenging to read about. Though of course, because people are involved it gets messy. Ananias and Sapphira try to enter the rapidly rushing move of God halfway and get caught in the current, while still holding on to their worldly stuff on the shore. The results are catastrophic! Their attempt to cheapen the grace that God is pouring out on the Church costs them their lives. Peter, through Holy Spirit revelation, quickly points out that the couple is trying to fake their way into a very real move of God. Turns out this is not a good idea. Who can blame A and S though (this is what I’m calling Ananias and Sapphira for the rest of this blog). They had seen the Pharisee fake spirituality with good results for so long they probably thought, “that looks much easier than actually going all in and sacrificing to be a part of what God is doing, let's try that instead.” They wanted God to do what the culture around them taught them to expect. Engage with what God is doing on their terms, not His.
They in fact, should not have tried that at all. I imagine in almost any other point in Church history they would have gotten away with it. In fact, if they pulled that stunt in any American Church they would have been hailed as pious, faithful Christians and promoted to some sort of leadership within six months. Unfortunately, they tried hoodwinking Holy Spirit, during one of the most powerful, transformative, and just plain real moves of God in Church history. I hope we understand when we begin crying out to God for Revival, He begins to cry out to us -- to get real in our relationship with Him. You cannot walk in new levels of anointing of God without walking in a genuine lifestyle of sacrifice. If you want to see Jesus move Heaven into the world around you, then you better get serious and real about the sin hiding in you. Dare I say, until Revival happens within you, you have no business worrying about the world around you. If God pours out the Revival we are crying out for, fake and religious Christianity will be the downfall of many. This is why I believe we are seeing the winnowing now of the apostate and apostolic Church. It’s much better not to be in a rushing river if you can’t swim, then to stay in it pretending to be an olympic diver, as the current grows stronger.
Sometimes, we forget how good and generous our Heavenly Father really is. He really owes us nothing and He really wants to bless us more than we desire to be blessed. He is so good. He even withholds what we are asking for sometimes to protect us from ourselves. We don’t know the eternal ramifications of A and S’s actions during that service. Though I do imagine they had a good long sit down talk with Papa God, if and before they entered into Heaven. What we do know is, the Lord was not going to allow A and S’s religion to stop what He decided to pour out. These might be my favorite verses in all of Acts chapter 5; 13 But no one else dared to join them, even though all the people had high regard for them. 14 Yet more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord—crowds of both men and women.
The death of A and S actually kept the Church from growing through anything else then genuine faith and revelation of Jesus. How do you like that for “Seeker Sensitive” and modern “Church Growth Models”? A big church is not always a healthy church! On that day God put up a giant billboard in the middle of town explaining this Revival was about His glory! Come if you want, but you better leave your religious acts at home. Remember, as Peter explained, no one expected A and S to give if they didn't want to give, but God was not going to allow them to pollute His Revival with their religious falsities. So, Livingston First Church, let me end this by saying, “Yes we need to continue to cry out for Revival. In that cry, we need to be serious about preparing our hearts to sacrifice for what God is calling us too”. The days of consumer driven church are quickly coming to an end, in our beloved country. God really is before our eyes purifying His Bride and raising up a remnant. I want my heart to be consumed with what He is doing and nothing else. Lord, help us to let go of ourselves as we grab more of you…