After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.Acts 4:31
All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.Acts 4:32-35
For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles.Acts 4:36-37
I suggested in the last Gem that you take time to notice the flow of the verses.
- The Content of the Prayer (24-30)
- Another Outpouring of the Spirit (31)
- The Resultant Effect on the Christian Church (32-35)
- Joseph (Barnabus) used as an Example of one who gave money (36-37)
Did reading these verses make you think you had read this before? It should do.
Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all. All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.Acts 2:40-45
There is a pattern here:
- An outpouring of the Holy Spirit
- Followed by an anointing to preach the Word boldly
- The resultant effect on the Church
- Accompanied by signs and wonders
- A deep sense of awe comes upon them
What is interesting in this case is that the resultant effect is the same. It goes to the point of affecting their financial response. They say, “Your heart is where your money is.” In both of these cases, the in-filling of the Spirit leads to a change in thinking for those who have been filled. Their perspective changes from individualistic to collective. We discussed during the first case if it was to the point of being communistic or not. As I said at the time, this is not a political response, this is a spiritual response to the fact that all of the happenings and signs and wonders have moved them to awe and wonder at what God is doing. That ought to always be the case when you encounter Him. An encounter with God or His Word should always lead to an increased sense of awe and wonder of God.
I am sure that I am not telling you something that you don’t already know when I give you the next piece of advice. For those of you who have been following Bible Gems for a long time, I hope it has become automatic. Maybe for those who have just started to get the Gems and have not been to Deeper Bible, at least to the point of completing level 101, what I say next might come as a surprise. But to the rest it will be superfluous advice because you already know it and are practicing it. Make sure you read across the Chapter boundary. Don’t stop and compartmentalise chapter 4 and start again in your thinking when it comes to chapter 5. Put the two together. Note how one leads into the other.
But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest. 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. 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!” As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the floor and died. Everyone who heard about it was terrified. Then some young men got up, wrapped him in a sheet, and took him out and buried him. About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Was this the price you and your husband received for your land?” “Yes,” she replied, “that was the price.” 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.” 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.
Great fear gripped the entire church and everyone else who heard what had happened. 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. But no one else dared to join them, even though all the people had high regard for them. Yet more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord—crowds of both men and women.Acts 5:1-14
Chapter 5 is merely a continuation of what has gone before it. Or some see the last two verses of chapter 4 as a bridge to what is coming in chapter 5. In short the pattern keeps repeating and the story keeps unfolding in the same way. Luke is writing in episodes. The story is unfolding layer by layer. Luke is choosing to tell us the episodes he does to help us to see the pattern. He could have told us many or all of the accounts of what happened. But he chose to tell us certain ones by choice. Ah, but who’s choice – Luke’s or the Holy Spirit? Who is inspiring it all? Notice the words above:- “The apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people . . . but no one else dared to join them . . . yet more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord.” Sometimes we are brought to the Lord despite our immediate reaction “to run a mile”. It’s like it is scary but compellingly attractive at the same. For that reason it is curious that Luke chose to tell us the Ananias and Sapphira story to the exclusion of all the other stories he could have told us. Yet on the other hand it is like the narrative is building up to the Ananias and Sapphira story.
Time to ponder these things before we continue.
If you study the Bible and it doesn’t lead you to wonder and awe then you haven’t studied the Bible.Rob Bell
You can’t walk with God for very long before you are struck with awe at the way He works in you and around you.Ian Vail
You do realise don’t you, that signs and wonders are not always positive. Sometimes God has to scare you into the Kingdom.Ian Vail
For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire! [MSG]Heb 12:28-29
In the interests of public safety it would be better for church seats to be equipped with seat belts.Ian Vail