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Biblical Illustrator Acts 5

Biblical Illustrator Acts 5

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 13, 2011
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BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR ACTS 5CHAPTER 5" Howis it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? " 1. There isyet to be a reading of hearts. 2. ot only what we have done, but what we haveleft undone is to be judged. 3. Sins which apparently do no harm to society areto be punished. The voice of the judgment is, " The wages of sin is death."Application — 1. The Church is to be holy. 2. Though hand join in hand thewicked shall not go unpunished. 3. DiscipUne is of greater consequence thannumbers. 4. The Christian power which heals one man destroys another. Con-trast the cripple with Ananias. (J. Parker, D.D.) Ananias and Sapphira : — The apostolic Church had been welded into a remarkable unity of experience andpurpose. All hours and places seemed filled with the presence of God. Men hadforgotten their selfishness, and Uved for each other and their Lord. Pentecost and446 THE BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR. [chap, t.millennium were apparently but a little way and a short time apart; and thensuddenly, like lightning from a clear sky, came the crime of Ananias and Sapphira.The Church was the Church militant, and not triumphant, after all. The Judasamong the apostles had, and was to continue to have, his descendants. The Churchin the world was to be crippled and compromised by the world in the Church. Thetransaction was typical and the narrative suggestive. otice, then — I. The cha-KACTER OF THE SI. It was uot simple falsehood. Misrepresentation, deceit,lying,in the ordinary affairs of life, are evils of incalculable magnitude ; but this sin wasthe attempt to deceive and defraud God. In the fervour of their new-born faithand experience, men were parting with their property, and consecrating the priceof it to Christ and His Church. Ananias and Sapphira had seen enough of thenew religion to wish to be numbered among its followers ; so they plotted to buydiscipleship at a cheaper rate than their neighbours. In this they thought thatthey were measuring their business capacity against the business ignorance of Peter ; in fact, they were trying to deceive the eyes that look through eternity.Many a man since has ventured upon the same experiment. In every communitythere are some who are convinced of the worth of religion, and outwardly unitewith the Church. either their conduct nor their neglect is such as to subjectthem to discipline ; and yet they are far from having made a complete surrender of 
 
themselves to God. Their religious life is a compromise. The bulk of their timeand energy is devoted to self and the world ; the dust and sweepings are offered toGod. Fingers that glisten with diamonds drop dimes into the contribution-box.Luxuries are cheerfully paid for ; but poverty and prudence are urged as excusesfor mere pittances towards the cause of God. Ananias in broadcloth and Sapphirain silk sit in the churches every sabbath, trying to cheapen the bargain with God,and cheating as well, by offering less than complete surrender. II. The origin oTHE SI. In general it was due to an evil heart, but its specific root was the loveof monfy. 1. Ananias and Sapphira, while they were not averse to the reputationof having made great sacrifices for the gospel, could not give up the pleasureof feeling that they had property ; and so, as avaricious people, they " kept back part of the price." 2. Perhaps thej' desired to have the means of purchasing more^ luxuries than were enjoyed by those who " had all things in common " ; and so,asselfish people, they " kept back part of the price." 3. ot impossibly, they wereuncertain as to the permanence of this new faith, whose coUapse would leave themwithout means of support ; and so, as prudent people, they " kept back part of theprice." In our day, when men are called to choose between piety and property,there are many who prevaricate, and end with a compromise. The great aggressiveenterprises of the Church are crippled for lack of financial support, and yet a veryconsiderable portion of the wealth of Christian lands is in the hands of professeddisciples. They are prodigal in their prayers and hymns and exhortations, butclose-handed with their money. Like the tree in the ancient legend, which uttereda moan and bled whenever a twig was broken off, they writhe when forced to givefor the glory of God and the salvation of men. The old poison of avarice is still inthe veins of the Church ; and Christ is dishonoured, and thousands perish, becauseso many, who call themselves His followers, " keep back part of the price." III.The discovery of the sin. It seemed unlikely that the transaction would bemade public. The land was probably sold to some one outside the company.Ananias and Sapphira would not circulate the story of what they had done. Butthere was an uncalculated factor in the equation. It affected the kingdom of God,as well as the real estate market. It was fair dealing as between man and man ; asbetween man and God it was fraud, and so it was sure to be discovered. It is atruth which men are slow to learn, that there is a Divine detective system in theuniverse. It is easy to deceive the world. Men may consider us generous, whenin reality we are pinched in our charities; they may call us self-sacrificing, whenin fact self-pleasing is the sovereign motive of our lives ; they may esteem usdevout, when we ai'e cold and formal : but what is our trickery worth, so long asthere is One that knows us altogether ? Dionysius constructed a prison, so that hecould hear all that was said by the prisoners, and so made them self-accusers in thedav of their trial. To God this world is one vast whispering-gallery, and every sinwhich men commit reports itself to Him. What a wonderful day that will be when
 
the secrets of all hearts are made known I Men ought always to live as in the lightof the Great White Throne. IV. The punishment of the sin. 1. It was startlingand severe. One moment Ananias and Sapphira stood before the apostle in theflush of life and health, with the lie upon their lips ; the next they were iu eternity,CHAP, v.] THE ACTS. 447beginning the experience of its unchanging awards. The penalty might be judgedextreme for a single sin : but (1) At the outset of the Christian Church it wasimportant to emphasise the fact that the liberty of the gospel was not license. (2)More than that, the sin itself was significant. As the single blossom is evidencewhether the stock is weed or flower, so this action was proof of a heart alienatedfrom God. Grace is ample in its provisions, but strict in its conditions. TheBedeemer will have the whole of men, or He will have none of them. " Everybranch that beareth not fruit, He taketh away." 2. It was anticipative and repre-sentative. The judgment continues to be executed. Men now who attempt todefraud God are not beaten down as with a lightning-stroke ; but, all the same,they die spiritually. (Monday Club Sermons.) Deception exposed and pun-ished : — I. Impious deception. 1. The possession devoted. " Ananias withSapphira his wife sold a possession " (chap. iii. 45 ; iv. 34 ; Lev. xxvii.28 ; Eccles. v. 4). 2. The part kept back (Mai. iii. 8 ; Josh. vii. 11 ;John xii. 6 ; 1 Tim. vi. 10). d. Counterfeit benevolence. Lessons : (1) Hasas its motive the praise of men rather than the approval of God. (2) Aimschiefly at making a big impression upon people. (3) Aims to give in such a way asshall most advertise the donor. (4) Always tries to get credit for giving more thanit actually does. II. Immediate detection. 1. The source of the sin (ver. 3 ;John xiii. 27; Eph. iv. 27 ; Jas. iv. 7). 2. The inexcusableness of the sin (ver. 4;Lev. i. 3 ; Exod. xxv. 2 ; 2 Cor. ix. 7). 3. The nature of the sin. Thou hast notlied unto men, but unto God (Psa. li. 4 ; Gen. xxxix. 9 ; Luke xv. 21). Lessons :(1) Sin is suggested by Satan. (2) o sin is unavoidable — "Why hath Satan filledthine heart to lie ? " (3) Sin is inexcusable — no one can plead compulsion. (4)Sin is never concealed from the eyes of God. (5) Sin is not so much a trespassagainst men, as a trespass against God. III. Instant death. 1. Ananias. (1)The judgment. " Fell down and gave up the ghost " (chap. xiii. 11 ; umb. xvi.32 ; 2 Kings i. 12). (2) The effect. " Great fear " (Lev. x. 3 ; umb. xvi. 34 ;Deut. xiii. 11). (3) The burial (Lev. x. 5 ; 2 Sam. xviii. 17 ; John xix. 40). 2.Sapphira. (1) Her examination (Rev. ii. 21 ; 2 Pet. iii. 9). (2) Her sin pointedout (Prov. xi. 21 ; Exod. xvii. 7 ; 1 Cor. x. 9). (3) Her sentence (Prov. xix. 9 ; Psa.Iv. 23 ; Job xxxi. 3 ; Prov. xxix. 1). 3. The great fear (Psa. cxi. 10; Matt. x. 28 ;

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