Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Holiness of God

In this evening’s sermon, we will be thinking about Ananias and Sapphira. It is a terrifying tale of duplicity and sudden judgment. They were husband and wife, and among the first Christians to join the church after Pentecost. They had Peter and John as their pastors. There was a wonderful work of the Spirit of God going on in the city of Jerusalem with thousands of new converts. There was deep love amongst the brethren, and glorious preaching. You would think that no one in such days could get near to committing the unforgivable sin, but Ananias and Sapphira did.

They wanted to have a reputation for being godly. The plan was to sell some land which they owned and give everything – all of it -- to the church; but they lied. They kept a sizable chunk of the proceeds in their pockets. They lied publicly before the representatives of Christ, who were the apostles. Peter's words to Ananias were these, "How is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit? . . . You have not lied to men but to God" (Acts 5:3). We are told that Ananias heard those words and fell down dead and so did his wife three hours later when she repeated the lie. It was a warning to the whole church not take for granted the privileges of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and to speak with integrity and judgment day honesty as the members of Christ to the representatives of Christ.

What do we make of a passage like this?

If the Bible is true (and it is!), it should at the very least induce us to reverence. There are times when it is appropriate to tremble in the presence of God!

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