The importance of our standing in the fear, reverence, and awe of God…

As covenant children of God, the fear of the Lord engenders in us absolute reverence, respect and awe for God…

Rather than causing us to be afraid of Him, a proper “fear of the Lord” should lead us into greater intimacy with Him and to love Him more.

If we knew that all of our secret thoughts, words, and actions would be displayed publicly so that everyone could watch them and evaluate them, it would make a profound difference in the way we live!

And just so you know, part of being omniscient means that God already knows the inner motives and secrets of each of our hearts.

The problem is we seem to care more about what others think of us and how they will judge us, than we do for God.

If we have this much concern over what other men and women think of us and our actions, how much more should we be concerned about God’s evaluation of our thoughts, words, actions, attitudes, and motives?

Acts chapter 5 opens up with a husband and wife who learned this lesson the hard way.

As we look at chapter 5, we find that it falls into two distinct parts—

The sin and judgment of Ananias and Sapphira and the second appearance of the apostles before the Sanhedrin.

Luke continues his witnessing theme and ends the chapter on a mountain top:

They never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ; and when God empowered the apostles to perform miracles and amazing signs, the disciples caught the attention of the jealous and skeptical religious leaders.

However even some Pharisees came to believe in Jesus.

Acts 5

When God is working in power, Satan is always on hand to counterfeit, corrupt, and contend.

But where there is real spiritual power, deceit and hypocrisy will be readily exposed.

Ananias and Sapphira were apparently moved by the generosity of Barnabas and others.

Perhaps they desired to receive the praise of men for some similar act of kindness, so they sold a possession and gave a portion of the proceeds to the apostles.

Their sin was in professing to give all, while only giving some.

No one had asked them to sell the property. After it was sold, they were not obligated to give it all.

But they pretended a total dedication, while actually they held some back.

Peter charged Ananias with lying to the Holy Spirit and not just to men.

In lying to the Holy Spirit, he lied to God, since the Holy Spirit is God.

At this point, Ananias fell down dead, and was carried out by the young men to be buried.

This was a solemn act of God’s chastening hand on the early church.

It does not at all affect the question of Ananias’ salvation, of his eternal security.

Rather, it was a case of God showing His displeasure at this first eruption of sin in His church.

As one commentator put it,

”Either Ananias or the Spirit must go –
Such was the white-hot purity of that early Christian fellowship that a lie of that kind couldn’t live within it.”

About three hours later, when Sapphira appeared, Peter charged her with collaborating with her husband in putting the Spirit of the Lord to the test.

He told her of her husband’s fate and predicted the same for her.

Immediately she collapsed and died, and was carried out for burial.

Peter’s ability to pronounce judgment on this couple is an example of the special miraculous powers given to the apostles.

Perhaps it was a fulfillment of the Lord’s promise,

“If you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:23).

It is further seen by Paul’s ability to deliver an offending Christian to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (1 Cor. 5:5).

One can imagine the sense of awe that swept over the church, indeed over all who heard the news of these two deaths.

After the death of Ananias and Sapphira, the apostles continued to perform miracles as the people gathered around them in Solomon’s Porch.

So vivid was the sense of God’s presence and power that men did not lightly associate with them or make glib professions of faith.

And yet the common people esteemed them highly, many taking their place as believers in the Lord Jesus.

The people carried their sick out into the streets on beds and mattresses so that Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.

Anyone could see that there was reality and power in the lives of the apostles, and that they were channels through whom God was blessing others.

From the suburbs came the sick and the demon-possessed, and they were all healed.

True Holy Spirit ministry invariably leads to conversion on the one hand and bitter opposition on the other.

So it was here. The high priest (probably Caiaphas) and his Sadducean friends were furious that these fanatical disciples of Jesus were wielding such influence among the people.

They resented any threat to their exclusive role as religious leaders, and especially despised preaching concerning bodily resurrection, which they, of course, utterly denied.

Unable to cope with the apostles other than by force, they had them arrested and imprisoned.

That night an angel of the Lord led the apostles out of the prison and told them to return to the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.

Luke records the miraculous intervention of the angel without any expression of surprise or wonder. If the apostles themselves were shocked, there is no indication in the narrative.

The angel aptly referred to the Christian faith as this life.

It is not just a creed or set of doctrines, but a Life—the resurrection life of the Lord Jesus imparted to all who trust Him.

At daybreak the apostles were teaching at the temple. In the meantime, the high priest met in solemn conclave with the council (the Sanhedrin) and the senate (all the elders), and waited for the prisoners to be brought before them.

The bewildered officers had to report to the court that everything at the prison was in good order—except that the prisoners were gone!

The doors were properly locked, and the guards were all at their stations, but the occupants were missing.

A distressing report indeed!

“Where will it all end?” mused the captain of the temple and the chief priests.

“How far will this popular movement go?”

Then their questions were interrupted by a messenger announcing that the escaped prisoners were back at their old stand in the temple—teaching the people!

We must admire the apostles’ courage, and we too must regain this capacity of the early church to follow and obey God and also to be willing to suffer for our convictions at any cost.

“Only he who believes is obedient; only he who is obedient believes.”
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The Temple at daybreak was a busy place.

Many people stopped there to pray and worship at sunrise.

On this day, the apostles were already there, ready to tell everyone the Good News of new life in Jesus Christ.

Also at daybreak, the high council of the leaders of Israel was gathering, preparing to question the apostles.

This would be no small trial. The religious leaders would do anything to stop these apostles from challenging their authority, threatening their secure position, and exposing their hypocritical motives to the people.

The apostles, on the other hand, knew their priorities.

While we should try to live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18), conflict with the world and its authorities is sometimes inevitable for a Christian (John 15:18).

In some situations, we won’t be able to obey both God and human authority.

At those times we must obey God and trust His Word as the ultimate truth.

Let Jesus’ words in Luke 6:22 encourage you:

“What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man.”
____

Thursday, May 19
God’s Holy Fire

‘WITNESSES’

Peter and the apostles before the Sanhedrin:

“The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by hanging him on a cross.

Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior.

He did this so the people of Israel would repent of their sins and be forgiven.

We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.”
— Acts 5:30-32 NLT

Key Thought
An incredible amount of truth is compacted into these few verses.

In “God’s Holy Fire” today, we want to recognize the role of the Holy Spirit in this truth:

The Holy Spirit is the witness to God’s work in Jesus, our Prince and Savior, crucified, raised from the dead, and put in the place of honor.

Not only is the Holy Spirit the heavenly witness to these truths, but also the Spirit has been given to all who obey God.

The witness lives inside us as a witness to us.

John also describes the Holy Spirit as the anointing we have received that remains in us, and Jesus says that the Spirit teaches us and guides us into all truth (1 John 2:18-27; John 16:12-15).

What incredible gifts and promises to those of us who obey God!

Today’s Prayer
O Father, it surely feels like I live in a time when belief in the truth of the good news of Jesus is under constant attack.

I thank you for your holy presence, the Holy Spirit, whom you have given me and who lives within me.

I thank you for the Spirit’s witness to the truth about Jesus that is found in the Scriptures and that resides within me through the Spirit’s presence.

I offer my thanks for this great gift in the name of Jesus, my Prince and Savior. Amen.
____

Come join the Adventure!

Skip 🕊️

Author: SPARKS FROM THE ANVIL OF LIFE

This is an open forum where we look into and investigate the Rhema Mysteries of God's Word; and also other issues of importance for our day and time.

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