Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Signs Gifts and Holiness

Authority – in the Name of Jesus

Power – of the Holy Spirit, in signs and preaching

Acts 4

Sharing in All Things

32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.

[A part of the fellowship of the early church was a strong sense of community. Moved by the Holy Spirit they had changed their view of materialism from ownership – I manage my resources to serve my purpose, to stewardship – I manage God's resources to serve his purpose. So they did not withhold from those within the church who were in need.]

33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.

[The commentaries tend to agree that the things sold were a surplus, not that people were selling their only home or the field in which they grew their own food, but anything they did not need to live on was given to the church and distributed by the apostles.]

36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, 37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet.

[Though many were selling land and giving it to the church, Barnabas is singled out as an example. They called Barnabas "son of encouragement, some translations will say consolation or comfort. Bar-Nabas really means son of prophecy, but apparently his spiritual gift was to encourage the brethren in the church. The fact that he is singled out suggests that his gift was a great example to others, whether larger in amount, or the first one given, or perhaps a greater portion of his wealth, so maybe he did sell his only land. For whatever distinction, the giving of Barnabas was well regarded.]

Acts 5

Lying to the Holy Spirit


1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles' feet.

[Here was a couple who wanted to be regarded like Barnabas, without having to give like Barnabas. They wanted the reputation of an "all-in" Christian knowing in their hearts they were "hold-back" Christians.]

3 But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."
5 Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. 6 And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.

[Probably through super-natural foreknowledge from the Holy Spirit, Peter was aware of the scheme. He told Ananias that when he lied to the church, by pretending to give it all, while knowingly holding back, he had in reality lied to God.

As the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit, verse 3 says he lied to the Holy Spirit, verse 4 says he lied to God. This is another good passage to share with anyone who doubts the Holy Spirit is God.

So Ananias was judged for his hypocrisy, first he lied, then he died. The result was great fear came upon the church. So the young men, wrapped him, then took him out and buried him. Have you ever wondered why the little country churches had the cemetery right next to them? It's for convenience. When God starts judging sin you don't waste a lot of time on the burial.]

7 Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter answered her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?"
She said, "Yes, for so much."
9 Then Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." 10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. 11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.

[So Sapphira was judged, and killed just like her husband. Their secret conspiracy was no secret to God. Now I don't think this was the worst sin ever committed in Church. If it is, I know some people when they fill out that offering envelope, they need to scratch out the word tithe, because it's not really 10%. I heard the pastor of a really big church say that 1/3 of their families gave nothing to the church, 1/3 gave between 1 and 500 dollars, and 1/3 gave more than 500 dollars. Which means 1/3 of the families were supplying almost all of the financial needs of the church. And unless they had lots of families living on less than 5,000 dollars, then very few families were really tithing. So if being a hold-back Christian is so common then why did these two die that day?

Now some people read this story and get upset with God, they see this punishment as harsh or unjust, and there are other who don't want God to judge at all. But I have to tell you the idea that a "loving" God will never judge, is one of those warm and fuzzy Oprah ideas, that hides some really bad theology. You see a God that can ignore willful sin, is not holy. Holiness means God is distinctive, he is not like us. Moreover things that God chooses for himself are also to be separated or holy to God; likewise anything that man will give to God as an offering is considered sacred, exclusively to glorify God.

For the Jew everything they knew about holiness was wrapped up in the rituals of the temple.

2 Chronicles 7

1 When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.

12 Then the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: "I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice

16 For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.

19 "But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods, and worship them, 20 then I will uproot them from My land which I have given them; and this house which I have sanctified for My name I will cast out of My sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples.

[When Jerusalem and the first temple were destroyed at the time of the Babylonian captivity, it was a judgment for sin. Interesting when the captivity was over and the king of Persia permitted the rebuilding of the city and the temple; as they rededicated the 2nd temple in Ezra chapter 6 no mention is made of the Ark, the glory of God, or the presence of God. But the rituals and sacrifices continued through the rebuilding of the temple in the times of Herod, until the temple was destroyed again in 70 AD. On the day of Pentecost the apostles heard the wind, saw the fire and experienced the glory of God being filled with the Holy Spirit.]

Hebrews 9

11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these (meaning the blood of animals), but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another— 26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

[When Christ died he entered the most holy place of the temple to offer his own blood, not the earthly temple but the one in heaven. Hebrews says that the earthly temple was just a temporary copy of the heavenly temple, made for temporary sacrifices. The Last place the Ark of the Covenant or the Ark of testimony (as it is called in the Old Testament) is mentioned in the bible is in Revelations 11]

19 Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.

John 2

19 Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
20 Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?"
21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body.

1 Corinthians 6

19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

[Jesus showed that the temple of God's presence had moved from the building to the body. Now we put it all together and see, God has chosen to make his place in the heart of the believer through the Holy Spirit. So the assembly of called out believers, the church, is Holy to God. And the offerings dedicated to the church are sacred to God. Ananias and Sapphira died as an example for us. To defile the Holiness of the church with deception, and convert offerings for personal use, are sins God will not tolerate. "Be holy for I am holy" (Leviticus 11:45) ]

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