An Old Testament feel in a New Testament passage.
SEPTEMBER 2, 2021
An Old Testament feel in a New Testament passage. Let’s talk on Key Life.
It’s for freedom that Christ set us free and Key Life is here to bring you Biblical teaching that encourages you to never give it to slavery again. Our teacher on Key Life is Steve Brown, he’s an author, broadcaster and seminary professor who’s sick of phony religion.
Thank you Matthew. We’re looking at the fifth chapter of the book of Acts. If you have your Bible, I’ll be referring to it as we go along. It’s a part of our study in the book of Acts. And this is a bump along the road. It’s a text you didn’t expect. It doesn’t seem to fit with everything else that’s going on in the New Testament. And, you kind of wince when you read it. If you’re familiar with it, it’s the early church. And they had two people, a couple in the church who had some land, who when they had a fundraiser, they lied about the money that they had. Said they had given everything they had when they kept the other part in a savings plan. And when they lied, they died. And you know, all of a sudden you say this doesn’t sound very much like the New Testament. Jeremy who produces this program and I were talking before we sat down to talk to you. And Jeremy said, you know Steve, this has an Old Testament feel to it. And when he said that, I thought, light goes on, exactly. And for the same reason, if you read the Old Testament, and by the way, I mentioned Richard Pratt earlier, in this book, God Gave Us Stories. Richard always says that the New Testament is God’s addendum to his book, the old Testament. And there’s a sense in which that is true. Don’t dichotomize the Scripture and say that the Old Testament is a God of wrath and the New Testament is a God of grace and love. That’s not true. Some of the finest teaching on God’s love is found in the Older Testament. Look at Hosea 11 and the multifaceted love of God whose heart is broken. And some of the best, well, best didn’t the best word, but some of the teaching in the New Testament about the wrath of God is scary, i.e. the Cross, where the wrath of God was poured out on a totally innocent man. So don’t dichotomize, but when Jeremy said this has an Old Testament feel to it, this story, it does. And for the same reason, or the feeling about the Old Testament, God is preparing. This is a transitional time. The Old Testament is not by itself, it’s preparation. What’s it preparation for? God’s big act. I mean, you look at the channels of history and how they came together. If Jesus had been born 40 years before he was, you never would have heard his name. If he had been 40 years born after, you never would have heard his name, God was preparing, and he was preparing his people, and he seemed sometimes really harsh. Why is that? Cause he’s preparing for Jesus. It seems sometimes, with all the battles and the death and the rebellion and the wrath that God is scary and he is, but he’s our Father and he’s preparing for Jesus. He’s preparing for Jesus. And as you move into the book of Acts, something similar is going on, especially when you hit the fifth chapter of Acts. God is preparing for Jesus. God is preparing for the gospel. God is preparing for you to hear this broadcast. For you to come to him. For you to be loved and forgiven. And just like he did that for you and for me, he does it for millions and millions and billions of others. And so something is going on here, that’s a lot bigger than it seems. And it has an Old Testament feeling to it, when Ananias and Sapphira die, has an Old Testament feeling to it, because it’s the same thing that’s going on in the Old Testament, in the book of Acts, preparation, preparation for Jesus. And so, it’s important that you get it right, when you look at this particular text. Now, let me deal with some of the issues, because we get a question on this text so often. One person, and this happened just last week, sent a question by e-mail and said, if Ananias and Sapphira were Christians, they weren’t punished, they were rewarded, because they went to heaven. And you think, wait, that’s a good point. Now, the question is whether or not they’re Christians. And that’s up for grabs. Actually, Luke doesn’t tell us, he tells us that they were members of the church, that they were involved. But sometimes as the apostle John said in one of his letters, they went out from among us, because they were not apart of it. So, a good thing to remember is that maybe Ananias and Sapphira were not Christians. Maybe they were pretenders. Dr. D James Kennedy, who was my friend at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church taught me so much and is in heaven now, used to say that the greatest field for evangelism in the world today is not the world, but it’s the church. And there’s something to be said about that. I remember one time in a church, I served in Boston, the leading officer of that church was not saved. He was not a Christian. And it showed, he was a pain in the neck all the time. And he resigned every other week. So, I accepted his resignation, replaced him and he was fit to be tied. And he came into my study, I’ll never forget. And he said, you replaced me already. I said, I did, that was the third time you had resigned. And he said, he said, well, that was pretty fast. And I said, do you know why I did that? And by the way, he was a denominational leader, prayed the most beautiful prayers you ever saw and was the key leader in the church that I was serving. And I said, do you know what your problem is Ken?, you pretend to be a Christian, but you’re not. You have never gone to the Cross and you have never been saved. I expected that I was going to get fired. But I decided I’m going to go out in a blaze of glory. I don’t care. And, you know what happened? And it blew, when I think of it, it blows me away. He started crying and he said, oh Steve, you’re right. Can you help me? And so there, I took a leader of the church, went through a plan of salvation with him and he prayed the most childlike, wonderful prayer that you have ever heard as he came running to Jesus. I remember Ken, when I read about Ananias and Sapphira, were they Christians?, well, maybe, maybe not. We don’t get to vote on that. That’s way above our pay level. And in fact, I could have been wrong about Ken when I told him that he wasn’t even a Christian. But turned out. I was right in that case. I remember the day when we had a young man in our church who had been an engineer for some studios we did there in Boston. And he was going off to Bible school and we gave him a set of commentaries and Ken, the new Christian, gave the commentaries on behalf of the congregation before the congregation to this young man. And this is what he said, Jimmy, I’m younger than you are, and I’m an old man, because I have in my old age come to know Jesus and I am a baby Christian. And I want you to know as a congregation, we’re going to be praying for you as you serve Jesus, the one I just met. So maybe Ananias and Sapphira weren’t Christians. It happens and it happens more than you would believe, but if they were Christians and they were killed off, was that the worst thing that could have happened to them? Absolutely not. My friend who asked that question just last week, it wasn’t punishment, it was reward, may have had a point. It may have been that Jesus said you guys are messing up my plan. You’re messing up the church, you’re messing up the preparation of something big, so big that the world has never seen anything like it. I’m going to sweep the nations with my Spirit and you guys are in the way. So you come on home, you’re forgiven, but you come on home. So in a sense, there is, could be, there’s a sense that what they got was a reward, not a punishment, but at least for a period, they knew it was punishment. I, you know, I’m cramming for finals and death isn’t exactly something I’m looking forward to. Now, I know about heaven and all that, the good news is you’re going to heaven and the bad news is you’re going on Thursday. And I don’t want to go on Thursday. And if I knew I was going to die, that would be kind of scary to me. So, Ananias and Sapphira, this was not pleasant, but it may not have been as bad as you think. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. That wraps up another great week of plumbing the depths of the book of Acts. As always, if you missed any episodes or just want to listen again, be sure to swing by our digital front porch at keylife.org. And don’t miss tomorrow’s Friday Q & A. Tomorrow, Steve and Pete will tackle this question, is cryptocurrency the mark of the beast? Well, tune in and find out. You know, whether it’s illness or loss or disappointment, the list of troubles we experience is at the same time, both uniquely difficult and depressingly similar. And to be fair, Jesus told us there would be seasons like this, but he also promised that he would be with his people in their suffering. Well, Steve wrote a mini-book that talks very plainly about his own struggles with suffering, but also the hope he is found in the presence of Christ. It’s called Suffering: When Life Falls Apart. Get your free copy today, while supplies last, by calling 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail Steve@keylife.org and task for that mini-book. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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