Joy to the world.
SEPTEMBER 7, 2021
Joy to the world. I’ll explain on this edition of Key Life.
That was Steve Brown. He doesn’t want to be your guru and he’s not trying to be your mother. He just opens the Bible and gives you the simple truth that will make you free. Steve’s a lifelong broadcaster, author, seminary professor, and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. If you’ve got a Bible, open it to the fifth chapter of Acts and we’re looking at a weird story, frankly. A true one, a scary one, doesn’t seem to fit, but it’s a good story about Ananias and Sapphira. And we have spent considerable amounts of time looking at that particular story in a different way. Ananias and Sapphira lied to God about some money they had and they died. And Luke tells us about it and then says that the people were afraid when they saw this. And then Luke, to make sure that we got it, said that people were afraid. And so God is doing something here and he doesn’t kill, he’s not a child abuser. He doesn’t kill off people, cause he doesn’t like the way they part their hair. He doesn’t kill them off, because they get out of line. But something’s going on here, when he says the people were afraid, that’s a hint of what’s going on. Now we have seen that there’s a plan of God going on here and it’s a lot bigger than you think. And a lot bigger than they thought. I mean, he was talking about the entire world. So there was a plan of God, that came from the fear of God, which is a part of this text. And depending on whether Ananias and Sapphira were Christians or not, and they may not been, then it was a reward or a punishment that they got. If it was a reward, by God’s grace, which is what we all get. If you think you earn the crowns, you present to him, when you get home, you haven’t read the New Testament. As a matter of fact, it’s all grace. Every bit of it is grace. It’s about forgiveness. And this story in the fifth chapter of Acts does not contradict that. And I’ve taken considerable time to show you that. So there’s the fear of God, reflecting the plan of God, that you could see, the blessing that would be poured out on the world. Oh my, what was God doing here? What’s he been doing from the beginning? What does the Bible talk about when it talks about the history of salvation? What is the central theme of Scripture? It’s what the angels sang at the birth of Christ. Joy. Joy to the world. Sometimes we forget, listen to how, listen to what the last part of this text, I’m going to start at the 12th verse.
Now many signs and wonders were done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high honor. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and pallets, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were healed.
You remember when I talked about, this book being a transition book and not one from which you ought to get your systematic theology. That’s true. Acts is a reporting of accurate history of what happened at the beginning. When you go back to the beginning, you begin to see what this thing is all about. And that paragraph that I just read to you is what the gospel is all about, healing and wholeness and joy and love. And so, Ananias and Sapphira, this story starts and it’s kind of a down story and it’s kind of dark, but as you begin to see what God’s doing, you begin to see how God feels about the world. How does he feel about the world? How does he feel about the divisions going on in America right now? How does he feel about the sin that is so rampant, where good is called evil and evil is called good. How does he feel about those who never found him and have no meaning in their life? How does he feel about you? And how does he feel about me? Let me tell you.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.
That’s how he feels. And this story does not contradict it. This story is a major story to remind us that all of that is true and I hope you listen to what I taught you. I’d like to spend another few days with this, but it’s time to move on as your tour director. So we’re going to move into the next part of what happens. And I’m going to start at the 17th verse of the fifth chapter of Acts.
But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and they put them in a common prison. But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” And when they had heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and they taught. Now the high priest came, and those who were with him, all together the council and all the senate of Israel and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, and they returned and reported, “We found the prison securely locked and the sentry standing at the doors, but when we opened it we found no one inside.” now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were much perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. And someone came and told them, “The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple teaching the people.” Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, and without violence, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, ” We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood up on us.” but Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God, rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so as the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
There’s a kind of joke in this and it’s kind of funny. The apostles are in jail, they’re not there for a parking ticket, this is bad stuff. And they knew they could end up dying the way Jesus had died. And then the angel comes, gets him out of prison in a miraculous way without unlocking and locking the doors. The doors stayed locked, and the guards stayed at, but they got it. They found them outside. And if you had been there, all you would have seen were heels and elbows, as the apostles said to one another, we’re getting out of here and we’re going to hide in the woods. And then it’s kind of funny. The angel says, Hey, come here. And Peter said, but hurry, cause we’re got to get out, and the angel said, I want you to bring a message from God, for you. Go down to the temple and teach in the name of Jesus and Peter I’m sure said, uh, let me explain to you something, we were there before, and that’s how we got into prison. And you have gone through all this trouble to get us out of prison. And you tell us to go down to the temple and be put into prison for what we already have gone there once for, and that seems kind of redundant to me. And the angel said, I didn’t say it, God said it, go do it, and they did. And exactly what happened, is what you would expect to happen. Once again, they were arrested. Once again, they were brought before the court. And once again, Peter preached and spoke truth. He probably said, I told you this before and you didn’t listen. So I’m going to tell you again, and then he speaks of repentance and forgiveness and the gospel of Jesus Christ. The implications of this prison visit and this prison escape are amazing. And it’s, it’s about love. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. Every great story, true or made up, has a plot twist. In the factual, historical account here in Acts 5, it has at least two plot twists, amazing. And in case you didn’t catch it before, our text today was Acts 5:17-32. Speaking of history, you know, it’s not every day, you get to speak with a historical figure, but that’s exactly what happened a few months ago, on Steve Brown Etc. We sat down with attorney Ken Starr to discuss religious liberty, legal rights, and yes, even the Clinton scandal. We also talked about Ken’s new book, Religious Liberty and Crisis: Exercising Your Faith in an Age of Uncertainty. It was such a good show that we put the whole thing on a CD, and we’d be happy to send that along to you, for free. So just call 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail Steve@keylife.org and ask for that CD. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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