by Pastor Adekoya Akinbode
NEW TESTAMENT GIVING PATERN VERSUS THE FIRST VICTIMS!
Every act and practice in Christianity is supposed to be a function of, and as guided by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. When and where grace is absent, faith is futile; the flesh takes over and “sin” is inevitable. For whatever is not of faith is sin, and faith without grace is equal to religious struggles.
It is a gracious thing that we can decide what and when we give in the New testament, but there is the “how” that must be followed. To give acceptably, we must first be willing. Upon that foundation of willingness we express our faith in giving.
2 Corinthians: 8. 12. For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
Also, God will never demand from you what He has not dispatched to you. Even at that, you are at liberty to give absolutely as you purpose in your heart, willingly and cheerfully.
2 Corinthians: 9. 7. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
It is easy to give cheerfully when you do it willingly, as you have purposed in your heart.
Of course, every act of giving must be with a good and godly motive, otherwise, it amounts to an abomination before God. This was that case with Ananias and Sapphira. They had the intention to give but the motive wasn’t pure. Humanly speaking, when not checked, there is the pride and accolades that are associated with being a financier in the church. Perhaps, the apostles surnaming Joses “Barnabas”, meaning the son of consolation stirred up something within Ananias and his wife, seeking the apostles’ attention for titles or position and accolades from the people.
You have nothing to hold back when you perfectly understand that giving in the new testament is as you are willing and purpose in your heart and therefore do it cheerfully, knowing it’s not of necessity. Why then do you have to lie about what you choose to give willingly?
Holding back a part of the money was indicative of the fact that Ananias and Sapphira were not so much after contributing to the welfare needs in the church as much as they were after commanding attention. That’s a playout of pride and egocentricism which God detests and resists!
It is almost inarguably true that pride and greed are associates. A greedy individual will have some traits of pride and a proud person can as well be greedy. With greed, you’ll always see almost everything as too big to give!
1. But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 2. And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
They saw the total sum as too big to give and have to keep back part of it. To “keep back” in that context, going by the Greek meaning is same as to steal! So, they stole part of the money they were to bring to the apostles feet, and lied it was the total sum.
As such, they seems to have forgotten that giving under the new covenant is not of necessity, as essential as it is. So, you need not have to steal out of what you are to give and still lied about it.
3. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4. Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
They would have been blameless if they declared that they were only giving a part of the price for whatever they sold, as they have purposed. Instead, they made a false declaration which Peter regarded as not to/against man, but the Holy Ghost – the God with/in us, presently!
As against the blame many preachers have been mounting on Peter as the one responsible for the couple’s death, there’s no statement here to convict Peter of being responsible for the judgment the Holy Ghost by Himself executed right there! Peter simply manifested the gift of the word of knowledge and concluded that they haven’t lied unto men but to God (the Holy Ghost) who has revealed their secret plan.
Importantly, the Holy Ghost is not the gentle side of God, at all! God warned the Israelites against misbehaving when He was assigned to go with them on their journey to the promise land.
20. Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. 21. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.
That “Angel” was the Holy Ghost as He’s often referred to as The Angel of His (God’s Presence).
His arrival at Pentecost has a lot to it, considering what transpired in the heavenly spheres prior to and as He was to descend. He came upon Jesus at Jordan without any sound or noise, so much that only John could see Him descending. It’s a different scenario at Pentecost! Though we are not told that the Holy Ghost killed Ananias and Sapphira, but the acts of the Holy Ghost was definitely involved.
For instance, Paul wrote:
1 Corinthians: 14.
24. But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: 25. And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
Imagine what the case is always like when what you thought was hidden is being openly revealed. It obviously has an heart-attack effect. It has never been before that what was planned in secrecy would be accurately unveiled openly through the Holy Ghost working through Peter. Such an unbelievable revelation of their secret plan could even naturally have resulted in a shock beyond control that led to the falling down.
There is how accurate word of knowledge humbles and profusely strikes. Paul wrote that it will cause the unbeliever to fall down and worship but in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, they fell down and gave up the ghost!
That surely sent a very clear signal to all in the early church that no one should permit Satan to take over his/her heart to fill it with lies.
Acts: 5:11. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
That you are born again and Spirit-filled doesn’t exempt you from harboring thoughts projected by Satan but you can always be alive to cast down imaginations, guarding your heart with all diligence!
I usually imagine that should that dimension of instant judgement suffered by Ananias and Sapphira continues today in the church, only few will remain! Those in bondage to tithing but at a time didn’t give the accurate figure would have had to pay for it! Let your acts and practices in or to the body be motivated and guided by the love of Christ. Do nothing neither with/by force nor under duress but as one under grace. Let all you do for the sake of the body of Christ be to the praise of God alone with not ulterior or selfish motives. Give willingly and cheerfully as you purpose, remembering that it is not of necessity but a wholesome responsibility to undertaken, banking on and responding to the grace of God, not motivated by selfish interests.
DIVERSE MANIFESTATIONS, MASSIVE ADDITIONS, STERN OPPOSITIONS AND PERSONAL CONSOLATION!
12. And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. 13. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. 14. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)
The book of The Acts of The Apostles is characterized with the power of God being made manifest through the Apostles. Miracle is a major strategy to drawing multitudes, though not automatically into the kingdom but to make them hear the gospel and get saved. God, through the Holy Ghost was doing the unimaginable through the hands of His sent One so much that, the people’s faith had grown so much in the power of God vested on the Apostles that they only needed Peter’s shadow to fall on the sick for their healing, and the demonized folks for their deliverance.
As the Lord was manifesting Himself through the Apostles, multitudes are being drawn, and the Apostles never slacked in ceasing the opportunity to preach Christ to the gather multitudes. Souls were being saved and the numbers of the believers was rising by the day. As this stirred up praise in the camp of the believers, it aroused envy, jealousy, fear and threats amongst the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the high priests. The ground breaking ministry of the Apostles of Jesus definitely was gearing at them losing their place, position and authority amongst the people. Many are being converted daily, no longer in bondage to the laws under the auspices of the Pharisees. The Apostles were vehemently opposed, tortured, beaten and imprisoned. Yet, they regarded it all as a privilege to suffer for Christ’s sake without quitting nor compromising.
41. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. 42. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
There’s nothing you’re going through or will ever go through that Christ has never been through. He’s our perfect examples and as He conquered all and now received to glory, we see our future looking unto Him irrespective of what we face or daily encounter, particularly as we go about spreading the Goodnews.
It is obvious from the Apostles experience that however stern is the opposition, the church will keep matching on. God’s people who are given wholly to the mission of witnessing Christ are ordained for both angelic and human rescues as God’s measure to protect His people from the oppositions. Angelic intervention brought Peter and John out of the common prison. The divinely orchestrated intervention of Gamaliel (a renowned teacher of the law under whom Paul studied!) was used to overturn the plot to put them to death.
Beloved, the Lord knows how to save His people from whatever confronts them, particularly as they unflinchingly focus on and hold on to Him. Like the Apostles of old, I dare you to stand for the gospel no matter who abuses, insults, harass or oppose you. As you remain undaunted in your walk with God and in propagating the gospel of Christ, there’s both angelic and human agencies to be dispatched by God for your rescue. Don’t ever give up! Don’t be discouraged! Don’t be dismayed! Move on as a soldier of Christ_ there’s more He wants to do in you and through you.