Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church Acts #5: Fakes To hear this message and others download our free app @ The App Store: search The Gathering Connect
FAKES Exodus 20:15-17, John 8:31-32, Romans 2:1-5
We live in a day and age where fake news, political propaganda, fabricated and lawless investigations and deceptive identity politics abound. There are so many fakes today that nothing appears genuine anymore. Many seek to elevate themselves and their cause by being fake. Empire” actor Jussie Smollett and the Osundairo brothers “allegedly” faked a hate crime in Chicago so that Smollett could boost his popularity as an actor and get paid more while falsely accusing trump supporters for his phony “beat down and noosing” (one of the brothers wore a MAGA hat). Smollett’s sworn testimony said he was attacked for being a homosexual black man. Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts for allegedly filing a false police report. Prosecutors and police said Smollett allegedly paid the Osundairo brothers $3,500 via a check to attack him and also gave them money to buy the supplies they would need to carry out the hoax crime. A shocking turn of events came when a former top level aid for Michelle Obama communicated with State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and all charges against Smollett were suddenly dropped with only community service. Smollett continues to claim his innocence even though all evidence and testimony says otherwise. New video evidence has just been released that also reveals that he is a liar. Once again…it seems to be who you know that matters and not what you do. This of course is not Biblically true.
We don’t have to look very far to see fakes and it appears that many of them are also in the church. There are fake healers, fake evangelists, fake Bibles, fake churches and even fake Christians…even in real churches. The best that we can do is not to just be able to spot a fake and stay clear of them, but to know when we are being fake ourselves and to repent! When a person is fake they break the eighth, ninth and tenth commandments that God gave us. So we can be sure that God is not accepting of such behavior. A person steals (premeditatedly takes what belongs to another), lies and covets when being a fake (Exodus 20:15-17). We must remember that Jesus said “the truth will set you free”( John 8:31-32). If we hold to Jesus’ teaching we will live in truth. We will also be careful not to judge others who do the same things as us (Romans 2:1-5). God’s intentions are that His children repent and live honestly! In today’s story we will see how God established these truths in the early church.
BARNABAS Acts 4:32-37, 1 John 3:18
We begin today’s lesson by hearing what the church was like early on in that first century. Believers were of one heart and mind and they were generous with one another. They practiced their faith in “deed and truth” ( 1 John 3:18). The scriptures tell us that a man named Joseph had a nick name. Oftentimes a nick name tells us more about a person than his given name. It is true of many people that I’ve known. I knew a man named Bear. He had a terrible temper and smelled like an animal too. I knew another man named Turtle. He was very laid back and slow moving. Joseph was called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement). From what we know about Barnabas his nick name fit his character too. The scriptures tell us that he sold a field he owned and gave all of the money to the church to take care of needy Christians.
ANANIAS & SAPPHIRA Acts 5:1-11
We can assume, according to the way things played out, that Ananias and his wife were not so much impressed by the selfless gift that Barnabas made to the poor, but by the fame it gave him among the church. Ananias and his wife agreed to sell one of their properties too; however, they secretly agreed to keep part of the money for themselves. Keeping some of the money for themselves was not their sin. It was their property to do with as they pleased. Their sin was threefold: 1.) their motivation for giving was wrong (to get the praise of men) 2.) they lied to the church about what they gave 3.) they lied to the Holy Spirit because they used the name of Christ to prosper themselves. ( The name of Jesus was blasphemed!) Most theologians assume that Ananias & Sapphira were struck dead by God, but the scriptures don’t tell us that. It is likely that Ananias and his wife had heart attacks or strokes from the stress of being publicly confronted and the resulting events. It was the fear of the Lord that killed those two fakes and that same fear that “seized the whole church and all who heard about those events”. The fear of God accompanied the early Church. Where is that holy fear today?
FEAR the LORD Proverbs 9:10, Proverbs 3:5-6, 1 Peter 1:17-19, 2:9-12, 16
Proverbs 9:10 tells us to fear the LORD” —which is foundational to true wisdom. Without the fear of the Lord we make decisions based on our faulty human understanding (Proverbs 3:5–6). When we fear the Lord we make decisions based upon His approval. We live with the knowledge that the Creator of the universe is intimately involved in our every move. He sees, knows, and evaluates all our choices, and we will answer to Him (Psalm 139:1–4). Our respect for God’s majesty causes us to honor Him (Psalm 29:2). Our gratitude for His mercy causes us to serve Him well (Psalm 2:11; 107:15). And the understanding that our God of love is also a God of wrath inspires enough fear to help us stay away from evil (Romans 1:18; Proverbs 8:13). Sin is foolish! When we live righteously, we walk the path to wisdom, and everyone in our lives benefits as well (Proverbs 13:20; 19:8). In Peter’s first letter he calls believers out to live in reverent fear (1 Peter 1:17-19). He proclaims that God’s “chosen ones” are to represent Him as a “royal priesthood and holy nation.” To live as free people, but not to use our freedom as a cover-up for evil.
DARING GOD Acts 5:12-42, Revelation 22:10-13, 1 John 1:9
The passage in Acts goes on to tell us that no one dared join the church, but they were highly regarded and grew in number. In the early church fakes were called out and in the face of persecution chose “to obey God rather than men!” A Pharisee, Gamaliel, gave good advice: “you will only find yourselves fighting against God” if you stand daring Him at His word”. Make no mistake, as Ananias & Sapphira did, daring God will end in judgment (Revelation 22:10-13)—now or later! Are you among those daring God? Remember, “the truth will set you free.” Repent and live honestly before the Lord (1 John 1:9).