The God of Great Fear (Acts 5:1-16)

“God is love,” 1 John 4:8b. “Judge not, that you be not judged,” Matthew 7:1.

Those two verses capture the common understanding of Christianity. ‘If there is a God, He loves and He doesn’t care what you do. So nobody else should judge you either.’

But both of those verses are taken out of context. Jesus goes on to say: “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you,” Matthew 7:6. So while we should not judge people to condemn them, we must judge them to discern whether we are wasting our holy service to God and are in danger of being attacked by unhappy and unholy swine.

And soon after writing, “God is love”, John reminds us that this love does not exist in isolation: “By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgement, because as he is so also are we in this world.” 1 John 4:17. So, there is a day of judgement to come, only some people are loved by God, and only they will escape the judgement.

At the end of Acts 4, it seems like everything in the early Church is rosy. Jesus’ followers are continuing His ministry by speaking boldly about His resurrection. God’s power is at work. God’s grace is upon them. And they are sharing generously to meet each other’s needs.

There have been miraculous healings. Lots of people are being converted. But. Chapter 5 begins with the word, “But”. This is the first sign of trouble in the Church.

But, the Church, as good as it gets, is still a gathering of sinners. And because there are signs of God’s love and favour everywhere, two sinners think that God doesn’t care what they do. And here God shows us how, sometimes, He judges His Church for our sin.

I’ve read lots of histories of churches, and you never find stories like this. There might be vague mentions of ‘hard times’ or ‘difficult decisions’. But we don’t want people to hear about our failures and we certainly don’t want to highlight our sins.

But Luke does; God does. God wants us to be honest to ourselves and to each other about our sin. He warns us of the danger our sin poses to the witness of the Church.

He shows us that He knows our sinful motives (v1-11). And how, in judging our sin, He honours His Church (v11-16), and He shows that He is to be feared (v3, 9, 13).

  1. God Knows Your Motives (v1-10)
  2. God Honours His Church (v11-16)
  3. God is to be Feared (v3, 9, 13)

Why Does God Judge His People? To Show that By His Holy Power, He Reveals Hidden Sin and Honours His Church; So Fear Him.

Sunday 12th August 2018

Review questions:

  • The Church is a g_______ing of _________s
  • Sin starts with my ____________ (James 1:14)
  • What was Ananias & Sapphira’s sin (v3-4, 9)?
  • Is the Holy Spirit God (v3-4)? Yes/No
  • Who will be judged (Revelation 20:12)?
  • Does God judge people today (Romans 1:18)? Yes/No
  • What should God’s judgement make me feel (v11)?
  • The benefits of belonging to God’s people make us a_________________ to God (v13).
  • God requires h____________ (1 Corinthians 11:30).
  • The wage sin pays is ________ (Romans 6:23).
  • How can I escape God’s punishment for sin (Romans 6:23)?
  • Eternal life is a _____________ (Romans 6:23).
  • A question I have:
  • A truth to share:
  • How I/we should live:
  • Prayer:

Published by Stephen McDonald

Christian, preacher, broadcaster

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