Extraordinary Times: Generous | Acts 4:31-5:11
What is generosity? One of the first examples of generosity we see in the early church is found in our text today. You may ask yourself, ‘why would we look to a passage like Acts 5:1-11 for teachings on generosity?’ In this passage we actually see both sides of this subject; generosity and greed. As we dive into today’s text we will see how grace generates generosity and how greed generates hypocrisy.
Open your Bible to Acts 4:31 and join us as we continue in our vision series: Extraordinary Times.
Date: September 22, 2019
Speaker: Jason Jordan
Series: Extraordinary Times
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Thank you so much for listening in here at West Side. We often say that we love the word of God because it points us to the son of God. We hope these messages encourage you and equip you to love Jesus more. We also want you to be apart of a local church, we believe these messages are only supplemental, being apart of a local church is essential. Blessings.
Extraordinary Times: Generous Acts 4:31-5:11
REVIEW: We are in our vision series! Last week Parker led us to see how the early church was gracious in such a hostile environment. A very practical and timely message!
INTRO> We know that Christianity wasn’t birthed in a vacuum, we have actual recorded history to show us what the surrounding world thought of and was attracted to this early movement. This is a picture of the emperor Julian. He came to rule in Rome in 361. He is the nephew of Constantine, who made Christianity legal in Rome around 300 ad. Julian is known as the “apostate” He was baptized and grew up in a “Christian Rome” but led a horrible, vicious attack on the church and Christians. He persecuted them violently, but he remained baffled because they kept growing. “Julian tried to use all the powers of the state to launch a pagan revival. He organized a parallel, pagan priesthood based on the Church’s diocesan model. He tried to use legal mechanisms to deny Christians their recently acquired equal rights. But he saw one obstacle above all preventing a return to the old ways: Christian charity. He wrote a letter to the pagan high-priest Arsacius lamenting: It is disgraceful that, when no Jew ever has to beg, and the impious Galilaeans [Christians] support not only their own poor but ours as well, all men see that our people lack aid from us. Teach those of the Hellenic faith to contribute to public service of this sort, and the Hellenic villages to offer their first fruits to the gods; and accustom those who love the Hellenic religion to these good works by teaching them that this was our practice of old.”
CONTEXT> We see this very thing in our text. I want you to notice something look at 4:31, “filled with the Spirit” what’s the result? Unity. Then look at 4:33 “great grace” that’s actually, “mega grace” result? Generosity. You see there is a tangle way to measure what a person filled with the Spirit and understands grace is like… Generous.
Big Idea> Grace generates generosity and greed generates hypocrisy.
APP> This is a big deal for us at West Side, we want this to be true here. We gave away $27,363.77 last year. We see two characters in these verses Barnabas = Generosity Annanias and Sephira = Greed
- Barnabas – Grace and Generosity: v31-37
- We are introduced to Barnabas. This dude is awesome. He is mentioned a few times in the Bible. He vouches for Paul after his conversion in Acts 9. Paul mentions him again in 1 Corinthians for giving financially to his ministry, him and Paul get into about Mark. Acts 11:23-24
- Supernatural – “v32 no one said that any of the things belonged to him was his own” This is worth noting again. This is incredible. I mean this has to be a supernatural act of God! *ILL> Small babies, yelling “mine!” Sin= selfishness
- Sacrificial -“v34 there was not a needy person among them..” …. There is a lot going on in this verse. First, notice NEED. We have no idea how to distinguish between NEED and WANTS. Need means that it is necessary to live. Second notice that it was within the church first… “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:20 “v37 sold the field that he owned and brought the money” Barnabas teaches use an important lesson, APP> God uses what you have. APP> Tithe is great to start, “Jesus didn’t tithe his blood” – Tim Keller
- Sincere – “laid it at the apostles feet” used 2x. What is this repressing? APP> This reveals trust right? Barnabas trusted God with his money and trusted the leadership of the church. APP> This is something that we strive for here at West Side, I’ve been a part of some churches that were not.
*ILL> do you know what I thought of when thinking of Barnabas? Charles Dickens a Christmas Carol. You remember the story. Scrooge who is a greedy mean old man, he gets shown his greed and his life by ghosts, the last ghost shows him his own grave, Scrooge cry out for mercy! Wakes up and realizes he has a second chance, now his money isn’t his own! APP> Those who have truly received grace truly extend grace.
Big Idea> Grace generates generosity and greed generates hypocrisy.
2) Ananias & Sapphira – Greed and Hypocrisy:
- This text permits me to say something. This seems harsh doesn’t it? I mean this is post cross, post pentecost , the text has the words “mega grace” in it. What’ the deal here. I can’t make this say what it doesn’t say, and I can’t make this text light. “The church is a safe place for sinners but not a safe place to sin.” Kevin DeYoung
- Stealing – v2 “he kept back for himself” Luke uses a very specific word here, a word that we would know means, “to embezzle” the only other time this word is used in the NT is in the context of stealing in Titus 2:10 You see that’s the problem, notice Peter says twice to him, “it was YOUR field”. They are also being deceitful, they said they sold the field but only brought part of it, why? “They wanted the credit and prestige for sacrificial generosity, without the inconvenience of it. So in order to gain a reputation to which they had no right, they told a brazen lie. Their motive in giving was not to relive the poor, but to fatten their own ego.” – John Stott
- Satanic – v3 “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie..” Peter is real sensitive here isn’t he? But he is truthful, because he must be! Jesus called people sons of the devil, APP> Do you see how their heart was revealed, through how they used money, Peter mentions the word “heart” 2x 2 Corinthians 9:7
- Spreads – v1 “with his wife knowledge.” v8 “agreed together” Sin spreads, that’s fact. APP> Here is what’s so scary about this, if they can harden their heart to God and the Apostles about this…. what else can they harden their hearts to?
APP> Do you know what Ananias name means? “Jehovah has been gracious” That breaks my heart, the amount of Grace that they were both shown, even at the very last second when Peter said his name, Ananias, he was reminded of God’s grace to him!
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9
When it comes to Barnabas or Ananias and Sapphira it is as if Luke is asking this question, “Which one are you?”