Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Death and Rescue

“Here, Peter.”
“What’s that?”
”The money from the sale of some land Sapphira and I owned. I brought it to help balance things out; you know, between those who have plenty and those who have needs.”
“Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.”

“Yes, Sapphira.”
“I see our pouch, but not Ananias.”
“Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”
“Yes, that is the price.”
“How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

There are two stories that dominate Acts 5. One is the story of Ananias and Sapphira, both of whom died for lying to God about the money they were giving from the sale of their land. The other is the twice-rescued apostles. They were rescued first when they were miraculously released from jail by the angel. They were rescued again when God used Gamaliel, a Pharisee, to convince the Sanhedrin to calm down and let God deal with the apostles and the movement they were trying to advance.

It’s not unusual for someone to die at the beginning of a great advance of God – look at the Read Sea and Sinai stories. You don’t goof around with God and what he is going to accomplish. A godly fear is a very healthy thing in the hands of the living God.

Just as God demands reverence, he offers rescue. Those who take God’s work seriously have as their help the kind of power that has raised the dead. If rescuing you is the way to advance his cause, to let the world know that what you are doing really is from God, he will do it.
Death or rescue -- that’s an easy enough choice for me. I’ll take God seriously. That’s Life at Work.

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