Managing the Problems with Money in a Church
Acts 4:32 – 5:16
March 20, 2022
Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland
I. Introduction (Acts 4:32)
A. The Christians in Jerusalem had both heart and courage – things WE need
B. They were on the go – not just sitting around in churches doing nothing
C. But there were problems
1. God’s people are NOT Free from Problems
a. This group of more than 8,000 men and women, along with their children had been cut off from being able to make money and pay bills
b. Persecuted, hated, fired from their jobs, kicked out of homes
c. Again, no welfare, no social services, no entitlements
d. Just because they changed religion
e. Now you know why it is important to have FREEDOM “of” religion
2. They Needed Money
a. They had NO way to feed their families and pay their bills
b. I am sure that the Pharisees, Sadducees and political leaders were delighted at how hard things were for these “deserters from Judaism”
1) They were just counting the days until all those misguided “Christ-followers” would come crawling back to them, begging to be allowed to be part of normal society again!
2) But that didn’t happen!
3. In that first century church, 2000 years ago, no one lacked anything
a. Acts 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
b. Even though they should have been poor and destitute, they always had enough to keep going
c. There were no government programmes, no welfare, no social security nets
d. So, How were they able to keep going?
1) Back when Israel was a brand new nation, coming out of slavery in Egypt, God took care of them, gave them manna every day. Quail meat in the evenings, and even water from a rock! They never hungered or lacked any necessity during those first 40 years through the wilderness before they arrived into the promised Land of Canaan.
2) But when the New Testament Church started, there was no manna, no water from a rock… there was only each other.
3) And because they had each other, like a family, they always had enough.
4) We will never lack when we give to a need. Jesus in Luke 6 38 promises this!
5) Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
D. This morning, let’s see how God forged those new Christians into compassionate givers, and weeded-out hustlers and liars from its midst!
A. They Had a Heart for Giving (Acts 4:32-35)
1. Acts 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
2. Acts 4:33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
3. Acts 4:34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
4. Acts 4:35 And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
5. They had a HEART – a NEW heart since salvation (1John 3:16,17)
a. No longer stingy, and selfish, and hard
b. But because Jesus sacrificed everything for US, we feel we should do the same
c. 1John 3:16,17 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
d. YOU ONLY WILL WANT TO DO THAT IF YOU ARE CHANGED DEEP INSIDE BY GOD’S GRACE
6. They now WANTED to give away money
a. No one had to ask them to give
b. The Christians gave and gave and gave to meet the needs of those thousands of other believers and their families in need!
c. And when there was no more money, instead of quitting, they started selling their possessions, and their properties (land), and the money they got from selling those lands they gave to the apostles to distribute to the needs of their own poor!
7. This was compassionate giving to complete strangers who were now family!
a. Jesus said EVERY believer is a member of His family (Matthew 12:46-50)
1) Matthew 12:46 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.
2) Matthew 12:47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.
3) Matthew 12:48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?
4) Matthew 12:49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!
5) Matthew 12:50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
b. We born again Christians are brethren
1) Matthew 23:8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
2) Not Baptists, Catholics, Anglicans, Messianic Jews, (those are all important labels), but what Christians are is FAMILY!
3) And FAMILY always takes care of family!
8. This was not the beginning of communism or socialism…
a. This was all voluntary
b. Completely spontaneous!
c. It was because of Jesus, not because being forced to!
B. Meet Joses (Acts 4:36,37)
1. Acts 4:36,37 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
2. Who was Joses?
a. His name is short for Joseph
b. He became known as Barnabas – that is what people started naming him
1) His name means the son of consolation, which was a way of saying. He's an encouraging guy – somebody you would want as a good friend
2) He was a great exhorter, motivator, comforter, helper to everyone
c. He was a Levite, a Jewish believer in Jesus, one of the 12 tribes of Israel
d. He was from Cypress and had recently moved to Jerusalem because of getting saved, and wanting to be with the church there
e. This man will in Acts chapter 13, become a great missionary alongside Paul.
1) As a matter of fact, from Acts chapter 9 on, he will be instrumental in keeping Paul encouraged in the ministry
2) For every Apostle Paul, there also has to be some Barnabas’
3. He saw the need of the people around him
a. He did not leave it to others to rise up and meet it
b. He didn’t just reach into his pockets and only take out a few “bob”
c. He stepped up and did what he could – that is all God asks
4. He sold land that he owned and gave its worth to the apostles.
a. That was not a small thing he did – you don’t just sell land!
b. Land is the BEST investment you can ever make – forget gold, and silver, stocks and cryptocurrencies
c. It is called REAL estate for good reason – it has real value, and most of the time, it usually increases in value
d. And he went and sold his land, and then gave all the value of that land, to the needs of God’s people in Jerusalem
5. His life was a good pattern for every believer to follow
a. The entire church was impressed with such personal sacrifice!
b. He encouraged others to start giving to the point where it hurt!
C. Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1,2)
1. Let’s compare Joses/Barnabas with a husband and wife named Annas and Sapphira.
2. Acts 5:1,2 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
3. This husband and wife were both converted Jews, saved by faith in Jesus alone. They were followers of Jesus. Just as saved as you and me
4. They saw the needs of so many people
5. But… they also saw the praise that Barnabas got for being such a sacrificial giver.
6. So they sold some land, just like Barnabas did and they gave SOME of the money to the apostles, and everyone heard the amount that they gave. (Be careful ever wondering about amounts of money given by other people)
7. The problem was that they ACTED like they had given ALL of the money from the sale of the land, like Barnabas had. And they put on a show of poverty…
8. But they secretly kept back some of the money. It is like when you make a promise, or tell somebody something, but you are “crossing your fingers” (you’re not telling the whole truth)
They wanted the GLORY of
being a giver, instead of being JUST a giver
They sought public recognition – praise for their good deed (like the Pharisees always did) – which is wrong!
10. The calling of every Christian is to…
a. Love, serve, care for one another – Jesus made that a commandment for us!
b. Encourage each other – don’t let anyone fall behind
c. Carry one another’s burdens
d. Without fanfare! Without praise!
e. Romans 12:8 says, …he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity...
f. Jesus said in Matthew 6:2-4 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
D. Peter Confronts Ananias (Acts 5:3-6)
1. Peter has to confront this sin! (Listen to Peter here…)
2. Acts 5:3,4 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? 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.
3. People who take care of people’s needs must be honest and trustworthy and accountable, and transparent!
4. Christianity cannot be comfortable with lying and corruption.
a. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him there was a hidden problem in the church that had to be dealt with, and that Ananias was setting a bad example for the entire church.
b. You see, the person who bought the land from Ananias and Sapphira knew the actual price. And so, word was getting around that they were lying about being so poor.
5. Christianity must maintain sincerity, honesty, and accountability. Those are OUR optics. They are what people should see in us.
a. There is NO accountability in the catholic church
b. There is no accountability in MOST churches today
c. THAT IS WRONG
d. No wonder governments and Revenue and banks don’t trust churches!
6. So, No matter how boring we may seem as a church, WE MUST BE REAL – above everything else – and WE MUST BE HONEST!
7. Why? Because when sin is not dealt with…
a. It quenches the Holy Spirit – stops HIM at the door like a wet blanket
b. Clogs up and blocks the blessings of God on our homes and our community
c. And it hinders and stops the church from growing
E. Peter Reveals that Satan can Influence a Christian (Acts 5:3)
Influence our THINKING, and our
REASONING, and our EMOTIONS…
(he can convince us to believe his lies, to do whatever WE want, to ignore God)
2. Satan filled these two Christian’s hearts with a lie
a. Acts 5:3 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?
b. God is not concerned about money, and giving and how wealthy or poor a person is
1) He is concerned about whether we are true, and real, and living in obedience to the commandments of God
2) Whether we are living like Jesus did, or just living a LIE
c. Ananias and Sapphira were unaware of Satan's influence on them.
1) Most Christians are the same – totally unaware!
2) We rationalise our sins – we justify ourselves
3) We justify our lying, our anger, our lusts, our complaining, our laziness
4) THAT is all the work of SATAN in Christian hearts!
d. Satan works on people all the time
1) Remember Genesis chapter three when Satan influenced Eve with a lie, and then Eve influenced her husband with the same lie?
2) Satan filled Adam and Eve's hearts with excuses and rationalizations about God being unfair, and withholding something from them. He filled their hearts with lies
3) Everything that both Adam and Eve experienced and thought about was seen by God, and was known by the Holy Ghost
3. 2Corinthians chapters 10,11 warns quite clearly about satanic influence.
a. 2Corinthians 10:4,5 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ
b. 2Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
c. 2Corinthians 11:13-15 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
4. We have to be aware and watchful and on guard. We are supposed to resist Satan's influence steadfast in the faith, which means mentally knowing what is right to believe.
a. 1Peter 5:8,9 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
b. John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
c. So, When people tell you things about other people, you be very slow to believe it, unless you know that you know for sure!
d. And when people come along and tell you all these constant conspiracy theories, be very slow to believe them. There are things that ARE wrong and being done in the shadows of our government and by leaders, but don't believe everything that is coming out of the internet folks! Most of that junk is to get you addicted to fear!
e. Put on the whole armour of God, because it is not just others who are influenced (like your husband or your wife or your kids or other Christians). It is each and every one of us who are easily influenced by the devil!
f. You can easily tell if Satan has influenced YOU – by your lack of love for THIS group of people… by your lack of giving to the needs of the people you SEE… by your fault finding and complaining, and bad attitudes!
F. The Lie Exposed (Acts 5:5,6)
1. Acts 5:5,6 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
2. Peter declares, “That was your land that you sold, wasn't it?”
a. You owned it. It was yours!
b. God believes in private ownership, not in socialism, not in communism.
3. Peter continued, “You sold it freely for a good cause.” It was your own free will.
4. “And the money when you sold it, it was all yours still, right?” You could do anything you wanted with that money.
5. So why did you lie about the amount?
a. The sin was not them holding back money
b. The sin was lying about how much they got for the land, and acting like they gave ALL the money away to the needy - as if you are now, so destitute yourself
c. They wanted the glory of self-imposed poverty, without the poverty!
6. “Well, you didn't lie only to men, but to God” (Acts 5:3,4)
a. Did you notice Peter says plainly that the holy spirit is God?
b. Acts 5:3 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?
c. Acts 5:4 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.
7. And at that moment, God exacted judgment on Ananias.
a. Ananias dropped dead – Collapsed on the spot - probably a heart attack
b. And men carried him out and buried him
a. Peter didn't kill him. Peter didn't pray for God to kill him.
b. God just killed him right then and there.
d. Because God wanted to make a point.
He wanted to create an awareness
of just how serious sin is in a church,
and put a lot of fear in every Believer's heart.
f. And that's exactly what happened when Ananias died right there in front of that crowd
1) The same thing happened with Achan and his family in Joshua 6.
2) And with Israel and Aaron and the calf in Exodus 32 – 3,000 died that day
3) God was serious about idolatry.
4) God was serious about stealing from God
5) And God is serious with Christians about lying and being hypocrites!
G. Three Hours Later Sapphira Came In (Acts 5:7-10)
1. Acts 5:7-10 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
2. She came into the meeting like nothing had happened
a. Sapphira did not know what happened to her husband
b. She has just been out shopping maybe…
3. And in front of ALL those Christians that were gathered together, Peter asked her to tell the truth about the money they gave
a. Were you only acting poor?
b. Are you holding anything back?
c. Did you put on a show and lie to everyone about how poor you are now?
4. But she continued the lie
a. Politicians do this all the time
b. They get caught receiving cash bribes in envelopes, and still say they didn’t
5. Peter asks her why she and her husband agreed together to tempt / provoke / test the awareness of the Holy Spirit.
a. You cannot hide your sin – you cannot fake your life to God
b. We are commanded to not tempt the Lord our God – provoke Him to have to judge us
c. To provoke him means, to test his mercy, and to find out that He has a limit
6. Peter knows what was going to happen next…
7. And right in front of him, Sapphira dropped dead.
a. She was buried next to her husband.
b. What a way to be remembered.
c. Their names were recorded into Church History as frauds – whew!
H. The Results of This Exposé (Acts 5:11-16)
1. Fear came upon everyone… the right kind of fear!
a. Acts 5:11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
b. The fear of God. And his all seeing all knowing and his righteous judgment is good.
c. The fear of sin and the consequences of sin
d. the fear of lying
e. the fear of trying to deceive and to fake your Christianity, you may be saved, but don't fake the way you live.
2. That fear year affected the whole church. It actually straightened them up.
3. It also affected the lost. Lost people, watching those Christians had greater respect for Christians now.
4. Then God blessed Christianity again
a. There were many miracles – we need them to happen too
1) Acts 5:12 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.
b. Great unity
c. The apostles were revered and honoured and magnified.
1) Acts 5:13 And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.
2) No one tried to fake apostleship (like people do today). They left that to the 12
d. Souls were saved – so many! LIVES CHANGED! (Acts 5:14-16)
1) Acts 5:14-16 And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)
2) Acts 5:15 Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
3) Acts 5:16 There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.
1. Shouldn’t WE be taking care of one another?
a. Loving, serving, caring for one another, encouraging each other
b. Carry one another’s burdens
c. Without fanfare! Without praise!
2. Who will BE a Barnabas among us?
a. An encourager, a blessing and a great help to everybody
b. Treating everyone like family
c. Living their life as a living sacrifice for others?
3. Don’t be the Ananias and Sapphira’s
a. The fakers
b. The showmen – the charlatan’s
c. The Christians who don’t care about honesty – they only want people’s admiration
4. Are there satanic influences in your life? That you need a repent of today?
a. How has Satan influenced us and discouraged us, and turned us away from just doing the simple things folks?
b. Has Satan stopped us from using our HEARTS?
c. Made our hearts grow cold because of all the sinful things we have watched and thought and done
d. Where is our compassion, and love for one another?
e. You do know that a deceptive life is sin don’t you?
f. Lying, pride, and haughtiness is just as wicked a sin as adultery and lust?
g. Just being unreal – a faker – is wicked sin?
h. What keeps most people from heaven is a fear of being honest and real before others!
5. If you are tired of being influenced by Satan, and controlled by His lies, it is time to cry out to Jesus for forgiveness of all the sin, and all the hardness of heart, and believe He died to give you a new life!