Sunday, March 3, 2019
Unstoppable: The Revolutionary Gospel
Part 8: Three Attitudes in the Church
Philippians 2:5 “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…” I’m beginning where we are going to end up this morning. Let me share with you what the scriptures say about Christ’s attitude.
1) Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
2) Matthew 20:28… “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,”
So, as we see what the attitude of Christ is, I want to look at three attitudes that are often times found in the church as we see in the story in Acts 5:1-11.
Three Attitudes in the Church:
I. It’s Mine and I’ll Give Only What I Want to… verses1-11.
The story about Ananias and Saphira is in sharp contrast to the story of Barnabas in chapter 4. Barnabas had sold a piece of property and placed the money at the feet of the apostles. He did it out of love for God and His people. His motives were pure. The name “Barnabas” means “Son of encouragement”. What he was called he was… He lived out what.
Paul wrote in Romans 12:3 “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
In the story today Ananias and his wife Saphira were apparently well known in the church. They were probably even highly thought of. But they may have become jealous of the recognition that Barnabas received by giving money to the cause of Christ.
I’m not going to try to explain why God saw fit to put them to death. It is probably because the church was young, and He wanted everyone to understand how important it was to live a Spirit lead life and not a flesh led life. Here is the problem. They had purposed in their hearts to lie to the apostles about their giving. They weren’t just lying to the apostles, or to the church, but they were making it look like they were being led by the Spirit when in fact they were being led by their own selfish desires – pride and greed – they lied to God.
In the early church, their spiritual unity lay behind their not claiming their possessions as their own. They believed in sharing everything they had. This was a community that was led by the Holy Spirit and they placed their trust in Him. This is where they found their identity and security as a community of Christian believers.
But this was not the case with Ananias and Sapphira. Their hearts were divided. They had one foot in the Christian community and one foot in the secular world wanting and desiring earthly possessions. To lie in regard to the sharing was to oppose the community and to oppose the Spirit in which guided them. This is why Peter accused Ananias of lying to the Spirit.
There are two common misconceptions that people in the church have about themselves.
When people in the church become motivated by the possessions; their money, they begin to think that the church couldn’t exist without them.
I have seen people leave churches thinking, “I’ll leave and take my money with me. That will show them…” And every time someone has left with that attitude (which by the way is NOT as Christ like attitude) the Lord brought someone else into the church to replace them. Sometimes God moves people out of the way so there is no roadblock to what God wants to do in that church.
2) At the same time, too often people use their own natural abilities or their lack of abilities, as an excuse to do nothing in the church. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…
God is not impressed with our works. We will be rewarded according to our works, but we will not gain entrance into heaven by our works. If Ananias and Saphira had just sold their ground and taken 10% to the apostles and said, "Here is my tithe on the ground we sold", would they not have been blessed?
Malachi 3:10 " Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”
What does God expect from you? He wants you to be who you are; no pretenses; nothing fake. Just know who you are in Him and live it out without expecting recognition from anyone.
II. I’ll Keep God at Arm’s Length… vs. 12-13
“Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon's Portico. None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem.”
No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. There are so many who have a connection to the church. I believe they even like being associated with the church. But they are never willing to really get right in the middle of what God wants for their lives. They stand on the periphery and watch what God is doing in the church. Sometimes they watch from a great distance while they are outside the church.
Some may receive a blessing at the altar and then back away for fear of getting too close. They know how they should be living. They know that God wants their all. They sense the moving of the Holy Spirit on them to move them into a deeper relationship with the Father, yet they just can’t break away from their past, or from the spiritual forces that have control over them. These are the people that Jesus talked about in the parable of the sower:
Mark 4:13-19 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
You be the judge in this. What is keeping you from getting as close to the Lord as He wants you to be?
The awesome power of the Holy Spirit that judges also demands commitment and responsibility. Unless a one is willing to fully submit to that power and make a commitment, they will keep what the deem is a healthy distance, respectfully, from God and His sold-out followers. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…
III. I am Willing to Be What God Wants Me to Be…vs. 14-16
“And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.”
Three things I want you to see here about the faithful believers.
1) The apostles were doing what God wanted… they performed signs and wonders among the people…
2) the believers were doing what God wanted… they were meeting together in Solomon’s colonnade.
3) God was doing what He wanted – through the hands of the church
Then believers who were added that day, and those who came and stood in the portico, were awed, not scared, by God’s power being displayed through the apostles. People from all over were being brought to be healed.
Many people who call themselves believers refuse to submit to others that God has placed in authority over them. They claim they don’t have to go to church. They can get everything they need just from reading their bibles and listening to Christian radio or TV.
But these believers placed themselves under the authority of the apostles and they met together to support one another. Somebody was faithful in their witnessing. Whatever you do God asks you to be faithful in it.
ILL: Norman Geisler, as a child, went to a VBS because he was invited by some neighbor children. He went back to the same church for Sunday School classes for 400 Sundays. Each week he was faithfully picked up by a bus driver. Week after week he attended church, but never made a commitment to Christ. Finally, during his senior year in High School, after being picked up for church over 400 times, he did commit his life to Christ. What if that bus driver had given up on Geisler at 395? What if the bus driver had said, "This kid is going nowhere spiritually, why waste any more time on him?" Max Lucado, God Came Near, Multnomah Press, 1987, p. 133.
What is your attitude concerning Christ?
Are you more concerned about your stuff and less about other’s needs?
Are you afraid to get close to God?
Are you living in His power and authority in a “faith” relationship with Him?