Be sure to view the video introducing our study of Acts 5 (Lesson 5) by clicking here.
Meditate on Acts 5.7-11.
Ananias’ wife, Sapphira, is given an opportunity to come clean and set matters straight (v. 8). Instead, she holds to the line the lying couple had agreed on, thus sharing in the sin of her husband.
1. Ananias and Sapphira had “agreed together” (v. 9) in this action, and in so doing they “tested” the Holy Spirit of God. We tend to think of the Spirit as the “Comforter.” But Peter makes it clear they weren’t testing His comforting skills, like people do today who excuse their sin by saying, “Yes, I know it’s wrong, but God loves me just as I am, and He understands and will forgive.” Don’t be so sure. Do you think it’s a good idea to presume on the grace of God? Explain.
2. What these people “tested” in the Spirit was His muscle for holiness. He is the Holy Spirit, and He will defend His holiness, even if it entails severe and unpleasant discipline against the very people in whom He dwells (Heb. 12.3-11). What forms might we expect the Spirit’s discipline to take in our day?
3. By now Peter knows the drill: What’s good for the gander is good for the goose. Again, Peter did not strike this woman down; he knew that God is consistent in His response to sin, and, as it turned out, he was right (v. 10). Again we note the same result: A decent burial for a lapsed believer, and the fear of God abounding everywhere (vv. 10, 11). It’s clear that God exercises discipline not just for the sake of the transgressors, but for the sake of the church and its witness. Explain.
4. How can you see that acts of discipline are not intended merely to punish, correct, or remove offenders, but for the benefit of the church and its mission?
5. What are some ways people “test” the Holy Spirit today? Do you ever test Him like this?
The ongoing work of Christ is to replace the kingdom of darkness and the Lie with the Kingdom of Light, Truth, and Life, and to restore men and women to a proper relationship with God and one another. Churches are central as signs of the Kingdom and agents for healing, restoration, and reconciliation. In this ongoing work, discipline is sometimes necessary, and sometimes that discipline can be severe. But there are rules and guidelines for how church leaders are to proceed in such cases. How well do you understand the practice of church discipline, and your role in it?
But I, like a deaf man, do not hear;
And I am like a mute who does not open his mouth.
Thus I am like a man who does not hear,
And in whose mouth is no response.
For in You, O LORD, I hope;
You will hear, O Lord my God.
For I said, “Hear me, lest they rejoice over me,
Lest, when my foot slips, they exalt themselves against me.”
T. M. Moore
Each week’s studies in Acts are bound together into a free PDF that you can download for personal or group use (click here). Each week also features a video related to the studies of the week, which you may find helpful as you work through our studies in Acts.
Acts is the record of Christ’s ongoing work as King and Lord. For more insight into His work in our here and now, order the book, The Kingship of Jesus, from our online store by clicking here.
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