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April 28, 2021, 12:00 PM

“And a great fear came over the whole church and all who heard about these events.”
-Acts 5:11

Ananias and Sapphira saw the mind-blowing supernatural unity of the Church, the very thing King Jesus prayed to the Father for (John 17:20-23), and they wanted in!

They wanted in on the comradery, the fellowship, the blessings, and the power! But they wanted to keep their options open too, so they tested the waters while keeping one foot firmly planted in the world - clinging to freedom, independence, and the joys of self-indulgence.

Ananias and Sapphira thought it would be okay to play church, okay to dabble in a polite form of this new “King Jesus” movement.

They hadn’t received the miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit, but they figured they’d fake it ‘til they make it. No scales had fallen from their eyes. They hadn’t been born again by the washing of the Word. They weren’t radically transformed by the supernatural and transcendent gift of faith in Christ. They were under no compulsion to advance the kingdom at any cost.

Ananias and Sapphira were "early adopters." They saw something shiny and new and wanted to take it for a spin around the block.

So when they told a little-white-lie to Peter about their offering (Acts 5:1-11), they immediately dropped dead and a great fear came upon the whole Church and all who heard about it.

Then we read in Acts 5:12-14:
“The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people, and with one accord the believers gathered together in Solomon’s Colonnade. Although the people regarded them highly, no one else dared to join them. Yet more and more faithful were brought to the Lord—large numbers of both men and women.”

You may have missed the subtle nuance:

1) No one else dared to join them...

2) Yet, more and more faithful were brought to the Lord—large numbers of both men and women.

Nobody was joining, yet it was growing exponentially!

The idea of joining a church is an extra-biblical cultural phenomenon. There’s absolutely no basis for it as prescriptive in Scripture. It amounts to the traditions of men, for which King Jesus vehemently and emphatically chastised the Pharisees and teachers of the Law (Mark 7:6-8). 

The only talk of voluntarily joining the Church is done so in a negative and prohibitive context. Ananias and Sapphira joined, not under compulsion or the leading of the Holy Spirit but because they thought it would be a “good idea.” They continued down the path that seemed right to them and as always, in the end, it led to death.

The Book of Acts demonstrates the New Testament Church is NOT about creating seeker-friendly consumer-minded environments of convenience or personal preference. It’s not about finding your tribe or common ground. It’s not about reaching out, paying it forward, benevolence, social or neighborhood activities. It's not about making friends, minimizing obstacles, musical preferences, numerical growth, effective programs, or selling people on the warm-fuzzies Jesus will bring into their lives.

The Book of Acts demonstrates the New Testament Church is about unified faithful servants of Christ’s Bride compelled by the Holy Spirit to relentlessly advance the Kingdom of God to the ends of the Earth by proclaiming the GOOD NEWS: “Jesus is King!”

The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy and stated, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared.” 

Later, Paul wrote to Timothy again and stated, “For there will be a time when they will not tolerate sound teaching, but according to their own desires, they will gather around them teachers to soothe their itching ears.”

If our teachings and practices are rooted in the traditions of men rather than Scripture, we truly have abandoned the faith to follow deceptive spirits and the teachings of demons. Such reveals we have zero tolerance for sound teaching and have instead advanced the teachings and deception of demons to satisfy our seared consciences and sinful desires - not the will of God.

Fellow Christians: Are we utterly compelled to get in on the Mission of God? Are we unable to stop speaking about what we’ve seen and heard (Acts 4:20)? If not, what exactly are we “joining" or inviting others into? More importantly, why?

Church leaders: Are we inviting people to “join” our congregations, movements, and fellowships as mere casual observers? Are we catering to personal preferences or affirming divine calling? Are we entertaining or discipling them? Are we cultivating spiritual gifts or mining for financial ones? Are we holding the flock accountable as members of the Body or does that responsibility fall to someone else? Who?

“No one else dared to join them. Yet more and more faithful were brought to the Lord—large numbers of both men and women.”

Are we faithfully advancing the kingdom or enticing daredevils down a path that leads to death?

-Kevin M. Kelley