To begin with, a very genuine and heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you for whom what I am about to write is not relevant: Thank you for your contact, your love and your support. If we are arrested we’ll let you know.
You can listen to the podcast version of this blog here.
I have a very simple thought for you this morning and I hope that you will receive it, reflect on it in humility and prayer and, if needs be, in repentance.
When was the last time you were genuinely concerned that you might be visited by the police as a consequence of your responsibility as a witness of Jesus Christ? When was the last time you had felt the need to rehearse what it is that you would say to police officers were they to knock on your front door and ask to come in?
When was the last time that you felt the need for a brother and sister in Christ to get off their bottom and truly engage with you?
In recent months, the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives has resulted in our own repentance and coming out of hiding. He has led us from the closeted concealment run-of-the-mill, (in which we rarely shared our faith), to local notoriety fanned into flame by the anti-Christ.
Following the publication of our gospel booklets earlier this year, inspired by the prolific gospel-witness of J C Ryle, it has been for us like finding and following a scarlet thread, buried by centuries of church apathy and disuse. One step has led to another and now we are taking a 7-ft cross out not only into Edinburgh’s streets in a generic way, but, much more specifically, to target false christianity, wicked mosques (that falsely claim love for Jesus) and the crème de la crème of fake christians and false christian leaders (who do exactly the same).
Target with what? The witness of Jesus Christ, the only way of salvation! (Acts 4:12).
To think that there wouldn’t be a lash back to this kind of reviving, awakening gospel activity, one that is cloaked in the pride of man but inspired by the rage of Satan, is utterly short-sighted and ridiculous.
Which leads me very briefly to the first five chapters of the book of Acts, the new-born Church – the ekklesia – and the terrorising fear of the Lord Himself.
In my experience as a Christian leader, biblical study and teaching is often dishonoured by the masses of Christians who listen (for example, we recently finished a 20-month teaching series through 1 Corinthians and heard back from virtually no-one – ie virtually no-one from tens of thousands of people who listened).
What’s more, Christian digital content generally, (blogs like this, videos, publications etc.) and even specific calls to action and spiritual/financial support, are often met with…wilfully deaf ears.
Stuffy ears pervert the kingdom cause.
Don’t get me wrong: some of us don’t respond or engage because we’re not sure how to in technological terms; in that sense it very much is the thought and prayer that counts.
But I would chance my arm in banking on the fact that the great majority don’t engage (nor break their own cover) because we simply don’t want to…our personal preference is simply that we would prefer not to. We prefer the absence of fear and trembling over the presence of His power. We are governed more by the commonly accepted selfishness of our own lives than we are motivated by the expansive, expanding and forcefully advancing Kingdom of God. We want the Messianic rest of Matthew 11 but not the spiritual violence that the Messiah commends.
Ananias and Sapphira were killed by the angel of the Lord for harbouring this kind of selfish attitude that attempted to deceive the precious Holy Spirit, (Acts 5:9). This very same otherworldly fear (strange terror) of the Lord Jesus is very sorely missing from our personal and collective minds today.
I will anonymously share that just this week I was witness to one of the most shocking and disturbing displays of intensely conditioned selfishness, (from a mature, seasoned Christian), that I have ever seen in my life: personal convenience and agenda, including outright refusal to miss a game of tennis on the TV or a lukewarm meeting at a church, was more important to this person than an opportunity to meet up with dear people, in person, who they say they love and value and haven’t seen in many years.
In a similar way that Ananias and Sapphira (and perhaps the wider church community) were tempted to think that the selling of a property and the withholding of monies for the apostolic mission wasn’t that big a deal, today we very commonly think that our lack of generosity, kindness and basic effort with one another doesn’t seriously grieve the heart of God.
In the book of Acts, the Lord actually killed disciples for selfishness and lies; today, Wimbledon is more important to us than the Kingdom of God and we talk jovially of “meeting up next decade instead”.
It’s disgusting and it’s very sick.
My point is this: whether you are a weekly imbiber of costly, quality Christian teaching (online or in person) and never so much as reach out to make contact with the teacher; whether you are an insatiable YouTube viewer but never bother so much as to like a video, comment or share it (and hence monopolise YouTube’s algorithm); whether you are a disciple who is more bothered about your own larder and shire and peace and quiet than you are the literal destiny of Middle Earth and each and every one of its citizens, we are grieving the Lord and inhibiting the Holy Spirit’s work in His Body.
In Acts 5 (and other chapters of the same book) we see a rapidly intensifying spiritual culture in which sharing the news of the resurrection of Jesus resulted routinely in imprisonment, alienation, torture and death. The church prayed as a church should and their prayers were answered. (Read Acts 12).
Today in the Western church, we can not even be arsed to turn off the TV. Keith Green was right,
Jesus rose from the grave and you can’t even get out of bed.Keith Green
Please prayerfully reflect on how it is that you are personally engaging with the work of the Lord Jesus, the cause of His Name in your immediate and wider locality and the reality of the coming of a King from a very different kingdom.
How is the Lord expecting you to behave and conduct your affairs in a way that you would simply rather not?
How is it that you are obstructing the ministry of the Holy Spirit?
Personally speaking, when I don’t have any confidence in a YouTube being supported, a teaching series honoured or a MailChimp being courteously respected, what hope is there of support when the police come knocking?
The church need a proverbial rocket up their proverbial derrière that they generally can not be arsed getting up from.
Therefore produce fruit worthy of repentance.Jesus Christ
4 thoughts on “Are You Ananias & Sapphira?”
This is a call to repentance and the fruits there of. Thank you. Just listened to Isaiah 5 as well. The person I was expecting to visit tomorrow has covid. We would have shared that’s why I logged into this. I was set free from church ties in February 2020 and am finding my way into the ecclesia. Some of my former Christian activity made me feel sick. Not all of it, for God is merciful. Your site is excellent and a place for fellowship, teaching and challenge. I have only known about it since you spoke to a group I attended on zoom.
Thank you very much for this, Christine…it’s encouraging for Mairi and I to know that our endeavours are of some help to those who have ears to hear. Many have ears to hear but don’t want to listen. I’m touched by your honesty so thank you. If you’d like to share any more about February 2020, please feel free to comment or email privately. May He bless you and yours, Nick
I came across your blog a couple of days ago when I was researching FAI. (Thanks for posting your response to that situation btw – very helpful). I listened to your ‘Warning to inclusive churches’ and it really resonated with me. We left our mainstream church of 16 years about 12 months ago and have been growing Spiritually more than ever before. Our old church has actually been holding us back through its culture of mediocrity and ‘traditions of men’.
And now the Ananias & Saphira talk. Spot on. Thanks so much for your obedience in honestly sharing the conviction of the Holy Spirit without compromise. It’s inspiring, encouraging and so very refreshing. Bless you both.
Greetings Brent, thanks very much for taking the time to leave this comment and for sharing a little of your conviction re the status quo. I’m sure many folk will be making similar decisions over the next few years. We often feel extremely isolated and uncertain that our work is helping, so we’re very glad to hear testimonies like this…thanks again 🙏