Saturday, 2 January 2016

Growing Closer to God ~ Ganeida

Acts 5:1-11

The Story of Ananias & Sapphira is one of the most puzzling in the New Testament.  For a long time I would just read over the top of it because how do you equate this story with the New Testament revelations of God as Saviour; redeemer; friend; brother: the Holy Spirit as the paraclete, the comforter, the one who helps & guides us.

The answer is actually very simple; the outworking of that answer is a little more difficult.

I will give you the answer first.
Proverbs 9:10
Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom.
    Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.

Neither Ananias nor Sapphira feared the Lord.  Thus they lacked wisdom & good judgement.

Read in Hebrews: Now if we sin deliberately after we have known and accepted the truth, there can be no further sacrifice for sin for us but only a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fire of God’s indignation, which will one day consume all that sets itself against him. The man who showed contempt for Moses’ Law died without hope of appeal on the evidence of two or three of his fellows. How much more dreadful a punishment will he be thought to deserve who has poured scorn on the Son of God, treated like dirt the blood of the agreement which had once made him holy, and insulted the very Spirit of grace? For we know the one who said: ‘Vengeance is mine: I will repay’. And again: ‘The Lord will judge his people’. Truly it is a terrible thing for a man who has done this to fall into the hands of the living God!

And this:1 Peter 4:
17 For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News?
There is a very simple truth here, a truth we must never forget & one we must especially not forget when we gather to remember our Lord’s death: we must never treat casually or with contempt the Holiness of God. 

We have seen in our lifetimes, minister after minister, church after church, discredited in the eyes of the world

*For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light.* Mark 4:22

This is the judgement of God because He is coming for a bride without spot or blemish, not a worldly slut.  This is not, as the world would believe, retribution for wrongs done.  Rather it is the hand of a loving father calling His children back into right relationship with Him.  All the sins the church has committed, those of adultery & fornication, of paedophilia & greed, of theft & deception can be forgiven ~ but not until those concerned have repented, confessed their wrong & set about correcting things. As it is for the wider body of Christ so it is for us. A time is coming when our hidden, unconfessed sin will be brought to light & exposed to the harsh glare of the Truth.

I do not say these things to frighten or dismay you.  Rather I want to encourage you from the word to Come further up, come further in! as C.S. Lewis puts it in The Last Battle.

The one thing that will keep us safe, keep us on track, is our relationship with Jesus ~ BUT, & it is a very big BUT, it can only keep us as safe as our relationship.

You see there are all sorts of relationships & all of us have all sorts of different relationships.  There are business relationships, casual acquaintances, casual friendships, marital relationships, intimate friendships, parental relationships, church friendships. Some of these overlap ; often they don’t.

There are things you share with your partner that you don’t share with anyone else ~ at least I hope you don’t! J There are things you know about your children no~one else knows either. You can’t share spiritual insights with unbelievers so those are shared with other Christians but you need to share business details with your business partner.
So my question would be, what is your relationship with God?  Do you have a close, intimate relationship with Him for The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant…Psalm 25:14

It is always possible to go deeper with God, to gain further revelation, to know Him better & more intimately.  No matter how well you think you know Him, no matter how closely you walk with Him there is always more revelation, always more to know. Lucy puts it succinctly in The Last Battle:
“Yes,” said Queen Lucy. “In our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.” 

You see Ananias & Sapphira were saved.  They knew the Lord.  They had the Holy Spirit. They were members of the assembly of believers. But they lacked reverence.  They lacked a right understanding of the Majesty & Holiness of God & so they treated the Holy Spirit casually.  They had no fear.

If you are like me you have been taught fear means reverence.  In Hebrew the word is yârêʼ & while it can mean awe or reverence it also means terror.  In fact terror leads to awe & reverence.  We see this in John 1:5. Another way of interpreting it would be honour or respect.

Our world has so lost respect for authority, partly because so much authority has no longer any sense of honour or shame,  that this has translated over into our relationship with God so that we no longer fear, honour or reverence Him as we should.  God is always honourable.  God is always holy. We need to shift our perspective from a worldly view to a spiritual one.

There is something we need to understand about the story of Ananias & Sapphira. Unfortunately we tend to read the scriptures, even the New Testament, but especially Acts, as if it wasn’t true, as if it had no relevance for us.  After all, when was the last time you saw someone drop dead in a service for lying to the preacher?!   Me neither.

In 1 Samuel 3:1~5 we read: The word of the Lord was rare in those days… Where the word of the Lord is rare, so is His presence. Where His presence is not, there is no revelation because it is His Spirit that brings revelation.  … then in verse 3 we read…Before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle

We are now the tabernacle & our lamp is the Holy Spirit who brings life & revelation to the Word of God. It is possible for The Glory [to] depart[ed] from Israel ~ 1 Samuel 4:21

What does this mean practically?  The old priest, Eli that we read about in Samuel was no longer close to the Lord. The lamp of revelation was dim.  The word of the Lord was rare. The glory had departed & so judgement was delayed.  So in our time.  Judgement is often delayed because the people are far from God.  The glory has departed.  The word of the Lord is rare.

This was not so for Ananias & Sapphira. The Lord had newly departed from the earth.  The Holy Spirit was newly come upon all believers. The apostles were those who had lived & walked & been taught directly of the Lord Himself.  The Presence of the Lord was strong.  The Word was strong.  The Holy Spirit was strong & Judgement was swift.

I can testify from my own walk that the closer I am walking with the Lord the quicker the Holy Spirit is to convict me of my sin.  The further I am from the Lord, the slower this realisation is.  There is an inherent danger in this.  When judgement is delayed we are lulled into a false sense of security. We forget that:

For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. 2 Corinthians 5:10

When judgement is delayed we can start to think we have got away with our sin until we no longer even recognise it as sin. This is often mistaken for Grace but God never overlooks sin.  Unless it is recognised & repented of it is not covered by the blood of Jesus. 

As a church, as the people of God, we want to be walking closely with God.  We want His presence to be here with us.  We want His word to be frequent.  Now I know perfectly well, as do you,  that we are saved by Grace & there is nothing we can do in our own strength that will earn our salvation.

Philippians 2:12 says this: 12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.

The evidence of our salvation is in our obedience. Our works do not save us.  Our obedience does not save us.  That is the work of Christ alone but the evidence that this work has been done in us & is ongoing is that we do the things Jesus asked us to do. Jesus said: If you love me, obey my commandments. John 14:15

You see love & obedience are closely tied together. What’s more, the operation of the Holy Spirit in our lives & the Presence of God are closely tied to our obedience. To disobey Jesus commandments is to grieve the Holy Spirit but we will only be aware of that if we are walking closely with God.

We must never treat the things of God lightly or irreverently.

Psalm 138:2

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

So as we come to communion to remember Jesus death & the covenant he forged for us with His own blood, take a few moments to settle things in your heart, to ask pardon for sin, to give thanks for what has been done for you, to praise His Holy name & come into His presence with that reverent awe that honours the Father & the son & the Holy Spirit.


  1. Interesting thoughts and I agree about this part in particular:

    "I can testify from my own walk that the closer I am walking with the Lord the quicker the Holy Spirit is to convict me of my sin."

    God so uses you to speak to me, but you have always know this. I have been distancing myself from God and mostly because of churches or spiritual leadership and the many disappointments that have been involved with them for the past few years, but now that I am actually reading that book on dreamers, I realize more what has always been my challenge within Christianity. I have always known it but I thought it was just a "my own problem" thing when actually it seems to be part of the dreamer matrix, something of which I need to stay aware and readily surrender when it impedes what my Lord wishes of me. I see dreamer traits now quite pronouncedly in my teenage daughter also.

    1. Seeking, my love, I am having my week with my mum. We will catch up when I get home. I forgot to upload last week's before I left too. :)