The disciples, moving in the knowledge of God, were preaching of Christ and his sacrifice. The church was growing and reaching out into the entire community and Jewish places of worship.
Ananias and Sapphira sold some land but attempted to deceive the apostles in relation to the proceeds of sale. They claimed they were handing over the entire sale price, but secretly, hoping for admiration and position, they held some back and lied about this. For this deception, in which they persisted when challenged, God slayed them.
News of Ananias and Sapphira spread and unsurprisingly caused fear all around. At the same time, people were hearing the gospel and holding the disciples in high esteem for their message of peace, power and providence. The religious leaders jealously opposed and imprisoned the apostles, but God miraculously intervened, freeing and protecting them so that they could carry on preaching in his name.
The disciples’ knee-jerk reaction to persecution was to raise their voices in praise to God. They recognised that God was fully in control and that his authority was delegated to them, to preach his hand and spread the gospel.
Exercising our authority in Christ
The Word of God is warfare
Authority is found in the name of Jesus
Remind Satan the blood of Jesus Christ defeated him
Stand in the power of the Holy Spirit
Live together in God-given spiritual unity
The word of our testimony is potent truth
The foundational nature of prayer
Prayer means getting God’s will done on earth, not man’s will done in heaven.
Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; ask for powers equal to your tasks.
Pray ambitious prayers.
Pray in unity.
Pray in an attitude of surrender and in readiness to be changed.
The Spirit of God has moved, and here we see some of the fallout. Some people were curious and eager to see what God was doing. Others were outraged and stood in fierce opposition to the disciples and tut gospel spread.
We should not be surprised then when we experience similar reactions. Jesus said that his word would bring division, that persecution would follow.
Our reaction is important: we have a responsibility to the gospel. But this should not put us under pressure. We can lean into God and rely on him to guide us, to show us when to be silent and when to speak. And if it is to speak, he will give us the words to say.
We need to be filled – continually filled – with the Spirit.