Day 281 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Acts.
Acts 5 – The account of Ananias and Sapphira is one of the most disturbing texts in the New Testament. It reveals how essential unity within the church is to God, and how seriously God takes deceit that threatens that unity. Thankfully, most do not receive immediate consequences for our sins like Ananias and Sapphira did. Such judgment is rare, even in Scripture. But note that the Bible does not say that God killed them. It simply doesn’t tell us how they died.
Some have speculated they had heart attacks having been found out. The reality is the Bible just does not say.
However, we can be sure that sin will be dealt with, and the consequence of sin without Jesus’ atonement is always death (Romans 6:23). Jesus did not choose to die for us because our sin was trivial. Our sin was great, but He chose to die for us because His love for us was greater.
Persecution against those proclaiming the name of Jesus now begins in earnest. The jealousy among the priestly group against the apostles is so great that they are enraged to the point of wanting their deaths. Here we see the beginning of the cosmic spiritual collision of this present world system with Jesus and His kingdom. This is not a battle of human strategy and weapons; rather, the Holy Spirit Himself witnesses for and about Jesus.
Every time the gospel meets with opposition in Acts, God finds a way to advance the message. As the gospel triumphantly crosses geographical, linguistic, social, religious, cultural, and ethnic boundaries, Luke shows that God is vindicating His message. Some of the most overt attempts to squelch the movement—like the persecution of the church in Jerusalem—lead to a further expansion of the gospel (8:1–4). No one is able to overthrow the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation, both here in Jerusalem and to the end of the earth (Romans 1:16).
How have you seen God use persecution in your world to further the Gospel message?
Acts 6 – The “priests” mentioned in verse 7 are significant. It was this very group up to this point that was the most vehemently opposed to the gospel. This reminds us of the scope of the gospel: it is to be preached to everyone, even those who hate Christians and desire their deaths. Priests and Pharisees were a major group of antagonists during the life and ministry of Jesus. They instigated and influenced His death, and Jesus reserved His strongest words for religious leaders. Their faith in Jesus in Acts is a reflection of the power of the gospel and the grace of God to those who opposed Jesus.
How have you seen the Gospel transform those (maybe you) who were once vehemently opposed to Jesus?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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