|Acts 5 |
1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
2 And kept back part of the price. His wife also had knowledge of this, and they brought only a part and laid it at the apostles' feet.
3 But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the price of the land?
4 While it remained unsold, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own power [to withhold any part of the money you chose]? Why have you conceived this lie in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God."
5 Now when Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died; and a great fear came on all those who heard these things.1
6 And the young men arose, wrapped up the body, carried him out, and buried him.
7 Then about three hours afterwards, his wife, not knowing what had occurred, came in.
8 And Peter asked her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?' And she said, "Yes, for so much."
9 Then Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those whom have buried your husband are at the door, and they shall also carry you out."
10 Then she fell down immediately at his feet and died; and the young men came in, found her dead, carried her out, and buried her next to her husband.
11 And a great fear came upon all the church and on as many as heard of these things.
12 Now many signs and wonders were performed at the hands of the apostles among the people; and they all met with one accord in Solomon's porch.
13 None of the people outside their group dared associate with them; but the people held them in high regard.
14 And more and more believers were added to the Lord, being multitudes of both men and women,
15 So that they brought their sick out into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
16 And a multitude came from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people, and those who were tormented by unclean spirits; and they were all healed, every one.
17 Then the high priest and all those who were with him, that is the sect of the Sadducees, rose up. They were all filled with indignation,
18 And they arrested the apostles, and put them in the common prison.
19 But at night the angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, and brought them out, saying,
20 "Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this Life."2
21 After they heard that, they entered the temple early in the morning and taught. And the high priest and those who were with him arrived and called the council together with all the senate of the children of Israel. And they sent to the prison to have them [Peter and John] brought [to them].
22 But when the officers went to the prison and could not find them, they returned and told them,
23 Saying, "We truly found the prison as we had shut it with all safety, and the guards were standing outside the doors; but when we opened them, we found no man inside."
24 Now when the high priest, the captain of the temple, and the chief priests heard these things, they were troubled, concerned about how this would grow.
25 Then someone came in and told them, "Behold, the men whom you put in prison, are standing in the temple and teaching the people."
26 Then the captain with the officers went and arrested them, but without violence because they feared the people would stone them.
27 And they brought them back and stood them before the council; then the high priest asked them,
28 Saying, "Didn't we strictly command you that you should not teach in this name? And behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, trying to bring this man's blood on us."
29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, "We must obey God rather than men.
30 The God of our forefathers raised up Jesus, whom you killed and hung on a tree (cross).
31 God exalted him to his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, in order to give repentance to Israel, and release from bondage of sins.3
32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him."4 [From the Word of the Lord within: "Without obedience you have nothing; sorry, there are not wildcards in the camp. Everyone is expecting Jesus to be their excuse. No man is promoted or excused that repeats sin. You are without excuse O man. People must stand the price for their very brazen behavior. All men are without excuse; if I were silent, they would have an excuse. I've warned them and given them the requirements and preached the exclusions; they should not expect anything else or conclusion. The way is clear: listen and obey. Obedience leads to restoration of life."]
33 When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to kill them.
34 Now there was in the council a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, with a good reputation among all the people. He stood up and ordered the apostles to be put outside for a little while;
35 And said to the council, "You men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do about harming these men.
36 For in the days past Theudas rose up, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves; but he was slain, and all of those many who obeyed him were scattered and brought to nothing.
37 And after this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished; and all of those many who obeyed him were dispersed.
38 And now I say to you, keep away from these men and leave them alone. For if this purpose or this work is of men, it will come to nothing;
39 But if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it;5 lest by accident you are found to even be fighting against God." [Wrong! ]
40 And they agreed with him; and after they had called in the apostles and beaten them, they ordered them not speak in the name of Jesus and let them go.
41 So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
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1 But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own power [to withhold any part of the money you chose]? Why have you conceived this lie in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God." Now when Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died; and a great fear came on all those who heard these things.
In ancient Israel there was private property, and a man could retain the fruits of his labor. To provide for the widows and orphans, God commanded tithes, ten percent of the harvested crops to be delivered to the priesthood of Levi, who then distributed to others in need. Of course if all people in a society are perfect, totally unselfish, then any economic system works. But, with unperfected people, with selfish motives, the fruits of their labor is their only motivation to labor. The early Christian Church accepted voluntary contributions from all, which was then distributed to those in need; but it was not a mandatory collective society. We have the record of one couple bringing the proceeds from the sale of property, pretending they were offering the entire amount of the sale; Peter scolded them, telling them they could have retained however much they chose, but since they had lied to the Holy Spirit, they were destroyed as an example. The early Quakers, had not a beggar among them; collections were taken to distribute to the poor, apprentice orphans, and relieve other less affluent assemblies throughout the world — but they did not live in a collective society — as neither did the early Church.
The early Puritans of England were the first to experience the failure of collective socialism when they came to America, which is described in the below extract from the history of the persecution of the Quakers in America, showing the influencing events that resulted in the Puritans of becoming considerably more vicious in persecuting Quakers than were any of the Quakers' persecutors in England.
To escape the enactments for enforcing conformity to the Anglican church, [the Puritans] formed a separate congregation. The laws against nonconformists were now cruelly enforced, numbers were banished from England, and two were even hung at Tyburn. The persecuted Puritans finding that Holland afforded them a refuge, fled there, and a congregation of them was formed at Amsterdam; but the intermarriages of their members with Dutch families decreased their numbers, and this, with some other considerations, led most of the younger part of their church to resolve to a move to America. An application for a grant of land was accordingly obtained, and was sanctioned by King James; but he refused to enter into any stipulation for the free exercise of their religion; saying, that "if they demeaned themselves quietly, no inquiry would be made." In the summer of 1620, one hundred persons, having about £2,400 in goods and provisions, embarked as exiles, seeking a new home on the western shores of the Atlantic. After a voyage of two months, they arrived in the harbor of Cape Cod, in sight of the most barren part of Massachusetts. The country on which they landed, had, a few years before, been rendered a lonely desert by a pestilence which had swept over it. Wigwams were found, but their tenants had disappeared; the rising smoke in the distance, however, indicated that the Indian was not far off,—a fact which was soon confirmed by the sound of the war-whoop, for the natives knew the European only as the kidnapper of their race. After exploring the country, the emigrants chose a spot, as the most inviting on which to form a settlement, and to this they gave the name of Plymouth. The winter was passed in endurance of extreme privation, and before another summer's sun had beamed upon the little company, one-half of their number had closed their earthly career. In [a supposed] imitation of the primitive Christians, these Pilgrim Fathers adopted a community of goods as the basis of their system; but they found to their cost that it was one poorly adapted to their state. Labor was given with so sluggish a disposition, that in some instances whipping was resorted to, as a necessary coercive.*
*Thus the first experiment of socialism on American soil failed; for unless a man can keep the fruits of his labor, the generality of men will not labor.
2 speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life, are words spoken from the Holy Spirit, spoken from the word from within the hearts of Peter and John. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life, (John 6:63); and who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life, (2 Cor 3:6); and that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life, (1 John 1:1).
3 to give repentance to Israel, and release from bondage of sins. The original Greek for release from bondage of sin could be translated as release from bondage, forgiveness, or remission, of sin. Release from bondage of sin is far more accurate, and perfectly describes the purification necessary to avoid being banned from heaven. The cleansing of the Word, the cleansing in the Light, both attained by waiting on the Lord, listening, hearing, watching, and obeying — such cleansing is a release from the bondage of sin. But the poor souls, who were trying to translate the Bible, had not experienced release from bondage of sin within themselves, and so obviously chose to emphasize forgiveness instead. Yet release from captivity, from the prison house, from the oppression, is what Christ said he came to do:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach release to the captives [of sin], and recovery of sight to the blind, to deliver [free] those who are oppressed [by sin], Luke 4:18-19
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me because the LORD has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; Isa 61:1-2
and for what Paul said Jesus sent him to the Gentiles to accomplish:
To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, release from sin's slavery, and an inheritance among those who are sanctified and purified by faith in me. Acts 26:18
Clearly forgiveness is not deliverance, recovery, healing, opening the prison, release, turned from power of Satan, — while release from the bondage of sin accurately describes all.
4 the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. Peter is telling us that the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey [mark! obey] Him. Without obedience to commands that you have heard from the word spoken from within your heart, there is no progress, there is no seal of the Holy Spirit, and there is no salvation. He became the author and founder of eternal salvation to all those who heed and obey him, (Heb 5:9). Proverbs 1 further amplifies the reward of obedience to the reproofs of the light and word within your heart that speaks to all men, as well as the penalty of disobedience:
If you will repent at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you.
But because I have called, and you refused; because I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded it.
Because you have all treated my counsel as nothing and have ignored my reproofs;
I will also laugh at your calamity, and I will mock when your fear comes.
When your fear comes as desolation, and your destruction comes as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish comes upon you.
Then they shall call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early and diligently, but they shall not find me.
Because they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD.
They would have none of my counsel; they despised all my reproof.
Therefore they shall eat of the fruit of their own way, and be satiated with their own desires.
For the turning away [from my counsel ] of the ignorant shall slay them, and the careless ease of fools will destroy them.
But whoever listens to me and heeds what I say, shall dwell safely; and he shall be at peace from the fear of evil. Pro 1:23-33
Further on disobeying those anonymous, gentle pleading from the Lord that all men hear in their life, but which are ignored by the vast majority of men because they love their selfish, evil lifestyles:
He who rejects me and does not receive my words, has one for his judge — the words that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. John 12:48
5 But if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it. Gamaliel was dead wrong! The Old Testament is full of countless departures from the true faith: Israel would err from the faith, worshipping idols, following the desires of their flesh and pride; a new Judge of Israel would arise and restore the true faith; shortly after the death of that true Judge, Israel would fall again — over and over and over. The same repeated falls occurred in the time of the Prophets. Men are weak and easily fooled by Satan. The ruling Jews that Gamaliel was addressing had just insisted on the crucifixion of Jesus, and shortly later they stoned Stephen to death; clearly the Jewish faith had been taken over by Satan again. Christianity itself was taken over by Satan, establishing the false church with the whole world worshipping Satan, just as John prophesied in Revelation. The Quaker faith had already seriously deteriorated 20 years before George Fox died, and by the early 1700s, the leaders of the Quaker Society were obviously unregenerated. What God establishes, He allows to dissipate because He preserves man's free will.
From the Word of the Lord within:
"Just like Judaism was taken over by the enemy, so has Christianity, which is corrupt through and through. There is no church in the world that Christ set up specifically; none of the churches reflect true Christianity. Like Daniel, you are captive of the Chaldeans. Your place of worship is filled with unclean birds.
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