Ananias and Sapphira: Counterfeit Christianity and the Holiness of God

right now so we will we will remember to

pray for her invite you to open your

Bibles to the book of Acts chapter five

acts chapter five and we have been

working through the book of acts which

is our narratives and histories of the

earliest Christians the first church

after Jesus ascended to heaven and sent

his spirit and so these are the early

believers and we find in these texts a

lot of principles that speak to us as a

ministry that is in formation here the

English Ministry of line of dude is sort

of a church within the church it's part

of the larger Church we're connected but

it has its own identity which something

new that God is building here so as we

go through the book of Acts we're

looking at different principles of what

makes a real church what is it what are

the principles that we're praying for

and what kind of community do we want to

be now it just so happens that the next

text is in Acts chapter 5 and it deals

with a couple named Ananias and Sapphira

and for those of you who invited

visitors today you're thinking oh my

gosh I invited visitors and Greg is

going to talk about Ananias and Sapphira

today so anyway you'll see why that is a

little bit of a challenging text but we

are going to dig in we're not going to

skip important text we're gonna we're

going to look at what God has put in his

word even if it is challenging and

difficult for us to understand so you're

ready to jump in with me all right ready

to roll up your sleeves Acts chapter

five verse 1 so well actually you know

what I'm going to start back a little

bit in Acts chapter 4 verse 32 and that

sets a bit of the context of what

happens here there's a beautiful

description of the early Christians here

and then it transitions into a very dark

episode that we're going to look at

together Acts chapter 4 verse 32 says

all the believers were one in heart and

mind no one claimed that any of his

possessions was his own but they shared

everything they had with great power the

Apostles continued to testify to the

resurrection of the Lord Jesus and much

grace was upon them all there were no

needy persons among them for from time

to time those who owned lands or houses

sold them and brought the money from the

sales and put it at the Apostles feet

and it was distributed to anyone as he

had need Joseph a Levite from Cyprus

whom the Apostles called Barnabas which

means son of encouragement sold a field

he owned and brought the money and put

it at the Apostles feet acts 5 verse 1

now a man named Ananias together with

his wife Saphira also sold a piece of

property and with his wife's full

knowledge he kept back part of the money

for himself but brought the rest and put

it at the Apostles feet then Peter said

Ananias how is it that Satan has so

filled your heart that you have lied to

the Holy Spirit and have kept for

yourself some of the money you received

for the land didn't it belong to you

before it was sold and after it was sold

wasn't the money at your disposal what

made you think of doing such a thing you

have not lied to men but to God when

Ananias heard this he fell down and died

and great fear seized all who heard what

had happened then the young man came

forward wrapped up his body and carried

him out and buried him about three hours

later his wife came in not knowing what

had happened in Peter asked her tell me

is this the price you and Ananias got

for the land yes she said that is the

price Peter said to her how could you

agree to test the Spirit of the Lord

the feed of the men who buried your

husband or at the door and they will

carry you out also at that moment she

fell down at his feet and died then the

young men came in and finding her dead

carried her out and buried her beside

her husband great fear seized the whole

church and all who heard about these

events verse 12 the Apostles performed

many miraculous signs and wonders among

the people and all the believers used to

meet together in Solomon's colonnade no

one else don't dare join them even

though they were highly regarded by the

people nevertheless more and more men

and women believed in the Lord and were

added to their number and as a result

people brought the sick into the streets

and laid them on beds and mats so that

at least Peters shadow might fall on

some of them as he passed by crowds

gathered also from the towns around

Jerusalem bringing their sick and those

tormented by evil spirits and all of

them were healed let's pray together

dear God as we gathered together and we

look at this text together this awesome

and terrifying and mysterious event from

the early church God we are confused but

also shaken and moved and so father I

pray in Jesus name that you would speak

to us today holy spirit that you would

Minister to your people God that this

text would be properly considered father

in a way that would Minister life to

your people as we see you as you deserve

to be seen so father visit us today take

full control over this time I pray in

Jesus name Amen

and amen so some of you might be

thinking this is an interesting way to

start the new year we're going to read a

text about God killing people okay now

look at it this way if I hadn't been on

vacation and this text might have come

up on Christmas and that that might have

been a tough way to celebrate Christmas

right so some of you as i mentioned

before might be visiting us and thinking

what kind of church have I come to what

goes on here at Lion of Judah I know in

the paper they said some interesting

things about us already so why not just

throw gasoline on the fire here we're

tempted to skip difficult texts in the

Bible there's a temptation to simply not

preach about the texts that are hard or

confusing or unpleasant or the kinds of

things we normally wouldn't want to

think about but as I've said many times

before we are not at liberty to do that

we believe in this church in the that

this church is not a democracy that it

is a kingdom led by a king and that king

is not paso de roberto and it's

certainly not me it is king jesus and he

has communicated to us in his word we

believe in biblical authority which

means that the Bible we believe is

message from God all of it and there are

parts of it that are difficult to

understand and the way we try to

approach that is not by taking out

scissors and clipping out the chapters

that are difficult for us so that we

don't like some of us might have Bibles

that have lots of holes in them as we

open them right because we've clipped

out the pages we don't want we don't

want to be like that we want to take the

whole revelation now there might be some

parts of the Bible that we don't

understand at first and we say god I

just don't get this and we try to

understand it in its context and maybe

we're going to need to put some before

the Lord and say God I'm going to have

to trust you to explain that to me some

day but what we don't do is throw it out

we don't have that discretion we believe

in biblical Authority and that's a good

thing because editing the Bible cutting

out parts of the Bible is only going to

impoverish

our faith I have found in my own life

that sometimes the most confusing parts

of the Bible if I'll take time to look

at them and study those confusing parts

those difficult parts I find Jules

underneath now what does a diamond come

from anyway I'm no I'm no geologist but

my understanding is it starts as a lump

of coal and after many many centuries of

pressure becomes a diamond the diamond

in the rough the diamonds are hidden

behind the texts that we might not other

went to look at otherwise but this text

is an important one for the early church

because it presents the concept of

counterfeit Christianity you see the

Holy Spirit have been moving there were

new Christians beautiful things were

happening and then falsehood creeped in

and this text presents counterfeit

Christianity but it also presents if we

can see it the cure for that of

sincerity and authenticity many people

you'll find this as you talk to people

about Christianity many people don't

come to church because of the hypocrisy

of Christians right have you ever heard

that before you're talking to people in

church they're just out for money or

this or that or the other thing and they

say there's hypocrisy and counterfeit

Christianity and you know what we need

to take that seriously we need to pray

God I want to be an authentic Christian

and I want to be part of an authentic

church now there's always going to be

mixture the church is for people who are

sinners who are seeking salvation so no

person is perfect no church is perfect

but we need to pray for and seek

authenticity and that's what this text

is about because in a nice and sapphira

represent a counterfeit form of

Christianity now let's look at what

happens here and this shouldn't be new

to us by the way right because the

Garden of Eden remember the beginning

when God created everything perfect in

the Garden of Eden everything was

beautiful and perfect Satan snuck in and

that's just what we see happen here

everything is beautiful there's this

community people are sharing

they're giving spontaneously to each

other there's that verse that says there

was no needy person among them isn't

that amazing that's beautiful there was

this spontaneous sharing and generosity

and then we read about Barnabas who sold

a field and gave it to be shared with

people who had need and so you wonder

perhaps when Barnabas did that perhaps

he received some recognition for that

perhaps some people were impressed with

that and and that they esteemed him

higher for that could that have been the

background for what Ananias and Sapphira

were thinking wow look at the prestige

and so there was this desire for

prestige and and and the Apostle Peter

says it clear how has Satan so filled

your heart isn't that a weird thought

that Satan can fill a Christians heart

now this shouldn't surprise us right you

see that when Jesus was there with his

12 he picked 12 apostles and one of whom

Judas Satan filled his heart to betray

him no but that was Judas right how

about this and this is really going to

blow your mind think of a time when

Jesus asked his disciples who do people

say that I am and then people say this

and that and said how about you what do

you who do you say I am and Peter looks

at him and says you're the Christ you're

the Son of the Living God and and Jesus

says the Lord revealed this to you and

then he talks about how he's going to go

to the cross Peter takes Jesus aside and

says you shouldn't be saying that Jesus

you're never gonna die on the cross

you're the man you're the King and Jesus

what does he say to him remember the

phrase get thee behind me Satan Peter

was like whoa so that wasn't just

Peter's biggie was Satan speaking

through him it is mysterious how the

enemy can work even through Christians

the enemy can even work in churches in

fact he's quite good at it and that

shouldn't shock us we just need to pray

for God to deal with it and for us to

deal with it appropriately what we see

here is a type of counterfeit

or false Christianity a type of fake

Christianity a type of fake community

isn't it ironic that everyone was

together and they're all sharing and

here Ananias and Sapphira are also

United right but they're not sharing

they're conspiring their partners in

crime no sir like Adam and Eve who were

partners in crime and then they hid

together well at least they work

together right Lisa and I sins of IRA

shared an activity together but it got

them in some pretty big trouble unity is

not always a good thing you know you

might have unity with certain friends

that takes you in some directions that

you know you don't need to go yes you're

together you're United but your United

around the wrong things so we don't

celebrate just unity we want to be

unified in Christ unified around the

right things all right there are some

friends sometimes that we get unified

with they take us the wrong directions

that maybe we need to get a little dis

unified from right not that you don't

love them not that you're not their

friend now that you're gonna say you're

battling that that but you're they're

going the wrong direction I don't want

to go with you I'm sorry I can't go with

you I can't do that so sometimes unity

is not a good thing and we also see

counterfeit generosity mixed motives

giving for the wrong reasons giving

seeking prestige rather than giving from

the heart which leads them to lie about

what they're giving now I want to

clarify that the sin was not that they

held back part of the money okay the

Apostle Peter says very clearly didn't

it belong to you before you gave it it's

okay it belonged to you it was at your

disposal you didn't have to give it all

but then he says how is it that you have

lied to the Holy Spirit so lying was

their sin they lied they gave money

saying it was everything when it wasn't

they misrepresented what they were doing

they told a lie has anyone here ever

old oh ha once or twice they were giving

money to the church when they lied they

were doing a good thing that weren't

they live what's nice you know I heard a

great sermon by a guy named CJ mahaney

you won't he's been around a while this

was like 25 years ago sermon on this

that really impacted me and he tried to

imagine it says that that for young men

came and carried Ananias his body out

what do you think the guys were talking

about as they carried Ananias it's like

what he do and he lied he lied i lie god

I lie all the time and then and do you

notice what happens when Ananias and

when Sapphira is there what's the first

thing Peter says to her look the feet of

the men who buried your husband are at

the door they just getting back they're

just getting back it was like hey guys

we got more work for you to do you know

Usher's Usher's we had to get my

goodness how about that huh very

stressful I mean has anyone ever lied

you might find yourself wondering what's

the big deal about a lie we've all done

that right well that is an important

question because behind that question

we're going to find the jewel in this

text that believe it or not I believe is

going to bless you and me it's a it's a

jewel it's a truth that will set us free

if we have ears to hear it what is the

big deal the big deal is it wasn't just

any lie it was a lie in the presence the

electric presence of the Holy Spirit

testing the Holy Spirit lying to the

Holy Spirit now I want to stop right

there and just think very often we think

of the Holy Spirit as an impersonal

force right especially in Pentecostal

circles we we talk about experiencing

the spirit the power

right and I believe in that I believe

God's Spirit is powerful and touches us

but the Holy Spirit is not just like

electricity not like the force from Star

Wars the Holy Spirit is a person the

Holy Spirit is God himself Jesus himself

ruling among us you can't lie to an

object right he can't lie to a piece of

wood you can't lie to electricity you

lie to a person the Holy Spirit is

personal God is personal he is the Lord

among us and they were testing the

spirit they were testing to see if the

Holy Spirit was really real now keep in

mind the Holy Spirit had just been

poured out from Jesus has thrown on the

other side in the invisible heavenly

dimension the Holy Spirit came and Fire

and wind people were being healed

miraculously Peters shadow would unleash

a power that would heal people so they

were testing is the Holy Spirit really

for real or not and if he really is here

does he really know what I'm doing does

he really have the ability to see what

I'm doing and if he sees what I'm doing

does he really care in other words is

the Holy Spirit really holy or is he

just a spirit you see in those days

there was a lot of idolatry and

witchcraft where they would worship

idols and they would do magical spells

and the way you behaved your ethics

meant nothing what mattered was the

sacrifices you offered the religious

actions but it didn't matter what you

did in your spare time right in your

spare time if we went off and lived a

crazy life that didn't matter to the

gods that they worshipped in the idols

but God is holy he cares not just about

us worshiping him properly but about the

heart and about the life behind that so

they were testing does the Holy Spirit

really care what I'm doing and if he

does care is he able to do anything

about it so they put him to the test and

that

was a mistake right obviously the Holy

Spirit really is real he's not just an

energy and he is holy and that brings us

to the issue that I believe is going to

be a jewel that could change your life

if we allow ourselves to learn to see

God in this way and the issue is is God

is the Holy Spirit really holy what is

the holiness of God see that's a

religious word that we use a lot and

it's like what does that mean for this

holy mean what does the holiness of God

mean the holiness of God the literal

meaning for holiness means something is

set apart as special or distinct and is

different is set apart and treated as

something special or distinct in some

way think about just as an illustration

think about the plates in a home right

you've got the fine china that comes out

a few times a year maybe for special

honored guests you know and some some

husband's might think why do we have

this China we never use it but that's

another topic for another day but it's

fine china treated well treated

carefully treated respectfully and then

you've got the Tupperware and the

plastic or the paper plates that come

out every day for the kids right the

different plates you treat some things

as special well god is holy he is to be

treated with honor and with dignity now

not just because he is a special thing

he's not a special thing he's a special

person why is he a special person

because God is not just a spiritual

energy over the universe God is a great

King Jesus is a king seated on a throne

and when a king comes he is treated with

certain deference right last week when

the governor was here I wasn't here

myself but I understand he was treated

with respect I should hope right when

somebody comes was in a role of

authority in a society they should be

treated with respect not because they're

somehow more valuable as a human being

because of the role that they occupy

right I'll never forget when Marty Walsh

was here and his last day before the

election and after we prayed for him and

not that we endorse candidates we do not

endorse candidates on either party but

we let them come if they invite

themselves they can come so he was here

and then after the worshiped he's

leaving with all his guys and people and

and by accident a lot of the English

ministry people started leaving to

thinking that it was going to be a

divided service that day and they were

going to the other room as I said stop

everyone and my son Marty won't stop and

turn around like sorry did I do

something wrong I can I'm like I wasn't

yelling at you I was yelling at all of

them anyway that's another story but

sorry about that but I said just

remembering that I was like oh my gosh i

dissed the mayor but it wasn't

intentional right Jesus is a king to be

treated with honor and with respect that

he deserves because of his majestic role

as king fine china a king so God is holy

and we're gonna say this in two distinct

ways he is holy in his power he's

distinct in the fact that he is the most

powerful ruler in the universe his power

is awesome his powerful his power is so

majestic he created the universe power

can be dangerous sometimes right it is

foolish not to fear and respect power

right electricity and the electrician's

in the room you know you fear that

electricity now electricity is a

beautiful thing lights of this for this

place but we fear it if you see a fallen

wire don't drive over it you better fear

that electricity you better fear the

power of the Sun alright don't put on

the sunscreen and challenge the Sun to a

battle maybe in six months from now and

see who wins right the Sun is more

powerful than us fire right the power of

fire it is it is foolish not to fear

fire that can burn you it is foolish not

to fear the power of the king of the

universe we need to treat that with

respect God is also holy in his moral

purity power without goodness makes a

dictator right but thank God our King is

a good king he's a just King he's a

moral King he's a king that can be

trusted because he is good so God is

holy in his power and he's holy in his

moral purity but with that presence we

recognize that there is danger God is an

awesome holy King and he will not be

played with he will not be trifled with

there is an danger when this King is

present in a vivid and palpable way I'd

like to talk about this moment in the

book of Acts is an important moment

because the Holy Spirit had just been

poured out and God kingdom had come in a

special way his presence was there it's

almost as if the King was assuming his

throne it was an enthroning moment when

God takes up his throne it's a

particularly dangerous moment a

particularly powerful moment and we see

this in the Bible in other enthroning

moments I want to talk about what I mean

by that is I believe there are

particular seasons in human history when

God draws close in a special way and his

presence is manifest in an unusual new

way among people a time when his kingdom

comes with power a time of new era of

his rule on the earth when we pray the

Lord's Prayer you pray thy kingdom come

Thy will be done on earth as it is in

heaven do you really mean that you can't

pray thy kingdom come without praying my

kingdom go yeah thy will be done not my

will be done when the King comes he

comes to rule and to be in charge and he

will be worshipped his way we don't have

the luxury of a

ding so do we really want revival

because when God brings revival his

judgments usually a company at the air

is electric his presence is thick

powerful dangerous and there is a little

less margin for hypocrisy okay so let's

talk about that a little bit here don't

worry we're all gonna be okay so just

just just buckle in with me okay gotta

gonna trust me here we're not going to

become it's okay it's alright but when

the kingdom of God comes he comes to

rule and the ruler sets his rules and I

want to talk about three different

moments in the Old Testament where this

happened okay three different moments

one moment God invested amazing power in

his servant Moses you know the stories

of Moses right he's got his staff and

that staff I believe represents the

scepter of the great king of the earth

the scepter of God when Moses extended

the staff there were plagues on the

nation of Egypt that had enslaved them

when he extended the staff God separated

the waters of the Red Sea profound

authority in Moses and his staff right

now there came a moment once where Moses

got angry in the desert some of you

might know the story because the people

of Israel had a way of whining and

complaining a lot anyone enjoy the sound

of whining and complaining anyone have

kids anyone have adults around a lot oh

I'm sorry so you're gonna get it at home

now I don't mean that but whining and

complaining Moses is in the desert the

people of Israel say were thirsty we

don't have enough water we want to go

back to Egypt we were happy as slaves

life was good why did you drag us out

here to kill us Moses gets angry the

glory of the Lord appears to him when I

mean that it's like a glowing cloud of

Shekinah glory the dwelling presence of

God imagine the best Steven Spielberg

special effect God is there right and he

settles on the rock and God tells Moses

to do something amazing he says I want

you to strike the rock

and Moses was like what but you're on

the rock strike it Moses strikes the

rock with his staff in water gushes ax

it was symbolism the God Himself is

struck for our salvation of blessing

amazes people probably when they saw him

strike that cloud that was on the rock

they probably gasped and said how could

you do this but God had authorized him

to do it that rock was a type of Christ

right for us in the desert well a little

later a few years later the same thing

happened people were whining and

complaining again and Moses had had it

he'd had it have you ever had it well

Moses had had it right and again the

glory appears and that glory settles on

the rock and says Moses this time speak

to the rock because Jesus just struck

once right for our salvation this time

speak to the rock you know what Moses

says you rebels you've been complaining

since I knew you bamm-bamm he strikes

the rock twice water gushes out and God

says because you did this you are not

allowed to come into the Promised Land

with the people you're not going to come

in with them God says I will be treated

as holy you disobeyed me publicly you

use the staff of authority in your own

way now Moses to his dying day blame the

people for this you read in the book of

Deuteronomy that you people you pushed

me over the edge which they did but God

is holy he will not be trifled with a

little later they built something or

it's actually was right around the same

time they built the tabernacle before

that they built a tabernacle a

tabernacle those of you in discipleship

level 1 know what a tabernacle is right

what is the tabernacle a mobile temple

right God's mobile home right the

tabernacle was a temple that could be

set up and taken down God was going to

do something amazing the Shekinah glory

the glowing glorious cloud that led them

through the desert was now going to

dwell among people when they had to

build a temple a tabernacle

and they had to worship Him and there's

pages and pages of protocols and laws

about all that they have to do because

how can a holy God dwell among us sinful

people without melting them in this

holiness how can that be and God says

well here's how it can be offer there's

going to be certain sacrifices that you

offer there's going to be certain spaces

sort of like a palace for a king ruling

among people and there's going to be

servants that rule before the minister

before the king they're going to be

called priests they're going to have

special universe they're going to offer

sacrifices and that sacrifice will atone

for your sin so that he can enter in and

that way you as a people can dwell

before a holy God it was like having

nuclear power in the midst of a people

I've never worked with nuclear power but

I know someone who does she actually

ministers with the youth group you would

never know she's hip she's young she's a

nuclear physicist scientist person right

and she talks about certain places where

you go as to explore and she'll travel

in she's authorized at a very high level

to do so she'll go in and there are

certain places that she goes where she's

not supposed to go the security guys are

authorized to shoot her because this is

a powerful space they're dealing with

with power that could just unleash

incredible destruction and so there's

protocols about how you approach and God

wrote the protocols about how to live

with a holy God now one day two of the

priests sons who were authorized to

minister before God decided and the text

implies that they had been drinking and

celebrating because Wow God is living

among his people there was an amazing

festival the glory of the Lord appeared

as they offered the sacrifices and you

know what happened fire came out of that

glory and consumed the sacrifices and

people fell on their faces worshiping

God is a holy God and you're living

among us what an amazing thing so two of

these sons so apparently happy about

what was going on celebrated a little

too much that we know their names their

names were nae dab and

by who nay da banda by who they

celebrated a little too much and the

Bible says in Leviticus chapter 10 that

they came into the Lord's presence with

the glowing fire cloud they came into

his presence with what the Bible calls

strange fire now we don't know exactly

what that means it could mean that it

was their own mixture of incense that

they made up or it could be that they

just decided to barge in at a time when

they were not authorized to come in

whatever the case they decided to make

their own rules not a good idea they

come in to the pressure kind of presence

of god that was glowing in that room and

the Bible says fire came out just like

it had done the day before with the

sacrifices but this time that fire

consumed them and Moses says to Aaron

among those who draw near me I will be

treated as holy God is a holy king and

his holiness is not negotiable he comes

to rule not to be worshipped in his own

way in in our own way we don't have the

Liberty to design our own religion God

is the king and he will be worshiped as

he prescribes and to do otherwise is to

play with fire now i'm going to share

one more happy stuff our hate before we

come back to Ananias and Sapphira

there's one other story about a moment

again a new beginning in the history of

israel when they were bringing something

called the Ark of the Covenant into

Jerusalem King David had just conquered

Jerusalem this is a big deal they had

just moved into the city of the Great

King and they had the ark that up to

that time had been living in a tent or

placed in a tent you know what the Ark

of the Covenant is by the way you see

you've seen Raiders of the Lost Ark way

that I read the art it was a chest

overlaid with gold and inside that chest

were two tablets two tablets the Ten

Commandments right Aaron stuff and God's

Shekinah glory dwelt over that covenant

although at this time it was

visible that presence was invisible but

they had the arc and they decided it's

time to bring the ark to Jerusalem very

exciting right so they put the ark on an

ox cart on a cart right sort of a wagon

and there's two sons of the priest

standing behind the arc as they bring it

into Jerusalem and we know their names

again these poor people whose names are

you know it graved in scripture for our

you know we'll meet them in heaven I

trust I trust especially in this case

but one of them was named aza okay now

the ark is coming in and bouncing along

the road and people are celebrating God

is coming to dwell among us this is

exciting God's presence with us David

was dancing and celebrating with all his

might and then guess what happens it

must have been a Boston Road in February

because the the the card hits a pothole

and and guess what happens to the ark it

starts to wobble that arc might fall off

the card that would be bad so aza

wanting to keep the ark from falling

reaches out his hand to steady it bad

idea the Bible says that aza was struck

dead before the lord for his irreverent

act the Bible says David was angry with

the Lord that day and said how can the

Ark of the Lord ever come to me you see

aza made a certain assumption he assumed

that his hand was cleaner than the mud

that the ark was going to touch that was

an incorrect assumption as sinful people

we are not authorized to touch the

holiness of god it's so foreign to us

it's like touching dry ice it will

consume us God is holy now there were

certain prescriptions of how the ark was

to be transported using polls and using

sacrifices and so then they went back

and they followed the rules God's rules

that he had given and the art came to

Jerusalem but the point was made when

God comes among his people he comes to

rule and he comes to rule in his

way and we don't have the luxury of

designing our own way of worshiping God

God will be worshipped as he says to be

worshiped he is the holy King amen and

that is what happened in the story of

Ananias and Sapphira the Holy Spirit was

being poured out and God is making it

clear that that Holy Spirit is not just

something sort of a spiritual energy to

make you happy it's not that Holy Spirit

is not just an experience the Holy

Spirit is the presence of King Jesus

among you and he will be treated as Holy

Ananias and Sapphira touched the Ark

they brought strange fire they use the

staff incorrectly and they paid the

consequences now I personally hope that

we'll still meet them in heaven because

I have no reason to believe they didn't

believe in Jesus but they their

hypocrisy was foolish and got them into

trouble no one knows no one reads the

heart only God reads the heart I don't

know but one thing we know we learned

from this is that we are to fear the

holiness of God the fear of God now

again for those of you who are visiting

or thinking oh my goodness what church

have I landed in fearing God is not a

bad thing like I said before fearing God

makes sense the Bible says the fear of

the Lord is the beginning and we know

how it ends of wisdom it's wise to fear

God it's wise to honor God fearing God

is not a bad thing you see there is in

fearing God will help us to grow

personally we're going to talk about

this and i also believe fearing god

enables a church to grow numerically we

might be tempted not to talk about this

because we want people to come and be

happy but changing the gospel doesn't

help people be happy as they need to be

happy we're going to talk about that

later but it helps us grow but what

we're talking about is appropriate fear

of god I don't believe that we need to

live in eggs

iety and walk on eggshells some of us

have been raised in households maybe

that were abusive and we were used to

unpredictable abuse or violence and and

sometimes we find ourselves viewing God

the same way oh is God up there just

ready to whack me I don't believe that's

fear of God I don't believe it means

walking on eggshells I don't believe

fear and God means that we become

puritanical in the bad sense of the

words Puritans get a bad rap in a lot of

ways but I don't believe fearing God

means that we need to be all grim and

angry all the time and judgmental of

people I don't think that's what God

wants fearing God appropriately is

respecting the dignity of God as king

submitting to the rule of the king of

recognizing that God is not my pet he's

not my mascot he's my king and he is in

charge not me that fear of God I'm not

going to even use reverence its fear

because we take him seriously we serve

God in God's Way that is the cure for

hypocrisy that is the cure for fake

Christianity and that's a good thing a

church that fears God is a church that

learns to love him I'm going to say that

we cannot properly love God until we

have learned to fear Him you know that

beautiful him amazing grace there's a

line in it that's kind of hard to

understand says twas grace that taught

my heart to fear and grace my fears

relieved how can that be you see God's

grace teaches me to fear God and that

fear of God ironically unexpectedly

counter-intuitively heals my heart

fearing god helps me feel at peace isn't

that strange let's talk about this a

little bit a church that worships a holy

God is a spiritually healthy true church

Christianity without a holy God at the

middle is a counterfeit Christianity we

can't design God in our own image a

church that worships a holy God has God

at the center instead of something else

you see we can be tempted to put

something other than God at the middle

of our church life and that's a problem

we could put healing at the middle of a

church and saying we're here to so that

we can find healing well there's a lot

of hospitals that provide healing there

are psychological clinics that provide

healing is the church a spa is the

church a clinic well sort of there's

healing that happens here but that's not

what we are we could put community at

the middle and say we need to be

together but then the church can become

a social club are we meant to be a

social club of course not we could put

the desire for an uplifting experience

at the middle C I hope when you come to

church and you worship I hope you can

forget about your problems and and just

feel good in God's presence but if we

put an experience at the middle of who

we are as a church then we can be

tempted to try to fabricate that

experience and we can be tented to kind

of make it happen instead of having it

be real and authentic we can seek to use

entertainment or manipulation and we

don't want to do that we could put

teaching at the middle of who we are and

teaching is important the word must be

proclaimed but this is not a school this

is not a classroom this is a church even

putting a good thing like our mission

and in missionary work at the middle of

who we are could be fatal we could

become just an activist politically

activist organization we are meant to be

so much more we are meant to be a

community that worships a holy King an

expression of the kingdom of God on

earth and at the center of our

experience needs to be a person the most

amazing person on this planet and that

person cannot be a human person

cannot be a pastor cannot be a worship

leader that person is the King Jesus at

the center of our experience who comes

to rule and when we do that when we

worship a holy God then the church

enters into a space the holy space that

i'll call the throne room of the holy

king it's an awesome place to be and we

have access by the blood of jesus by a

new and living way open for us through

the curtain that it is his body our

hearts are sprinkled i'll invite you to

turn with me to isaiah chapter 6 I want

us to be a church that dwells in the

throne room of King Jesus it says in

Isaiah chapter 6 in the year that King

Uzziah died Isaiah says I saw the Lord

seated on a throne high and exalted and

the Train of his robe filled the temple

above him were seraphs each with six

wings with two wings they covered their

faces with two they covered their feet

and with two they were flying and they

were calling to one another holy holy

holy is the Lord Almighty the whole

earth is full of his glory at the sound

of their voices the doorposts and the

thresholds shook and the temple was

filled with smoke woe to me I cried I am

ruined for I am a man of unclean lips

and I live among a people of unclean

lips and my eyes have seen the king the

Lord Almighty then one of the seraphs

flew to me with a live coal on his hand

in his hand which he had taken from with

tongs from the altar withered he touched

my mouth and said see this has touched

your lips your guilt is taken away and

your sin is

toned for when we worship a holy God we

are undone as people we realize God is

holy I am NOT and as we worship that

holy God we experience forgiveness and

renewal and new beginning only an

experienced with the holy God can set us

free a church or a person who worships

the holy God becomes a holy person and a

holy church because God's holiness is

contagious God says be ye holy for I am

holy when we worship a holy God when we

fear Him that goodness that moral purity

even that power sticks to us and touches

us and changes us it's amazing and it

works the most miserable people on earth

I believe are rebellious people right

that's why as parents we try to

discipline our kids appropriately

because we don't want them to be

rebellious because if their rebellious

we know they're going to be miserable

they're gonna be Pellaeon no paleona do

you want to be Pele on that means grumpy

in Spanish that means prickly in Spanish

Pellaeon paleona when we are rebellious

we're just and don't worry some of it

comes from a strong character that's

meant to do great things you know so it

doesn't mean that it's a bad character

God made you but that greatness that

strength must be broken before the Lord

if we're going to be happy and free if

we're going to be used by God we need to

learn to submit to God because he is a

good king who deserves to be submitted

to but the only way that happens is by

worshipping a holy God ironically the

fear of God makes us healthy people the

fear of the Lord is the beginning of

wisdom and wisdom is the key to a happy

life humble people we become humble in

the presence of a holy God humble people

are happy people

and happy people in the Lord are holy

people holiness real holiness shouldn't

make you grumpy shouldn't make you walk

around like that's what the Pharisees

did that was false holiness that was

arrogance that was counterfeit

spirituality true holiness makes you

humble and happy and gracious and kind

because you know I don't deserve

anything from God I've gotten mercy from

God I want to show that to other people

and that only happens in the presence of

a holy God a holy God makes holy people

we can't love God until we learn to fear

Him you see the problem is we've come to

take God's grace for granted we just

assume it we think we deserve God's

grace what do we deserve from god what

did you do what do you think you deserve

what are your rights before God you know

there's a story I think I shared this

before but it's such a good story I draw

it from a book by RC sproul that I'd

recommend to you called the holiness of

God it was written back in the 80s and

he was a professor right and he talked

about how he had a rule for his class if

you bring your assignment in late you

get enough and they were assignments

every week got to turn it in on time the

first day a couple students come in with

fear and trembling and they say ah

professor Spurl we're so sorry it's late

just give me till tonight I'll do it

tonight and they beg and they play nice

is ok it's ok you can do it tonight and

I'll let you off just this once but the

rule is if it's late you get enough the

next week out of a class of a hundred

people 10 people come in with it late a

little nervous in tentative and they say

professor Spurl were so sorry so late

could we do it tomorrow who he's bring

it to you tomorrow and he says yes it's

ok the next week

his stack of papers is disturbingly

small right obviously many people had

not yet he asks that one person excuse

me mr. Smith where's your where's your

son he says oh I'll get it to you

tomorrow you know I know you know says

but the rule is you get in he's at I get

it I'll get it to you tomorrow I know

it's okay and so he had had enough right

so he took out his attendance list and

started calling names mr. Adams do you

have your assignment no F ok mr. you

know brown do you have your ass I'm I

guess okay mr. Carter do you have your

nothin no f F F and what do you think

those students started saying what do

you think they said it's not fair one of

this you said it's not fair and then he

asked of you mr. Johnson it's not fair

if I see correctly you haven't handed

your assignment in on time either of the

two weeks you want fairness shall I go

back and give you the f's you so richly

deserve you see they had come to expect

mercy mercy by its very nature grace by

its very nature is undeserved grace is

unmerited favor grace is receiving God's

love even though I deserve his

punishment that's what grace is to think

I deserve grace that's a contradiction

in terms I can't understand how amazing

grace is unless I worship a holy God and

I know that he has saved me he's

forgiven me I have access by his blood

into his presence instead of giving me

the judgment I deserve he gives me

blessing he gives me love he lets me be

part of his family God's grace I

appreciate god's grace as I appreciate

his holiness I love God and I'm happy as

I learned to fear and honor him as the

holy king it is a good thing when we see

how majestic God is sin becomes all the

more repellent and grace becomes all the

more

amazing when we realize the gravity of

sin and the holiness of God we

appreciate the sweetness of grace twas

grace that taught my heart to fear and

grace my fears relieved this story of

Ananias and Sapphira should not drive us

away from God but draw us to God and

here's how this works and I say this

because it breaks my heart sometimes

when people struggle with sin and

problems and they feel guilty and what

do they do sometimes don't come to

church because I think oh I don't want

to be a hypocrite and I know I've got

problems there are some sins that don't

break so easy there are some addictions

that it's just it's hard to stop you

know there's some problems that don't

change overnight and sometimes people

feel so guilty they say I can't come to

church we're going to do the Lord's

Supper here and it breaks my heart when

I see people not participate because

they feel guilty about something the

church is made for sinners God's grace

is available for sinners that grace is

not available when we lie about our sin

day and that's what in and ice and

Sapphira did they were hypocrites they

lied you gotta tell the doctor what your

symptoms are if you want the medicine

come as you are Jesus was a friend of

sinners Jesus spent time with tax

collectors he spent time with

prostitutes it was the religious

self-righteous people that he said I

don't want anything to do with you

because you don't know how sinful you

really are the church is meant to be an

open door place where you can come as

you are don't wait to get your act

together before you come to God come to

them now but only the true God can save

you and the true God is a holy God only

the true God can change us and deliver

us and the true God is a holy and

awesome and fearful king who has

provided a way for us to be forgiven I

want to worship that guy

I want to serve Jesus I want to have him

changed me I want this to be a church

where people come as they are with all

their problems whether all their mess

with all because we are all sinners and

Jesus will demonstrate his power among

us that is honoring the holiness of God

it doesn't honor the holiness of God to

say you can't come if you've got a

problem or a struggle no come as you are

but worship God sincerely this isn't a

place for God to be played with this

isn't a place for God to be trifled with

it's a place for God to be worship and

their salvation for people who will come

with that attitude and I'm the first one

who needs it because we are all in this

together our God is an awesome God he is

a holy God awesome in power flawless and

moral purity a consuming fire and thank

God he is also my Savior and that is the

God that we are going to come to at the

table together today and you are welcome

if you don't know Jesus if you've never

accepted in your heart now is the time

to do it now is it to say Jesus I want

to know you I want to be a real

Christian i want to receive Jesus in my

heart you do that today and participate

of these elements cuz you're welcome

you're welcome if you make that decision

to follow Jesus if you've had a bad week

or a bad day confess it to God say God I

got some problems but I got some sins

going on I'm not gonna lie about it like

Ananias and Sapphira I need forgiveness

you say that to God and participate

you're welcome in this place God is a

holy God and he's

he's a forgiving God amen