And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things…. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things. (Acts 5:5, 10-11 KJV)
KILLED IN THE HOUSE OF GOD! Such news could make headlines for days without end. It appeared like a desecration of a Holy Order. The house of God ought to be a house of life, not death. “How could this be?” one wonders. But wait till you hear the full gist- GOD KILLED THEM! Now, that shakes my philosophy to the core.
I won’t have had a challenge if that happened in the OLD TESTAMENT (before Christ Jesus paid the price and obtained forgiveness for our sins (past, present and future)). The Old Testament God was a terror! I’m even happy I never met him. It’s always so easy for him to kill men or slaughter a whole tribe because of sin. Daily I rejoice as I come to terms with the realities of the sacrifice of Jesus, and I realize that even those who were saved before the time of Christ were saved because of Christ. The sacrifice of Jesus was enough, and it paid the full price for all mankind. Now, God declares all men “not guilty”. In fact, Paul remarked that “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:19 (NIV).
Do you see that? The Gospel remarked that God is no longer counting people’s sins against them, whether they are born again or not. The greatest condemnation of an unsaved soul is that he has rejected the light, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross of Calvary. No one would have ever been good enough for God, or good enough to make it to heaven. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, we have been justified (declared righteous) in the sight of God, even though He’s still working on us day by day to produce the evidence of that salvation in the life we live daily; and though we may achieve different dimensions of the Christ life depending on how we submit our lives to God, but we can count on His Grace to find acceptance before God any time any day, and especially on the day of reckoning. This is the truth of the Gospel- a truth that we must not forget even as we consider this strange incidence.
So, what happened to Ananias and Sapphira? Right at the very beginning, as the Church of Jesus was at its infant stages, and the fullness of Grace was still to be fully explored, the Lord dropped a message for all generations, for all who will care to listen to His warnings: DON’T TAKE ME FOR GRANTED! DON’T THINK YOU HAVE GOT ME PRETTY FIGURED OUT. And I am afraid that I see this attitude in a lot of my brethren today.
Prior to writing this article, I tried to understand what several persons would say about Ananias and Sapphira, and I have seen a lot of explanations, chief amongst them being that they were not believers in the first place, otherwise, God (and some say it is Satan) wouldn’t have killed them. Well, I don’t know how we arrived at that conclusion. The Bible never told us they never believed. Or do we now agree that no one who truly believes can act the way the acted? We are doing all we can to remove every atom of fear and uncertainty in our business with God, but I doubt if we will ever succeed as long as we sincerely read the New Testament.
Throughout the Epistles, warnings upon warnings have been issued out to Christians. They have been severally warned to be careful. They have been severally warned to be conscious of how they live because of Judgement day. They have been constantly warned to judge themselves so that God will not judge them. They have been warned to beware lest they return to a state worse than what they were before they believed. Have you read the letters of Jesus Himself to the 7 Churches of Asia? He called them His Churches (not fake Churches), He acknowledged His presence in their midst; yet He was not so nice in His speech to them. Severally we’ve been taught that God no longer gets mad with people because Christ have died on the cross for them; but in Revelation, we see Jesus Himself, in a manner of speaking, ‘get mad’. He warned some that if they do not repent, He (Jesus) will remove their lamp stand. Whatever that means, I simply shudder hearing it from the mouth of Jesus.
Now, it is not the way of the Lord to go about killing. In the coming days, the Church was to grow worse and worse as it increased in different cities. It got to a point where men were living in fornication, incest, and all forms of wickedness and were still coming to the Church… God did not kill them. So, the death of Ananias and Sapphira was a sign for all times that God expects better from His Church than from Israel, and if His Church does no better, they will face, to some extent, the realities of His anger.
That was why the Church feared God. Now, the fear of God has been taken away from us. We’ve called it all kinds of nice names: to stand in awe of God, to respect God, to love God. But No! The fear of God is to stand in terror of Him. The Greek word is PHOBOS. There are two other Greek words for fear (DEILIA meaning timidity, and also EULABEOMAI meaning caution), but they are used only in 2 Timothy 1 vs. 7, Hebrews 11 vs. 7 & Hebrews 12 vs. 28. There is a holy ‘phobia’ of God that does not make you to run away from Him, but makes you to run to Him, to worship and to tremble before Him, but it is still ‘Phobia’. It means to fear that someone can bring you to harm if you continue blatantly walking in a manner displeasing to Him. That was the kind of fear they had. A healthy fear of death by accident will not stop you from entering a vehicle, but it will make you to look very well before crossing the road. So also, a healthy phobia for God will not make you to avoid Him or stay away from Him (even when you sin), but it will make you tread life with caution knowing fully well that He frowns at and actually punishes sin wherever it is found. Such a fear will make one not to take God for granted.
Today, I prayed that God will restore such fear again to His Church. Nowadays people claim they are Christians and they are unashamed fornicators and homosexuals. Some would not mind telling lies on the altar of God; after all, God will not do anything. Hmmn. No wonder Paul wrote to the Corinthians in this manner, and I want you to carefully read: “When I wrote to you before I said not to mix with evil people. But when I said that, I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who live in sexual sin or are greedy cheats and thieves and idol worshipers. For you can’t live in this world without being with people like that. What I meant was that you are not to keep company with anyone who claims to be a brother Christian but indulges in sexual sins, or is greedy, or is a swindler, or worships idols, or is a drunkard, or abusive. Don’t even eat lunch with such a person. It isn’t our job to judge outsiders. But it certainly is our job to judge and deal strongly with those who are members of the church and who are sinning in these ways.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-12 TLB.
You know, when we talk like this, some will say, “are you saying you are perfect?” No, I didn’t say so. Even Paul too said that he’s not perfect yet. But he still wrote in this manner. You have a right to expect better from me as a brother and a teacher of the Gospel. I may have made some mistakes in the past, and have received pardon from Jesus, but right now, He expects better from me. You know, before I could write this thing, I had to pray again for the restoration of the Fear of the Lord in my heart. I discovered that the early Church (including the Apostles) trembled before the presence of God. No one hears the Roar from Heaven and not shake in holy fear. That was why they never feared the Chief Priests and the Elders- they had a higher fear for the Lion of Judah.
My discourse is getting too long. Permit me to end it here. But, whatever is your theology about sin and righteousness, I pray that you will tremble before God. Even Paul, one of the greatest apostles of the Gospel of Grace trembled. He would not have done so if by His understanding of God’s Grace, there was still no cause for fear and trembling.
We were not told if Ananias and Sapphira were Christians or not. And even if they were Christians, shockingly, we were not told whether they lost their salvation or not. But the matter on ground is that right after Calvary, right after the sacrifice of Jesus has been accepted, and all sins (past, present and future) had been forgiven, God still killed a husband and his wife right at the feet of the Apostles, an eternal lesson to all never to trample on the blood of His covenant, or do despite to the Spirit of Grace, or take His kind disposition towards us for granted.
A word is enough for the wise!