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Contempraory Comments
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"Life in the Early Church" |July 21, 2018 | Order Info

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Texts: Acts 2:42-46; Acts 4:34, 35; Acts 3:1-26; Acts 4:1-18; Acts 5:1-11; Acts 5:34-39

Last week Knox News reported on the deadly deceit of a pharmaceutical company that pushed sales of OxyContin and led hundreds of thousands into addiction to the drug. A lawsuit was filed by attorney generals for 27 states against Purdue Pharma for fueling an opioid epidemic in order to snare profits. The company not only failed to police itself, but pushed “sales staff to put OxyContin in the hands of cash-paying patients at pill mills across Tennessee.”1

Earlier agreements by the company were repeatedly broken. No sales incentive (bonus) program for sales of the drug were to be given to any health care professionals, yet a special “Toppers Club” was created for top sales staffers who pushed the drug. “From 1999 to 2016, more than 200,000 people died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids. Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids were five times higher in 2016 than 1999. The most common drugs involved in opioid overdose deaths include: Methadone, Oxycodone (such as OxyContin), and Hydrocodone (such as Vicodin).”2

In this week’s Sabbath school lesson, we learn how deceit is deadly. The early church discovered the consequences of members who tried to appear generous before leaders, but were attempting to cover their tracks. Ananias and Sapphira had voluntarily agreed to sell property—as did many others—to support the growing work of the church, but “kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 5:2).

The problem with Ananias and Sapphira did not center on choosing to keep an amount of funds for themselves, but lying about it to the church community. Peter plainly nailed the issue when he stated, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:3, 4). The deceiver fell over dead and three hours later his wife followed in the same path to the cemetery.

The quick punishment seems severe, but highlights the seriousness with which God takes broken promises and deceit—especially when it harms the body of Christ.

~ cr

1. knoxnews.com
2. www.cdc.gov
~ For Reflection

Connecting: Do you remember the first church you ever attended? How would you describe it? What did you like about that church?

Sharing: Reflect on the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11. How is this event relevant to the church today?
1. The struggle to give sacrificially is just as difficult today as it was in the early church.
2. Lying to look good in front of the church is a great offense to God.
3. Peter told Ananias that he was lying to God. This shows the deep connection the Lord has with the church.
4. The deaths of Ananias and Sapphira caused “great fear” to fall on the church. Perhaps we need more holy fear and respect for God today.
5. Keeping a portion of property was not Ananias and Sapphira’s sin; lying to the Holy Spirit was their greater transgression.
6. Other...

Applying: You are helping to plant and build a new church and desperately need funds. How do you properly apply the story of Ananias and Sapphira to your situation?

Valuing: Review today’s first Thought Question (on Acts 2:42-47) and ask yourself: “Which of these early-church qualities do I need most in my life today?”