Sunday, January 17, 2016

531. Ananias & Sapphira

It's one of those mysterious passages in Scripture that can leave one wondering exactly what it means and why it happened. A couple named Ananias and Sapphira were caught in a lie and both ended up dropping dead within a few hours of each other. Often it is assumed God killed them for their disobedience. Is this a correct assumption considering it is not clearly stated as to why they died? We discuss it on this week's GIG podcast.

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  1. I just listened to your podcast on Ananias and Sapphira and couldn't help but have one part of the scripture jump out at me which might explain their deaths. I don't believe they were Christians at all. When you are a believer Christ lives in your heart and Peter asked them specifically "Why have you allowed Satan to fill your heart?". If they were believers, Christ would have lived in their hearts and I don't believe He would have allowed Satan to enter the same place where he resides since He is holy. :-)

    1. Hi Adria,

      Thanks much for your input here. I certainly think it's possible that they weren't believers, and I think it's true that allowing Satan to fill their hearts could be an indicator of that. But at the same time, the "heart" in scripture doesn't always mean the born-again spirit that is indwelled by God Himself. The heart is often spoken of as an indicator of the soul, rather than the spirit, and our souls are often not steady, and often allow outside influences.

      In various places in the New Testament epistles, rather than always being strong and steadfast, the hearts of believers are found to be all over the board. "I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart." (Rom 9:2) "If we do not lose heart." (Gal 6:9) "It is good that the heart be established in grace, not with..." (Heb 13:9) This shows that the heart can actually be established in other things.

      And then we have other scriptures talking about Satan's influence, even on believers. "Come together again so that Satan does not tempt you..." (1 Cor 7:5) "Lest Satan should take advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices." (2 Cor 2:11) "A thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me..." (2 Cor 12:7) "But Satan hindered us." (1 Thes 2:18). "Deliver such a one to Satan... that his spirit may be saved." (1 Cor 5:5).

      All that to say... It truly is conceivable that Ananias and Sapphira were not believers at all, but the scripture does not come out and say that. The scriptures also do not say that God killed them. As a counterpoint to the idea that God killed them, we have other scriptures that say that it's God's kindness that leads to repentance, so if they were indeed unbelievers, it would make no sense for God to kill them.

      The biggest point of all here, for the sake of this podcast, is that we simply don't know why it happened. We only know that it happened. We can certainly look at other scriptures and at the surrounding context, and we can come to conclusions, but we have to understand that much of what we're concluding is not actually stated in the scriptures. We're making assumptions.

      I'm not against the idea that they were unbelievers. And at the same time, I believe they really could have been believers who, in their hearts (souls) had allowed themselves to be tempted by Satan to lie to the Spirit.

      But either way, thanks so much again for your comment. I think it's a valuable part of an ongoing conversation that the church has about things like this.

    2. Thanks so much for your reply! Great stuff here. I've been listening to your podcast for a couple years now and just love it!!

    3. We very much appreciate you listening to the podcast, Adria! Thanks so much for being there, and feel free to comment any time. :D

  2. Is it possible that Ananinias and Saphira were in fact believers?

    Here are the two verses that lead me to undeniablt believe such a matter: "And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things." (Acts 5:5) and "Then fell she [Sapphira] 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." (Acts 5:10)

    Believers, upon believing the Gospel, are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:11-14). Because the Holy Spirit/Holy Ghost only indwells believers, one must come to the conclusion that they were both saved because the ghost was given up in the two accounts of the couple dying. Would a lost person be able to give up the ghost? No, not at all. Hopefully this brings clarity to the question of Annanias's and Sapphira's standing before God. :)

    Joel and Mike, thank you both for this amazing podcast. Have been so blessed by the sound teaching. Lots of false teaching out there, so this is a real grace oasis in the desert of legalism that has engulfed most of modern Christianity. Blessings in Jesus Christ to you!

    1. Hi Jacquelyn,

      Thanks for your comment and for listening to the podcast! We're happy that it's been a blessing to you.

      On the subject of giving up the ghost, it's my understanding that the ghost (or spirit) doesn't necessarily mean a born-again spirit. It simply means the spirit of a human being, whether born again or not. In other words, someone who is not born again has a spirit. It's just that the spirit has not become alive to God yet (the person is still in Adam).

      When a person "gives up the ghost," it means he breathes his last breath.

      There are actually some OT examples of this. Gen 25:8 says that Abraham gave up the ghost. Same with Ishmael, Isaac and Jacob in Gen 25:17, Gen 35:29 and Gen 49:33. There are other examples in the books of Job, Jeremiah and Lamentations.

      Anyway, my words here are only meant to show that the phrase "give up the ghost" simply means that a person dies, but I do agree that it's very possible that Ananias and Sapphira were believers. I think the scriptures simply do not say either way, and anyone's guess is as good as another's. :)

      Again, I thank you for your comment. It's always a thrill for us to hear from like-minded people such as yourself. :D

  3. Hey there Joel!

    Thanks for the reply. :) Yes, that's what I feel the Holy Spirit was impressing upon me as I was writing my comment. The OT examples you brought up are definitely valid and excellent references, so thank you a ton for that. What's interesting, I believe, is that most of those figures you brought up were justified before. Not sure about Ishmael, though - don't have that knowledge currently. Every person is born with a spirit, but it must be made alive through believing the Gospel and receiving Christ's righteousness subsequently after. Since it is our spirits alone that enter Heaven (flesh and blood can inherit the kingdom), it makes sense that one's spirit must be made alive to God since it is "dead in trespasses." No, no, thank YOU two! SO blessed by I have a lordship/calvinism past and my time in those false doctrines was quite damaging to my understanding of God's grace due to the heavy emphasis on performance/perseverance. Never really understood what it meant to rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ until I was delivered. Praise His wonderful name. :) Keep up the great work in Him! God's doing some great things at GIG.