There are three things that happen in chapter five. The first is the story of Ananias and Sapphira who were caught lying and because of it were struck down dead by the Holy Spirit. This story is a reminder that as the Church we need to be holy because God is Holy and we are His ambassadors. The world is watching us to see if we will do what we say we believe. There are times that we may sin unintentionally, but we should not be sinning intentionally.

The second thing that happens in Acts 5 is that there were many signs and wonders done by the apostles. There were three results of this; the people who did not join them held the Christians in high esteem (13). Secondly, there were multitudes of people added to the church (14). Thirdly, all the sick and afflicted with unclean spirits were healed (16).

The third thing that happens is the apostles are arrested and thrown in jail. In verses 19-21 we see that an angel frees the apostles and tells them to go to the temple and preach the gospel (words of life). When the religious leaders called to bring the apostles to court they found the apostles were not there, but then found out that the apostles were in the temple preaching. The religious leaders arrest the apostles again. In the end the apostles are beaten, instructed not to teach about Jesus and sent on their way. It is very interesting to note the apostles reaction. Verse 41 says, "Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name." (ESV) They considered it a privilege to suffer for the name of Jesus. In this situation the apostles found joy. Their focus was on Jesus and continuing to follow Him.

Here is what we learn from these three stories in regards to the church. First, the church is to be holy; to be spotless for the day that Jesus comes to take His Bride home to heaven. Second, we learn that the Church has great power, from God, to do great things which will direct people toward God. This also points again back to the character that the Christians had and need to have: holiness. Thirdly, we learn that the Church will be persecuted, but we must remain focused on Jesus and what He has called us to do. Through this we will find joy to know that we are treated no differently that Jesus was. What a great reminder for us as the church to continue to be like Jesus.

Before we continue our study on Acts lets review what we have learned about the early church in Acts. We learned that the church waits on God which involves praying together, being devoted to study of the scriptures, obedience of the scriptures and leaving the answer up to God. We also have learned that the early church obeyed Jesus and submitted to the Holy Spirit by preached the gospel, fellow-shipping and caring for the brethren.

In Acts chapter four we see that the religious leaders were upset that Peter and John were preaching about Jesus in the Temple (is there any surprise as they were a part of crucifying Jesus?). After speaking to Peter and John and having some time of deliberation the religious leaders orders them not to speak of Jesus anymore. Here is Peter and John's response: "...Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard(Acts 4:19-20, ESV)." In other words Peter and John are committed to obeying what Jesus commanded them to do which was to make disciples which included the preaching of the gospel. The church was already being persecuted when the religious leaders threatened Peter and John we. These are the first to things we learn in chapter four: to obey God not matter what man says and secondly the church will be persecuted.

The next things we learn come form the verses 23-31 section. The ESV appropriately subtitles this section "The Believers Pray for Boldness". "And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus (Acts 4:29-30, ESV)." The reaction to the disciples upon hearing about Peter and John's encounter with the religious leaders was to pray and to pray specifically for more boldness to preach the gospel while healing and signs of wonder occur through Christ's power. Something really cool happens next. The place shook and "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.(Acts 4:31)." So the reprimand the religious leaders gave did not have the effect they had wished. We learn that in all things the church is to pray, to talk to God about all matters and again to wait on His answer and direction.  Verses 32-37 is a great picture of the early church, one that the church must make close attention to. In verse 32 it says: "Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common (Acts 4:32, ESV)." The full number of believers was about 5,000 men (Acts 4:4), which means there were over 5,000 believers AND they were all of one heart and soul. That is, they were in complete unity. This was as verse 32 says "they had everything in common." Today in the church if there are 60 people there are 61 opinions, but at this date in time the church of over 5,000 were in complete unity. This is amazing and shows the unity that God brings. The church today would do well to pay attention to this and listen to God so that the Church would be in complete unity.

The second lesson in Verses 32-33 is that of the care for the brethren. In verse 34-35 says: "There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need (Acts 4:32-33, ESV)."  No one had need because everyone in the church shared and made sure that no one was in need. People were even selling property to give to those in need. Today, there are Christians in need and yet many Christians have second properties or extras that aren't necessary. Why don't we do a better job of caring for the needs of the people in the church to the extent that happened in this passage?  When we see a brother or sister in Christ in need, we need to have compassion for them and help them so that they are not in need.

What a great chapter of discovery into the life of the early church. In this chapter we have learned that in every situation we are to go to God in prayer including asking Him for boldness to preach the gospel, to expect persecution, to seek to be unified and to care for the needs of all the brethern.

In Acts chapter three we see two members of the church, Peter and John. They go to the temple and behold there is a crippled man there begging. The man is expecting Peter and John to give him some money. But what they end up giving him is the ability to walk. In the name of Jesus this man was healed. The man was overjoyed and danced in the temple running, jumping and praising God. The people who were onlooking were astonished at what happened. As a result of this Peter was able to again present the gospel. What we learn about the church here is that we are to seize every opportunity to present the gospel and to do the works of service God calls us to do.

The second chapter of Acts is when we see the Holy Spirit coming upon the church and the church begins to fulfill it's mission. There are a few things that I notice in this chapter about the early church.  First thing, just as in the first chapter, the disciples wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them (this is discussed in my last post).

The second thing that I observed is that the tongues of fire rested on all of the disciples (Acts 2:3). All of the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and started to speak in tongues (Acts 2:4). This is all the Christians, not some, but all of them. There is a few very important words here in verse four. The NIV reads: "as the Spirit enabled them." This is saying that it was not by the power of the people, but by the power of the Holy Spirit were they able to speak in tongues. These tongues were not a spiritual language, but the tongues of other languages as we see evidance of in verses 8-11. The people knew that these were Jews and specifically Galileans. These Christians did not speak or understand the languages there were speaking. Now the Holy Spirit had a purpose for this occurance. It wasn't to make a big spectical, it was to provide an opportunity to share the gospel with the crowd.

My third observation on this passage is the opportunity to present the gospel. Peter takes the opportunity to stand up before the crowd and presents the gospel. Peter speaks plainly and boldly about the gospel. The result of this is the people see their need for salvation and ask Peter what they should do. Peter tells them that they must repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38). That is exactly what happens. This crowd repents and are baptized the same day. Verse 41 tells us that 3,000 were added to the church that day. What an incredable story; a great day of ministry. There is one point I need to make here. We see that Peter says to repent and be baptized. Peter didn't say they needed to repent, take a baptism course, prove their fruitfulness and then get baptized. No, He said repent and be baptized. Sometimes we as humans complicate things. There are some in the church that say that we need to see the fruit of a Christian and do a baptism course before we baptize the new believer. This is completely wrong and robes new Christians of acting in obedience by lying to them. When a person becomes saved and wants to obey through baptism how can we keep them from what they are commanded to do in scripture. Scripture doesn't say that we have to understand baptism before being baptized. No, they are to act in obedience and be baptized as soon as possible. And that may mean before next sunday. The fact that the new believer wants to be baptized is a sign of spiritual fruit, because they want to obey God. How dare we facilitate disobedience when we talk about fearing and obeying God.

My fourth observation is in the section of verses 42-47. We see here that the Christians devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread together and the selling of possessions to help each who was in need. From this we learn that the church focused on knowing God and caring for each other. What a beautiful sight, to see the church growing in their faith and connecting together.

The things we learn from this passage about the early church is that it obeyed Jesus and submitted to the Holy Spirit's leading, preached the gospel, devoted to Godly teaching, fellowship and care for the brethern. From chapter 1 and 2 we are already seeing a pattern of right Biblical teaching, fellowship and waiting on God. We as the church must follow this biblical pattern.