Acts #5 – Study Questions
Who’s in control?
INTRODUCTION: This passage contains one of the toughest stories in the entire book of Acts, that of Ananias and Sapphira. Their story is linked with and contrasted by Barnabas’ story. He is called the “son of encouragement,” and they, well, die. Both of their stories involve money and generosity. However, they have two extremely different outcomes. In the middle of this passage, we are forced to confront the reality of God’s sovereignty. And, we’re only given two choices, either he is, or he isn’t. He is either right in what happened to Ananias and Sapphira, or he isn’t. In that, we’re also forced to look in the mirror and confront who we are. We are either in need of God, or we aren’t. We are in complete control of our lives, and our hearts are sources of good guidance, or we are betrayed by our hearts. If we watch with excited fascination as the early church does wonderful healings, stands up to the bullying authorities, makes converts to right and left, and lives a life of astonishing property-sharing, we may have to face the fact that if you want to be a community which seems to be taking the place of the Temple of the living God, you mustn’t be surprised if the living God takes you seriously, seriously enough to make it clear that there is no such thing as cheap grace. If you invoke the power of the holy one, the one who will eventually right all wrongs and sort out all cheating and lying, he may just decide to do some of that work already, in advance. God is either sovereign over everything, or He is sovereign over nothing.
GETTING STARTED – In your group, share about a time that God moved in your life in unexpected and possibly miraculous ways. What happened, and what was your response? Or, share about your experiences with prayer. When and how do you pray? Why do you pray? The act of prayer is a confession of God’s sovereignty. In that, when we pray, we confess he is God, and we are not.
IN THE WORD – Let’s dig back into the passage. It is important to strengthen our muscles in reading God’s Word. On Sunday, we walked through the passage in the sermon. Hopefully, that helped you to see the landmarks of the passage with fresh eyes. Now, with your group, go back through it and see what God is saying to you specifically.
First, before you read the passage, take a moment to ask God’s Spirit to quiet your mind and heart and to illuminate the text to you. Second, read the passage aloud to the group. Then, follow the simple method below. (O.P.A)
Observe: Make 8-10 observations from the passage. Pay close attention to observe and note repeated words and phrases, names, places, and themes.
Principles: From your list of observations, what patterns or big ideas do you see emerging? Can you distill it down into 2-4 big idea truths?
Apply: Moving from your list of principles, it is time to apply God’s Word. Remember, we believe that God’s Word is living and active and that it can change the way we live Monday- Friday. What is one tangible way to apply a truth from your list above?