SAPPHIRA 6'1m*f RT: Why were Ananias and Sapphira killed?

(RT == Readers' Theater: requires little or no memorization,
little or no rehearsal. An indefinite number of reporters are
salted throughout the audience.)

PETER -- (enters wearing tunic and sandals, crosses to podium)
Good Morning. My name is Simon son of Jonah. I am known among
the Christians as Peter. I am an apostle of our risen Lord and
savior Jesus Christ. The reason I called this press conference
is to announce the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira, a married
couple who belonged to the church of Jesus Christ.

REPORTER -- Is it true that Ananias and Sapphira were killed
because they didn't tithe to the church?

PETER -- For those reporters who don't know about the deaths,
let me first explain HOW Ananias and Sapphira died before I
explain WHY they died.

As many of you know, after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended
to Heaven, literally thousands of people have put their trust in
Him. Immediately after a person trust Jesus for his future, he
is moved by the Holy Spirit to do the work of Jesus here on
earth. One of these movements of the spirit prompts people to
give money to the poor. Some people who don't know any poor
people personally, give money to the church for redistribution
to the poor. Some people have even sold all they owned and gave
it to the church. The frenzy among new believers to give to the
church was so intense that many felt obligated to give. Among
these were Ananias and Sapphira. They sold a piece of property
and told everyone that they were giving ALL of the money from
the sale to the church. But when Ananias presented his gift to
me, he held back some of the money for himself. That's when the
Lord struck him dead on the spot. A short time later, when
Sapphira arrived, she too lied about how much money she was
giving to the church and she too was struck dead by God.

REPORTER -- Are you saying that Ananias and Sapphira were struck
down because they lied to you?

PETER -- Not to me, to the Holy Spirit. They promised everyone,
including the Holy Spirit, that ALL of the money from the sale
would be given to the church. It was foolish of them to think
they could lie to the Holy Spirit and get away with it.

REPORTER -- Then, their deaths WERE about tithing!

PETER -- No. This event had nothing to do with tithing. Tithing,
as defined by Moses, is based on one's income, the money one
gets from his labor. Tithing is repeated and regular. The gift
given by Ananias and Sapphira was from the sale of property, not
from their labors. It was a one-time gift that they boasted was
one hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale. A tithe would
have been only ten percent. So, you see, the percentage, timing
and the source of the money was completely different from what a
tithe would be.

REPORTER -- Are you saying that if Ananias and Sapphira had
given ALL the money from the sale of their land, they would not
have been struck dead?

PETER -- No. I can't really say that. God might have struck them
dead anyway.

REPORTER -- But why?

PETER -- They didn't give the money in response to the urging of
the Holy Spirit, but in response to peer pressure. They didn't
give out of gratitude for what the Lord had done for them, but
out of the adulation they expected to get from the crowd. When
people give their time or money in response to the prompting of
the Holy Spirit, God gets the credit. When people give in
response to peer pressure, man gets the credit, even though he
uses God-talk. That's a misuse of the name of God, which is
prohibited by the third commandment of Moses.

REPORTER -- Isn't DEATH a harsh punishment for deception and

PETER -- First of all, God doesn't need a reason to take the
lives of his people. A potter who creates a bowl or a vase out
of a lump of clay has a right to destroy what he has created
without having to explain himself to anyone.

REPORTER -- Yes, but people are not pots. Death is not the same
as smashing a pot.

PETER -- You speak as if death is a BAD thing.

REPORTER -- It's not?

PETER -- If a sinner trusts Jesus to pay for his sins, he goes
to Heaven after he dies. So, in this case death is a good thing.

REPORTER -- But Ananias and Sapphira couldn't possibly be
welcome in Heaven after lying to the Holy Spirit!

PETER -- I will remind you that Jesus' death on the cross paid
for ALL sins, even the sin of lying to the Holy Spirit.

REPORTER -- So, you think Ananias and Sapphira went to Heaven?

PETER -- Only God knows for sure.

REPORTER -- Won't these deaths drive away people who were
considering conversion to Christianity?

PETER -- Yes, I suppose they might. But I think God is less
interested in people's reaction to the punishment of a deceiver
than the damage to the church if sin went unpunished. 

REPORTER -- Won't these deaths have a chilling effect on giving?

PETER -- ... a chilling effect on giving? Oh, you think that God
or the church NEEDS this money?

REPORTER -- Well, yeah.

PETER -- God created the entire universe. He created all the
gold and silver on earth. If he needed money, He could create
gold out of nothing. (snaps fingers) He doesn't need people's

REPORTER -- Then why would the Holy Spirit prompt people to

PETER -- Because in giving, Christians get a glimpse of what God
is like. He created the universe as a gift for man. He gave his
son as a gift of mercy to people who didn't deserve it and who
didn't appreciate it, including Ananias and Sapphira.


Thank you all for coming.

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