The church was on a roll! The gospel was being preached, and the gospel was being practiced. Those who believed were of “one heart and soul,” demonstrated as everyone of them held loose to their material possessions and were readily redistributing it as others had need (Acts 4:32). The apostles in their midst declaring this radical fellowship to be an expression of the radical redemption found in Christ–signs and wonder regularly accompanying their message as a witness to its veracity. As a result, those who were yet to believe were drawn to this authentic and dynamic community and its message–“and more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women” (5:12-14).
So probably not surprising that with great momentum there arose great opposition. The high priest and his party of Sadducees (sad-you-see because they didn’t believe in the resurrection) flexing some self-serving muscle as they put in prison those who were proclaiming the gospel.
And what’s grabbed me this morning is something said to these messengers while they were being sprung from their cell. Words spoken, actually two of the words spoken, during a prison-break of the divine kind. This morning, I’m chewing on the many facets of “this Life.”
But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.”
(Acts 5:19-20 ESV)
This Life. That’s how they were to talk about Christianity. That’s how they were to present the gospel. Not as some form of religion. Not as some competing philosophy. Not as one of many faith-based worldviews. But as a way of life.
Life sourced in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Life conquering sin and death–the victory’s foundation, Another’s righteousness and immortality. New life in Christ, old things having passed away. Eternal life, but life everlasting which we begin to experience now. Life to the full, the abundant life. Life founded on the word. Life energized by the Spirit. That’s this Life.
Not just a bunch of words, but a Way. Beyond the promises, a Practice. More than doctrine, lived out as a Demonstration.
Speak to the people, the angel said, tell them of this Life.
If my faith doesn’t impact my walk have I really come to know this Life? If the gospel is just some “good news” to be shared but isn’t really a GPS to be followed, then is it only “good” as insurance for the future with little impact on the here-and-now? Is the “power of God for salvation” only powerful for the salvation to come with little ability to impact the salvation we are currently trying to work out? Is the righteous of God by faith simply something we’ve put on to allow us into heaven’s gate someday with little practical benefit for walking out our door everyday?
Tell them about this Life, the angel said to the apostles. Show them this Life by experiencing this Life, the Spirit whispers through His word.
And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
(1John 5:11 ESV)
This Life by His grace. This Life for His glory.