v 20. “Go to the Temple and give the people this message of life!”
Once again it was the Sadducees who initiated this phase of persecution of the Church. (v 17) This was the Jewish group that denied the possibility of resurrection (Acts 23:8) and hence were totally against the preaching of Jesus’ resurrection. So the disciples are again arrested, as in chapter 4, and put in prison. Miraculously, they are freed from jail and commanded to continue preaching – so back to the Temple and preaching again! Their response is immediate; no questions about personal safety or more conflict with the authorities.
The reason for their response is that they realised the vital nature of the message they were proclaiming – it was a life-bringing message. It wasn’t merely interesting, or historically accurate, nor was it just setting out a possible philosophy of life – it was life-bringing and life-changing. They had experienced it for themselves, and knew the Spirit-empowered life of the message.
In the religious market-place of our generation, many will simply see the Christian gospel as another ‘ism’ which might be worth examining. Sadly, we may even catch that outlook ourselves and fail to grasp the unique power of the gospel to bring life to people who are dead in sin. Now it is hard to announce it this way, but that needs to be our underlying attitude. What we offer is a matter of life or death – not a faith-ism.