Let’s see Christ versus religion which was very severe in the book of Acts than in the four Gospels. The disciples of Jesus went forward testifying and witnessing for Jesus, absolutely ignoring religion. This greatly offended the religious people and rulers; therefore, they exercised their religious authority to arrest and imprison them.
The religious rulers, in a sense, were opposing all the followers of Jesus, but they were not mainly against the followers but AGAINST JESUS HIMSELF. They had no problem with those Galilean followers of Jesus; their problem was with Jesus. They instructed the disciples never to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. You see, they did not mind their teaching or preaching as long as they would leave out the name of Jesus. They were not against those Galileans; they were against Jesus. They did not hate His followers; they hated Jesus. The disciples, of course, would not take their word; they had something more living and powerful within them than what they heard from those religious rulers. They proceeded fearlessly to preach and to praise Christ, and thus brought upon themselves swift arrest and imprisonment.
But that was not the end. “An angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, and leading them out, said, Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of THIS LIFE” (Acts 5:19-20).
The life which nothing can hold, the life which even the prison cannot hold. The angel told them to go and speak the words of such a life. So they went early in the morning to the temple and spoke. The rulers sent the officers to the prison that day to bring forth the disciples to the counsel, and the officers returned saying, “The prison we found locked with all security, and the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened the doors, we found no one inside” (v. 23).
When the chief priests received this report, we read that they were “utterly perplexed concerning them as to what this would come to” (v. 24). Eventually, they found all the prisoners in the temple speaking boldly in the name of Jesus. They probably said one to another, “What shall we do? We cannot do anything with these people.” What they really meant was that they could not do anything with this life.
WITH THIS LIFE! The Galilean people were nothing, but the life within them was tremendous. Alleluia! The life was the real troublemaker, not those Galilean fishermen.
WHO IS THIS LIFE?
Christ OUR LIFE!
Colossians 3:4 – When Christ, who is our life….. Paul says to believers, “Christ is our life.” When anyone believes in Jesus; he opens His heart and Christ our Lord comes as LIFE into his heart. From that time Satan hates that person and will do everything that, that person must not grow in that Life, that is Christ.
THEY STONED JESUS
Then in Acts chapter 6 various groups of people came to debate with Stephen. Have you noticed what kind of people they were? They were the people of all the synagogues, of all the various groups of religion from different places. All combined to fight against Stephen. Eventually, outwardly speaking, they gained the victory because they stoned Stephen to death; but inwardly they lost the case.
We must realize that Stephen was not there by himself. While they were stoning him, he was connected to the heavens. At that very moment “the heavens opened up,” and Stephen saw “the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (7:56). That means that Jesus was one with Stephen, and Stephen was one with Jesus. That also means that the heavens and the earth, the earth and the heavens, were also one. The people were not persecuting Stephen; they were persecuting Jesus. They were not stoning Stephen; they were stoning Jesus who had ascended to the heavens. It is not a small matter.
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