By Vestal Chaffin
The apostles had been cast into prison by the high priest and Sadducees, because they preached Jesus and the resurrection from the dead. The Lord sent his angel and delivered the apostles from the common prison, and gave unto them one of the most sacred and solemn charges that was ever given to man. He told them to, “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life” (Acts 5:20). They were to teach all that the Lord had revealed to them. They were not to try to speak in such a way as not to offend the people, or to gain favor with the rulers, by good words and fair speeches; but they were boldly to proclaim the gospel.
This charge carries with it one of the most weighty responsibilities ever given to a human being. This, in substance, is the same charge given by Christ when he gave them the great commission to, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations” (Matt. 28:19); or “Preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16:15). They had been doing a very fine job carrying out their first charge, because, “Believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women” (Acts 5:14). But there was a need for renewing this solemn charge, and impressing upon the apostles their responsibility to preach the whole counsel of God.
The apostles had been arrested once before, and had been threatened and, “Commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:17-18). There was the danger of the apostles becoming discouraged, and disheartened with this often repeated opposition. Then too, the apostles’ working of miracles had grown very popular with the multitude, and there was especially the danger it seems, of the apostles being carried away with this popularity, and to omit that part of the gospel that was causing the opposition, namely, the resurrected Christ.
The sect of the Sadducees were leaders in the opposition to the apostles, “For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angels, nor spirit” (Acts 23:8). The resurrection of Jesus was the very heart and core of the message of the apostles (Acts 2:24; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30). It was in the name of the resurrected Christ, or by his authority, that they were doing their preaching and they healed the “lame man” (Acts 3: 1-11; 4:9, 10). It was by the name, or authority of the resurrected Christ that “many signs and wonders” were wrought “in Solomon’s porch” (Acts 5:12), and the “sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits” were healed (Acts 5:16). But since there is so much opposition to this name, and the resurrection connected with it, why not just omit that part of the message? The answer is simple. They could not “speak . . . to the people all the words of this life,” and leave off the resurrection.
Notice carefully that the charge is to, “Speak . . all the words of this life.” No, not just a part of the “words of this life,” but all! Not just those things the people like to hear, but “Speak as the oracles of God,” and all that God said upon any and every subject “that pertains to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). The life referred to here is not our civil rights, or the social life in this world, but it is eternal life. That is the reason why the charge is so weighty, because it pertains to things eternal. This in essence is the same charge the apostle Paul gave to Timothy when he said, “I charge thee therefore before God, and Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:1-2).
God recognized that not all the people would accept, or even wanted to hear the apostles preach Jesus and the resurrection, yet he told them to “Speak . . . all the words of this life.” Even so, it is today. We have the same charge to “be instant in season, out of season.” We have the same responsibility today, to “Speak . . . all the words of this life,” whether the people want to hear it or not!
There are those today, both in the church and out of the church, who do not want a preacher to tell them “all the words of this life.” For example: There are those who do not want to hear “all the words of this life,” regarding modest dress (1 Tim. 2:9-10). Many people today do not want to hear “all the words of this life” concerning marriage and divorce and remarriage (Matt. 5:32; 19:6-9). But we must preach it whether they like or not.
Many in the church today do not want to hear “all the words of this life,” about worldliness, and ungodly living, dancing, gambling, petting, mixed bathing, and many other things of a worldly nature. But we must preach what God has said about these things, whether they like it or not (see 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Tit. 2:11-12). Many who profess to be members of the church today, do not want to hear “all the words of this life” about the work of the church- preaching the gospel (1 Thess. 1:6-8; 1 Tim. 3:15); edifying itself (Eph. 4:12,16); helping the needy saints (Acts 4:34-35; 2 Cor. 8,9). Many do not want to abide in this teaching.
Shall we not preach all that God has said about these things because many do not want to hear? God forbid! You may not be a popular preacher if you “speak . . . all the words of this life,” but you cannot be faithful to God’s sacred and solemn charge if you refuse to do so. No man can be a faithful gospel preacher and “pure from the blood of all men” and fail to “declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:26-27). “Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency. Stand by, be at hand and ready, whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable, whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it be welcome, or unwelcome, you as a preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong and convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2, The Amplified Bible).
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 19, pp. 584-585
October 5, 1989