If you still believe that there is no difference between the church today and the church then, let's look at chapter 5 because God is killing people who misrepresent Him by pretending to do something they did not. If He were still doing this, most churches would be even more empty then they are now.
VERSES 1-4: But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, (2) And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. (3) But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? (4) Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. To understand what is happening here you need to remember what happened in the previous chapter with Barnabas who had sold his land and laid the money at the apostle's feet. Apparently, Ananias and Sapphira felt they had something to gain by doing the same, but, unlike Barnabas, the misrepresented themselves and kept some of the proceeds back. Now we don't know if Barnabas kept some of his proceeds back, we simply do not have enough context; however, we do know that these two were deceptive about it. They were playing the hypocrites. Again, if God still took care of hypocrisy this way today, we would all be dead!
VERSES 6-12: And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. (7) And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. (8) And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. (9) Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. (10) Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. (11) And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things. (12) And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch. Notice that many signs and wonders were wrought among the people. This is exactly what the Lord told the apostles would happen in Act 1:8.
Again, the demonstration of power was to convince the nation of Israel that Jesus was who he said he was.
Notice also that they were in one accord in Solomon's porch or portico. That is in the Temple. They were still meeting in the Temple (Act 3:1)! That implies that they were still taking their sacrifices and obeying the Law. The only difference was that they now believed that Jesus was their Messiah! There was no FBC Jerusalem at this time.
VERSES 13-14: And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. (14) And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) Remember that these believers were Jewish.
VERSES 15-16: Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. (16) There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one. Do you notice how many were healed? Every one! We are not operating under this today (Php 2:27; 1Ti 5:23).
VERSES 17-20 Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, (18) And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. (19) But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, (20) Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. Again, these guys are operating under Acts 1:8 with Kingdom Authority. We need to remember what Jesus told the apostles in Joh 14:12-14. Is God operating this way today? I think not. No doubt that God can do anything He wants to, but we can not, in all honesty, pull this verse out of context today. What happened in Acts cannot exactly replicated folks. Why? - Because it doesn't apply to us. Never will.
Words of This Life
I can not help but be drawn to the angel's command that they go and speak all the words of this life. This emphasis is not an afterlife, but this life. The point is that they had a decision to make as to the King and his Kingdom, and it had to be made in this life. The next one will be too late.
VERSES 21-28: And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. (22) But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told, (23) Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within. (24) Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow. (25) Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. (26) Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. (27) And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, (28) Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. So now they have been released, done exactly what they were told not to do (teach in this name), and were now brought in again before the council.
Notice that the primary concern of the council was that they, the apostles, were intending to pin the death of Jesus on them. Interestingly, how did they arrive at that conclusion? Nothing in the text indicates what their message was other than the words of this life mentioned in v.20. Obviously, that means that the words of this life were in regard to who Jesus was and what he came to do.
Note: Randy White points out that up to this point, the death of Jesus had not been presented as good news, rather something that needed to be repented of. If would not be until Paul that the death, burial, and resurrection would be viewed as good news.
To further elaborate, under the Gospel of the Kingdom as presented by Peter, the death of Christ was bad news because the nation was guilty. However, under the Gospel of Grace, as presented by Paul, it became good news to us. I believe this is what Paul meant when he said in 1 Tim 2:6-7 that he gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and apostle...a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.
VERSES 29-30: Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. (30) The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Some believe that Peter is referencing Deu_21:18-23 in regards to his remark about the tree. If so, the point would be that they had treated the Lord in the same way.
VERSES 31: Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. That is a pretty good contrast between how they viewed Jesus and how God viewed Jesus. They saw him as a rebellious son that needed to be dealt with. God saw him as an exalted Prince and Saviour to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. What a contrast!
VERSE 32: And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. Why does Peter bring the Holy Spirit into it? This is crucial, listen carefully. He did so, because if they reject the witness of the Holy Spirit, then they will have committed the unpardonable sin and blasphemed the Holy Spirit (Mat 12:31-32). They could be forgiven for what they did to God's Son, but they would not be forgiven for blaspheming, rejecting the Holy Spirit. This particular sin cannot be committed today in this particular sense. However, men still reject the Holy Spirit and die without salvation.
Notice all that Peter says that the Holy Ghost is only given to them that obey him. Why? Obedience was still required under the Law and the Gospel of the Kingdom was still very much under the Law. Of course, in context, Peter is accusing them of not being obedient in rejecting their Messiah. Today, the Holy Spirit is given simply by belief, but works required; that includes repentance and baptism by the way.
VERSE 33: When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them. The nation was about to commit the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit which would not be forgiven, and they would be set aside (Rom 11:25-32).
VERSES 34-35: Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. Who was Gamaliel? Not that much is known of him, but we do know that he was Paul's teacher according to Act 22:3. We also know that he was a highly respected Rabbi because he had been given the prestigious title of Rabban which only seven other rabbis ever received in Israel's history.