- Sermon Notes
What To Do in An Upside-Down World
This morning we continue our study through the book of Acts in chapter 17. Paul and Silas are continuing through various towns and cities on Paul’s second missionary journey. Chapter 17 centers on three famous cities, we will study some specifics from the first two this week, and then the third city in Acts 17 next week. The chapter begins with Paul and companions traveling through a couple of towns on their way to a well-known city called Thessalonica. It is in this town that after preaching and reasoning with the people from Scripture, Paul and his crew are identified as men who are “turning the world upside down.”
The statement comes in the form of an accusation. Paul had been going throughout the known world, preaching and teaching the Gospel message of life in Jesus Christ. He preached to governors, Jews, Gentiles, people who believed in false gods, and in town and city, many were hearing and believing that Jesus Christ is King as a result of their preaching.
While there was great success to their mission, there was also opposition. False prophets had opposed him, some persecuted him, others wanted to stone him, others did in-fact stone him, last week we saw he and Silas beaten and placed in prison.
As they head to a new city in Acts 17, the people respond similarly to what we have seen, some of those they share the Gospel message of Christ with would receive the message, and others would reject it. While they were ministering in Acts 16, the accusation applied to them was that they were stirring up the city, but as they move on, the accusation goes beyond what was happening in the city, and the accusation paints the picture a little more clearly, Paul and his company were “turning the world upside down.”
To the accusers and onlookers, it looked like they were turning the world upside down, but the reality was that they were trying to turn the world right side up. They, like you and I, were living in and upside-down world, and telling the truth about the only way to make things right, that is, life in Jesus Christ…
One commentator wrote: The world is not now as it was when God created it. The fall of man toppled it from its Spiritual axis. Fallen man is now trapped in an evil world system that is hostile to God. Ours is truly a world turned upside down.
In these verses, we are given some great insights from those who were known as those who were known for turning an upside-down world, right side up!
- Keep Your Reason Rooted in the Right Source
Acts 17:1-3, Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And according to Paul’s custom, he visited them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”
- From verses 1 and 2, we understand that in this city, there was a synagogue of the Jews, Paul continues his custom of going and visiting them, and for three Sabbaths, or three weeks, he reasoned with them from the Scriptures.
- Paul had a message to send, something to echo forth, he had a reason, and his reason was rooted in Christ, so he reasoned with those he was speaking to from the Scripture which point to Christ.
- In Acts 9:15-16, the Lord said that Paul was a chosen instrument of His, that he would bear His name before the Gentiles, kings, and the Jews.
- Paul understood that he had a reason, and his reason is rooted, attached to and tied to all that he did, and everywhere he went.
- Later in this chapter, Paul will speak to those in the city of Athens about the Lord, saying “in Him we live and move and have our being.”
- Because Paul’s reason was tied to Christ the Lord, he reasoned according to what had been given from the Lord, the scriptures.
- Paul “reasoned” with the people in the synagogue for three weeks from the Scriptures.
- Here he reasons with the people, giving evidence that Christ is the Lord and king, proclaiming that Jesus is the Savior.
- The word “reasoned” in verse two means to converse, to dialogue, to mingle thought with thought, or discuss.
- Paul discussions, centered on what the Scriptures have to say, when his thoughts mingled with the thoughts of others, his thoughts were rooted in Scripture, and therefore pointed to Christ.
- This is important for you and me to continually see and begs an great question: What is your reason rooted in?
- Solomon, the wisest man who ever lives, had some things to say about this. He discovered the futility of a life lived only for this world.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, The conclusion, when everything has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.
- From Isaiah 43:6-7, we understand that those called by the name of the Lord, are created for His glory!
1 Corinthians 10:31, Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all things for the glory of God.
- In Matthew 6:33, Jesus tells us not to worry about our lives, but rather to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.
Ephesians 2:10, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
- And a personal favorite, Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus tells His disciples, and us today to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you, knowing that He is with you until the end of the age…”
- Paul’s words “in Him we live and move and have our being” is applicable to you and me.
- Since our reason is tied to Christ, our reasoning must be tied to Christ.
- When it comes to the issues of our world and this life, what source are you reasoning from?
- In Isaiah 1, the Lord says, “Come let us reason together…” “Come, lets dialogue,” “Come, let us mingle thought with thought.”
Isaiah 55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.
- When you reason, make sure there is evidence in your reasoning, that you have first mingled your thoughts with God’s thoughts, and that your reason and reasoning is rooted in the right source.
Illus. Knowing the play.
- The Lord has a reason and plan for your life, make sure you are tied to Him as your source.
- People would get stirred up in Thessalonica, but Paul had a reason to be for being there. It was a key city in Macedonia, not just due to population, but also its location. There was a roman road that connected all of the major cities of Macedonia, The Via Egnatia, which ran right through Thessalonica.
- Paul had passed through a few cities on his way to this large city, but there is no mention of ministry in those cities. This points us to what seems to be Paul’s strategy so far on this second journey, to pursue the major cities with the gospel, and these major cities we know, will begin sending out their own missionaries into smaller towns and cities.
- Paul acknowledged this in the first letter he wrote to the church of the Thessalonians.
1 Thessalonians 1:6-8, You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word during great affliction with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place the news of your faith toward God has gone out, so that we have no need to say anything.
- Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica, you received the word, and have become examples in Macedonia and Achaia. Achaia was the Roman province south of Macedonia, the capital there was Corinth.
- He says the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in these two places, but in every place the news of your faith has gone out. So much so, that is seems there were places Paul didn’t even need to go, or say anything because of the message the church in Thessalonica was sending out!
- Paul acknowledged that the word of the Lord had “sounded forth” from them. The word there is a combination of two Greek words, “ek” and “execheo,” which where we get our English word “echo” from. Paul was going out, preaching the word, the people were receiving the word, and then the word echoed forth from them, it resounded in waves.
- So to, your reason will resound, and there will at times be a reaction, but make sure your reason is rooted in the right source; that the substance of your wave is what Jesus has to say on the subject.
- Paul and Silas reasoned with the people from the Scriptures, and then there is a response from the people.
- In verse 8, we will see, the crowd will get stirred up, but they were being stirred because of the Scriptures. And in an upside-down word, the Scriptures may stir people up at times.
- Don’t Be Shaken If Things Get Stirred
- In verses 4 and 5 we will see that some respond positively, and others not so positively. And this too is a reality in our world when you reason from the Scriptures, some will be saved, and others will be stirred.
Acts 17:4-5, And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a significant number of the leading women. But the Jews, becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the marketplace, formed a mob and set the city in an uproar; and they attacked the house of Jason and were seeking to bring them out to the people.
- Notice this, Paul was reasoning from the Scriptures for three weeks, and people responded differently: some heard Paul reason from the Scripture, believed and then joined he and Silas, while others heard him reason from the Scriptures and others did not believe and set the city in an uproar.
- In verse 5, those who did not believe took along some “wicked men from the marketplace,” the King James verse calls the men they took along “lewd fellows of the baser sort.” They then set the city in an uproar and attacked the house of a man named Jason.
- Jason seems to be a Christian who lived in Thessalonica, and his house seems to be a center for the Church.
- The mob in an uproar attacked Jason’s house looking for Paul and Silas but did not find them there.
Acts 17:6-7, When they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have upset the world have come here also; and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”
- What are the people saying about Paul and Silas? That they are the men who have upset the world!
- Verse 6 in the New King James Version describes them as: “these who have turned the world upside down.”
- When they say this, it is not mean at a compliment, rather it is a complaint. But turning an upside-down world upside down, means they were turning it right side up.
- They were doing this city by city, region by region, and now those accusing them make it known, “they have come here also!”
- And that turning, that change, caused the people who did not believe, to be stirred up. Not only this, but they also stirred others up as well.
Acts 17:8, They stirred up the crowd and the city authorities who heard these things.
- The word for stirred means to agitate, trouble, or to disturb.
- Notice this, it was not Paul and Silas stirring up the people, it was the “lewd fellows of the baser sort,” they were the ones causing the trouble.
- In saying that Jason had welcomed them, they accused him of harboring criminals.
- And finally, they tell the authorities that Paul and Silas are acting contrary to Caesar, and proclaiming another king, King Jesus. This is true, they were proclaiming another King than Caesar.
- The charges of another proclaiming another king than Caesar, were serious. The fear was that the city might become known for opposition to Rome and Caesar.
Psalm 16:7-8, I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
- If the counsel in your life is coming from the Lord, keep your eyes always on Him, knowing He is as your right hand, and you will not be shaken!
III. Go According to What the Scriptures Say is So
Acts 17:9, And when they had received a pledge from Jason and the others, they released them.
- It seems that a deal was made between Jason and the city authorities, “if Paul and Silas leave town, we won’t press charges…Send them out and give us money as a guarantee.”
Acts 17:10, The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.
Acts 17:11-12, Now these people were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Therefore, many of them believed, along with a significant number of prominent Greek women and men.
- In closing, I want to point out a couple words about the Bereans approach to the Word that are helpful for us in knowing what to do in an upside-down world.
- Verse 11 tells us that they received the Word with great eagerness.
- This is descriptive of a person who has a ready and willing mind, or an inclination toward it.
- When the Word was being given, they had minds that were ready and willing to receive it and were inclined toward it.
- The other identifier in their approach toward the Word is also in verse 11: that they were “examining” the Scriptures.
- They heard what was preached, appreciated what they heard, and then went home and studied it out!
- They are known and those who received the Word willingly, studied it out daily, and therefore, they are known as those who believed!
- They saw what the Scriptures say is so, and decided to devote their lives to, and go, according to what the Scriptures say is so.
John 17:13-20, “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message