Those who Turned the World Upside Down
Those who Turned the World Upside Down
William Stout / General
Acting Out Acts – 20 / Evangelism / Acts 17
Acts 17:1–4 NKJV
Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.
Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,
explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.”
And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
- “reasoned with them from the scriptures”
- He did not reason from his own opinions
- He also did not reason from the latest popularity polls
- He did not reason based on what the people wanted to hear
- The bible is the basis for checking the truth
- It is just as relevant today as it was then
- There are many efforts to silence the bible, either through forbidding it or mocking it
- Why? No one is trying to silence four leaf clovers, or wishing upon stars, or Buddhism, or other such nonsense.
- When was the last time you heard of someone being asked not to display their koran?
- And they were “persuaded” – multitudes of devout Greeks and leading women
- God has given us the ability to “reason”
- we should hope to persuade people today
- The truth, when effectively presented does persuade people
Acts 17:5–6 NKJV
But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.
- The Jews who were not persuaded – unbelievers – were envious
- So many people have risen against Christianity – too much to be natural, rooted in the devil
- These Jews resorted to convincing evil men of the city (the baser sort) to join with them in starting an uproar – a mob, and attacked Jason’s house looking for Paul and Silas
- When the couldn’t find Paul and Silas, they dragged Jason and some of his Christian friends to the rulers of the city to bring charges against them
- They cried out “these who have turned the world upside down have come here too”
- Imagine just how much the world had changed in these few decades since Jesus was crucified
- Starting out as just a small group of believers, hiding behind locked doors for fear,
- Yet, when empowered by the Holy Spirit, they transformed the world
- Not by might, nor by power, but By His Spirit
- Transforming lives from the inside out
- What if we could be so recognized for our faith today?
- I am certain that when you allow yourself to be led by the Holy Spirit, you can change your world today
- We can make a difference for Jesus in this World today, in this city, and in your homes.
- So, they required Jason and hi friends to post bond, and let them go
- and they immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, where they went to the Synagogue
Acts 17:11–12 NKJV
These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.
- The people here in Berea were more “fair minded” or noble than the others
- They “searched the scriptures” to see if this gospel were true
- The bible says we should prove all things
- it is noble to ask questions and search for what is right
- they were willing to look beyond their traditions, and see if the message really did line up with what had been prophesied
- Therefore many of them believed, many of the Greeks also, and prominent men and women
- This is the normal result when the truth of he gospel is allowed to be presented without fear, force, or intimidation
- People end up believing, and believing, their lives are transformed for the better
- Compare this to so many other religions which only grow through fear, censorship, force and intimidation
Acts 17:13–14 NKJV
But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds.
Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there.
- And so we see again, the pattern repeated.
- these people who had stirred up the evil men in Thessalonica came down to Berea to cause trouble again
- The were not able to persuade people with the simple merits of their arguments, so they used force
- not unlike people of our days
- this is true in schools and universities just like it is in other places
- So Paul went to Athens by sea while Timothy and Silas remained in Berea
Paul in Athens
- Now when Paul arrived there, he sent back word for the others to join him there.
Acts 17:16 NKJV
Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols.
- Does it bother you to see the lost wandering in their sin?
- Does it trouble us at all to realize that most of the people in the world are not saved?
- Paul was living from day to day in this city while waiting for Timothy and the others
- And his spirit was stirred within him as he saw their idolatry
- He observed how the people were wasting their lies serving gods that were not gods
- And it bothered him
- How can so many pseudo-christians of today sit around and watch tv while their families are going to hell – and not even be troubled by it
- there is a false gospel of today that says its best to just pray quietly and not upset people
- let the Holy Spirit change people, you just love them –
- We shouldn’t offend anyone –
- Even in churches preachers have become complacent with the fact that most of their congregations are on their way to hell!
- they would rather have a church full have happy people that like them than risk offending people by trying to “persuade” them to repent!
- Don’t let that happen to you and I
- You that make mention of the Lord keep not silent!
- We should be troubled, stirred, provoked, in our Spirit when we see people lost in their sins
- we should be crying out to God – not for Him to magically save them without anyone offending them, and without it costing us anything – but rather, saying God, help me to reach them for you, for your glory
- We should be crying out like Isaiah did saying “Here am I Lord! Send me!
- That’s what it is to pray for the lost
Acts 17:17 KJV 1900
Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
- He “disputed” with the: When?
- with the Jews
- with the devout people
- in the synagogues
- in the market
- daily – every day –
- With them that met him!
- Where is it good to reason with people about Jesus?
- Everywhere I go, everyone I meet. (Ex. W. Pleasant owner)
- Some said what will this babbler say/
- some listened more carefully
- some mocked
Paul at Mars Hill
- Finally they took him to the Areopagus saying tell us more…
- These men of Athens spent all their time trying to tell or to hear some new thing
- Many people come to church like that – just following the next fad
- so many people in church are similar, approaching God with the same kind of surface faith, praying to Jesus while reading their horoscope and keeping four leaf clovers, etc.
- Areopagus: or Mars Hill
- Imagine the scene here as Paul walks to Mars hill (Areopagus)
- Along the way, he passes all these temples of the Acropolis
- Some of them still have parts remaining today
- the temple to Athena Nike
- the Parthenon, Dedicated to Athena
- so many others
- hosts of people must have been walking along this road, going to worship these idols
- This was a spectacular sight to see
- millions of man hours and untold resources must have been spent to build it
- Centuries of history
- And so Paul stood across from this spectacle to address the people
Acts 17:22–26 KJV 1900
Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
- Here in this place, where the most dedicated of these idol worshippers would gather
- Paul declared the truth plainly: you are too superstitious!
- He zeroed in on one of the many altars and temples there, saying there was one ascribed to the “Unknown God”
- Him, I declare unto you
- How true a statement that was
- Even these idol worshippers, who had spent so much building temples, and searching for something to worship, for something beyond themselves, knew that there had to be more
- They were driven to know that there must be somehting supernatural, yet without knowledge
- and even when they had built all these temples, they knew within themselves that this is not it
- there has to be more, there still must be a God who we don’t know that is above all this, and can make sense of all this world
- There is something of this desire to know God, this need to fill this God shaped hole, inside of every one of us.
- How fitting for Paul to say” Him I will declare to you
- He is the one that made the world and everything in it
- He is not worshipped with our hands )by making statues) as though he needed anything from us
- Jesus taught us that the true worshippers worship Him in Spirit…
- He gives life and breath
- He made “from one blood” all the nations of the earth
- every race, color, ethnic group, – all from “one blood”
- we all descended from Noah
- We are created by God, we are His offspring:
- So we should not think that He is like gold, silver or stones
Acts 17:30–31 NKJV
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,
because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
- God commands all men, everywhere, to repent
- Who? All men
- Where? Everywhere
- What? Repent
- Why? Because He has appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness
- He has proven this by raising Him from the dead
- When? On the appointed day.
- there is a day, we don’t know when
- God will judge the world
- After this some people mocked him
- others said, we listen to more of this late
- but some “clave” to him and believed, among them a man named Dionysius
- He was a prominent man in Athens
- He would go on to become the patron saint of Athens
- Eventually be martyred for the faith
- And others
- How similar to today:
- When we preach the gospel there will always be some who mock
- Many others will try to postpone the decision, saying, we will listen to more later
- (knowing their hearts have been touched, but not willing to allow themselves to be changed, they delay, lying to themselves)
- But some will be saved – seek them, pray for them, rejoice over them! And above all be one of them!