upside down globe

Turning the World Upside Down

Our passage today is from Acts 17:1-15. The church’s sermon is titled “Turning the World Upside Down.” This is a summary of Pastor Robbie Symons sermon from Hope Bible Church in Oakville, Ontario. Here you can find a summary for last weekend’s message “Who Is Like Our God.” This week’s whole church service is available in the video below.

Turning the World Upside Down Church Service Video

Overview and Background

Thessalonica was an overall thriving first-century city. The gospel was greatly received and also resisted here. The gospel turned the world upside down from the world’s perspective. The reality is that it turned the world right-side up.

Map of Paul's Second Missionary Journey
Paul’s Second Missionary Journey

When It Comes to the Gospel, RESISTANCE Is FUTILE

Acts 17:1-9. Hell tries to put up gates of lies and deception to stop the gospel. However, nothing can stop the advancing of the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

Paul was proclaiming the gospel in the Jewish synagogue. Paul opened up the scriptures similar to what Jesus did with the 2 disciples on the road to Emmaus.

We have two letters by Paul to the Thessolonains. Here is a good passage from the first letter explaining how he had preached the gospel to them: 1 Thes 1:4-5.

Opposition Shortly Follows

It didn’t take too long for opposition to appear:

‘But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” ‘

Acts 17:5-7

It’s amazing how often jealousy is the motivation for opposition. Issues of religion wouldn’t have really gotten the attention of the Roman authorities. They accused these men that they were opposing the ruler of the state and serving another king, Jesus. In our day, so many people try to show that issues of Christianity oppose societal laws. It is the same tactic of Satan. It’s a distraction to focus on these issues over here and forget the essence of the gospel message. Now because Jesus Christ is in charge, nothing can stop Him.

Paul gives the following encouragement to the Thessolonians later in his first letter to them:

  • 1 Thes 1:6-7
  • 1 Thes 1:8-10

When It Comes to the Word, TRANSFORMATION Is INEVITABLE

Acts 17:10-15.

‘Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. ‘

Acts 17:11-12

The Bereans had a better demeanour and character than the Thessalonians. They were also eager and ready to be changed. They were hungry for transformation. It’s a blessing for the elders and leaders of our church to see the eagerness of the congregation. The Bereans’ sole authority was the word of God and not Paul. What a wonderful lesson for us not to look to leaders but to the word of God for truth.

Women in Scripture

Luke has a constant emphasis of women believing in both of his books. We see this in Lydia, in Thessalonica, and in Berea. Luke went out of his way to highlight beautiful women of grace to be used as examples. It’s important to notice the details here of men and women being used by God.

A Gospel for the Rich and the Poor

We see the gospel reaching the poor and those of status and wealth as well. Jesus mentioned in the gospels that it is extremely difficult for the wealthy to get into heaven. He said that because wealth so often blinds people to their need of the gospel and of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a good prayer for us as we walk through our neighbourhoods and pray for our neighbours. We need to pray that Christ would lift up the veil and the blindness.

Opposition Once Again

Here comes the opposition again. Notice it is an opposition to the word of God!

‘But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds. ‘

Acts 17:13

Once again resistance is futile. The gates of hell will not prevail against the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Genesis 3, the fall, turned the world upside down. The gospel of Jesus Christ turns the world rightside up.

Closing Song

This is a really good section from Sara Groves’s When the Saints song. The song tells the story of saints who have gone before us, who lived a faithful life, and who encourage us onward. She mentions Paul and Silas in prison and Moses in Pharaoh’s court. Then she turns to our contemporary period. You can find more of an explanation here. It’s a good reminder of the sacrifice of saints who have gone before us, as well as the ultimate sacrifice of the “man of sorrows”, Jesus.

I see the long quiet walk along the Underground Railroad

I see the slave awakening to the value of her soul

I see the young missionary at the angry spear

I see his family returning with no trace of fear

I see the long hard shadows of Calcutta nights

I see the sisters standing by the dying mans side

I see the young girl huddled on the brothel floor

I see the man with a passion come and kicking down that door

I see the man of sorrow and his long troubled road

I see the world on his shoulders and my easy load

And when the Saints go marching in

I want to be one of them

Sara groves

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