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Let’s Turn the World Upside Down!
Acts 16:31-17:15 (Pastor Heo)
16:31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God – he and his whole family.
35 When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” 36 The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.” 38 The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. 39 They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. 40 After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left.
[Ministry in Philippi is complete – they move on to Thessalonica next.]
17:1 When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ, ” he said. 4 Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women. 5 But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, 7 and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” 8 When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. 9 Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go.
[Now on to the next mission field, Berea.]
10 As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men. 13 When the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, they went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. 14 The brothers immediately sent Paul to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed at Berea. 15 The men who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.
Proverbs 16:9: “A man plans his steps, but God determines the way…”
Paul planned his path, but God led him to Macedonia. In his first mission field, his first convert was a woman named Lydia and she opened her house to the missionaries as a mission base.
They were then thrown in prison for casting a demon out of a slave girl who made her masters lots of money. In prison, they did not complain, but rather worshiped God with prayer and songs. Why? 4 reasons:
- God was with them
- With God there is freedom
- With God, there is light
- God is in control of all things
- They believed Jesus would reward them
- They believed the END would be fine
Yes, in Christian life, we believe there is no “end” because we have everlasting life – but at the END of the long road, everything would be fine.
“If I live, I live to the Lord; if I die, I die to the Lord. Whether I live or die, I do it for the Lord.”
At that time, God shook the foundations of the prison and opened the doors, and shook off the shackles. The jailer ran in and became their prisoner: “What must I do to be saved?” (This is the cry of all lost people in this world. He realized his need – he was lost. He realized his greatest need was salvation – this is the greatest need of all people on earth.)
- To this, Paul answered: “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved – you and your whole household.”
- Yes, we know “if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead. It is with your heart you are justified and by your mouth you confess and are saved.”
- “Salvation is the gift of God; by faith alone through grace alone – so that no one can boast.”
In this time, the jailer trusted in Christ + nothing and received his salvation.
One minute earlier, they had a jailer / prisoner relationship, but now they sat down together for breakfast – brothers in Christ, children of God together.
At that moment, the authorities sent a message to release them.
“32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God – he and his whole family.
35 When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” 36 The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.” 38 The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. 39 They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. 40 After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left.”
Paul and Silas could have just left. But Paul said, “No! We are Roman citizens! Let them come and escort us out!” i.e. He didn’t reveal this information when he was being beaten and thrown in prison, but only afterward.
Like this, Jesus was fully divine, but did not use his divinity for his own benefit (as Paul also did not in this case). Paul likewise didn’t use his birth and Roman citizenship for his own privilege, but rather for the new Christians.
If he had left quietly, it would have been under a cloud of doubt: “Who were those men? Maybe they did something wrong…”
Rather, Paul wanted to leave behind the strong witness of his own integrity as a good witness for the baby Christians in Philippi. They went to Lydia’s house.
Can you imagine what must have happened there? Imagine the JOY as Paul and Silas recounted the events of the previous night. There was undoubtedly tears and laughter. Maybe they sang a few prison songs again and reenacted the earthquake. Whatever the agenda, it culminated in praise and worship again.
Also imagine the church in Philippi: Lydia and her household, maybe ex-slave girl, Philippian jailer and household, some ex-prisoners, etc. Rich, poor, slave, free, male, female – all are united in Christ Jesus. What a gospel!
Paul confessed: “I’m not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for all who believe.”
What is the gospel?
- A gospel that cannot save a dying man is no gospel.
- A gospel that requires MORE than faith in Christ is no gospel.
- Salvation comes through ONLY faith in Christ + nothing.
- This is the story of the good news of Jesus Christ, the gospel.
But, we must remember that Jesus requires of us – ALL we are and have.
— Then they left —
“1 When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ, ” he said.”
Key verse = v. 6
” 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here,”
Paul and Silas were accused of:
TURNING THE WHOLE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN!
In a sense the Christians were ones who were Turning the World upside down.
“I will turn the world upside down.”
In Paul’s day, Turkey was called: “Asia Minor” and Macedonia was probably over in that area.
- After he saw the vision of Macedonia, the first place he went was Philippi (in Greece).
- Next, he went to Thessalonica (farther east in Greece). 100 miles southwest of Philippi – he wrote two epistles. Thessalonica today is the second largest city in Greece.
- After this, he went to Berea – about 45 miles southwest from Thessalonica.
- Next (next Sunday), they went to Athens – the largest city in Greece (capital) and on the far southern end of the peninsula.
- Next, he went to Corinth (west of Athens).
Philippi > Thessalonica > Berea > Athens > Corinth
At that time, there were no country divisions. God said, “Go to Macedonia” and so he went. At that time, all of Greece was inside the province of Macedonia. (There is still a small country north of Greece called Macedonia). And at that time, Turkey was called “Asia Minor.”
Greece is the “cradle of Western civilization” – the birthplace of Western drama, literature, democracy, math, science, the Olympics, and so on. You know, the first mission field was in Greece 2,000 years ago…
Paul wrote two letters to the Thessalonians from there.
His practice was to go to the synagogue first. In Philippi, there was no synagogue, but in Thessalonica there was one, so he went on three consecutive Sabbath days.
Synagogues could be established wherever there were at least 10 Jewish males – and each had its own “hadongja” (leader) – and they were decide who would speak and give the sermon (it was customary to invite visiting rabbis – so this was Paul’s opportunity to share the gospel at the synagogue.) But usually, whenever he spoke the name “Jesus Christ”, the door was slammed to him and he was cast out.
But here is Paul, 3 Sabbaths in Thessalonica to preach about Jesus. We must remember, there is no greater word to be spoken than that of Christ – new life in Christ, forgiveness of sins.
When you have the opportunity to speak of Christ, SPEAK! Because the story of Christ is the Greatest word of encouragement.
To Paul’s preaching, some believed and were saved, but others opposed and persecuted him – but God continued to use the opposition and persecution to spread the good news of Christ.
There was an uproar in Thessalonica that forced them to travel to Berea (small town). In Berea, Paul and Silas met a very teachable Gentile audience, but bad (hostile) Jews came to Berea from Thessalonica to attack Paul’s work again. They succeeded only in getting Paul and Silas to Athens – the great capital city of Greece.
Paul and Silas were accused of turning the world upside down.
“6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: “These men **who have caused trouble all over the world** have now come here,”
KJV = “who have turned the world upside down”
The doors of the prison were thrown open, people began to love each other deeply and serve and worship God.
This means the gospel is about TRANSFORMING lives. Let us ask God how he can transform our own lives and boundaries.
Even today (especially today), our world NEEDS to be “turned upside down.”
In a sense, Christ came into this world TO turn it upside down.
Yes, Christ was kind, and meek, and gentle, but he also came to turn this world upside down. Christ came to give us eternal, abundant life, salvation, peace. Jesus came here to give us peace. Do you have peace? He is the PRINCE of Peace. He is OUR Peace. He has made the two into One, and has torn down all barriers.
“My peace I leave with you; do not let your hearts be troubled.”
Matt 10:34 “Do not suppose I have come to bring peace. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
There is no question, Jesus is OUR peace, but he turns the WORLD upside down.
He has come to make the world right – to destroy the building of false peace in order to make real heavenly, lasting peace.
When God spoke in the Bible, he used human language.
When God spoke through Jesus Christ, he assumed human flesh, not that of an angel. i.e. in order to reveal himself to us, he emptied himself, humbled himself.
This is the essence of evangelism today. There is an essential emptying, humbling in any witness today. “Your attitude must be the same as Christ Jesus.”
Like Christ, we must be humble, and kind in our evangelism – we must be generous. We must not be culture-proud, nor culture-blind. We are not culture-Christianity peddlers. We must respect others lives, art, culture, habits, patterns. BUT at the same time, remember this key: “Jesus came to turn the world upside down.”
“Jesus challenges EVERY culture.”
Whenever we preach the gospel to non-Christians (Buddhists, Jews, Atheists, etc), Christ confronts them with his demands – “remove whatever has taken your allegiance and loyalty and replace it with me.” Christ is the Lord of every human culture and every human. This confrontation cannot be escaped, it is necessary.
But at the same time, our gospel invitation is the greatest invitation, blessing, encouragement for salvation.
And yet, at the same time, our gospel message is also the greatest challenge in this world because our message “Believe in Christ, receive him as your Lord” means “Change your God; change your Master; change your life; change your life view; change your values; change your pattern.”
This is the message of the gospel and this is why it is the greatest challenge to this world.
Phil 2:10-11 “At the name of Jesus Christ, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Jesus is the Lord of every person, every culture, every thing in this world. So, the gospel is the greatest blessing and encouragement, and also greatest threat and confrontation in this world.
Let us go on to “turn the world upside down” in the name of Jesus Christ.