2019-01-06 – Acts 17:1-15 – The World Upside Down
Bible Text: Acts 17:1-15 | Preacher: Pastor Jerry Higdon | Series: Acts | 2019-01-06 – Acts 17:1-15 – The World Upside Down
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us.
What a great holiday break we had. The weather cooperated for the most part, and we had the opportunity to meetup again with family and friends. We got to celebrate the birth of our Savior and usher in the New Year; Praise the Lord!
I hope your holiday weeks were joyous, and if not, well take heart dear Christian, because Jesus Christ is still on His thrown, and He loves you so. Amen?
Funny, remember last week I talked about the Rose Bowl Parade and how the float owned by the Standard Oil Company ran out of gas, bad situation indeed. Well, did anyone get to watch the parade this New Year’s Day? The announcers made a great deal about this extra-long locomotive float. Then in the middle of the parade, just when it was being presented, it started smoking and caught fire. Talk about déjà vu.. We just had talked about that same dynamic… anyways J
Today’s message is entitled The World Upside Down, do you ever fell that way? Bob Hope once said, “It’s a Wonderful world. It may destroy itself, but you’ll be able to watch it on TV”. I saw a cartoon that said, “The rat race is over – and they won”. Well, depending on how you look at it, our world surely is upside down. So maybe we should get with our creator, and ask Him to make things right again
Please turn now to Acts 17, verse 1, page 984 in your pew Bibles, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. But first let us pray..
During he last few weeks, we took a pause in our preaching through Acts to reflect on the Holidays, for which I was much encouraged by doing so. But now we are getting back to where we left off. It is so important in my opinion to read the Bible in its context. I learn so much by doing so, and my hope is that you too will learn more about God’s Word and His intended application, so that you too will be able to better understand your Bibles and that it will become your closest friend. I will remind you that this book of Acts was written after Jesus ascended into heaven, and now the Apostles and disciples were carrying out the Great Commission of Jesus to make new disciples and starting churches. Paul, Silas and Timothy are now in middle of his second missionary journey in southern Europe.
Acts 17 1 After they passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As usual, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures 3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and rise from the dead: “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah.”
4 Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, including a large number of God-fearing Greeks, as well as a number of the leading women.
Thessalonica is a Greek port city that was much influenced by Roman culture and law. However, there must have been a substantial amount of Jewish believers there as they had their own synagogue. Paul generally checked in first with the Jewish Synagogues, because they at least had a concept of who God was, and all Jews were expecting a Messiah Savior. Paul reasoned with them for three weeks.
Notice this verse doesn’t say Paul argued with them, based upon his own opinion, but instead reasoned with them from Scriptures. This is important because as we are going about witnessing to the people, we should be doing the same. We needn’t argue about faithful things, arguing will get you nothing except into conflict. Don’t waist your energy and the great treasure of salvation on those that want to argue. Remember the verse “Don’t put pearls on a swine”. We need to foster instead an environment that leads people to consider through reason.
And I like how Paul uses Scripture as his basis, not his opinion. Everyone has an opinion on everything, and opinions changes frequently. But Paul reasoned or appealed with them based upon what they should have already known in the Torah. We should be doing the same, reasoning with scripture. And in order to reason with folks, it is helpful to know it. Amen?
Paul told them that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer. He was probably quoting Isaiah 53:3 that Jeremiah read to us earlier. He, Jesus was despised and rejected by men; a man of suffering, and familiar with pain… This was written 700 years before Jesus was even born. The Jews studied this in the Torah Scriptures, but still Paul had to reason and point out the things they had missed, what was clearly written. Those Isaiah 53 verses also state that Jesus would be pierced for our transgressions. This was before crucificition was even known or practiced by the Jews. The Romans were not yet in power, but still Isaiah prophesied this. I am telling ya, we need to be knowing and loving God’s Holy Word brothers and sisters, so we can reason with those God puts in our path.
5 But the Jews became jealous, and they brought together some wicked men from the marketplace, formed a mob, and started a riot in the city. Attacking Jason’s house, they searched for them to bring them out to the public assembly. 6 When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too, 7 and Jason has welcomed them. They are all acting contrary to Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king—Jesus.” 8 The crowd and city officials who heard these things were upset. 9 After taking a security bond from Jason and the others, they released them.
You may be asking yourself, who is Jason? Well, he is a simple bystander, he was just a regular stand-up kind of guy that chose to host these missionaries. This Jason could have been you. What would you be willing to risk for Christ?
Paul has only been there three weeks, and already he is in trouble, and he is accused of turning their the world upside down. I would argue though that we as Christians are really not attempting to turn the world upside down, we are trying to turn it right-side up, one person at a time. I recall when I was younger, I would go canoeing or kayaking many times, and during the fun, it was always kind of a goal to turn over the canoe and toss each other out of the boat. Ever done that? Well after the fun is over though, you try to right-side the boat, and I am here to tell ya, that ain’t an easy thing to do. Well that’s the same kind of situation we are now dealing with. Trying to right-side the world it tough.
When God created the world it was right.. remember God said afterwards that it was all good. God didn’t create this mess we have now, we did. Man turned it all upside-down. In Genesis 3, Satan and man introduced sin, and now the world itself is groaning the Bible says, because it wants to return to its intended paradise. Now using the Gospel, Jesus tells us we are all part of the solution. As Christians, like Paul, we are on task to right-side the people of this world, one heart at a time. Paul is appealing with them, reasoning with them with Scripture so that they might be saved. But they, and we, are consistently now challenged by satan and his followers, the lost, and we are persecuted in our efforts.
10 As soon as it was night, the brothers and sisters sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. Upon arrival, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 The people here were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, since they received the word with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Consequently, many of them believed, including a number of the prominent Greek women as well as men.
Berea is about 50 miles from Thessalonica. This account says that they were of more noble character in that they listened to Paul, and with eagerness they examined scripture daily. That is just wonderful, and we should be doing the same. This is a New Year for us ladies and gentlemen. And may I challenge you to consider again, to be reading God’s Word and be examining them daily?
Unless you know God’s Word, you will not be able to determine what is God’s will. Unless you know God’s Word, you will not be able to know when people are being truthful in their faith statements or not. When somebody proposes a faith theory or understanding, we should be asking, where in the Bible does it say that? We should be examining Scripture with such eagerness like these folks were doing.
They loved God’s word, and they also recognized that they might be going in the wrong direction. Do you ever find yourself going in the wrong direction? And You get this nagging feeling that something just isn’t right? This reminds me of the story where a man staggered onto a bus late at night and sat down next to an elderly woman. The woman piously looked at the man and told him, “I’m afraid I have bad news for you young man. You’re going to hell”. The man jumped up from the seat and exclaimed, “Oh no! I must be on the wrong bus!” In our Bible lesson today, these Jews realized they were on the wrong bus. They were going the wrong direction and subsequently many chose to follow Jesus. Like Paul, we should be pointing out, reasoning with people, that the direction they are heading is wrong. That they need a Savior and that Jesus is the only way to Heaven.
13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica found out that the word of God had been proclaimed by Paul at Berea, they came there too, agitating and upsetting the crowds. 14 Then the brothers and sisters immediately sent Paul away to go to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed on there. 15 Those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving instructions for Silas and Timothy to come to him as quickly as possible, they departed.
These antagonizers came 50 miles in their overt effort to persecute Paul and the disciples. Satan had to be motivating them to do this. People just don’t go to this extent unless there is demonic influence. However, Paul was not unfamiliar with such passion, as he himself used to do the same thing. He was once, I might argue, the greatest defender of the Jewish faith and persecutor of Christians that ever lived. These people, even though Paul pointed out their error in scripture, still chose not only to deny Christ, but to persecute those that promoted Him.
We too should expect that not all folks will go along with our Christian assertions. Satan is alive and well and he will put whatever blockades he can to trip us up. That is why we need each other. We see here that the church family looked out for the welfare of Paul and the disciples. Having the church family is such a blessing, and it is a gift from Jesus Himself. This is a crazy upside down world we live in. If you are a stand-up Christian, and you are sharing the Gospel and making disciples as we are commanded to do, then you should expect to be persecuted as well. That’s where the support, strength and the wisdom of the church family comes to bear. We need each other brothers and sisters.
This church is designed to strengthen you, support you, lift you up and encourage you, and when necessary defend and protect you as well. The Bible says in Hebrews 10:25 “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” I pray you realize that we need the church, and the church needs you too.
So in conclusion, the take always for this sermon Bible lesson today is:
We need to be like Paul and be on mission. We need to be actively spreading the Gospel message, and making disciples as we go.
Don’t argue, but reason with the people, so that they will understand the truth that will set them free.
And like Paul, we should reason with Scripture, and know what you know.
My father in Law frequently quotes, “He who knows, and knows he knows, is a wise man; follow him”
Be that “wise man” or “wise woman” in regards to knowing God’s Word.
Finally, stick with your church family. As it truly is God’s blessing to you.
This world is truly Upside down in so many ways, let God right-side you today.
Would you please stand with me now, as we close with an invitation followed by Lord’s Supper
“A FRIENDLY CHURCH IN A FRIENDLY TOWN”