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Bible Search
Acts #60 (chapter 17:1-3, 10-11)
The Book of Acts
Men Who Turned the World Upside Down, Part 1
Acts 17:1-3, 10-11
 
As we come to the 17th chapter of Acts, the Apostle Paul, along with his friend and co-missionary, Silas, have just been released from jail in Philippi. God sent an earthquake, shattered the jail, saved the jailer and his family, and made them a part of the newly established church in Philippi. 
After their release, Paul and Silas leave Philippi.  I would guess you and I would also if we were treated like they were.  They have been beaten with rods, bruised, bloodied, placed in stocks and thrown in jail. And yet, through it all, Jesus Christ had been glorified and consequently they had rejoiced.
So now, they leave Philippi and verse 1 of 17 says, they made their way to Thessalonica. And before we get into the text, I want you to notice what the people of Thessalonica say about Paul and Silas.  Notice what we read in
verse 6
That's a very interesting way to describe two preachers of the gospel, isn't it?  People who "turned the world upside down."
That is an amazing thing to say about anybody!  Anyone who can have that kind of effect that they would be described as able to "turn the world upside down" must have some kind of power or ability!
There are some people who live their whole life in relative obscurity.  From time to time we hear about those that die and nobody knows it for days.  But here were two people of whom the world said, "They've turned us upside down.
And if you think that's amazing, think about this:  So far they've only been to one town in that part of the world! And already, through the events of just a few days in one town, the world is convinced these men are turning it upside down. And now the rumor has drifted all the way to Thessalonica, which is over a hundred miles away.
So obviously, when you study the lives of these two individuals, you see some key factors that lead to their success with the gospel.  And I think it is important to identify those factors because it has always intrigued me, bothered me, really, that one Christian seems to really enjoy God's blessing and power and another one in the same church studying the same Bible going to the same classes just never amounts to anything. Why is that?  
What is it that makes the difference between somebody like Paul and multiplied thousands of other Christians who just kind of hang around and eat the groceries and don't contribute anything?
What is it that makes a man turn the world upside down?  Well, some of those characteristics are right here in chapter 17. And as we've seen before, it's not necessarily a list of characteristics or things that contribute to ministry success, but rather woven through the text you find these things implied and stated.
It's more than just the facts of the story.  It really doesn't help us to just read their itinerary and see where they went and what they did.  We need to know the principles that were at work that made them who they were. 
And through these verses, there are five things that rise to the surface that made these men the kind of men who could shake their world.  And they are really nothing new.  In fact, I think you will be surprised as we put together the list because they are things that are within the ability and capability of anybody who belongs to Christ.
Now the factors that I want to point out to you occur during their ministry in two cities.  One of those is Thessalonica, and we see it in the first nine verses, and the other is Berea which is in verses 10-15.  And rather than deal with them one at a time, I want to try and weave the stories together and hopefully, what will emerge are the principles that made these men capture the attention of the world around them.   
Now, these two towns, Thessalonica and Berea, were very different towns. Thessalonica was big time. As the capital of Macedonia, it was a very famous city of about 200,000 people.  Three great rivers came through it and converged into the sea and so it was a very important port.
Also, the Egnation Highway went right through the middle of Thessalonica, which made it the great place where the armies all marched through and everybody was travelling east and west came that way.
On the other hand, Berea was nowhere, man. Berea was strictly the boondocks.  It was located off the beaten path about 50 miles, south and west of Thessalonica.  In fact, it probably wouldn't even be on the map had Cicero not mentioned it and had not the Apostle Paul gone there.
So we have these two vastly different cities, one on the highway and one on the byway, but you have the same things going on in both places that illustrate to us the principles that make a man the man that turns the world upside down.
As I said there are five things that illustrate to us what the principles are that develop the kind of person that God uses to change the world.  We'll look at two of them tonight. The first on is
1. Courage
We see it in both cities.  Notice
verse 1 
So after they were released from jail, they did their best to make the situation secure for the believers there, and then they left town.  Two cities are mentioned on their journey.  Amphipolis was 33 miles from Philippi, and Apollonia was another 30 miles down the road from Amphipolis.  Then they went to Thessalonica, which was 37 miles from Apollonia.  So they are about 100 miles away from Philippi.
So what?  What's the significance of that?
The significance is they had Thessalonica on their heart.  And true to form, when they got there, they went to the synagogue.  Every time they get to a new town, they make that their first stop.  And as a result of that, the first thing they experienced was persecution.
So they get to Thessalonica and we are told there was a synagogue of the Jews there.  Now, one would think Paul would avoid it like the plague.  But, 
verse 2
That is either sheer ignorance or determined courage.  He had just gotten over a beating and imprisonment, and that wasn't the first time something like that had happened.  And yet, he doesn't ask for time off or a vacation.  He goes right back into the synagogue again. Why?
Because that was God's calling on his life.  The man not only had the courage to believe what he believed, but he had the courage to do what God had called him to do. That's courage and that's basic to making a difference in the world.
And in spite of all the pain, he had an obedient spirit to the Lord. The Spirit was leading him to go to the synagogue and he went. It's amazing. He went right in there, as his manner was, and he never had a thought for the pain or difficulties that could mean. 
And, by the way, he did the same thing in Berea.
verse 10
We'll look at the details in a moment, but the reason they sent them away at nighttime was because they were trying to get them out of trouble.
So they sneak them out of town under cover of darkness, move them down the road about fifty miles and figure he can stay out of trouble in this little hick town.  But the very thing Paul does is head down to the synagogue!
He knew what he believed and he knew where he wanted to take the message. It didn't matter to him one bit that he just jumped out of the fire and into the frying pan. 
That's courage. He had the courage of his conviction, but he also had the courage of his calling. He not only believed what he believed, but he wasn't afraid to say it to whom he needed to say it.
Second thing.
2.  Content
If you are going to turn the world upside down, you better be right in what you are turning them toward.  You need to speak the truth. There are a lot of people with a lot of of courage that just don't have anything to say.
After all, some of the most courageous people in the world are Jehovah's Witnesses.  They put most Baptists to shame when it comes to being bold in their witness. 
But the problem is that you've got to have courage with content. They're heavy on the courage. They have none of the content. Amazing how courageous they are in the propagation of error, but that's been true for a long time.
On the other hand, there are lots of people who don't make waves because they don't ever say anything that's divisive. They don't ever bring up issues. They just sort of gently slide in and out of every situation.   Not Paul. He created waves because he boldly confronted every issue with the Word of God.
And when the right content is declared, you're going to have an effect one way or the other.  And if you follow the ministry of Paul, you will discover he never got into trouble because of himslef.  The issues people had with him were not personality issues; they were scriptural issues.
He got into trouble because of the content of his message. 
I know a lot of people who just don't want to offend anybody.  Well, you can't share the message of salvation and not offend,  The message of sin is offensive.  You don't have to be obnoxious, but the content, in and of itself is offensive.
And Paul understood that. He knew if you go into the synagogue and talk to Jews about their need for a savior and that savior is Jesus Christ, dead buried and resurrected, you were probably going to make some enemies and have some confrontations.
But what else was he going to talk about?  The weather?  Sports?  Social issues?  Politics?  No, he's going to talk about on Jesus being the Messiah and how He came to die.  And that's exactly what he does.
verses 2-3
Notice, Paul took the Old Testament and showed that Messiah had to suffer and die and rise from the dead.  I like that!  Paul steps in front of a group of Jewish people, takes their Scripture and teaches about Jesus and their need for a Savior.  How would you like that assignment? 
That is exactly the content of His presentation! He got right to the issue, presented the truth of Christ, and defended it with the Scripture.
And when he arrived in Berea, he did the same thing!
verses 11-12
Now in Berea, there was a real openness to the gospel.  But even in Thessalonica, notice what we read in
verse 4
And I like that translation in that it says they were "persuaded" and the idea is that against their own desires and preconceptions, Paul convinced them.  That is in contrast to what we see in verse 11 where they were believing on their own and persuing the knowledge of God. 
So what was the difference in the two groups? One of them had to be persuaded into the truth. The other one was so ready and open so they searched it out all by themselves.
Well, that's two of the five things this text reveals about how to make a difference with the gospel.  You've got to be courageous and you've got to have content. 
It isn't enough to just be brave and get out there and talk to people.  We need to make certain we share the truth of God's Word. 
And when we are faithful to do that, we can have every confidence that God will be at work to use His Word to accomplish His purposes.
One final thing I notice in this text with these two churches.  First. the gospel we preach must stand the test of public scrutiny.  That's Thessalonica.
But it must also lend itself to private research and that is Berea.  When we share the gospel, we share a message to the world that can stand on its own.  It will hold up to archaeological research, scientific scrutiny and historical study.
And we share a gospel that will send the sincere searcher to his or her Bible where God will speak to the very deepest needs of the human heart. 
And people that make a difference in the world, people who turn it upside down, people who affect this world, are people who know the Word of God, believe the word of God, people who can stand on their feet eyeball-to-eyeball with people and defend what they believe and there are people who can meet people where they're at and say, "Here's what I believe and why I believe it."
It takes courage and it takes content to turn the world upside down with the Gospel. There are three more characteristics in these texts and we'll see those next time. 
Let's pray.
 
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