Turning Our World Upside Down

Starts In Us!

Acts 17


Pastor Craig Ledbetter

3 Oct, 2010   AM

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland



I.       Introduction (Acts 17:6)


A.     What a statement! “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also”


1.      It was an Extreme Accusation!


a.       That these TWO men, Paul and Silas were changing the world they lived in

b.      Is anyone in here today GUILTY of such a thing? Well, we should be!


2.      It was a Fearful Declaration – that these trouble makers had now come to Thessalonica

3.      It was a Good Testimony – Christianity meant something back then! Christians were doing something – not “blending in” but moulding and shaping the world around them!


a.       Although they viewed Paul and the others who preached the Gospel of the Kingdom of God as "these that have turned the world upside down" (see below), what God's servants were really doing was putting the world right.

b.      Since the world before them had been darkened by sin, full of superstition, and the fear of death, and hopelessly lost in error, then yes, they had indeed turned the world upside down.


B.     What happened that made these people so upset?


1.      How did the Christians in the First Century turn their world upside down? Miracles? No! Easy life? No! Every prayer answered? No! Freedom of religion? No!

2.      They didn’t threaten to bomb buildings

3.      They didn’t riot and march in the streets

4.      They did withhold their taxes and burn effigies of their king or political leaders


C.     Just what did these two, unarmed, unimposing men do that was turning their world upside down and inside out? We are going to explore HOW, all this month!

D.     But let me say that no one can affect this world for God until they themselves have been affected – turned upside down themselves! THAT is what this message is all about


II.    Background


A.     As we open up and read Acts Chapter 17, Paul, Silas and Luke have left Philippi after a rough experience.


1.      Paul and Silas having been beaten with rods, were bruised and bloodied, and been thrown in a dark inner dungeon. They had gone through all kinds of pain in the stocks that stretched their limbs and cramped their muscles.

2.      Through it all, Jesus Christ had been glorified, souls had been saved, and a new church was born in that town called Philippi, so they had rejoiced.

3.      And now, they have left Philippi.

4.      You would assume that maybe they would take a holiday and lay low for a while. Nope.

5.      As they left Philippi, they went immediately "to Thessalonica." Paul had this tremendous undaunted spirit about him. David Livingston said one time, "I am prepared to go anywhere as long as it is forward."

6.      The idea of backing down, and slowing down, and taking it easy never entered Paul’s mind.


B.     They have obviously affected more than one town, but already affected the whole area!!!


1.      Now, in Thessalonica, Paul and Silas were characterized by the people with the most interesting words. They said, "These that have turned the world upside down have come hither also."

2.      Now, let me say that that's amazing. It's amazing, that anyone could be someone who so affected the world that people would say, "They're turning it upside down!" That's tremendous! I mean, there are people who live their whole life and the world doesn't even know they're alive. There are Christians who have absolutely no effect on anything! Yet here were two people of whom the world said, "They've turned us upside down.”

3.      But if you think that's amazing, get this. They've only been to one town in Europe so far (Philippi), and the world is convinced these men are turning it upside down. Thessalonica is over a hundred miles away from Philippi. That’s amazing!


C.     There are reasons they did what they did and why they had the effect that they had.


1.      Somebody said, "There are people who watch things happen and there are people who make things happen. And then there are people who don't know what's happening." Well, Paul and Silas were people who MADE things happen. Every time they took a step, the world shook. They had an effect. What they did every day of their lives, MATTERED.

2.      One writer said, "There are only two people that count in the modern world, a committed communist and a committed Christian. Everybody else is along for the ride."

3.      Some people never amount to anything. They just go along. They float. They're in limbo.

4.      Then there are people who count. There are people who make waves in this world. There are people who upset the system. There are Christians who disturb the comfort of sinners.

5.      Paul and Silas were those kind of people.

6.      You know, God's always had those kind of people. God's always had people who made waves. God's always had people who upset Satan's apple cart, who took a placid, sinful situation and threw it into chaos:


a.       Elijah - He was always hassling wicked king Ahab. He was bad, and he had a woman that was just as bad by the name of Jezebel. But when Ahab saw Elijah one day during a major drought, Ahab said on him, "Are you he who troubles Israel? You're the guy messing up the world." Well, I love Elijah's answer. He says, "No, I haven't troubled Israel, you have. You and your father's house and that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and followed the devil!"

b.      Peter on the day of Pentecost – turned the world upside down from that moment on

c.       And then there is Paul. Every time he put his foot down, something rattled. In Acts, he didn't go into a town and just gently leave an impression. He turned the towns into spiritual chaos whenever he ministered there.


D.     What is it that makes a man really shake the world? Well, I think the characteristics are worth learning!

E.      There are six things that made these men, men who shook the world, men who turned it upside down, who upset the system. The five are these and they need definition and we're gonna define them: By conversion, courage, conviction, conflict, consistency, and by casting all their cares and worries on God


III. Message


A.     Definition - To turn something is to:


1.      To upset

2.      Break it, and soften it – like the turning of hard soil, plowing (Isa 1:25)

3.      Change it, make it better (Job 42:10)


B.     We Christians are “peculiar” by design!


1.      Light in the dark – showing the way, and dangers (Mt 5:14-16)


a.       Ye are the light of the WHAT? The WORLD! Not of the Church! Or of the Prayer Group!

b.      You CAN’T be hid – if you are saved, it shows! It already affects the world around you!

c.       You weren’t saved to hide, or blend, or to be like the world, but to SHINE in the darkness!!!

d.      SO! Let your light so shine! Good works!

e.       It causes the world around you to start glorifying God in heaven!


2.      We are SALT (5:13)


a.       What would a dinner be without some salt?

b.      How bland the world tastes without the Gospel!

c.       How same old same old life is without Christians around!

d.      WE are real flavour for the world


1)      Not this MSG rubbish that is in everything these days

2)      Not fake chemicals that have been cheaply created to replace the natural flavours that used to be in everything


3.      We are PECULIAR (1Peter 2:9) - DIFFERENT than the world around us (1Thes 5:4-8)

4.      Yes, we are designed to upset the world – we don’t agree with going with the flow – we don’t believe in the evolution of society. We know that is the “norm” today is both WRONG and DANGEROUS, and so we speak up and affect our world!


C.     The effects of Biblical Christianity on the world – Let’s Examine the record.


1.      There are no Sceptics’ hospitals, welfare agencies, orphanages, charities, Disaster Relief Agencies, Aged-Care Homes, or any of the other life-improving institutions such as those founded and funded by Christians.

2.      Deacons and elders were appointed by the early church in Jerusalem to care for the widows and the sick (Acts 6:1; James 5:13).

3.      While Charles Darwin was finalizing publication of his Origin of Species in 1859, Swiss humanitarian and Bible-believer Henri Dunant was planning the Red Cross and negotiating the Geneva convention for care and treatment of wounded soldiers. Dunant was co-winner of the first Nobel Prize for Peace in 1901, and his inspiring Red Cross committee later won the award three times.

4.      It was the Bible-believing Christians in Europe in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—not the sceptics of the day—who tackled:


a.       The illiteracy problem of Europe

b.      Who focused on starting adult education

c.       Abolition of slavery

d.      Prison Reform – where prisoners were given help

e.       Treatment for alcoholics, and drug addicts instead of just abandoning them

f.       World-wide Christian missions spread out from France, England and Switzerland at that time, reaching every main city, and island, and into even the deepest parts of Africa

g.       The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) was formed in 1844

h.      The Young Women’s Christian Association began a decade later

i.        And the Salvation Army launched its multinational organization based on Christian ethics and precepts in 1865.


5.      Wives and mistresses were no longer burned and buried alive with their dead husbands in India because of Gospel preaching missionaries who took on the culture and changed it!

6.      Democracy took off throughout Europe as people came out of the Catholic dominated Dark Ages and read and lived by the Bible

7.      Common people were challenged to be holy, and clean living (Acts 3:26)

8.      Blind justice, with the right to remain silent, and the right to a solicitor, and the right of appeal are all the result of people learning from the cruel treatment of Jesus Christ at His crucifixion, and the torture of His followers throughout history!

9.      The freedoms and safety in our European society today is because of CHRISTIANITY having an effect on wicked men’s hearts


D.     How Does the World Get Turned Upside Down Today? Same way it ALWAYS has!


1.      By Conversion (Acts 9:1-6, 19-21)!


a.       Oh yes, you can easily become bitter, and angry, and affect the world like Osama bin Laden

b.      But if you want to really turn this world around, you must be born again yourself!

c.       Conversion is the key word!

d.      Saul was a religious zealot, torturing and killing people who did not agree with him

e.       He was actually hunting down this new sect called Christians, and was getting them killed

f.       But then one day, He met Jesus! The Man who Saul had seen crucified and dead on a cross, was both seen, and heard, and proved to be very much alive now!

g.       And from that moment, Saul’s life was turned upside down!


1)      Where once he hated Christians, now he only hated the devil!

2)      Where once he hunted believers in Jesus, he only hunted lost souls so he could tell them about the love of God and the way back to Him

3)      Where once he so firmly believed he was right about his religion, he now humbled himself and started relearning everything from the start so that Jesus is right!

4)      Saul of Tarsus was truly converted

5)      As was Peter, and Thomas, and the demon possessed man of Gadara!


h.      The Gospel “turns” people:


1)      Turns people back to God instead of turning your back to God!


a)      That’s what REPENTANCE is  – “turn ye at my reproof” (Pr 1:23; Ps 22:27)


2)      Turns people’s hearts towards HOME (Lk 1:16,17; Mal 4:6)

3)      Turns people inside out – makes them REAL, honest, simple, no layers any more – no more lies, or deception


i.        Every man is turned upside down, when he becomes a follower of Christ.


1)      A total change of all your hopes!


a)      Your hopes used to be all for this world. If you could but get rich, if you could but be great and honoured, you thought you would be happy! You looked forward to it. All you were expecting was a paradise on this side of eternity. And now where are your hopes?

b)      If you ARE born again, they are not on earth. You are looking for a city not made with hands; your desires are heavenly, whereas they were only material before.

c)      Oh! Can ye say that? Can ye say that your hopes and your desires have changed? Are ye looking upward, instead of downward? Are you looking to serve God on earth, and to enjoy him for ever? Or are you still content with thinking "What ye shall eat, and what ye shall drink, and wherewithal ye shall be clothed?"


2)      A complete upsetting of all your pleasures.


a)      You loved the pub before - you hate it now.

b)      You hated God's house before; it is now where you spend hours every week learning how to live y God’s word.

c)      96FM, the Sunday newspaper, the romance novels—all these were sweet to your taste before; but you have burned the books that once enchanted you, and now the dusty Bible from the back of the shelf is taken down, and there it lies wide open upon the kitchen table, and it is read both morning and night, much loved, prized and delighted in.

d)      Sunday was once the dullest day of the week to you. But now you can’t wait for the prayer meeting, the church meeting, the gathering of the believers, and meeting best of all with the Lord God of heaven.


3)      A complete upsetting of all your friends


a)      Not happy that you don’t do the same old things anymore

b)      Not interested in hearing about the love of God for lost sinners

c)      Not interested in coming to church and hearing the Gospel

d)      Wanting nothing to do with you now that you are following a different God instead of drink, or popularity, or fun, or money

e)      It upsets people!

f)       But that is NOT a BAD thing! It is how the world gets affected!

g)      We will never affect our world by just talking like they talk, acting like they act, living like they live!


4)      It is marvellous how great a change the gospel makes in a man's house too. It turns his house upside down.


a)      Look at your TV! You find yourself watching less and less of it!

b)      Where once there was only fighting and arguing, there is the dominance of the Holy Spirit of God, and peace, and sacrificial love


1.      Men obeying the word of God

2.      Wives submitting to their husbands in the Lord

3.      Children honouring their parents and obeying them


c)      Where once Dad would come home drunk at night, and the children used to run up stairs and be in bed before he came in – it is amazing when God takes out the heart of stone, and puts in a heart of flesh, and that drunkard becomes a real man! A faithful, caring, compassionate yet truly strong man for his home!


j.        Let GOD Turn YOU Upside Down – the Effect of Jesus on your life!


1)      If any of you would be saved, your hearts must be turned upside down

2)      I put the question to you: Have you been turned upside down? I am a new man in Christ Jesus, “old things have passed away, and behold all things have become new."

3)      Jesus said, "Except ye be born again, ye cannot see the kingdom of heaven." Except ye be thoroughly changed, turned upside down, ye cannot be saved. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved"


2.      In two weeks, we will look at Five Other Things that God gives us to turn our world upside down


IV.  Application - “WE” need such a change – to be TURNED (Ps 80:7, 19; 85:4)


A.     Turned into children again (Matthew 18:1-4)!

B.     Turned into fools (1Cor 3:18-21)

C.     Turned away from idols to God (1Thes 1:9,10; Acts 19:26)

D.     Turned from darkness to light (Acts 26:18). Some of you are messing with fire on the internet, and with your friends

E.      It is the essential part of “conversion” (Isa 29:16-19)

F.      This month, let Him turn your music, your entertainment, your friends, your thinking, your worship upside down, and make your life COUNT! Mean something! have a spiritual legacy that affects our world for good!


V.     Conclusion