Act 17:6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;
I’ve always loved this description of Paul’s preaching. Christians were so well known that they were considered to turn the world upside down. To have changed everything. And thank God for that. But why did the message of Christ turn the world upside down? What was there that was not around before?
What a new and refreshing concept to the world it was. No more sacrifices, no more rolling sin forward. Our connection with God was restored and we were once again His children fully justified. What a wonderful change that Christ brought to the world.
Act 2:37-39 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? (38) Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (39) For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
It’s easy to think sometimes that we were the ones that invented feeling guilty. But that sick feeling we get in our stomach when we know we’ve done wrong goes all the way back to the Garden. Even at the day of Pentecost it was felt by the crowd. As we know this is only 50 days after Christ was crucified. Many of these men were there, and it’s likely many of them were calling for Barabbas to be released instead of Jesus.
Another thing that we must remember about the day of Pentecost was that under Jewish law a fact have to be established by 2 or 3 witnesses. On this day 120 witnesses had come down from the Upper Room to establish that Christ really did rise from the dead. Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 15:6 that more than 500 had seen Him.
Imagine the guilt of having killed a man, but then knowing that not only had He raised from the dead, but you could have forgiveness too!
Another reason that the Gospel put the world in an uproar was the compassion Jesus and the Apostles had.
Luk 7:40-43 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. (41) There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. (42) And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? (43) Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.
The more I read the Bible, the more I’m convinced the Jews liked riddles and puzzles. Samson gave one at his wedding, the Pharisees often set riddles before Christ, and Christ would set riddles before them.
We all know that the Pharisees would often question themselves because Christ would let sinners touch him, or He would hang around them. That was a big no no. I mean if we were around sinners, people might think that we were sinners… and that would be the appearance of evil!
But the Pharisees had a problem that is all too common today. For those of us that were “raised right” it’s hard to have compassion on a sinner. It’s hard to understand why they just don’t live “right.” And we tend to reject those people such as the Pharisees did. But we look to where Jesus and His Apostles took their ministry… it’s too the poor, the sick, the sinners. They are the ones that love the Gospel so dearly. I hear mission reports from other countries where people did not previously know about Christ and they come to Him in droves when they hear the Gospel.
Not Preaching Differences
We must remember that the letters that Paul wrote weren’t to pat churches on the back. Many of them were to chastise. But even so, look at how he speaks of these brothers in error.
1Co 1:1-8 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, (2) Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: (3) Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (4) I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; (5) That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; (6) Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: (7) So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: (8) Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
That’s a pretty flattering opening for a congregation that I don’t know anyone who would fellowship if they were around today. Their assembly was out of order, they didn’t know how to partake of the Lord’s Supper, they were divided, they were suing each other… the list goes on and on.
Paul doesn’t start by telling them that here’s a list of things to get right on or they’re out. He entreats them as brothers and then shows them their error. But Paul didn’t only use this tactic of starting with a common denominator when he spoke to his fellow Christians. He did it with everyone.
1Co 9:20-23 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; (21) To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. (22) To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. (23) And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.