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The Scriptorium

The World Turned Upside-Down

That's the power of the Gospel. Acts 17

Savior and King (7)

Pray Psalm 46.1-3.
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.
Selah

Sing Psalm 46.1-3.

(St. Chrysostom: We Have Not Known Thee As We Ought)
God is our refuge and our strength; He is our help in times of need.
Thus though the earth beneath us should change, the sea consume the mountain range.
Waters may roar with raging speed; yet God will rescue us at length.

Read Acts 17.1-40; meditate on verses 5-7.

Preparation

1. What did their opponents claim about the apostles?

2. What was the main threat they posed?

Meditation
People in Athens or Rome may not have been too troubled about strange new beliefs stirring on the fringes of the empire. Palestine had always resisted Roman beliefs and ways. And Asia Minor, where all those Greek ex-pat syncretists had settled – well, it wasn’t surprising that, though the old Greek gods still had worshipers there, the new beliefs from Palestine were beginning to be established.

But for the faith of Jesus to gain a foothold on the mainland of Greece? That was troublesome, especially because of the implications of the Gospel, which some had rightly discerned. A new King was on the throne. A new economy was unfolding. The old ways of morality, cult, social stratification, and order were being turned upside-down. And now the blight had come to the heartland of Greco-Roman life and culture.

What that Thessalonian mob saw as a blight and a threat was indeed transforming the world. Jews would slander the messengers and distort their teaching. Pagans would try to absorb the new faith and, that failing, turn in violence against its proponents. Threats of bodily harm, imprisonment, and worse would increase. But the ongoing work of Christ would continue because the Gospel is the power of God for salvation for all who believe (Rom. 1.16, 17). And those who truly believed would allow nothing to keep them from practicing the Kingship of Jesus in love for God and their neighbors.

These days proclaiming Jesus as King is easy. Christians do it all the time, mostly among themselves. Rarely do today’s believers proclaim the Kingship of Jesus to their neighbors, co-workers, or friends. We proclaim Him King as we gather to worship; but do we practice His Kingship, His moment-by-moment-all-encompassing-rule, throughout the course of our days?

No one outside the pale of faith today seems too concerned about their world being turned upside-down. Not by Christians, anyway. But if we were known as a people who practice what we proclaim, that could quickly change.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
But really, what if we were known as a people who practice what we proclaim?

God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit: He is the One we follow as our prime example. So let’s see what He’s been doing for a very long time:

“The LORD opens the eyes of the blind;
The LORD raises those who are bowed down;
The LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the strangers;
He relieves the fatherless and the widow;
but the way of the wicked
He turns upside down.” (Ps. 146.8, 9)

And how best do we practice what we proclaim? By keeping God’s commandments (Ex. 20.1-17).

“Those who forsake the law praise the wicked,
but such as keep the law contend with them.” (Prov. 28.4)

And that is how we turn the world upside down for our King Jesus! No need to have a boycott of some worldly product or nail the Ten Commandments on the front of the local courthouse or put up our cozy nativity scenes in all the wrong places. 

But if you name the Name of Christ, and count yourself a follower of Jesus, then by all means, keep His Laws. It is, after all, how we show Him that we love Him (Jn. 14.15).

It is only when our lives and our words match up, that our light so shines before men, that they see our good works of obedience and glorify our Father in heaven (Matt. 5.16).

“Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice…” (1 Sam. 15.22).

The world will be turned upside-down for Jesus when we, as His Body, keep the Law (Matt. 5.17-19).

For reflection
1. In what ways would you say Jesus has turned your world “upside-down”?

2. Do you think our world today needs a little “rightside-upping”? Explain.

3. Why is the Gospel so powerful to change for good everything about our lives?

We are to preach concerning Jesus that he is Christ; therefore we may hope to be saved by him, and are bound to be ruled by him.Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Act 17.1-9

Pray Psalm 46.4-11.

Praise God for His greatness and His sovereign rule over all the earth! Thank Him for being with you always, even to the end of the age. Draw close to Him and wait on Him to make His Presence known to you. Sink in and rest in His glory.

Sing Psalm 46.4-11.
(St. Chrysostom: We Have Not Known Thee As We Ought)
God’s everlasting, joyous grace gladdens the city where He dwells.
Safely in Him, we will not be moved; when morning dawns, His love will be proved.
Fears and distresses Jesus dispels for His beloved, chosen race.

Kingdoms arise and rage and roar, threat’ning the earth with sore distress.
Nations may fall, earth melt away, His Word is yet our hope and stay.
God is among us, ever to bless; He is our stronghold evermore.

Come see the works of God’s Right Hand! He breaks the nations of the earth,
Shatters their foolish weapons and pride, sets all their sinful strength aside.
Them He will show His infinite worth as they before His judgment stand.

Rest in the Lord and be at peace, all who are mired in sore travail.
Lift up our God, praise Jesus our Lord; proclaim to all the earth His Word!
God is our stronghold, never to fail: thus may our hope and joy increase!

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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