Why Did They Turn The World Upside Down?

By Dr. Ken Matto

(Acts 17:6 KJV) 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;

The Apostle Paul and his entourage left Philippi after they had been severely mistreated. Paul and Silas were flogged because they had commanded the devil to come out of a girl and her owners had seen that the source of their income was now gone. So they took Paul and Silas and brought them before the Magistrates and they were sentenced to be flogged without a trial. When the Magistrates had come to the knowledge that they were Roman citizens and were flogged without a trial or any true charges brought against them, they had feared because if what they did came before the Roman Senate, they could have lost their office and faced punishment for their crime.

So the Magistrates came themselves and released Paul and Silas and they went on their way from the jail at Philippi. From Philippi they journeyed into Thessalonica. As Paul’s custom was, he had gone into the synagogue of the Jews and had reasoned with them from the Scriptures for three Sabbath days which would be three weeks. Paul had made some converts but as usual there was a group of unbelieving Jews who did not agree with the teachings of Paul which resulted in them getting the town in an uproar.

One of the believers in Thessalonica named Jason was a friend to Paul. As the town had degenerated into a mob scene, they had accosted the house of Jason and drew him and other brethren out of the house. They did as those in Philippi did, by bringing them before the rulers of the city and accused them with these immortal words, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;”

The title of this article is “Why Did They Turn The World Upside Down?” That is the question we Christians must face in the times we are living in. It is obvious that we are allowed to speak about any subject or even any religion for that matter without raising the ire of anyone but the minute Jesus is mentioned, immediately the flags go up and the threats start coming out.

We expect to be threatened for the testimony of Jesus Christ but when the church and individual Christian cowers in fear of the unbelievers, then something has really gone awry, especially over the last 200 years. The church in the 21st century has become a pandering entity to unbelievers. When Charles Darwin published his “Origin of Species” in 1859 and coupling with that the German liberalism which became entrenched in the American churches, the decline of the church had begun. As I write this in 2013, churches have begun to marry sodomite couples in order that they will not be sued. In 1954, Satan pulled his coup de grace on the church through Senator Lyndon Johnson who introduced the Johnson Amendment to grant tax exempt status to the churches with the proviso that they never speak of politics or anything outside their “religion.” Pastors and other church leaders have become so fearful of the IRS, that they will not do anything to jeopardize their tax exemption. In other words, the organized church has betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver again. The church fears government more than it fears God. (Psa 9:20 KJV) Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah. What the church leaders have forgotten is that the government is made up of flesh and blood and not divinity.

How many Christians do you know that are truly crucified? How many churches do you know of which are truly crucified? Are you crucified? Have you set an example for your Christians friends?

We are going to delve into the reasons why there was such a strong testimony for the Lord Jesus Christ and how they maintained that testimony. What we have today is the world turning the church upside down. The world is dictating to the church what it can and cannot say, or what it can and cannot do. Is there any hope left for the church or is it the end and time to re-establish house churches? Are we at a point of no return? You need to judge or else you may be judged! (Mat 11:15 KJV) He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

The Embryonic Church
One of the characteristics of the embryonic church was the fact that wherever they went and preached the Gospel of Christ, they pricked the hearts of the unbelievers to the point that even riots happened. Let us look at some of those occurrences:

1) Paul goes into Ephesus and the whole town goes into an uproar - (Acts 19:23 KJV) And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.

2) Stephen preaches one sermon and it cost him his life - (Acts 7:54 KJV) When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.

3) Peter and John preach boldly in the name of Jesus and are threatened by the Sanhedrin - (Acts 4:17-18 KJV) But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. {18} And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

4) John the Baptizer warns Herod that it is not lawful to have Herodias as his wife and it cost him his life - (Mat 14:10 KJV) And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.

These are just four examples of the many uproars and riots caused by the fearless preaching of the true Gospel by God’s servants. When we look at the trouble they got into, it was not because of them but it was the message. They angered the people because the name of Christ was center in their message. This has not changed in two thousand years. You can openly discuss religion. You can discuss politics. You can discuss your good works and even your church but once you start discussing the name and person of Christ, the line automatically gets drawn in the sand and if you cross it, then there will be consequences.

Is there some mystery to the fact that whenever the embryonic church began to preach the word of God in truth, why they faced the serious opposition that they did? After all the modern born again Christian is saved the same way the early Christians were saved. They are indwelt by the same Holy Spirit. They are saved through the same blood of Christ. They are endowed with the same spiritual gifts (minus the sign gifts today). They have access to the same power of God. Then why did the embryonic church seem to have the power that is lacking in the modern church? When we start to compare those Christians of the early church to the Christians of today, we see some stark differences.

The Christians in the embryonic church saw themselves with a very serious calling on them. If they did not see their calling as a serious thing, then they would not have sacrificed their life in the ministry of the word. To them the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ was a life and death daily commitment.

They saw the seriousness of:

Their Calling
(2 Tim 1:9 KJV) Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

Paul teaches us a very high truth as he states that God has saved us and the type of calling we have is not a religious calling but a true holy calling. Whenever we bring the gospel to people, it is a very holy event because the word of God is being spoken or discussed and He is thrice holy. The verse then declares that we are not saved and called because of any type of works which we do and that religious works describes every false religion on this earth. Religion is where man tries to get right with God on his own terms but Christianity is God making it right with His elect on His terms and purpose. Salvation would come only through grace and never the keeping of the law in any form. Before the world was created God had already named a people that He was going to save. (Rev 17:8 KJV) The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. God had placed into every believer a purpose for their existence which was to be manifest through the indwelling Holy Spirit after a person became saved through their spiritual gifts, which is what Paul had told Timothy to stir up. We can look at Ephesians 4:11-12. (Eph 4:11-12 KJV) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; {12} For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: We can see the general reason for the giving of these gifts as perfecting the Saints and for edifying the body of Christ. How these things would be worked out in the lives of individuals would be according to the will of God. The word “will” can also be understood as “purpose.” So the purposes of God for the believer is fulfilled in their individual ministries.

Christ’s Sacrifice
(1 Cor 2:2 KJV) For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

All the wisdom of the sages of Greece could not add one bit to the salvation plan of God nor could their philosophical theories bring them to Christ. Man comes to know Christ only through revelation. (Luke 10:22 KJV) All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him. Even the most eloquent preachers today cannot add anything to the Gospel message. (Gal 2:5-6 KJV) To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. {6} But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: The message of the Gospel needs to be in plain and understandable language. It does no good for either the preacher or the hearer to speak with words that are not understood. Once the preacher gets passed the language barrier, he needs to trim his message by keeping it Christ centered. Too many sermons do an end around run from biblical truth, but we expect that from the blind and the dead preachers. Paul wants those who bring the Gospel to have a message that is Christ centered and must contain the elements of the sacrifice of Christ, so those hearing will realize that it is only through Christ and what He did on Calvary will bring a person to salvation. Paul wanted to eclipse any idea of people thinking that Christianity was another philosophy. Philosophy was of the mind of man, while salvation was from the act of God. (Jonah 2:9 KJV) But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.

(Luke 12:5 KJV) But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

Jesus had spoken to a great crowd of people and He also spoke of these things to His disciples. They were fully cognizant of the reality of hell. They knew that if a person did not become saved, then their final destination was going to be a burning lake of fire for eternity. In our day, hell has become a swear word and has lost its sharp edge. Today the majority of Christians treat hell as if it were a motel room with cable TV not working. (Psa 9:17 KJV) The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. The Hebrew Scriptures mentions hell 31 times. So these new Christians would have definitely known about the seriousness of eternal damnation.

False Teachings
(Acts 20:29-30 KJV) For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. {30} Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

False Teachers and Teachings from the Outside
Paul now states to the elders at Ephesus that after he departs, whether it be from them or from this world, that false teachers will arise from their ranks. Another aspect of the true elder is that they must have the spiritual ability to protect the flock from the grievous wolves. One of the fights that Paul had were with those Judaizers who stated that a person must be circumcised along with grace to be saved. (Luke 11:46 KJV) And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. The word “grievous” in Acts 20:29 carries with it the meaning of “heavy, burdensome, or weighty.” So the false teachers will definitely come in and add heavy burdens to the believers.

Once these false teachers know that Paul is gone for good, they will once again try to invade the church and introduce their false teachings which will add many burdens to the salvation by grace gospel. These teachers do not care about the flock because it is them they will be after, hoping to draw people after themselves and their teachings. This is why the Elders must be very astute students of the Scriptures to be able to identify the false teachings and remove the false teachers, even if they have to use the Nehemiah method. (Neh 13:7-8 KJV) And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God. {8} And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber.

False Teachers and Teachings from the Inside
There will always be those in the congregations who feel they have a special calling from God and will come up with all kind of spurious interpretations of Scripture. Not every church is attacked from the outside but there are many that self-destruct because the leaders do not keep a tight rein on the teachings. Anyone who subverts the real teachings of Scripture must be ordered to leave the church before they infect the believers, especially the weaker ones which are the primary targets of false teachers. Their main purpose is to draw people after themselves and build a base of their own that they can rule over. These type of false teachers can decimate the ranks of a church and eventually cause its demise. Some of the false teachers of our times who have risen from the ranks of the church are: William Miller (7th Day Adventists), Charles Taze Russell who started the Jehovah’s Witnesses began as a Presbyterian, David Koresh (Branch Davidians), Harold Camping (Church is dead movement), Joel Osteen with his no sin and no hell doctrine, and there are probably many others. All Christians must be on guard against men or women who wish to gather disciples to themselves. The word “perverse” in verse 30 carries with it the meaning of “oppose, corrupt, or turned away.”

They Were Crucified
They were not crucified the way the Lord was but many of them did die torturous deaths because of their faith. To be crucified was to be in total dedication to the Lord Jesus Christ. (Mat 16:24 KJV) Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Since crucifixion meant death, to be crucified in the service of Christ means a total death to self and our worldly desires. (Mat 6:24 KJV) No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.  This is not just an intermittent thing where we are crucified on Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon we are drinking in front of the TV watching Football. Crucifixion in our life is a continuum of dedication and not a convenience of dedication.

They were crucified to:

The Message
(1 Cor 1:17 KJV) For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

The message was to be the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 15:3-4 KJV) For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; {4} And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: The message they were to proclaim was the Gospel in its unadulterated form. There were to be no additions of any type of material which would have softened the message. They were to proclaim the fact that Christ died for the sins of His people, that is, the Elect, and that His physical body was placed in an earthly tomb and that He rose bodily on the third day. There are many false gospels today who believe that the Lord Jesus Christ rose spiritually and not bodily. If that was the case, then His body should still be buried and yet none of His detractors can ever find His tomb and the reason is, “He is not here, He is risen.”

Today’s message is man centered and not Christ centered. I am still waiting for one free will proponent to show me the term “accept Christ.” The reason is that it does not exist because Christ accepts us, we do not accept Him. How can anyone that is dead be anything but dead? (Eph 2:5 KJV) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) If we are dead, then we can do nothing. If we are to be spiritually alive, then it is Christ who must raise us to new life in Him. Today’s sermons are just an amalgamation of jokes, stories, quotes from theologians, feel good statements to make the sheeple happy, and without the pungency of truth.

(1 Cor 16:15 KJV) I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)

Their first and foremost desire was ministry and not their creature comforts. The Apostle Paul was always looking for a place to minister and that is why the Holy Spirit was guiding Paul as to where he should minister. (Acts 16:9 KJV) And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. Every true Christian in Christ needs to be desirous of some phase of ministry. Every Christian has been given at least one spiritual gift which is to be used in the ministry which God has for them. (Eph 2:10 KJV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ministry also needs to be the first and foremost desire of the Christian in the twenty first century. We were not saved to refocus ourselves back on ourselves as we did before we became saved.

(Gal 6:14 KJV) But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

The apostle Paul lays down a major principle and that is he is crucified to the world. In contrast to the false teachers who glory in the converts they make to the bondage of the law, Paul does not glory in his own works but he glories in the cross of Christ. The cross of Christ has caused the world to be crucified unto Paul, that is, the world holds no attraction for Him. Crucifixion means that Paul’s only reason for living is no longer tied to the world and the law, but is tied to Christ. Paul also states that he is crucified unto the world, that is, he has no affinity to the things of the world because he no longer preaches the law or the things of the world. His entire being is in Christ and therefore the world does not hold him in honor nor does he hold the world in honor, because the world is in opposition to Christ and the cross. We are not to bring ourselves under the bondage of the world since Christ has freed us at the cross. This world should also hold no attraction for us. We must view it as fleeting and no matter what it offers, it is only temporary. The Gospel of Christ is the only permanent thing on this earth because it goes beyond the present world and into eternity.

To summarize this section, we can answer the question, “why did they turn the world upside down?” The answer is very simple and that is they stuck to the word of God, added or subtracted nothing, and proclaimed that very word. (Gal 5:11 KJV) And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. The true Gospel is an offence to the hearers. The reason it is an offence is because God tells us our true condition and that condition requires a Savior or else salvation cannot happen. The true Gospel teaches that man is a real reprobate and needs to be changed from the inside and that is why the outward manifestations of religion are a total failure because it does not get to the heart of man’s need. He needs a change of heart, from being spiritually dead to spiritually alive. What also makes people angry is the exclusiveness of true Christianity. (John 14:6 KJV) Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Every world religion is false and leads to eternal damnation and this is what makes true Christianity an offence and why it is the only faith being attacked on this earth with such vitriol.

At this juncture, I want to give some other examples of Christians who turned the world upside down by refusing to compromise and proclaiming the truth in the face of insurmountable odds. These will be from history and not necessarily from the embryonic church.

Martin Luther 1483-1546
When Martin Luther was a monk, he read Romans 1:17. (Rom 1:17 KJV) For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.  That is when God got hold of his heart and showed him plainly that salvation can never come through man’s works as the Roman Catholic Church taught and still teaches. Salvation was by grace and the faithful live by faith and not by works. He posted his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg. He opposed vehemently the work of Bishop Tetzel who sold indulgences to get friends and relatives out of purgatory or to shorten their time there. Luther had gone against the most powerful organization in existence at that time and because he stood on the word of God, he had victory, even though he was sought after by the Roman Catholics until the time of his death.

William Tyndale 1494-1536
William Tyndale had a desire to give the Bible to the English speaking world. He wanted to get it out of the dead language of Latin as held by the Roman Catholic Institution. He printed the New Testament in English in 1526. It was smuggled into England where it met with much opposition and Bishop Tunstall opposed it and warned any book shop from selling it. Tyndale was betrayed by a friend and was martyred for his desire to get the Bible into English. His contribution paved the way for the King James Bible 78 years later but between 1526 and 1604, there were several other Bible Translations made in the English all built upon the work of Tyndale.

1535 - Coverdale Bible
1537 - Matthews Bible
1540 - Great Bible
1568 - Bishops Bible
1560 - Geneva Bible
1611 - King James Bible

John Huss 1380? - 1415
John Huss (Jan Hus) lived in Prague, Czechoslovakia and had adopted the teachings of Tyndale which were forbidden by the Roman Catholic Institution. He too spoke out against the practice of the sale of indulgences. Huss held to the fact that he was going to continue to trust the Scriptures and to order his life according to them and not the dictates of the Roman Catholic Institution. For his desire to live only according to the Scriptures, he was martyred on July 6, 1415.

Richard Bayfield - ? - 1531
Bayfield was accused of circulating New Testaments and works by Luther and others. When asked why, he replied, "It was to the intent that the gospel of Christ might be set forward, and God more glorified in this realm among Christian people." On the 20th November, 1531 he was condemned, and Stokeley, who had succeeded Bishop Tunstall, was so furious at Bayfield's refusal to name names that he struck him violently with his crosier, sending Bayfield crashing to the ground. Recovering, Bayfield thanked God he had been delivered from the church of the Anti-Christ, and had come into the true church of Jesus Christ;, "And I trust anon to be in heaven with Christ" he said.  Bayfield was taken to Smithfield and burned, his sufferings very severe for the fire was not sufficient to consume him. His left arm burned and fell from his body before the remainder was consumed, but he continued in prayer until he died.

John Rogers - 1500-1555
Tyndale’s New Testament had been published in 1526. John Rogers had translated the complete Bible known as the Matthews Bible in 1537 along with some other reformation materials. He was martyred for publishing this Bible in 1555. He was the first English Protestant Martyr under the Reign of Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary).

One of the most obvious traits of those who turned the world upside down is that they refused to abandon the true word of God for church dogma, doctrines, and rituals. These Christians have shown their true allegiance and that is to the Lord Jesus Christ and not to the feelings of a bunch of hell bound sinners who do not like to hear the truth. They were driven by their commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and nothing in this world was going to stop them, even the threat of losing their life, which many did. What is missing today in Christendom is the strong commitment we saw in days past. It seems the world is turning the Christian upside down. We have clung to watered down counterfeit bible versions, clung to the watered down gospel, watered down description of God and His holiness, clung to God loves everyone no matter how debauched their lifestyle is, and have allowed our church leadership to do our thinking for us, which has been an absolute failure. If Christianity is going to be strong once again, then Christians are going to have to rebuff the false teachings and compromising teachings and remain strong on the word of God. (2 Cor 5:20 KJV) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. An Ambassador does not accept what he wants nor do they create their own teachings. An Ambassador represents a government and brings their views to the other countries. As Christian Ambassadors, we too have the message from our government in Heaven and that is found in the Scriptures. Once we depart from them and create our own teachings, then we have failed and will continue to see Christianity get weaker and have less influence. How about you, have you turned your world upside down or has the world turned you upside down?