Acts: Turning Our Town Upside Down #1
Text: Acts 1:6-11
Introduction: Today we are starting a new series, "Turning our Town Upside Down." Now that idea is taken from Acts 17:6. It is what the accusers of Paul and Silas said when they started a riot and tried to get them arrested for preaching the Gospel. Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Luke, Timothy, Titus, Epaphroditus, and others went throughout Asia minor, Greece and Rome and with the power of the Gospel of Christ changed the world. How did they do that? I mean specifically what did they do and what did they believe that was so effective in bring the Gospel into a pagan world and starting a revolution in people’s hearts?
This morning I want to start where they started in Acts chapter 1 and let me introduce my purpose with a story of a preacher who had a special way of waking up his audience when he saw someone falling asleep. He would see them nodding off and then suddenly and loudly he would shout the question, "Who all wants to go to heaven? Stand up, right now." People would stand up and wake up. The movement would also wake up anyone that had already fallen completely asleep. One day he noticed a man that was completely out so he called out, "All who want to go to heaven stand up." Everyone stood except the sleeping man. He wasn’t moving at all, just peacefully sleeping. The pastor then thought of another way to wake the man up and teach him a lesson. He then asked, "All right then all who want to go to the other place stand up." And he then slapped a songbook flat on the pulpit. The loud clap brought the man to his feet, he looked around and then sheepishly faced the preacher and said, "Pastor, I don't know what we’re voting about but it looks like you and me are the only ones for it."
So today I want to wake us up by awakening your mind to the reality and the power that was given to us at the Ascension of Christ. Let's start by looking at Acts 1:1-11 as Christ prepares to go back to his Father's Throne.
Christ's Commission Acts 1:6-8
When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Promise of Christ’s Power
The church was given the commission of carrying the good news. Not only were we given that duty, a duty that shapes and overshadows everything that we do, but we were also given the power to carry out that daunting task.
Can you imagine how this command must have sounded to these disciples gathered atop the Mount of Olives?
They have no modern transportation, it takes days to get from one nearby city to the next and months to go to another country.
There is no modern communication, not even a post office or mail. They have to write a letter on parchment or vellum and then send it by a messenger they hire or trust someone who is traveling to see that it is delivered.
The early church had nothing like we have to communicate the Gospel and carry out the Great Commission and yet they turned the world upside down. I think this happened because they had something that we often don’t have today. They had the power and the promise of Christ.
Potential of Christ’s Power
We need to have that same sense of that promise today. We still have the daunting, impossible job of carrying the good news to all the world.
Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Jesus before he sent the church empowered the church. He said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore.” The word power is the Greek word exousia and it means authority, power, right, liberty. He is saying I have the power and I’m sending you in that power and authority, Go! We always remember the command of the Great Commission but too often we forget the power that was given us first by Jesus our Lord. We struggle because we don’t remember the authority with which we are sent.
We also sometimes are lulled into complacency by thinking that with all the technology we now have we today we can do what previous generation couldn't do in getting out the Gospel. It is a foolish thought because apps and the internet don’t mean a thing if we have the power of Christ.
Illustration: Did Jesus Use A Modem At the Sermon on the Mount
Did Jesus use a podcast at the Sermon on the Mount?
Did He ever try a broadcast fax to send His message out?
Did the disciples carry smartphones as they went about their route?
Did Jesus use a podcast at the Sermon on the Mount?
Did Paul use a laptop with lots of RAM and ROM?
Were his letters posted on a blog at paul.rome.com?
Did the man from Macedonia send an E-Mail saying, "Come"?
Did Paul use a laptop with lots of RAM and ROM?
Did Moses use a joystick at the parting of the Sea?
And a Satellite Guidance Tracking System to show him where to be?
Did he write the law on tablets or are they really on CD?
Did Moses use a joystick at the parting of the Sea?
Have the wonders of this modem age made you question what is true?
How a single man, in a simple time could offer life anew?
How a sinless life, a cruel death, then glorious life again,
Could offer more to a desperate world than all the inventions of men?
If in your life, the voice of God is sometimes hard to hear,
With other voices calling, His doesn't touch your ear.
Then set aside your laptop and phone and all your fancy gear.
And open your Bible, open your heart and let your Father draw near.
Transition: Jesus left his disciples and us to evangelize of the world. What a task! How could it be done? How can it be done? The key is found as Jesus was ascending.
Christ's Ascension Acts 1:9
And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
Day of Ascension Questions
Can you imagine what they were thinking? They were watching their Savior, Lord, Master and Friend for the last time.
He was taken up, out of their sight, into a cloud and back into the presence of the Father. That cloud, I believe was not just any cloud. Throughout the Bible and especially the old Testament we see similar clouds. And it always accompanies God.
The Disciples that day must have had many questions about what had just happened and what they had just heard. Perhaps they wondered why must He go? Surely, they wondered, when will He be back? Why couldn't he stay with us for more than 40 days? How can we do what He has commanded us to do?
Nor did the questions stop on that day. We have questions for out day and age.
Days of Church Age Questions
It's been two thousand years and we still have questions. Where is Jesus? Why hasn’t He returned? Why when this world is so evil does he stay in heaven? And still we ask, How do we continue to carry out the Great Commission as our society and nation turns against us.
The Bible has an answer, the Bible always has an answer if you’re just willing to look and listen. The
answer is in 1 Peter 3:3
1Peter 3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Peter says, God has not forgotten it is not His failure that delays His Son’s return, but it is His mercy. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
As He promised his Disciple that night in the upper room promised "If I go I will come again."
One day all our questions will be answered, and all our doubts will be overcome, until that day or task remains the same, our power to carry out that task remains the same and we should rejoice that God has given us one more day to share the Gospel, one more sinner to call to repentance.
We don’t need to be looking for signs of the times or signs of his coming. We need to be looking for signs of sinners needing to know Jesus.
Illustration: We Don't Need signs
Too many times Christians are like the tourist driving through West Texas who stopped at a gas station and observed a piece of rope dangling from a sign labeled "Weather Forecaster." "How can you possibly tell the weather with a piece of rope?" the tourist wanted to know. "It's simple, Sonny," was the droll answer from the station owner. "When the rope swings back and forth, it's windy, when it gets wet, it's raining, when it's frozen stiff, it's snowing, and if it's gone... well that’s a tornado!"
Quit worrying about signs, Jesus told us his return was imminent, that means it could occur at any time. It does not require the fulfillment of any sign only the promise of our saviour to be true.
We should be like D.L. Moody. Who was once asked, "What is the secret of your success?" Moody replied, "For many years I have never given an address without the consciousness that the Lord may come before I have finished."
Transition: We know He went back to heaven but don't really realize why it was necessary?
Christ's Extension Acts 1:10-11
And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
Heaven’s Promised Power
Many times this is where we think the work of Christ stopped. That He went to heaven and quit. That He just turned over the work to us and is just waiting until He returns, but that is not why he went back to Heaven. But when Jesus went back to Heaven he left his followers with a promise, a promise of Power and in that power the world was going to change.
Jesus told His disciple in John 16:7-15 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
Jesus went back so that we could receive the power and indwelling of the Holy Spirit and in that power they turned the world upside down.
Heaven’s Present Power
We have are not looking for that promise of power as they did that day on Mount Olivet, we are depending on that present power that is ours today, trusting in the gifts that have been given us to carry out the commission of Christ.
Ephesians 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
Besides the Gospel, the Commission and the power, look at what we have been given because Christ has ascended to Heaven.
Hope: to look for his return
He ascended but He is coming again.
John 14:1, Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Forgiveness: to deal with our sin.
When He ascended He became our intercessor.
Ro 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Heb 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
Power: to work the works of God.
When He ascended He gave us the Holy Spirit
Joh 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
Heavenly Perspective: even now we are with Him above this world.
In His ascension He keeps us in His presence
Eph 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
He keeps us from being brought down by this world and into this world.
Illustration: The Power In Ignatius
Let me close with the story of Ignatius of Antioch. He was a disciple of John the Apostle and the pastor of the church at Antioch. He was arrested and transported to Rome for trial and execution by wild animals. Along the route he wrote letters to churches and to his friend Polycarp who would also be executed for his faith.
After he was convicted and was waiting to put into area with the lions, the judges asked him why he kept repeating the name Jesus. This was his reply.
My dear Jesus, my Saviour, Is so deeply written in my heart, that I feel confidant, that if my heart were to be cut open and chopped to pieces, the name of Jesus would be found written on every piece. – Ignatius.
That was the power that turned the world upside down and it is the same power we can have today if we but believe it is ours.
Jesus promised power to his church in Jerusalem and when it came on the Day of Pentecost, the world began to be turned upside down. But the churches in Jerusalem and Antioch didn’t turn the world upside down by themselves. They sent out missionaries and those missionaries established churches in Asia, Greece and Roman. One day those churches sent out missionaries that started churches in Britain, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands. Until one day that process was repeated here in Athens, Texas and Calvary Baptist Church was started. You and I are the beneficiaries of that power that was promised by Christ all those centuries ago. And today we must trust in that promise as they did, open ourselves by faith to that power from on high and believe that we can turn our town upside down with the Gospel of Christ.