Today we wrap up our fall series called IGNITE. The series where we get in your face with Grace…
Let’s get right into God’s Word. When Paul and Silas preached Christ in one town, the people got mad. They formed a mob. Paul and Silas took refuge in the house of a believer named Jason. Here’s what happened:
But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. (Acts 17:6, NKJV).
I want you to notice what the mob said about the Christians. “They turned the world upside down.”
These were not tamed Christians who kept to themselves. They turned the world upside down.
They had a message called the gospel… Christ died for our sins… believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.
They had a mission called evangelism… helping people find and follow God, everywhere in the world.
They had a ticking clock called Only One Life. They had only one life to offer Jesus. One lifetime to preach the gospel and tell the world of a Savior who died for them.
And they did it. They climbed mountains. They crossed seas. They faced persecution. They endured suffering. They paid any price. Rather than say Caesar is Lord, they were thrown to the lions in Rome.
The more trouble they faced, the more the message spread.
Until just a few short years after Christ died and rose again, the angry mob says these few Christians turned the world upside down.
I would like you to think with me to day on this one topic:
THE FORMULA FOR MAKING HISTORY
Too many times, people think that being a good Christian means being a tamed Christian. We have two little dogs… they look like mops. Pippy and Lacy. My son asked how long they would survive in the wild. I said, “not even a day.”
They’ve been tamed. Domesticated.
I looked for synonyms for tame. Here’s what I got: Domesticated. Docile. Broken. Trained. Gentle. Mild. Submissive. Compliant. Meek. Unexciting. Uninteresting. Uninspiring. Dull. Bland. Spiritless. Mediocre. Ordinary.
I can promise you, domesticated, docile, compliant, dull, bland, spiritless, mediocre Christians did not turn the world upside down.
So what did they have? What fueled the fire in their bellies?
Giant God. Giant Salvation. Giant Faith. Giant Difference.
The Formula for Making History (Four factors)
I can tell you today, your God is too small.
A word is a place holder for an idea. When you hear the word GOD, what idea comes into your mind. Whatever that idea is, whatever that mental picture is, multiply it by a million, and your God is still too small.
You expect too little of him. You have taken the infinite one, and crushed him into a manageable, nice, little pet God.
A nice God. A harmless God. A toothless old man who only wants everybody to get along and play nice.
Do you love God? How can you love a God you don’t know?
Do you trust God? How can you trust a God you routinely underestimate?
Who is this God of yours?
- God. (El, Elohim), Gen 1:1. God is the supreme being–there is no one higher than him.
- God of Gods. (Elohay Elohim), Deut 10:17.
- Almighty God. (El Shaddai), Gen 17:1.
- God Most High. (El Elyon), Gen 14:18-20.
- God who Sees. (El Roi), Gen 16:13.
- The Great God. (El HaGadol), Deut 10:17.
- The Everlasting God. (El Olam), Gen 21:33, Deut 33:27.
- God of Glory. (El Kabod), Ps 29:3.
- God My Helper. (El Ezer), Ps 54:4.
- God of Heaven. (El Shammayim), 2 Chron 20:6.
- Lord. (Yahweh=Jehovah), Exodus 3:14, 15. God is the self-existent one.
- The Lord God. (Yahweh Elohim), 2 Sam 7:28, Jer 32:16-19.
- The Lord our Righteousness. (Yahweh Tsidkenu), Jer 23:6; 33:16.
- The Lord of Hosts/Armies. (Yahweh Tsabaoth), Josh 5:14,15. This is God’s fighting name.
- The Lord Who Provides. (Yahweh Yireh), Gen 22:14.
- The Lord My Banner. (Yahweh Nissi), Ex 17:5. As our banner, he leads us, inspires us, and we rally around him.
- The Lord My Shepherd. (Yahweh Rohi), Ps 26:1.
- The Lord Who is There. (Yahweh Shammah), Ezek 48:35.
- The Lord Who Sanctifies. (Yahweh M’Qoddesh), Ex 31:13.
- The Lord Who Heals. (Yahweh Rophe), Ex 15:26.
- The Lord Our Peace. (Yahweh Shalom), Judges 6:24.
- Adonai, (Lord). Adonai emphasizes that God is Master of all. Gen 18:2; 1 Sam 1;15; Ex 21:1-6; Josh 5:14.
- Ancient of Days. Dan 7:9
- Father, Abba (Daddy). Deut 32:6, Rom 8:15, Gal 4:6.
- God of All Grace, 1 Pe 5:10.
- God of My Salvation, Ps 25:5
The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10, NKJV).
- When his people were in trouble, he parted the sea.
- When they were thirsty, he brought water from a rock.
- When they were hungry, he fed them with angels bread.
- When Joshua needed more time, God made the sun stand still.
- When Joseph needed release, God sent a dream to Pharaoh.
- When Daniel was thrown to lions, God sent an angel and shut their mouths.
- When three men were thrown into a fiery furnace, God was with them in the fire.
- When the enemy came in, the power of God came down.
God is not domesticated. His power made a trillion sons. His wisdom formed the human brain. His holiness burns in eternal hatred of that which hurts those he loves. His love exceeds the boundaries of human imagination.
Do you think God has forgotten you? You have forgotten that he knows all things.
Do you worry he has abandoned you? You have forgotten his faithfulness.
Do you imagine he doesn’t care? You have forgotten his fierce dedication and his endless loyalty for those who call God Father.
You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. (Isaiah 26:3, NKJV).
The early Christians turned the world upside down because they believed in a GIANT GOD bigger than every foe, every enemy, every problem, every bully, every dysfunction, every heartache, and every loss that the giant pain machine called earth threw at them.
This is the formula for making history.
GIANT GOD +
A Giant God + A Giant Salvation
how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, (Hebrews 2:3, NKJV).
Such a great salvation.
It is giant because of the size of your problem.
God saved you from sin.
I said a word is a place holder for an idea. When you hear the word SIN, what comes to mind for you? I said your God is too small, and now I want to say your sin is too small.
It’s not just a little mistake. Every sin is a person joining the rebellion against God.
The Bible compares sin to filthy rags, and the original language is pretty disgusting. It compares sin to going astray on purpose. To worshipping idols. To breaking the law and not caring. To being a moral criminal before the supreme court of heaven.
Every one of us is a prodigal son and daughter, by nature, by choice, by practice.
Sin goes deep in the human heart, and tells God to just get lost.
Sin is a giant problem. It challenges God’s power, refuses God’s authority, and spits on God’s holiness. Sin is a giant problem.
So what did God do?
God sent a giant savior.
Your salvation is giant because of the size of your Savior.
Jesus Christ came into the world to handle the world’s sin problem. He died for your sins as your substitute.
- His heart was big enough to love every sinner.
- His blood was strong enough to cleanse every sin.
- His life was holy enough to satisfy every demand of God’s holiness against you.
Jesus came to teach, but not just to teach.
- He came to love, but not just to love.
- He came to be our example, but not just to be our example.
- He came to step into the arena of battle and to fight the devil, and fight the demons, and fight evil, and to conquer evil at its source… but not just to do that.
The main reason Jesus came was to be your Savior.
There is no sin you can sin that Jesus didn’t pay for.
He cleansed you. He found you in filthy garments, washed you white as snow, and robed you in shimmering robes of righteousness. He found you a criminal, and gave you a pardon. He found you an orphan and adopted you. He accepted you. He welcomed you. He forgave you. He gave you heaven. He gave you streets of gold. He gave you life after death. He secured you in his loving arms. He gave you a mission. He came to live inside you.
You have a giant salvation… that saved you from giant sins, by the power of a giant Savior… I
t wraps you up in a giant security, so that you couldn’t lose your salvation if you tried.
And it turns ALL of this into a giant gift. Free. Paid in full. Not earned by working. Not won by competing. Not merited by behavior.
But received as a gift, free of charge, by faith alone in Christ alone.
You might have all the wealth of the world, it would not be enough to pay for your salvation. Only the blood of Christ, shed for you could purchase heaven and salvation for you.
When the early Christians turned the world upside down, they believed they had a GIANT GOD plus a GIANT SALVATION. The salvation they preached was more important than what college they went to, what career they chose, what person they married… everything took second place to God and his salvation.
Why are Christians so tame?
Because they’ve made God small and salvation weak, and other things seem so much bigger.
But when you get a glimpse of God, high and mighty and exalted and glorious… and when you can see how incredible your salvation is… that it’s so giant it crowds out every other factor in your life… that’s when you can make history.
That’s when you can start to turn your world, your campus, your family upside down.
GIANT GOD + GIANT SALVATION +
The world told them to shut up, but they shouted the gospel louder.
The world told them stay put, but they crossed the oceans and walked the continents as missionaries and ambassadors of Christ.
The world told them it didn’t want their message, but they knew the world needed their message, so they loved lost people enough to tell them of the Savior.
You are going into a world that desperately needs the message they desperately hate to hear.
Can you see the problem with this?
This is the GIANT FAITH of the church that turned the world upside down:
Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail. When all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew you had better things waiting for you in eternity. (Hebrews 10:33, 34, NLT).
Where is your faith, Christian? Where is your courage, your fearlessness, your guts to be a Christian?
Either your life is a mission, or you are missing in action.
- God saves you, that’s first.
- God blesses you, that’s second.
- God grows you, that’s third.
- And then God uses you, that’s fourth, and that’s been the focus of this whole series.
What is faith? Faith is trusting God.
What is giant faith? Faith is trusting God when faith makes no sense.
Trusting God when your friends think you are weird. You accept it with joy, because you know you have better things waiting for you in eternity.
I have a book on my shelf with an awesome title: People Whose Faith Got Them Into Trouble. It talks about heroes of Christian history.
But you can be a hero in God’s eyes.
The world is getting more and more hostile to the message of Christ. I pray this turns around. We live in a place where it is pretty low cost to be a Christian.
Would you be a Christian, would you be known as a Christian, in places in the world that persecute Christians?
That’s what it takes to make history. That’s what it takes to turn the world upside down.
What is giant faith?
GIANT FAITH IS Non-conformity. Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold. You’re different. They get violent, you don’t. They cheat, you don’t. They make immoral choices, sexually, you don’t. You wait for sex till you’re married. They picket or riot or walk out… you don’t. You’re different you are a Christian. You trust in God, and your life is in his hands. The world needs to see that there’s a better way.
Giant faith is non-conformity to the world.
GIANT FAITH IS Non-panic. It is not giving in to fear. It is not lurching through life from one emergency to the next. It is not freaking out over every problem. Giant faith is the ability to rest your anxious heart in God even through there’s a storm blowing all around you. The world needs to see that there’s a better way.
I’m talking about the formula for making history.
- Too many wimps.
- Too many half-hearted Christians.
- Too many secret Christians.
GIANT GOD + GIANT SALVATION + GIANT FAITH + one more factor:
When you go see a movie, before the movie, you get twenty minutes of something. What would that be?
Right… coming attractions. Twenty minutes of previews. There are these blockbuster movies coming, and the previews entice the audience to want to be there. They always give you the most exciting scenes… action, adventure, romance… something to hook the viewer into making sure they don’t miss the movie.
There is a blockbuster coming soon; I’ll bet you’ve heard of it.
The Producer is God the Father. The Director is God the Holy Spirit. And the lead actor is the Lord Jesus Christ.
It’s adventure, drama, warfare, and romance… all rolled into one.
It’s called The Kingdom of God… In theology, it’s called the Eternal State. It will be a world-wide release… Actually, it will play throughout the whole cosmos.
We believe Jesus is King, and one day, he will be seen as king from shore to shore. Every eye will see him, and all the world will bow before King Jesus.
That is creation’s big day. That is the coming coronation day for Jesus. That is heaven and earth’s grandest production. There’s nothing like that coming kingdom of Christ. It will be a blockbuster to end all blockbusters.
What a day that will be, right?
God has opened the theater of the cosmos and invited the whole race of humankind to come enjoy the show. This is his love. This is his amazing grace. “Whosoever will” may come.
God so passionately wants to fill the theater, that he has loaded the world with coming attractions. He is enticing the world, inviting the world, wooing the world, and calling the world.
What might those coming attractions be?
I’m looking at them.
Why do you think you are still in this world?
Why do you think God didn’t just beam you up to heaven the moment you believed in Jesus?
He left you on earth to be a coming attraction for heaven.
You display grace. You radiate grace. You live grace. You are on a mission, from God, for God, and by God.
And that mission is to show forth the grace that will permeate the cosmos as salt permeates the seas.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” Zechariah 8:23, NKJV.
People say, “If you’re a coming attraction, I really want to see the show.”
They turned the world upside down.
They changed the world for Christ.
IGNITE WAKE UP CALL:
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14, NKJV).
People say there’s too much grace. We preach too much grace.
No we don’t. There’s too little grace. That’s always the problem.
It’s not amazing, because God isn’t that big, so sin isn’t that major.
It’s not amazing because salvation isn’t such a big deal.
it’s not amazing because grace isn’t grace… it’s been melted down to mean leniency, instead of the fierce power of God on behalf of those who trust in him.
Your school needs you to ignite your passion for lost people.
Your family needs you to ignite your love for those who don’t know Christ.
Your neighborhood needs you, your workplace needs you…to love lost people enough to feel some sympathy with their needs.
Where is the church that turns the world upside down?
Where is the Christian willing to spend and be spent for the gospel?
Where is the grace that makes us on fire for good works in the world for the sake of the lost?