(Acts 17:6) “These that have turned the world upside down have come here also”
Such was the reaction of the world to the spiritual revolution brought about in society by the first century New Covenant believers. Revolutions of one sort or another were common place in the Roman Empire at the frontiers of the empire where Roman garrisons were always confronted with hostilities from those enemies that could not accept the sovereignty of Roman rule. Society in Rome was an idolatrous city, materialistic, hedonistic, practicing all kinds of sexual sins including sodomy which was prevalent and widespread within Roman society and even found among many of the Roman emperors. Political unrest always lay just below the surface within the somewhat tempestuous political arena in the Roman Senate. It was in fact an age of revolution and change. When we think of revolution we usually associate it with an armed rebellion against a government of regime but it can also be viewed with a wider application. Today in our world we are living in an age of revolution.
There is the Scientific Revolution
There is no doubt we are living in an age where every day in all fields of science and medicine and technology new discoveries are being made that are shaping the future of man’s progress and development.
There is the Political Revolution
Most of the governments, especially in the western democracies today such as America, Great Britain and in Australia and Europe are socially and economically as unstable as nitro-glycerine. We see this also in third world countries. There are protests in China now over their Covid-Zero policies which are causing all sorts of problems for the Chinese people. Even in Iran, with its oppressive and violent totalitarian Islamic regime, the country is seeing riots against the regimes policies. In some cases especially in third world underdeveloped countries we have seen governments rise and fall overnight. On the international front today you have Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and that war escalating in intensity and ferocity. You have China making moves towards Taiwan’s independence from China. Kim of North Korea is continuing to launch missile tests. Israel is preparing to confront Iran if that rogue Islamic regime gets the capacity to build a nuclear device.
There is the Social and Economic revolution
You now have unemployment on the increase, widespread immorality and alternative sexual lifestyles, broken families and with businesses collapsing overnight, Society is dominated by hedonistic values and lifestyles that violate moral and ethical standards and especially the laws and commandments of God. In many countries now political instability is virtually non-existent. Even in Israel political instability is still very much a conspicuous feature. Most of the nations and their leaders have lost their moral and spiritual compass. Many are fearful of what the future holds for society and the world at large. Even most political leaders, in spite of their promises at election time, do not really have the answers to the problems society faces today.
There is the Youth Revolution
Today we see children living in divided homes; Teenagers are in rebellion against their parents. Appropriate social, moral and spiritual values are being eroded in the minds of untold millions of young people through the internet. You now have virtual reality technology hijacking the minds and hearts of multitudes of young people into the world of cyber space where fantasy overrides reality. One fad after another permeates young minds especially in the rock music industry and in television dramas and movies promoting ungodly and unbiblical lifestyles and values.
The imagination of multitudes of young people are being embedded today by the entertainment industry and Hollywood. Even young Bible believers seeking to remain faithful to the Lord Jesus are being inundated with the temptation to compromise with the lust of the eyes, with the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. Young people are confronted with value systems that exhibit little or nothing of traditional moral or spiritual principles. Many resist authority or move into alternative lifestyles involving immorality, drugs and alcohol. Many are also honestly rethinking and re-evaluating values and lifestyles that have been taken for granted in the past.
There is the Religious Revolution
Today we have a multi-faith society and a move towards unifying Christian denominations with other religions with no Biblical foundation. God’s Word clearly states that salvation is only found in the Lord Jesus and in no one else and that there is only one mediator between God and man and that is the Lord Jesus, a Biblical fact that is conveniently put to one side and where an acceptance of other religious ideologies in the name of love and tolerance is put forth. While there have always been religious sects and cults they are an infestation today globally and that primarily are being promoted through the influence of the internet.
At present the Abrahamic Family House is now being constructed as an interfaith complex on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. The undertaking was the result of the Document on Human Fraternity signed by Pope Francis on behalf of the Catholic Church and Ahmed El-Tayeb on behalf of the al-Azhar Mosque on Feb. 4, 2019 in Abu Dhabi.
Today even within many so called evangelical churches you have psychology being mixed in with scripture, secular marketing strategies being implemented into congregations for church growth and seeker friendly churches where the conscience is very rarely stirred or even addressed by many feel good sermons that appeal to the flesh but virtually have no spiritual impact Biblically speaking. Much could be said about this alarming trend in many church fellowships especially in the western democracies where outright physical persecution for one’s faith is non-existent.
Has there been a Spiritual Revolution in the Church?
However, by and large has there been a true and genuine Biblical revolution within the professing Christian Church where God’s people have turned back to the sole authority of God’s unchanging and eternal Word? How many church leaders are asking for the ancient paths? The word revolution is a word no longer used in most churches today in the western democracies traditionally associated with Biblical Judeo-Christianity. Of course the exception is in those countries where our dear brothers and sisters are laying down their very lives as they faithfully defend and contend for the faith once delivered to the saints! Today people speak of an Ecumenical Church, a worldwide Church and a programmed Church, or an organised Church, but not about a revolutionary Church; one that morally, socially and spiritually turns the world upside down!
The first century New Covenant believers challenged the cynical world with its unbiblical moral and spiritual standards and its humanistic philosophies about God, about the Lord Jesus the Messiah, about sin and the absolute authority of the Bible. Motivated by the love of God shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit and filled with His power the first century Assembly of believers literally turned the world upside down spiritually for the Lord Jesus and for the extension of the Kingdom of God! Why did they evoke the world’s attention? What was it about the first century assembly of New Covenant believers that so radically affected the entire known world at that time even beyond the borders of the Roman Empire? What kind of people were they?
1. They were Men and Women with an Experience:
(Acts 4:20) “For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
Such was the confession of Peter and John before the religious hierarchy who were out to stop them from preaching about the Resurrected Lord Jesus and the salvation only found in Him and not through the religious world with its traditions and ceremonial laws. When Peter and John were grilled verbally by the religious leaders about the miraculous healing of the crippled man, Peter filled with the Holy Spirit testified that it was the resurrected Lord Jesus who by His power that had healed the crippled man, and then Peter went on to preach the gospel and about the salvation only found in the Lord Jesus.
When the religious leaders saw the courage of Peter and John they took note and realised that these two were unschooled, ordinary men and were astonished and they took note that these man had been with the Lord Jesus. Peter and John were reflecting the likeness, the character traits, and the nature and power of the Lord Jesus by saying and doing exactly what He would have said and done in the same situation. They were speaking and acting just like Him. The religious leaders had their ‘theological’ qualifications but had not experienced the power of God’s Word to change them deep down on the inside of them as Peter and John had experienced.
There was an enthusiasm and dedication about them that attracted the attention of others as well as exposing the spiritual deficiency in the lives of the unsaved religious leaders hell-bent on stopping Peter and John from testifying to the grace of God supremely exhibited in the person of our Lord Jesus the Messiah.
Peter and John had been filed with the Holy Spirit and you could not shut them up! Such was their spiritual experience. It was not some vague or euphoric spiritual high they were on but they were moved and motivated by the Holy Spirit living on the inside of them and resting upon them and with the unswerving conviction that the Holy scriptures were able to make one wise concerning salvation, and that all scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness and sufficient for equipping one spiritually.
This conviction pulsated deep from within them and flowed out through the their mouths in radiant testimony, even though physically they were being harassed and oppressed verbally and physically by these unsaved religious leaders who were undoubtedly motivated by demonic power.
The Lord Jesus Himself before He ascended to his father again in heaven said to His disciples gathered around Him; “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The Spirit of God had spiritually revolutionised their hearts and lives. From the day of Pentecost onwards there was a new zeal and power that marked their lives. Peter who had previously denied the Lord Jesus three times now boldly spoke to the huge crowd gathered about the Lord Jesus and 3,000 were saved in a single day (Acts 2:37-41). Paul, after he had been filled with the Spirit we are told that “straightway he was in the temple proclaiming that the Messiah is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). Likewise the disciples on the Road to Emmaus who encountered the resurrected Lord Jesus said “Did not our hearts burn within us as He talked with us in the way” (Luke 24:32).
Martin Luther tried for years to serve God by his strict religious observances, his penance, by his severe abstinences and his acts of forced self-denial to obtain the salvation he was hungering for. One day the Holy Spirit possessed his life and he heard a voice thunder in his heart “The just shall live by faith.” From that day on began the spiritual reformation that was to sweep the world and effect forever the future course of the Christian Church. Sadly at the end of his life’s work he became rabidly anti-Semitic but there is no question as to his effect on the Christian Church especially in defending the truth of God’s Word related to salvation by faith.
John Wesley, the Anglican clergyman tried to serve God for years by his religious works and self-discipline, good works and morality. Then one night in a fellowship meeting while Luther’s preface to the Romans John Wesley said; “My heart was strangely warmed, and I knew that He (the Lord Jesus) had taken away my every sin.” From that moment on God used him to bring about the great spiritual revival in England during the eighteenth century.
Their experience of the Lord was a first-hand experience!
As these great men of God allowed the Holy Spirit to deal with their lives completely, He was able to fill them to the brim with the supernatural power of God and so change the course of history. In England when John Wesley started to preach and to form the Methodist fellowships. In the eighteenth century England spiritually and morally was in the same fallen spiritual condition as we see in England today. Today there are more mosques than churches being built all through England! So then the first century assemblies were men and women with an experience.
2. They were Men and Women with a Message:
(Galatians 1:11-12) “I want you to know brothers that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, rather I received it by Revelation from Jesus the Messiah.”
(Romans 1:16) “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: First for the Jews, then for the Gentile.”
Today the message of Christianity proclaimed by many within wider Christendom is a watered down message of compromise that panders to the vain philosophies of man and embraces secular worldly methods in music and ministry to bring people in. Often the gospel is watered down to a religion of good works and social justice while the spiritual dimension is either vaguely mentioned or altogether ignored. All of the men God used down through the long history of the professing Christian Church were those who gave men and women the law of God with no holds barred, and when deep conviction of sin came and the conscience of those hearing the message were stirred, then they gave these trouble souls the good news of God’s mercy and grace towards sinners that brought about heartfelt repentance and faith alone in the Lord Jesus for salvation! (Acts 4:12) (John 14:6)
The first century believing community centred their preaching and witnessing solely upon the Lord Jesus, His power to save the soul and that repentance and forgiveness for sins were to be offered to the unsaved in His name. They backed everything they said and did with the Word of God because God’s Word was the instrument the Holy Spirit uses in His convicting and converting work (Romans 10:17). The apostle Paul “was not ashamed of, or embarrassed by the gospel” because he knew by first-hand experience and by the revelation of the scriptures firmly and deeply embedded in his inner spirit man that the gospel was God’s power to save all men and women regardless of ethnicity or race! Paul spoke about this power when he wrote to the Thessalonian believers; “Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power endorsed and produced by the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction” ( 1 Thessalonians 1:5).
The message of the world is to find security in such things as psychology, philosophy, humanism, materialism, money, possessions, fame, prominence and position. Our message as New Covenant believers in our Lord Jesus is the good news that Jesus the Messiah came into this world to save sinners from the power and penalty of sin and ultimately from its very presence at the rapture and resurrection of all who have been truly saved and washed by the blood of Jesus and sealed with the promised Holy Spirit for the day of redemption, when those who are truly saved will be delivered out of this present evil age according to the will of God our Heavenly Father as we continue to fight the good fight of faith, resist the world, the flesh and the devil, and continue to serve the Lord. The end of our labour in the Lord is to see souls saved and saints sanctified by the Word of God, justified, cleansed and redeemed by the blood of the Messiah and sealed by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the message the world needs to hear!
The apostle Paul said this; “When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus the Messiah and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
As Paul also wrote; “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that the Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
God Himself visited this planet in the person of His one and only begotten eternal Son our Lord Jesus the Messiah declaring to the world that He was the way, the truth and the life and that no one can come to God the Father unless they come through Him and Him alone! (John 14:6). The central message we have as New Covenant believers is that “God was in the Messiah reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19). The cross of the Lord Jesus and all that it brings is a message of hope for despair, light for darkness, purpose instead of futility, a certainty for the future and the reality of heaven instead of hell. This is our hope as New Covenant believers and the message that God would have us to pass onto others. So then the first century believing community were men and women with an experience and men and women with a message.
3. They Were Men and Women with a Mission:
(Revelation 12:11) “And they overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the lamb and by their word of testimony and they loved not their lives even unto death itself”
The first century believing community had a mission and that was to fight against and to resist all evil by the power of the Word, by the power the blood of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit undergirded by prayer. When they testified unashamedly and boldly to the unsaved and the unsanctified about what the blood of Jesus does they were able to overcome Satan and his cohorts from hell. Satan hates the blood of Jesus and Satanists in the occult covens spend a lot of time mocking the blood of the Lord Jesus because in their dark spiritually twisted minds they cannot cope with the power it has to destroy their every activity in this world especially arrayed against born again, blood redeemed, blood washed, Spirit filled and sealed New Covenant believers! They put the message of the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Word of God before anything else in their lives, even if it meant that by the grace, the mercy and the power of the Holy Spirit they were to die for what they believed.
All of the apostles suffered martyrdom except John but he suffered much but died at a very old age after he had received the revelation of the Lord Jesus for the suffering Body of the Messiah for his own time, for the future history of the Body of the Messiah and for the last days Body of the Messiah.
John Knox the great Scottish reformer cried out at one time; “Lord, give me Scotland or I die!” When the apostle Paul stood before stood before King Agrippa he said to him; “O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision!”
Every New Covenant believer who has had a personal spiritual encounter with the resurrected Lord Jesus the Messiah in their life and has His message in their hearts and on their lips has a mission to fulfil. We are not all evangelists but we can witness one on one and be involved in missions in practical ways. All of us are spiritually gifted differently and we must find out what our call and gifting is from the Lord.
It takes time and patience, it takes faith and perseverance and times of waiting on God, by praying in the Holy Spirit an walking under His control moment by moment and through life’s experiences, both the good and the not so good things that happen to us yet knowing that in all things God works them together for good to those who love God and are called according to His infinitely good, wise, acceptable and perfect will ordained for us from all eternity and foreknown by Him. What security we have in the Triune God! Gifts are discovered by being involved in the local assembly and will be recognised by those within the local fellowship who have the discernment of the Holy Spirit. Every member of the Body of the Messiah has one or more gifts and when one is surrendered to the Holy Spirit that gift or gifts will become apparent and develop as they are exercised in faith within the local assembly of believers.
The blessed Holy Spirit wants to take us and to use us in exactly the same way He used the first century New Covenant believers in Biblical times but are we available to Him unreservedly to use us anywhere, at any time and anyhow He chooses? God wants to use us to reach the unsaved and the unsanctified and has given us the Holy Spirit to do this work for Him which we cannot do by our own will power or human effort (Acts 1:8) (Acts 2:39).
There is a tremendous challenge facing the Body of the Messiah today as we see the last great apostasy rapidly approaching which we see already increasing in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders that are paving the way for the revealing of the man of sin who for a short season will persecute the saints. If we allow the blessed Holy Spirit to empower us, and keep before our eyes the power of the blood of Jesus, and stay in the Word of God and keep praying in the Holy Spirit, we too will be men and women with an experience, with a message and with a mission!