Monday, April 1, 2024


                                 They Turned the World                                      Upside Down

                                             By Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D.

The Early Church was despised, hated and persecuted for the Name of Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Men like St. Paul became targeted, scourged and imprisoned because of the command of our Lord to go into all the and preach, heal the sick and cast demons in His holy Name!

The Bible states: "These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also!"  (Acts 17: 6) What a powerful testimony! What a tribute to the fledgling New Testament Church! What a confirmation of the teachings of Jesus, regarding the signs and wonders which He promised to do though the coming of the blessed Holy Spirit.

These words, however, were not uttered as a commendation by the "enemies of the cross", but as an accusation! The Jews who refused St. Paul's message of the Messiahship of 'Jesus the Crucified One', stirred up the Roman authorities to stop him and his small band of believers! This powerful commentary on the work of the Holy Spirit was spoken as a warning. These followers of the slain and resurrected Messiah, were trouble makers of the first degree and should be brought to justice.

What a commentary on the great and powerful workings of the Holy Spirit under the most difficult and trying circumstances. These early Christians really believed the words of Jesus Christ, where He said: 

"Go into all the world and preach My Gospel to all creatures. Take my name, My Word, My Holy Spirit and My power and cast out devils, heal the sick, raise the dead and free Satan's captives from sin, fear, torment, superstition and witchcraft!" They took Jesus at His Word and did what He said they could do.

The question I raise is this: "What power did they have, that  the Church seemingly does not possess today? Is it realistic to believe that we can do the same today? If God has not changed and His Word is infallible, then why are we not seeing the same mighty works?  What must we do to tap into God's great spiritual resources?"

Here are  seven things which they had, that we desperately need today:

1. THEY HAD A VISION - ACTS 16: 9, 10

"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. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering thet the Lord had called us to preach the gospel unto them."

The first thing  they had was a clear vision of what the Gospel entailed, what they were called to do and who they were in Christ.

The Bible says: "Without a vision, the people perish." (Prov. 29: 18) How true that is! Without a vision to reach lost souls, not only do the heathen perish, but the Church grows cold and eventually withers away to nothing! This has been proven repeatedly in the history of the Church! Those who have studied Church History have found this cycle repeated again and again: Inspiration, evangelization, organization, education, stagnation.

A group of people become inspired to believe the Gospel and to share it with their neighbours. Inspiration leads to evangelization. Then, in order to conserve their gains, they are forced to organize, but too much organizion hinders  the inspirational thrust and spirit of evangelization. The next step down is an over emphasis on education. Stuffed heads can lead to pride and a certain downfall. Then comes stagnation! It is better to have temperature in the heart, than degrees behind your name! However, God doesn't put any premium on ignorance, so with all our learning it is vitally important to keep our perspective right and stay humble in the sight of God.

It is so important to receive direction from God in order to know that we are in His perfect will. Paul was "forbidden to preach the Word in Asia. After they were come to Mysia, they  assayed to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit suffered them not."  

He had planned  to go to Bithynia, but God wanted the Gospel to reach Europe, so He gave Paul the direction he needed through a vision! Oh, how great is the foreknowledge of the Almighty! God knew that Europe would be the centre of evangelism for hundreds of years, spreading the Gospel to the four corners of the earth.

The Bible says: "In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple." (Isa. 6: 1)  In Isaiah's vision, we learn what we must do to get direction from Above! As a young man, Isaiah was concerned about the  death of the king and was undoubtedly in the temple seeking God when the vision appeared to him. 

Here we see the Missionary Emphasis: The upward look; the inward look; the outward look! First, he asw the Lord. Then, he looked into his own sinful heart and was cleansed. And finally, he looked out to others who needed to hear God's message. Then, he cried out: "Here am I . Send me.

2. THEY HAD THE MESSAGE - ACTS 3: 12 - 16; 4: 42; 17: 2, 3

The second important factor of their great success, was that they had an unwavering, definite message to present to the heathen. That clear-cut, uncompromising message was Christ crucified, risen, ascended and coming again! Jesus Christ stands alone, by Himself, as the only hope and salvation of this world! There is none other.

What was their message? It was Jesus Christ, Lord, Saviour, Redeemer, Healer and Coming King! They preached Christ crucified and the power of His resurrection! THey preached that Jesus Christ was God the Son, Who came down from Heaven as the Jewish Messiah, to save lost humanity. There message was: Repent and believe the Good News that the Saviour is come to bring forgiveness, peace, joy, healing and deliverance.

They preached the death of Jesus Christ, the power in His name and the effectiveness of His shed blood to cleanse and free us from all sin, and be healed of all sicknesses by  the stripes He bore for us all on the cursed tree! They preached that Jesus would soon return to rapture the Church and to judge the quick (living) and the dead.

Peter preached Christ -   "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He  should be holden of it." (Acts 2: 22 - 24)

Stephen preached Christ to the Council -  " Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of Whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers."

Philip preached Christ at Samaria -  "Then Philip went down into the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city." (Acts 8: 5 - 8)

Paul preached Christ: "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures."


The Bible states: "And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus..." The third asset that they had was  the great power working through them!  The Scriptures record that after the  Day of Pentecost, everything changed for the fearful, beleaguered disciples of our Lord:

"So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into Heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where the Lord working with them, and confirming the Word with signs following. Amen." (Mark 16: 19, 20)

Jesus had promised that He would send His followers the promise of the Father and that they would receive supernatural power from on High. The key to their power was the Baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire, as well their obedience to God! Here is His promise: "And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." (John 20: 22); "But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:  and ye shall be witnesses unto Me..." (Acts 1: 8)

They had powerful preaching, anointed prayer and praise services, great miracles of healing, supernatural signs, wonders and revival. St. Paul shares with us the marvellous grace of God in his life: "For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wroth by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Il-liri-cum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ." (Rom. 15: 18, 19)

During more than forty years of preaching the Gospel of Christ around  the world, I have witnessed - by God's grace - staggering miracles of divine deliverance, salvation and physical healing! In 1966, a thirteen year- old - boy in Guntur, Andrah Pradesh, India, received a new eye ball three days after I offered prayer to God on his behalf. This great testimony was recorded by Dr. Serala Elisha at the Kugler Lutheran Hospital in that city!

A lady who calls herself Mrs. Zero Kilometer - because she felt like a brand new car - was instantly healed in our Cordova, Argentina  Crusade in May, 1978. She had used a wheelchair and crutches for a total of 21 years and no longer needed them after prayer!  Because she owned a kiosk and was known to thousands of people, her testimony brought 3,000 new converts to Dr. Omar Cabrera's Church, 'The Vision of the Future'!

In 1968, Brita Gloppen came out of a wheel chair in Bergen, Norway, after being confined to it and special crutches for eight years,  wearing a heavy steel corset for 10 years and suffering from heart disease. After the miracle,  she  travelled by boat, plane, bus and automobile across Norway to visit her siblings and by the grace of God won almost every one of them to Jesus.

Sal Marisigan, 7 years old, was carried into our 1966 Manila, Philippines Crusade at Bethel Temple (now Cathedral of Praise) as an invalid. He was a polio victim, with one leg between 12 to 15 inches shorter than the other. His short leg was withered like a piece of wood. His right foot hung down to his left knee! By the grace of Almighty God,  the power of the blessed Holy Spirit and in Jesus' almighty name, Sal was made whole and more than 100 members of his extended family gave their hearts to Christ and joined Bethel Temple. Praise be unto God.


The fourth great thing that the early Church possessed was a very strong desire to share the Gospel with everyone! They had a burden for lost souls. It was their highest priority! THe Bible records: "Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry."

During his time of waiting in Athens for the other members of his team, St. Paul was busy sharing the Gospel in the marketplace or in the synagogue disputing with the Jews and other devout people. He was sharing Jesus with them! We don't see him at the races, gambling dens, opium houses or taverns. We don't find him at the baths, sight seeing or at the stadium taking in their sports events. We find him at Ar-e-op'a-gus on Mars Hill across from the Parthenon preaching to the Ep-i-cu-re'an and Stoick philosophers about Jesus, the unknown God whom they ignorantly worshipped.

Are we stirred when we hear of the terrible plight of the drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, orphans, street children, pornography rings and the homeless? Are our hearts rent when we learn of the billions who worship false gods, live under the cruel hand of Communist, paganist and Islamic rule. Are we stirred when we see the Muslim extremists beheading innocent labourers in Iraq, and committing genocide on the black Christians and animists in Sudan?

The Bibles says: "And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ." (Acts 18: 50


Are we so pressed in the spirit, that we must share the Gospel with our loved ones, neighbours and those round about us?  Paul shakes us up, when he states that the Holy Spirit had put such a burden upon his heart that if it were possible, he would be willing to be “be  accursed from Christ" if that were able to save his Jewish brethren! (Romans 9: 1- 3) Of course, that was not possible, but God gave him such a burden for them.

 If there is one missing element in the Christian Church today, it is the lack of compassion and genuine burden for lost souls.


The fifth thing that the Early Church had was a total dedication to our Saviour Jesus Christ! Despite the high cost of serving the Master, the majority of His disciples and followers were willing to sacrifice their lives if necessary to spread the Gospel! They were so filled with His love and faith that they gladly gave of themselves to share the blessings of their newfound faith with others.

And many died as martyrs at the hands of the pagan emperors of Rome and other "enemies of the cross" who hated the Gospel and the name of Jesus!  It was stated: "The blood of the martyrs became the seed of the Church." How true! History proves that not only in the Early Church period but in the Middle Ages, Christians were thrown to the lions or burned at the stake when they refused to deny our Lord! Others were saved and turned their lives over to Christ, while watching them die.

The Bible gives us a vivid commentary of these heroes of the faith: "And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tortmented; Of whom the world was not worthy: they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth." (Heb. 11: 36 - 38)

Jesus had prepared them before His departure to the Father's right hand. He was explicit in His words of admonition: "...Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosever shall lose his life for My ske and the gospel's, the same shall save it.

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8: 34 - 37)

 The apostles and elders in Jerusalem wrote to the Church in Antioch: "It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul. Men who have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Acts 15: 25, 26)

This proves the character of the men of God who wrote the first chapter of the Gospel story! It is no wonder that St Paul wrote: "For unto you it is given on the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake." (Phil. 3: 29)


The sixth great component in the Early Church's structure, was their love for one another and their ability to 'work together as one man'!

We have heard many sermons drawn from this text, about the place that prayer should have in our lives and that is so true. Peter and John were on their way to a prayer meeting when the miracle took place. It was at "the hour of prayer" which tells that they were regular attenders at the prayer meeting.

There have also been many messages taken from this text, about the prominent place miracles held in the Early Church and how we all desire to see more miracles performed by the hand of God in our midst today.

There is another aspect, however, that I wish to draw from this great Scripture. And that is the place unity and togetherness fits into the picture! The Bible says: "Now Peter and John went up together...". When the lame man asked for an alms, Peter said: "Look on us."  When the lame man was healed and the crowds came together greatly wondering, he spoke to them thusly: 'Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye on us, as though by our own power or holiness we have made this man to walk?

"When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a mighty rushing wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak in tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2: 1 - 4)

When the startled and inquisitive crowd began to question them about the meaning of this phenomenon, the Bible says: "But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said..." (verse 14).  In all these cases, there was a unity and a togetherness that was unique. The Holy Spirit had joined them together as one and nothing could detour them. The Church was on an unstoppable roll.

In the letters of St. Paul, we often read words like these: "Finally, of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace." (2 Cor. 13: 11); "...that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel." (Phil. 1: 27); "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." (Gal. 6: 2)

7. GOD WORKED WITH THEM - MARK 16: 19 - 20

The most important aspect of the Early Church's great success was the fact that God was with them! He worked with "confirming the Word with signs following." (Mark 16: 20) Jesus said: "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 unto the end of the world." Amen. (Matt. 28: 18 - 20)

The writer to the Hebrews declared: "...for He said, I WILL NEVER LEAVE THEE, NOR FORSAKE THEE." (13: 5). In this Scripture, Jesus used a double imperative, making it even more powerful than what we have in our translations! He actually said: "I will never, no never, leave thee. I will never, no never, forsake thee..."

The Scripture says: " For in Him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17: 28); "But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." (1 Cor. 1: 30) "For ye are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." (1 Cor. 3: 9)

My prayer is that God will live in us, speak through us and use us all as His ambassadors to a wicked and evil world, where we must shine as lights in the darkness for His honour, glory and praise! Amen.

Max Solbrekken World Mission Box 44220 RPO Garside, Edmonton, AB T5V 1N6 Email: [email protected];; Donations can be made by e-Transfer. Make your donation to [email protected]. YouTube, Face Book.