Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church Acts#20: Shipwrecked To hear this message and others download our free App in the App Store. Search the gathering connect.
On To Rome Acts 27:1-21
As we have learned in our studies, following his last great missionary journey, the Apostle Paul returned to Jerusalem. There he was arrested and sent to the Roman provincial capital of Caesarea, where he was tried by both the governor and King Agrippa who found no fault in him (Acts 26:31-32), but because Paul (as a Roman citizen) had appealed his case to Caesar he would be transported as a prisoner to Rome to appear before the emperor’s court.
The account in the Acts of the Apostles of Paul’s voyage to Rome, and his shipwreck en route, is supported by a wealth of historical detail. No other passage in the New Testament has as much striking evidential confirmation of its historical accuracy. Not only are the political, social, and legal details of the voyage and shipwreck striking in their accuracy, but also the meteorological and nautical details.
It was decided that Paul and some other prisoners would sail to Italy under a centurion named Julius. According to the writer of Acts (Luke) a friend named Aristarchus accompanied he and Paul on the journey. Historically speaking it was not unheard of for a prisoner who was a Roman citizen to travel with slaves or friends to care for his needs. It is also historically accurate that a centurion would have been assigned to transport prisoners. The voyage would have been anywhere from 23 to 30 days depending on the ship. The Vessel Paul was on was carrying both grain and passengers (Acts 27:37-38). So it was likely to have taken longer to sail.
The winds were not favorable for sailing and in verse 27:9 we read that much time was lost and sailing was dangerous because it was “after the Day of Atonement” (mid-October). No ships sailed the Mediterranean Sea in the winter and it was on its way. Paul warned the crew and the centurion of the impending storm but they decided to chance getting to the harbor in Phoenix anyway. The centurion, not the ships Capitan, made the final decision. The ship was likely under strict government regulations since there were prisoners on board. There were also great financial benefits to the Capitan if he could get his grain to Rome since food was in short supply during the winter. “The majority decided” not to listen to Paul’s sound advice, but to sail on instead… they didn’t make it!
Unnecessary Storms 1 Corinthians 10:11-13, Proverbs 1:20-33, Isaiah 55:6-7
Have you ever rejected the good advice of God’s word and later found yourself shipwrecked as a result? We must remember that even Captain E.J. Smith of the Titanic had seven warnings from his crew and other ships to slow down his speed in the icy waters of the Atlantic. Had he listened to reason rather than trying to beat a speed record to New York he and 1, 516 people might have survived. In the same way, if we would listen to God’s word rather than sailing full speed ahead on our own terms we could save ourselves and a whole lot of others some tragic results. God spoke to Paul and through Paul to warn the captain, crew and centurion, but they would not listen even though Paul’s advice made good nautical sense. Paul speaks to us with warning and admonitions today through the Epistles he wrote in the Bible. We would be wise to do more than hear them on Sunday mornings and maybe Wednesday nights.
In Paul’s writings to the Corinthian church he said: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” He explained that they had warnings from Israel’s mistakes so that they would not repeat them. All of us are tempted to float our own boat, but it is God who knows the seas. He will provide a way out of the storms of life but we must listen to Him. In Proverbs 1 king Solomon personified wisdom in a poem that shows the consequences to those who refuse God’s word for charting their life. Although many may curse God for such consequences they have no one but themselves to blame. God has made His wisdom clear: We must call on the Lord while He is near…(Isaiah 55:6-7).
Courage Acts 27:21-42, Zephaniah 3:16-17, Mark 4:35-41, 1 John 1:8-2:2
Paul reminded the captain, centurion and crew of their folly to go their own way against his advice, but urged them to take courage and follow his instruction now. The storm was raging, the cargo and tackle was lost but there was still hope to trust God’s direction.
Perhaps you are in such a place now. Have you “given up all hope of being saved?” Then God also says to you today: “Take courage” You will not be lost; only the ship will be destroyed!” What I mean to say is that God is mighty to save (Zeph. 3:16-17). In this passage in Zephaniah God’s promise for Israel is our promise too. Don’t let your hands fall limp in the raging storm. Turn to Jesus even now. He is the calm in the raging sea (Mark 4:35-41). Only the vehicle (ship) of your disobedience will be destroyed. Turn from sin and come to Him even in the midst of the mess you have made.
Some will take courage and turn to God in the storm while others will try to “cut and run”. In an attempt to escape from the ship some sailors behaved as cowards and tried to save themselves from the consequences of their mistakes and leave others to suffer for them. Later the soldiers planned to kill their prisoners to keep them from escaping even though it was their fault that they were in the water in the first place.
We must “take courage” and own the consequences of our mistakes. Make amends, stay for clean up, and rebuild! When we are shipwrecked and others are injured or lost in the process we can’t cut and run. That is cowardice not courage. God will not bless such selfishness. Confess your sin and follow Jesus your advocate (1 John 1:8-2:2).
Appreciation Acts 27:43-44, Psalm 119:101-107
The sailors did not jump ship and the soldiers did not kill the prisoners because the Centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life. He marveled at the truth, instruction and courage of Paul. The centurion saw God work through Paul and appreciated him. In so doing everyone reached land safely. We too must appreciate God’s word, delivered to us through Paul and others. The Bible is our map through stormy seas. Take courage and follow its light always… appreciate the God who provides it for you.