May 2019   
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Gospel Lessons from a Shipwreck

Gospel Lessons from a Shipwreck


Acts 27:9   “Since much time had passed, and the voyage was now dangerous because even  the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, 10 saying, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” 11 But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. 12 And because the harbor was not suitable to spend the winter in, the majority decided to put out to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, facing both southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there.”


Shipwrecks make good theater, good stories, gripping drama, that is unless you are aboard the ship.  In Acts 27 Paul is a prisoner on a ship that is sailing for Italy.  He is going there to face a trial for preaching the Gospel.  Paul is not a violent prisoner and in fact has probably been fairly helpful to the ship’s crew, still they do not pay a lot of attention to what he has to say.


He tries to warn them that if they continue on this journey that a shipwreck will occur.  He tells them if we continue on this way there will be injury and loss, then to drive his point home he says not only to the ship and the cargo, but also to us.  In other words if we continue on this way some of us will die.  If I had been one of the ship’s crew I might have taken time to listen, but they didn’t.  In fact the Bible says they paid more attention to the pilot and the owner of the ship that to what Paul said.


You can almost imagine the conversation, the pilot would have said “oh I’m fully capable of making this journey, I have made many much more difficult than this.  I’m a good captain, we will be okay.”  The owner of the ship would have scoffed as well, thinking and maybe even saying, “this ship will hold up.  This ship can handle it.  We will be fine.  Sail on.”  Don’t doubt me, don’t doubt my ship, we will be okay.  They probably said and thought in their pride.  


Pride goes before a Bible and that was certainly the case here.  The ship was involved in a storm and eventually ran aground on an island.  The crew was able to survive but the cargo was lost and they experienced two weeks of hunger and fear, all because they did not listen to what Paul had to say.  What is fascinating is that even though they didn’t listen to Paul, Paul continued to care about them, talk to them, help them, and tell them about Jesus.


It is a fascinating story to read.  A true story with so many detail, but also a story that shows us in reality how the world feels about us as Christians.  We are to warn them and tell them about Jesus.  We are to tell them the only way to be saved, and yet in many cases they aren’t going to listen.  They are going to continue on their journey thinking everything is going to be ok.  It can’t happen to us, seemed to have been the prevailing thought on the ship and it is the prevailing thought today as well.  We are going to be okay, don’t bother us.  We can handle it.  


The world says (in pride) we can handle what life throws our way, we can handle our lives and live them the way we want to live them, and if there is a judgement when we die we are pretty good people so we will handle that too.  The reality of the situation is however we aren’t designed to live life the way we want to live it, we can’t handle the hardships on our own (at least not successfully) and the only way to face Almighty God in judgement is not on our own merits but only through Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross of Calvary.  The world says we don’t need God, we are okay by ourselves, and even though we tell them and warn them, many times they still don’t listen.  


The question then has to become, what do we do?  What do we do when the world doesn’t listen, but they are headed for a shipwreck?  What do we do when we know what is coming?  Just like Paul we continue to be there for them (Paul didn’t have a choice and our faith says we don’t either).  We continue to love, continue to help and continue to pray.  We have to also continue to trust God knowing that He is working and He is moving and that in reality He is the only one who can truly change hearts.  So we keep loving the lost, keep trusting in God, and keep praying for the ones who don’t know Jesus, and we do all of this for the glory of God.