Fear not, Paul . . . lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee" (Acts 27:24).
There are many lessons to be learned from a careful study of Luke's account of Paul's voyage to Rome. Taken literally, it shows us, in a wonderful way, the personal care of the LORD JESUS CHRIST for His beloved servant in a time of great stress and difficulty; while, looked at figuratively, it is a marvelous picture of the passage of the Church from Jerusalem to Rome.
The particular incident recorded in verses 21-26 is that to which I especially desire to draw each young believer's attention.
For long, weary days and nights neither sun nor stars had been visible. The captain of the ship was in despair; the mariners, hopeless. Then it was that Paul, "the prisoner of the Lord" (how lovely a title - not a prisoner of Caesar, nor of Rome, but the prisoner of the LORD!), became the comforter of all in the ship, comforting them with the comfort wherewith he had just been comforted of GOD. For to him an angel of the LORD had appeared, standing by him, and saying, "Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, GOD hath given thee all them that sail with thee."
This settled it for Paul. He knew that not a man on that ship would be lost, whatever might become of the vessel itself; so he says, "Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island." And so it was; for the ship was wrecked; but every one who had sailed with Paul was saved from drowning and reached the shore alive.
Now I want to apply this in a spiritual way. And, first, I would earnestly ask each reader: Do you sail with Paul? It is not now a question of temporal, but of eternal salvation. The voyage I have in mind is not from one earthly port to another, but that vastly more important voyage from earth to Heaven, from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. One thing is certain: You are on a voyage, sailing over the sea of time, bound for eternity. Do you then sail with Paul? All who do shall reach the port of endless glory at last, whatever vicissitudes they may pass through on the voyage. All who do not sail with the great apostle to the nations will fail of final salvation, let their hopes be never so high and their passage never so calm and peaceful.
What is it to know Paul's SAVIOUR and to share Paul's blessings. Are these things true of you? There are untold thousands in Christendom to-day, who are nominally believers, who belong to the Church in its outward aspect, who partake of the sacraments and are more or less zealous in what is called Christian work, but who do not sail with Paul. He repudiated all such things as a ground of confidence, and trusted alone in the matchless grace of GOD.
What does grace mean to you, my reader? People talk of grace, and sing of being "saved by grace," who are all the time trusting in their own righteousness and building their hopes of eternity on their own zeal and earnestness. They never seem to consider the meaning of grace; otherwise they would not use the word with the lips and by their actions deny it.
Grace is the very opposite of merit.
If I think of merit, I see only an eternal hell of woe before my guilty soul. But when I think of grace, I turn from all thoughts of desert and contemplate the matchless love of GOD which caused Him, the offended One, to give His only begotten Son to die for me, the offender, that, confiding in Him, I might be eternally saved.
Thus I see that grace is not only undeserved favor, but it is favor shown to one who has deserved the very opposite. "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8, 9) - this is Paul's own statement of salvation by grace. It was thus he was saved, and in the same way are they all who sail with Paul.
It is my purpose in the following papers, to trace out some of the precious truths Paul was chosen to make known for our eternal blessing. Only let each for himself be sure he is one who sails with Paul, for to none other do they apply.
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