Summary: Paul sailed into the unknown with the Holy Spirit leading the way. His journey was dangerous and uncomfortable, but he was still in the center of God’s will.
A Prisoner of Christ on the Seas of Life
By Pastor Jim May
Acts 27:1 – 28: 10
The story of Paul’s capture and sailing on a ship bound for Rome as it pertains to the life of a Christian who has been “captured” for Jesus and sailing through life on the way to our predetermined destiny in the work of the Lord.
Before Paul was called and anointed to be a carrier of the gospel of Jesus Christ he had been a man of the world, persecuting the church; even causing some followers of Jesus to be put to death for their testimony. But God got hold of his life on the road to Damascus and Paul was forever changed. From that day forward he was always about the Lord’s business, building churches, preaching the gospel to everyone he met and training ministers to take over when he left town so that the church would go on in victory.
Then came that fateful day when he came face to face with Festus, the newly appointed Roman Governor. Festus was a man who had little regard for the gospel or for these people who called themselves Christians. He accused Paul of being a crazy man because of all his ranting and raving about this man Jesus.
I don’t know about you but I’ve had a few people say that I was a little bit crazy too for serving the Lord. I am convinced that only way you can truly have a sound mind is to serve the Lord. The world has it backwards and sin blinds us to the truth. We need Jesus giving us wisdom just to live a normal life.
Paul then went before King Agrippa in the Roman Praetorium and there he preached the gospel to that heathen Roman puppet king. The power of God’s Word preached that day cut right through the hard heart and blinded eyes of King Agrippa. Conviction fell in that palace as Paul spoke and King Agrippa became immortalized by the words that he spoke, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian”.
Almost – that’s a hard word to think about. Almost means I am so close and yet I will never make it. Agrippa almost became a born again Child of God that day, but he didn’t. He almost repented of his sin, but he didn’t. He almost fell down and worshipped Jesus as Savior, but he didn’t. He was almost saved, but he wasn’t. Those words will haunt Agrippa and everyone who identifies with his predicament throughout eternity. As they are forever tormented in the flames, with every moment, their thought will be,
I almost escaped these flames, but I didn’t.” Almost isn’t good enough. You can’t almost be saved and go to Heaven. You can’t almost come to church, and then say you came.
It’s like one story I heard of the police officer who tried to make a man obey the stop sign. Why did you run the stop sign, he asked the driver. The driver said, “Well, I almost stopped.” At that the policeman pulled out his ticket pad and began writing a ticket for running the stop sign. Several times he almost stopped writing, but kept going instead. When he handed the driver his ticket he said, “Now can you tell the difference between almost stopping and not stopping?” Maybe the fine that you will be paying will help you remember the difference.
Paul appealed to Caesar as a Roman citizen and therefore he had to go to Rome to plead his case. The story continues as he is arrested and placed on board a ship bound for Rome. All of this was going according to God’s predestined plan for Paul’s life. On one side of the coin Paul could see the hand of God in action as he was given the chance to preach the gospel before powerful Roman officials, and perhaps even before the great Caesar himself.
Paul was faithful. He continued in the work of the Lord and even though he was forewarned by the Holy Spirit that this voyage would not go well.
Oh that we would have that kind of faithfulness; to be faithful and do our duty even when we know that it won’t end well; even when we know that a shipwreck is coming; even when we know that there will come a day when we will have to face some terrible hardships and perhaps even die in the process.
I dare say that not many Christians in the church of today would stay faithful to their calling if they knew these things were coming. Most people are looking for a “feel good” faith where they can dwell in peace, safety and have fire insurance against hell. Don’t tell them that hardships are coming or that they will have to face persecution. If you do you will see a mass exodus from the church. Very few people want to be told about their sin. Even fewer Christians want to hear that they need to humble themselves before God. We want Jesus and we want to live our own life at the same time. It’s impossible to serve two masters. Choose you this day whom you will serve! Don’t allow “almost” to be a part of your life’s story. Go all the way with Jesus.