Summary: In Acts 27, Paul shows us practically how to have faith in the midst of a crisis.
I want to talk about the faith that functions in a crisis and happens because of Christ. James Jeffries was an All-American at Baylor University, and he was the founder of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. One day he stood before the Fellowship of Christian Athletes annual meeting, not as the robust, healthy, strong, All-American football player he had been, but facing the ravages of cancer and the end of his life. He said, "I've stood before you many times saying that Jesus Christ is all you need." He continued, "But you don't really know that until Jesus Christ is all you have. And I want to tell you now, Jesus Christ is all you need."
Acts 27 is a picture of faith functioning in a crisis. It is not a lecture on the subject. There are no sermons preached or songs sung. It is simply someone portraying his faith in Christ as he shows how to react to a crisis when Jesus Christ is Lord of your life.
I heard about brothers who were identical twins in a small town. One was a doctor, and one was a preacher. One say, the doctor was stopped on a sidewalk, and someone said to him, "Your sermon blessed my heart." He responded, "No, I'm not the one who preaches. I'm the one who practices."
Well, there's no preaching in this chapter. It's all practice. It is a real adventure at sea. If you like to read adventure stories, I'd like to commend to you the book of Acts. It's filled with adventure stories written by Dr. Luke, himself a physician, who traveled with the Apostle Paul. Dr. Luke kept him going and wrote the book of Acts, as well as the book of Luke that bears his name.
Of course, he was inspired by God. So it's natural for us to learn that secular historians who have studied Acts from a secular point of view have said that Luke is probably one of the most accurate histories they've read. Part of that history is Acts 27.
Now the three chapters leading up to this explain why this adventure at sea took place. The apostle Paul had been on trial for his life, facing some trumped up charges of disturbing the peace and insurrection. You never hear of anybody charged for disturbing the peace anymore, do you? I guess it's hard to find any peace to disturb nowadays.
However, Paul was on trial for his life in Acts 24 through 26. He stood before three kings. There was Felix, Festus, and Agrippa. When Paul stood before them, he gave his testimony: "I was walking down a road, and something happened. That something was Someone, and His name was Jesus. He changed my life, and I want to tell you about Him." That's really what he did at his trials. He just gave his Christian testimony.
When he did this, Felix trembled, Festus wavered and waffled, and Agrippa almost became a Christian. When the middle king faced this, he wanted to do something politically correct, something he thought would put him in good stead with the Jewish people. So he decided he would simply send Paul back to Jerusalem to be tried by them. That would have been a very dangerous thing for Paul, so the Scripture says that Paul said, "I appeal to Caesar." As a Roman citizen, he could do that, and this is why he is on the way to Rome to face that trial.
He is being escorted by a Roman centurion and contingent of Roman soldiers.
They hire an Alexandrian ship, probably a wheat ship, going to Egypt by way of Crete and Italy. It's a large ship ... two hundred seventy-six passengers besides cargo were on that ship.
Adventure On The High Seas
Now the Bible says, it begins in Acts 27, and verse 4 says that "the winds were contrary." That meant they were blowing against them, and because of that they had a hard time making any headway. This became perilous because it was approaching the time when no one sailed the seas at that time of year. Ships always wintered somewhere in the harbor. They got to a place called Fair Havens. That sounded like a good place to harbor, but apparently it wasn't.
The apostle Paul, in discussing it with them said, "Look, I've been in three shipwrecks," and he had. One time, he spent all night and the next day in the sea. He said, "It's not good for us to go on. I think if we go, we'll probably lose the ship, the cargo, and our lives." The owner of the ship wanted to get to a place called Phoenix (not Arizona, but Crete) because the accommodations were nicer there, and that's where he wanted to spend the winter.