Summary: Eternal security in Paul’s shipwreck
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David Blaine- lot of time re-reading his diary; “The spirit is greater than the flesh” (Day 42); “My 44 days and nights of peace and torment” (Day 44) without food. A choice he made to abstain- why?
Test himself, gain admiration from the world, get in record books, try to find meaning outside of life’s humdrum routines, make a lot of money, lose weight drastically?!
How long have you been without food? Why?
14 days without food- our story
Irony: Rome dependent on Egypt for grain- they were carrying wheat! Adrenaline, fear, exhaustion, not being able to get at the food to prepare it, thinking they were going to run out, fasting so as to persuade the gods to save them? V21- “long abstinence”; v33-35- “Paul implored them all to take food…”
But there are truths embedded within this story far deeper than simply that we ought to eat when we are hungry, spiritual truths that we would do well to consume and inwardly digest. I would like to draw your attention to three, and I’d like to pose them as questions:
1. What are God’s promises to us?
2. How will God provide the answers to these promises?
3. Can we be confident that once we have received salvation, we will never lose it?
I hope to leave you with a firm and settled impression in your mind the positive answer the Scriptures give to all three questions.
1. God promises (salvation)- the what?
a) Physical salvation (to Paul & the men), v22, 24, 34- that neither he nor any of the men would be lost
b) Spiritual salvation (to anyone who believes), Romans 1:16; 10:13- “The Gospel of Christ…is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
2. God provides (answers)- the how?
a) Through practical warnings and other means
Loss of lives if…
i. 10- they sail into storm
ii. 17- they don’t ‘frap’ the boat!
iii. 19, 38- they don’t throw tackle and cargo overboard
iv. 29- they don’t throw the anchors down
v. 31- sailors escape
vi. 34- they don’t eat!
vii. 43a- soldiers kill prisoners
viii. 43b- swimmers don’t get out first to help non-swimmers jumping overboard!
b) Through spiritual warnings
i. Hebrews 2:1-3, pay attention to what you’ve heard, don’t drift away from the Lord, His Word and His people like a little boat cut loose;
ii. Hebrews 4:11, hasten to enter God’s rest and don’t fall into hardness of heart (v7) like the children of Israel
iii. Hebrews 10:26, avoid sinning wilfully by turning our back on the Son of God who purchased us with His blood
• Interesting: God has promised that all the men on the boat will be saved, but Paul has also said that this will only be so if they prevent the sailors getting away (31), eat food (34) and so on. Similarly, God has promised that “He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6) even though He also says that, “He who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13).
• What can we infer from this? “God uses moral means for the accomplishment of moral ends” (Louis Berkhof). Salvation is God’s work alone. God saves the men in the ship. God saves us from our sins through Christ. But God does His work through the use of various means. He saves the men from death through practical warnings given by Paul and others. He saves us through the warnings given in Scripture about obedience and not falling away and so on. He doesn’t save us because we are so very faithful, because we’re not. He saves us because He is faithful and He will use every means at His disposal to keep us walking with Him, including strong words of warning in Scripture: “The Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and guard you from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
• In other words, God has chosen without human help what He is going to do, but He often uses many different means to bring His will about
3. God preserves (us)- the who?
a) God is the one who grants deliverance: “Indeed God has granted you all who sail with you” (24)
b) God is the one who is reliable: “I believe God that it will be just as it was told me” (25)
c) God uses human means: the soldiers cut away the ropes in verse 32. The man in the flood- boat, helicopter, etc.
d) God will overcome all natural and human barriers to bring about salvation- THINK ABOUT THESE- the refusal to listen to good advice (11), the wind (14), the sands (17), the storm (18), human tools and self-reliance (19), the darkness (20), the lack of hope (20), the rocks (29), the deception of selfish men (30), hunger (34), unnecessary burdens (38), anchors and other securities (40), violent waves from all directions (41), not being able to swim (43)…ultimately to SAFETY! “They cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm of a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and He guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men” (Psalm 107:28-31).