Church Extended – Message 12
June 27, 2021
Introduction: We conclude our survey of Acts, entitled Church Extended. .
A. Today’s message is titled Shipwreck, which Paul encountered sailing to Rome in 60 AD.
- Acts 27:1-9; 1 Timothy 1:19
- Theme verse: Acts 27:26 (NLT)—“…we will be shipwrecked on an island.”
- We also encounter shipwrecks—not boat crashes—but physical, emotional, financial and spiritual (1 Timothy 1:19) damage resulting from storms affecting our relationships, employment, health and faith; some of us are in the midst of such a storm today!
- Acts 27:1 (NLT)—When the time came, we [Luke absent during Paul’s 2-year imprison- ment] set sail for Italy. Paul and several other prisoners were placed in the custody of a Roman officer named Julius, a captain of the Imperial Regiment. [a centurion]…
- Acts 27:5-6 tells us the small coastal ship where Paul was held, landed at Myra, Lycia (today, Turkey), where they boarded a larger Alexandrian grain ship bound for Italy.
- Acts 27:8-9 (NLT)—8We struggled along the coast with great difficulty and finally arrived at Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea. 9We had lost a lot of time. [Waiting for a change of winds.] The weather was becoming dangerous for sea travel because it was so late in the fall [mid-Sept.-mid-Nov.], and Paul spoke to the ship’s officers about it.
- We will see why Paul’s ship wrecked in a storm and learn how to survive shipwrecks.
II. Survive shipwrecks by… (Acts 27-28)
A. #1 - Resisting worldly advice. (Acts 27:10-20. C/R: Proverbs 3:5-6; 8:33; Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 11:25)
- Centurion Julius and the sailors discussed their sailing plan, and Paul, an experienced traveler, who survived three shipwrecks (2 Corinthians 11:25), spoke first.
- Acts 27:10 (NLT)—“Men,” he said, “I believe there is trouble ahead if we go on—shipwreck, loss of cargo, and danger to our lives as well.” [A clear, wise, warning!]
- Acts 27:11 (NLT)—But the officer [Julius] in charge of the prisoners [and the ship because it was a Roman grain ship] listened more to the ship’s captain and the owner than to Paul. [He listened to the so-called “experts” and rejected Paul’s advice.]
- The captain had the most experience at sea, the owner had the most at stake, the greatest interest in the ship’s survival, but their advice was wrong!
- The ship’s captain and owner were motivated by financial interests—completing the delivery and being paid—so they disregarded Paul’s wise advice, which they knew.
- Advice from “experts” is not always right, particularly when they are personally biased.
- Acts 27:12 (NLT)—And since Fair Havens was an exposed harbor—a poor place to spend the winter—most of the crew [NIV: the majority] wanted to go on to Phoenix, farther up the coast of Crete, and spend the winter there. …
- The majority opinion was wrong—people have limited perspective and personal desires that obscure their objectivity; the crowd can be easily influenced emotionally.
- We must never follow the prevailing opinion of our culture or the attitude of friends or relatives, which may be manipulated by media or controlled by a strong personality.
- Group-think (esp. mob mentality) diminishes an individual’s sense of self, including personal judgment and even personal moral standards.
- Acts 27:13 (NLT)—When a light wind began blowing from the south, the sailors thought they could make it. [NIV: obtained what they wanted; GW: thought their plan would work] So they pulled up anchor and sailed close to the shore of Crete.
- Circumstances appeared favorable, and supported personal preferences.
- Q: “How can this be wrong when it feels right and it’s what it want (or think I do)?”
- Acts 27:14-15,17 (NLT)—14But the weather changed abruptly, and a wind of typhoon strength (called a “northeaster”) burst across the island and blew us out to sea. 15The sailors couldn’t turn the ship into the wind, so they gave up and let it run before the gale. [APP.: Do you drift, letting the culture carry you? Romans 12:2]…
17Then the sailors bound ropes around the hull of the ship to strengthen it. … [T]hey lowered the sea anchor to slow the ship and were driven before the wind.
- The crew did the best they could to hold the ship together, but the storm continued.
- Acts 27:18-20 (NLT)—18The next day, as gale-force winds continued to batter the ship, the crew began throwing the cargo overboard. 19The following day they even took some of the ship’s gear and threw it overboard. [Unwise! APP.: In bad circumstances, don’t cast off what you need to steer your life: friends, family, faith.] 20The terrible storm raged for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars [navigation was impossible], until at last all hope was gone. [Destruction and drowning ahead.]
- These sources of advice: expert’s suggestions, majority opinion, and circumstances are not good ways to determine the right course of action (or God’s plan, purpose or will).
- APP.: How do you make decisions? From whom do you seek advice?
Survive shipwrecks by…
#2 - Relying on godly guidance. (Acts 27:21-26. C/R: Proverbs 1:33; Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 6:46; James 1:5-8)
- Acts 27:21-25 (NLT)—21…Finally, Paul called the crew together and said, “Men, you should have listened to me in the first place and not left Crete. You would have avoided all this damage and loss. 22But take courage! None of you will lose your lives, even though the ship will go down. 23For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me, 24and he said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar! What’s more, God in His goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you.’ 25So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as He said.” [The only reliable guidance is from God!]
We must be sure that we are seeking God’s direction in every situation and guiding every decision. [Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 6:46; James 1:5-8]
God guides us by speaking directly to us (but be careful because we can hear what we want); more objective direction comes from the Scripture as it is applied to your situation by the Spirit, but also from godly people who understand God’s ways, or even from circumstances if examined biblically, but it is best to combine all of these sources.
Paul continued at Acts 27:26 (NLT)—“But we will be shipwrecked on an island.”
Following God doesn’t mean we will not suffer; in fact, we will have hardship in this world, but we won’t face them alone. [Proverbs 1:33; John 16:33; Hebrews 13:5]
Negative circumstances do not mean abandonment by God.
APP.: Do you seek God’s direction from multiple sources before making decisions?
Survive shipwrecks by…
#3 - Remembering God’s promises. (Acts 27:27-28:31. C/R: Isaiah 26:3; Acts 23:11; Hebrews 13:5; 2 Peter 1:4)
- Acts 27:27,29-32 (NLT)—27About midnight on the fourteenth night of the storm, as we were being driven across the Sea of Adria [central Mediterranean, not Adriatic Sea], the sailors sensed land was near. [heard waves crashing]… 29At this rate they were afraid we would soon be driven against the rocks along the shore, so they threw out four anchors from the back [stern] of the ship and prayed for daylight.
30Then [panicking] the sailors tried to abandon the ship; they lowered the lifeboat as though they were going to put out anchors from the front of the ship. [treachery] 31But Paul said to the commanding officer and the soldiers, “You will all die unless the sailors stay aboard.” 32So the soldiers cut the ropes to the lifeboat and let it drift away.
- People under pressure display their true character; here, selfish betrayal attempted.
- God’s promise that all would be saved (v.24) required all remaining onboard!
- Acts 27:39,41 (NLT)—39When morning dawned, they didn’t recognize the coastline, but they saw a bay with a beach and wondered if they could get to shore by running the ship aground. … 41But they hit a shoal and ran the ship aground too soon. The bow of the ship stuck fast, while the stern was repeatedly smashed by the force of the waves and began to break apart. [Four anchors found at St. Thomas Bay, Malta; Acts 27:29,32]
42The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners to make sure they didn’t swim ashore and escape. [punished if escaped] 43But the commanding officer wanted to spare Paul [respected him], so he didn’t let them carry out their plan. Then he ordered all who could swim to jump overboard first and make for land. 44The others held onto planks or debris from the broken ship. So everyone [all 276; Acts 27:37] escaped safely to shore.
- Paul knew God’s promise of survival for all, so he demanded that none of the sailors abandon the ship, which could have led all of them to drown.
- When in despair over some seemingly hopeless situation, we cling to God’s promise to never abandon us [Hebrews 13:5] and hold on—in the midst of storms! [Isaiah 26:3; 2 Peter 1:4]
- Acts 28:11 tells us that three months later, they set sail for Rome on another ship.
- Acts 28:16-17, 20 (NLT)—16When we arrived in Rome [God’s promise to Paul fulfilled! Acts 23:11], Paul was permitted to have his own private lodging, though he was guarded by a soldier. [chained to his wrist] 17Three days after Paul’s arrival, he called together the local Jewish leaders.…[continued ministry] 20“I asked you to come here today so we could get acquainted and so I could explain to you that I am bound with this chain because I believe that the hope of Israel—the Messiah—has already come.”
- Acts 28:23-24 (NLT)—23So a time was set, and on that day a large number of people came to Paul’s lodging. He explained and testified about the Kingdom of God and tried to persuade them about Jesus from the Scriptures. … [Using law and prophets.] 24Some were persuaded by the things he said, but others did not believe. [with Paul preaching!]
- Acts 28:30-31 (NLT)—30For the next two years, Paul lived in Rome at his own expense [as prisoner]. He welcomed all who visited him, 31boldly proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one tried to stop him.
- During those two years of confinement, Paul continued to evangelize all who visited him (Philippians 1:13; 4:22); he also wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon.
- APP.: Has God used negative circumstances (shipwrecks), to shape your character, deepen your faith and enable you to pursue His purpose and plan for your life?
Memory verse: Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)—“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”