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Matthew 28
posted August 9, 2012

Revelation 13
posted August 16, 2012

The Storm - June 24, 2005

THE STORM -- Acts Chapter 27

Sermon of the Week June 24, 2005

On Paul’s voyage to Rome in Acts 27, a lot of things had to be thrown overboard. There are a lot of things in the voyage of life that have to go, if we are to get out of this world alive; that is, in Christ. Take a look at the passengers on this trip; a motley aggregation to say the least. It was a microcosm of humanity. It is the same kind of people you will meet on your voyage of life also. Some were there who had authority over others; the centurion and his soldiers. Today there are the courts, judges, police, and other government officials. Some were helpers along the way such as Doctor Luke. Today we have the hospitals, the schools, and other institutions that make life bearable. Traveling with us today are personal friends like Aristarchus, who many times showed up when Paul was in trouble. Then there were those who shirked all responsibilities such as the sailors, who could give specialized service, but tried to jump ship in a time of crisis. Others would be fellow travelers in trouble, such as the prisoners who would be taken to Rome with Paul. You will meet them all on the voyage of your life. So come aboard, walk up the gangplank, and join us for this cruise.

The first things that get our attention are the prisoners. “And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Band.” Paul is numbered with the prisoners. Thieves, murderers, dope pushers, child molesters, rapists, homosexuals, and there was Paul right in the midst of them. This reminds us of the Lord Who was numbered with the transgressors, so that we might be numbered among the saints on the Day of Judgment. Without acceptance of Christ and obedience to Him on the Day of Judgment you will be numbered with rapists, child abusers, drug pushers, murderers, drunkards, and homosexuals. Without Christ, they are your kind of people. This might have been depressing to Paul to be numbered with such people on this voyage, but it had its upside, he did have a few friends in that the third verse tells us, “And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously treated Paul kindly, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself.”

Paul’s experience is not unlike our own. Each day we find ourselves surrounded by a cutthroat, mad-dog society of profane people who find it utterly impossible to say a complete sentence without using profanity, plus taking God’s name in vain. Mindless drunkards on the road that may run into you at anytime you venture on the highway. And like Paul, we need to go unto our friends and refresh ourselves. The Sunday services provide a little respite, not to mention the family camps, revivals and other meetings. Go ahead, take advantage of the opportunity and observe the Lord’s Supper on the Lord’s Day. Go be with your friends and refresh yourself. Of course, the tragic thing is that when we attend the Sunday services to refresh ourselves by associating with people of like precious faith, we usually find that half of them are not there. They are out fellowshipping the same cutthroat, mad-dog, profane, dysfunctional people we try to get away from.

Now, three times on this voyage we are told that they sailed under the lee; under the lee of a small island named Cauda; under the lee of Cyprus, and under the lee of Crete—under the lee, under the lee, under the lee. They wanted to sail over the island, but when the weather made it impossible they did what they had to do. They went to Plan B. Sometimes you cannot do what you want to do, so go under the lee. One way for example, and you may think of many more, some of you would like to give all you have to the Lord’s work, but you can’t do that. So go under the lee and give seventy-five percent. Perhaps you say you can’t do that. OK, go under the lee and give fifty percent. Can’t do that either? Go under the lee and give twenty-five percent. Can’t do that? OK, go under the lee and give the rock-bottom amount of any servant of the Lord can do; go ahead and give the rock bottom ten percent. Go under the lee, under the lee; just do what you can.

It was after the second aforementioned lee they sailed under that they came to Fair Havens. Fair Havens was not well named as far as the sailors were concerned. It was not the best place to hole up for the winter. They preferred to go to a place called Phoenix, a wide-open town on the other side of the island. Paul told them, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.” The centurion vetoed this advice and advised to sail anyway. After all, what did Paul know? The sailors were experts and knew what they were doing. Sometimes the Church is cowed before the experts.

The centurion’s mistake was that he did not know that Paul was not your everyday, garden-variety, ignoramus. Paul was speaking from the vantage ground of a prophetic mind; the mind of God. So don’t be cowed by the experts. Time will reveal their ignorance. The Christian has the advantage over the mind of the evolutionists. He has the mind of God in the pronouncements of the Bible. God knows more than the experts do. They thought they had it made when Luke records, “And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.” But no sooner did they get a good start, than the wind shifted and they were in the grip of a nor’easter called EURAQULO. It was also a southeaster. The Euraqulo was a hurricane that turned every which way. They had no idea where they were. They supposed they had gained their purpose when the south wind blew softly. They supposed! It is a mistake to bank on supposition. Don’t bank on salvation by what you suppose. Many suppose there is no Hell, although they make mention of it in their conversation. Hell is the most highly advertised place there is. Just listen to how many times you hear it mentioned everyday, not counting the times mentioned by hell-fire and brimstone preachers like me. Everyday if you listen carefully, you will hear someone tell somebody else to go there. Yet they steadfastly deny that there is such a place. They supposed!

The south wind blew softly. It always does. At the first drink, the imbiber does not see the drunken sot he will become or the mangled bodies of those he kills by driving under the influence. The south wind blows softly for the cigarette smoker until the Euraqulo of cancer seizes him. And then there is the Euraqulo of AIDS for those who are fooled when the south wind blows softly in what they call safe sex. Watch out for Euraqulo. No matter how careful and how close you sail along shore, Euraqulo will get you. Beware when the south wind blows softly. This can be applied to a lot of areas, but for now we are in a hurry to see what gets thrown overboard in this storm.


            When they were definitely in the grip of Euraqulo, they decided that to save the ship and their lives, the furniture and freight had to be thrown overboard. So over the side it went. Now they had no freight and no furniture. The freight was why they were making the trip. This was valuable cargo. But to save their lives, it had to go. There comes a time in the voyage of life when a lot of things that are precious have to go. These are things that in themselves are all right, but if they endanger our salvation they need to be thrown overboard. I remember a woman one time that told me that she was a member of about fifteen different things and that was too much. She said, “Something has to go!” Without the slightest hesitation, she said the work she was doing for the Church would have to go. Overboard with the Lord! The work of the Lord is not an elective; it is an absolute necessity. If you tell a person to flee a burning building, only a fool would say, “Wait until I finish watching this television program.” We need to throw overboard with everything that slows us down in the Lord’s work.

            At this point, Paul reminded them they should have listened unto him. However, he told them that they had nothing to fear. He told them that an angel had appeared to him that night and told him, “Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.”

            These men owed their lives to the fact that Paul was on board. The world has no idea how much it owes to the Church for its present existence. There is no question about it and only a person who is spiritually ignorant would disagree when I say that without the Church in this world, the world would self-destruct. Take the Bible out of the world, and this world would explode. Take the Church out of this world and your city would be transformed into a Sodom and Gomorrah. Take the Church out of this world and the hell that many regard as fancy would become a reality in your city. This broadcast is of infinite importance. Just how important, God only knows, but He is aware that it is on the air and is a part of the overall picture that keeps this world from blowing, for the present. This broadcast is a major media event. Some of you haven’t found that out yet and may even die in your ignorance.

            Think of God’s care for us. Neither stars nor sun had shone on the ship for fourteen days. Yet the angel from Heaven by dead reckoning came down past the Milky Way, past our planetary system of the earth, and zeroed in on the Apostle Paul on that ship in the dark in the midst of the sea. It is comforting to know that in the spiritual darkness of a starless and sunless modern day life, the Lord is aware of us and knows exactly where we are at all times. And now for the next thing that had to go overboard.


            The next things to be cast overboard were the anchors. Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon quicksand, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day. They had heard the waves beating on the beach. They sounded and found twenty fathoms, then again and found fifteen fathoms. There was no time to lose. Down went the anchors to save them from shipwreck. There are anchors for the soul also. As far as anchors are concerned, suffice it to say there is one anchor that is all-important and we take note of it. Paul speaks of it in Hebrews, “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…” The blessed hope of life in Christ is the anchor for our souls. Without Christ your life is going to be a shipwreck, if it isn’t already. The song asks a very important question:

            Will your anchor hold in the storms of life?

            When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?

            When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,

            Will your anchor drift or firm remain?

            We have an anchor that keeps the soul

            Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,

            Fastened to the rock that cannot move,

            Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.

And now the next thing that goes overboard is the lifeboat.


And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under color as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship, the sailors decided to jump ship. Paul snitched on them. He said to the centurion, “Except these abide in the ship ye cannot be saved.” These men were specialized workers and without them, the landlubbers would be helpless. So the soldiers cut away the lifeboat and set it adrift.

            So it is as we voyage through life on the Ole Ship of Zion. There are some that are specialized workers, such as elders, deacons, and evangelists. Some of them have abandoned the Church. They abandoned the Lord’s Supper. They have abandoned the Bible. They have abandoned prayer. They have abandoned any doctrine if it is not popular. It is with an apology that they speak of the plan of salvation, if they speak of it al all. It would be embarrassing for many Church of Christ congregations to hear the preacher read Acts 2:38, “Repent and be immersed for the remission of sins...” Except these abide in the ship ye cannot be saved; many have abandoned the concept of restoring the New Testament Church.

            There is no way to separate the Lord from His Church. Disloyalty to the Church is disloyalty to the Lord Himself. So don’t jump ship! Except these abide in the ship ye cannot be saved. So they let the lifeboat go adrift and wished for the day. The last thing to go overboard was everybody.


            As they were waiting for daylight, Paul persuaded them to have an early breakfast. After gorging as much as they could, they further lightened the ship by throwing the residue of wheat into the sea. At daybreak they saw the beach and decided to run the ship aground. The sail was hoisted, the anchors dropped off, and they made for the beach. The foreship hit a sandbar and stuck while the hindermost part of the ship began to break up by the violence of the waves.

            The soldiers had an idea that was vetoed by the centurion. They said, “Let us kill all the prisoners, they may escape.” These prisoners owed their lives to Paul because of the decision of the centurion. In his desire to save Paul he spared their lives as well. Here is another example of the saving influence of one man of God. The presence of Paul kept the other prisoners alive. Millions today owe their lives to the existence of the Church and the Bible that they deride and deny. The Church of Christ is the most important organization in the world today and your support of it cannot be minimized.

            The centurion had a better idea. He said, “Let everyone who can swim, jump overboard and swim ashore and the rest of you grab a plank, anything that will serve as a life-preserver.” And over the side everybody went. There were two hundred seventy-six people on board. When they got to the shore, they called the roll and found out that the Lord had called the shots perfectly. He had said they would all come out of it alive and they did. And it came to pass that they all escaped safe to land.

            Listen to that again, safe to land. No one was missing. Someone called the roll, “Paul, prisoner of Rome?” “Here!” “Doctor Luke, traveling physician?” “Here!” “Aristarchus of Macedonia?” “Here!” Julius centurion of the Augustan Band of the Roman Army?” “Here!” One by one they called the roll and everyone was accounted for. There was no loss of life. And it came to pass that they all escaped safe to land.

            Surely there is a message there for those who sail in the Ole Ship of Zion. If we lay aside every weight and the sin that doth so easily beset us. Throwing all encumbrances into the sea, when the Lord shall come, it shall come to pass that we will all escape safe to land. We will not stand on that rain-soaked island of Melita, but on the shore of that sea whose appearance is like unto glass mingled with fire, where we are surrounded, not by barbarians, but by all the faithful saints of the ages. The Captain of our salvation will call the roll and it shall come to pass that we will all escape safe to land.

            When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound

And time shall be no more,

And the morning breaks eternal bright and fair.

And the saints of earth shall gather

Over on the other shore,

And the roll is called up yonder; I’ll be there.