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Matthew 28
posted August 9, 2012

Revelation 13
posted August 16, 2012

The Cruise - February 18, 2007



Sermon of the Week #200718 – February 18, 2007

Today, we go on a cruise with the Apostle Paul, Doctor Luke, and Aristarchus, on a voyage to Rome. First, take a look at the passenger list of our fellow voyagers, 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, and tried to abandon 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. It seems the prisoners were not guilty of such things as jaywalking or for getting a speeding ticket that were being sent to Rome to appear before Caesar; somewhat like the Supreme Court. The prisoners may have been the ancient world’s examples of Al Capone, the Boston Strangler, and Jack the Ripper. This is the passenger list, so come aboard, walk up the gangplank and join us for the cruise.

The first port of call was the next day when we touched at Sidon, and Julius the Centurion treated Paul kindly, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself.

Then putting to sea from thence the winds were contrary, and we came to a place called Myra, and there the Centurion found a ship of Alexandria, bound for Italy, and he put us therein. After sailing many days through stormy seas, we came to a certain place called Fair Havens.

Fair Havens sounds like a nice place to be, but it was exposed to the weather and other problems. Many a time, we feel that we have reached Fair Havens in life. We build a new house, get a good job, have good heath, and we think we have arrived in Fair Havens. It may seem like Fair Havens, but our Fair Havens eventually will experience the greatest grief, sorrow, heartbreak, and disappointment. Psalms chapter one hundred seven tells us of the real Fair Havens, “He maketh the storm to calm…He bringeth them unto their desired haven.” There is no Fair Havens down here. We are always limited as to what we can accomplish by the grave.

Paul told them, “Sirs, I perceive that this 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 on the advice of the owner and captain of the ship, 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. You have to be very stupid to disagree with the experts when they tell us that man evolved from fish and monkeys. It is well to remember the words of Paul in First Corinthians, “The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”

Although Paul was not a sailor, he was not completely ignorant of the sea. He said that he suffered shipwreck three times, and a night and a day he had been in the deep. And since his judgment turned out to be correct, he may have had the advantage of having a prophetic mind. So don’t be cowed by the experts. Time will reveal their ignorance.

Then when the south wind blew softly, they supposed they had obtained their purpose and they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete close in shore, but no sooner did they get a good start, then the wind shifted and they were in the grip of a nor’easter called EURAQULO.

They supposed they had gained their purpose when the south wind blew softly. They supposed. It is a mistake to bank on supposition. Mary and Joseph supposed the Boy Jesus to be among their kinfolk and acquaintances, but He was not there.

When Paul was stoned at Lystra, they dragged him out of the city supposing he was dead, but he wasn’t far from it. There was yet a second and a third missionary journey ahead of him, epistles to write, churches to be established, and two trials before Nero, before a glorious entry into the presence of Jesus.

There was also a great supposition of the Apostles after the resurrection in Luke twenty-four, “Jesus appeared in the midst of them, and saith unto them, ‘Peace be unto you’. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed they beheld a spirit. Then He said, ‘See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself: handle Me, and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye behold Me having.’ They still were not sure until He said unto them, ‘Have ye anything to eat?’ And they gave Him a piece of broiled fish and honeycomb. And He took it, and ate it before them.” Then they knew this was not a supposition. Jesus had a real body, and He was indeed the first-born from the dead.

We have to notice also, that great whopper of a supposition on the Day of Pentecost, “Peter stood up with the eleven and said these men are not drunken as ye suppose seeing it is but the third hour of the day.” Some today don’t say Peter was drunk when he told them, “Repent ye and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” They just teach that it was all right then, but it won’t work now. It is a tragic mistake to suppose the conversion accounts of the book of Acts worked all right then, but not today. The Word of God outweighs all the suppositions of everybody.

So 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 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. No matter how careful and how close you sail along shore, beware when the south wind blows softly.

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. There comes a time in the voyage of life when a lot of things that are precious have to go. I can remember a woman one time 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. It was overboard with the Lord, and overboard with His church.

At this point, Paul reminded them they should have listened unto him. However, he told them that they had nothing to fear. He said that an angel of the Lord whose he was, and whom he serves, 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.”

Think of that! Paul said he belonged to God and he served God. This should be the motto of all Christians: “THE GOD WHOSE I AM, AND WHOM I SERVE.” First Corinthians six informs us, “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God, and ye are not your own, ye have been bought with a price: wherefore glorify God in your bodies.”

The Christian is a person who is bought with a high price. Peter tells us about it in his first epistle, “Ye were redeemed not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, but with the precious blood of a Lamb without blemish, and without spot, even the blood of Christ.”

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. Without the Church, and the influence of the Bible in this world, 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.

Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon quicksand, they cast four anchors from 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 is an anchor for the soul also. 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 Jesus 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. As the sailors were about to flee out of the ship, and they had let down the boat into the sea, under color as though they would cast out more anchors from the fore ship; the sailors decided to abandon ship. Paul told 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.

That statement, “Except ye abide in the ship ye cannot be saved”, reminds us of our spiritual voyage; we must not abandon the ship. There was a famous American sea Captain whose dying words were, “Don’t give up the ship.” Many like the sailors abandon the ‘Old Ship of Zion’.

One man told me of a woman who told him, “I am saved, and if I wanted to be a prostitute, I could do it, and I still would go to Heaven.

Peter in his second epistle says, “For after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the last state of them is worse than the first. For it were better for them not to know the way of righteousness, that after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered unto them. It has happened unto them according to the true proverb, the dog turning again to its own vomit, and the sow that was washed to wallowing in the mire.”

The concept of restoring the New Testament Church has been all but abandoned.


 Some have abandoned the Church. They abandon the Lord’s Supper, they have abandoned the Bible, they have abandoned prayer, they have abandoned any doctrine if it is not popular, and it is with an apology that they speak of the Bible plan of salvation, if they speak of it at all. Except these abide in the ship ye cannot be saved. Remember the words of Paul in First Corinthians chapter nine, verse twenty-seven, “But I buffet my body, and bring it into subjection: lest by any means, after I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.”

As they were waiting for daylight, Paul persuaded them to have an early breakfast. They had eaten little in two weeks; lost their appetite in the ordeal. He said, “This is for your safety.” They were getting ready to go ashore at daybreak, and would need all the strength they could muster. Paul took bread and broke it, and prayed, and then they followed his example and not only ate, they ate enough. That bread actually tasted better than they thought.

As a preacher I have tried every argument I can think of to get people to read the Bible with any degree of regularity. Perhaps Paul has the answer here. You have fasted long enough from refusal to eat the bread of life. This is for your safety. You will soon go ashore from this life, and this is for your safety. You need all the strength you can muster. If you begin to seriously read the Word of God, you will find, like the crew on that ship, that it really is good, and you will never get enough of it.

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 fore ship hit a sandbar and stuck while the hindermost part of the ship began to break up by the violence of the waves.

This ship is interesting. It had been battered by terrible winds, and taken a terrible beating from all the storms, and nothing could sink it, until they drove it up on the beach, and the waves beat it to pieces.

Is that not a likeness of the Old Ship of Zion—the Church of Christ? It has sailed through many stormy seas in the past two thousand years, and survived them all. However, the greatest danger today is when the crew wants to drive the Old Ship of Zion up on the land, and become a part of the world.

The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners, lest they escape. The Centurion commanded, “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 they went! There were two hundred and 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.

This is an example for the crew on the Old Ship of Zion. They had thrown all the cargo overboard, then all the furniture, then the residue of the food that was left, and when they stood on the beach, drenched to the skin and shivering in the rain, they brought absolutely nothing at all with them. The big screen television was gone, all the bank accounts were gone, the telephones were gone, the laptop was gone, the stock was gone, the fancy car was gone, and the new house was gone. They did not take anything, absolutely anything out of this world, and neither will you.

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!” “Aristarcus of Macedonia?” “Here!” “Julius, Centurion 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.