In times of dire circumstances, Christians often have a level of protection that is not afforded to unbelievers.
Protection of The Lord. Better than a Master Lock.
Here in this section of scripture we see that The Lord had promised Paul that not only he, but all of the people on the ship with him, a total of 276 people, would not be lost. The ship and all it's cargo were to be lost, but the lives of all aboard would be preserved.
The protection of The Lord in this case was granted to be extended so that all those aboard would give God the glory for being saved from what would otherwise be a hopeless situation. We see in this case that had this promise not been given by The Lord, the soldiers had planned to kill all of the prisoners, including Paul, and that would not have served the purpose of The Lord.
One of the important things Christians have which the non-believers in the world do not have is an understanding of things yet to come. God does not leave His people in the dark. He wants them to know what is going on and this has always been the case.
Fear not for God wants you to know
In this section of scripture, the ship on which Paul was sailing had been in storms for many days. The sailors had thrown the cargo and the tackle from the boat overboard in an effort to keep the ship afloat. But they now believed all would be lost and were resigned to shipwreck and drowning at sea.
But then we see that the angel of The Lord appeared to Paul telling him that although the ship and all it's goods would be lost, The Lord granted that there would be no loss of life. And this is one of the ways that The Lord always keeps his people informed so that they do not need to fear like the non-believers in this world do.
Greed is destructive. Greed destroys people and relationships as the passions of people rise to lead people to make bad and destructive decisions.
Greed leads to loss
In this section of scripture, which mainly talks about the initial journey of Paul to Rome, we see how the greed of the boat owners led to the destruction of the boat and it's cargo. Had The Lord not intervened it would have also led to the loss of the people aboard.
Now I must preface this discussion by saying that this section of scripture does not specifically say that the owners were under the power of the passion of greed. However, as business people they would certainly have been focused on the profits to be made from trading and the sooner they would arrive at their destination the sooner they would receive payment for their cargo. In essence, even back then, time was money and the desire for profit overwhelmed good sense in this situation.
As Paul stood and made a defence before King Agrippa, Bernice his wife and the Roman governor Festus, he spoke openly about the things to do with Jesus. Agrippa was the king over the Jewish realm at the time and had an excellent knowledge of all that had happened concerning Jesus and his disciples.
However Festus was the new governor and did not have this same background knowledge. It was clear that as he listened to Paul he became increasingly perplexed and dumbfounded over what Paul had to say. In the end Festus could contain himself no more and he cried out saying in verse 24,
And as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are mad; your great learning is turning you mad!”
And this is a typical opinion of most non-believers who consider Christians to be mad. So let us consider for a moment the question: Are Christians mad?
Have you ever been in a place that was totally dark? I'm not talking about a moonless night but somewhere that was so pitch dark that you could not tell any difference whether your eyes were open or closed. Perhaps in a deep cave or a deep mine underground with the lights extinguished? If not have you ever got out of bed in the middle of the night and blundered about the house in the dark?
Light in the darkness
What did it feel like to you? You stumble about not knowing where you are going, unable to see anything that might be in your way and not able to see dangers ahead in the form of things that may trip you over.
But as soon as there is the tiniest point of light, a lit match, an LED, a small torch or whatever, it immediately grabs your attention and becomes the focal point to which you are drawn.
It is the same with Jesus Christ. And here we see Paul speak about the work he was doing for The Lord in turning the people from darkness to light.
Paul makes a fascinating exclamation at the end of this section of scripture as he addresses Agrippa the king. He says,
Resurrection…without it there is no Christianity
Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?
Of all the many doctrines and teachings of Christianity, resurrection is the single most important and the one that causes the greatest controversy. It is important because if there was no resurrection there is no Christianity for we Christians worship and praise the RISEN Christ.
And it is controversial because the world cannot accept that it is possible for a man to be resurrected. They consider this question from a scientific perspective and completely disdain the very idea of resurrection as science has not been able to duplicate this event despite years and years of research.
There is an old saying that goes like this.
“There are people who make things happen, there are people who watch things happen, and there are people who wonder what happened.”
Christians fall into the first group. We make things happen. Not in the sense that the world understands, but in the spirit. Christians are in a work of transformation where they are being changed, molded & transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We know that faith can move mountains as Jesus taught and we believe the words of James when he wrote in James 5:16-18:
16 …The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.
17 Eli’jah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.
18 Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit.
But this section of Acts is more interesting because it looks at those in one or the other of the other two categories. The new governor of Judea, Festus, was baffled and he was like the third group left wondering “Wha…wha…what happened?” So let’s take a look at these three aspects and see what value & insights they offer us today.
One of the promises of The Lord is that He will give us a protection that is not afforded to the people of the world. When the people of the world get into trouble they do not have a safety net to catch them if they fall. But The Lord is the safety net for Christians.
A way of escape
Depending on the circumstance or the issue facing the Christian, the nature of the protection afforded may be quite different, but it is always there. There is always a means of protection given by The Lord for his people.
In this section of scripture we see two of those methods of protection that The Lord gave to Paul and how they worked to achieve the will of God in Paul’s life.
Whenever we speak of Christianity and the teachings of Jesus Christ we call it the “Good News.” And it is very good news for the teachings of the new covenant are the teachings of life. It is through the words of Jesus and his followers who wrote the New Testament that we have this good news of salvation passed down through the generations to us today.
Good news like so many things is a matter of perspective. Where you stand is determined by what you stand for. If you stand for Christ and follow his ways then you will stand where He stands in the kingdom of God. But if you stand for the things of this world and seek what the world offers in wealth, riches, power and the things that gratify the passions of the flesh, then you will not enter the kingdom of God.
And that is VERY alarming news…!
Paul had been imprisoned and dragged before governors and tribunals to defend himself against a rash of trumped up charges from the Jewish leaders of his time. And aside from his imprisonment, a plot had been made to ambush him while on the road to kill him.
Nothing but the truth
When these things failed, the Jewish leaders turned to receipt and flattery in an attempt to sway the magistrate and Roman governor to their side. They attempted to “butter up” the governor by use of flattery to sway him to hand over Paul. But they failed.
In this section of scripture we see how Paul defended himself against the taunts of the leaders of the Jews and hosed down all of their accusations.