Salvation: Do You Have It?

Salvation: The Qualifications

A long time ago a man asked the question, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). First of all, God saves the following kind of people: “sinners” (Rom. 3:23), “ungodly” (Rom. 4:5), those “without strength” (Rom. 5:6), His “enemies” (Rom. 5:10).

If you do not think that you are any of the above, you cannot be saved. If you still think you’re good enough, you cannot be saved. God does not save good people, or people trying to earn their way to heaven. You must come to God God’s way.

Salvation: The Basis

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:23-24). God saves sinners on this basis:

1). Freely. It does not cost the sinner anything. It is free. You can’t earn salvation by being good, and you cannot lose salvation by being bad. God does not require any works from a sinner. Good works do not make it easier, and bad works do not make it harder to get saved. It is FREE, FREE, FREE! God justifies the sinner freely. Justification is the act whereby God declares a person righteous, even though that person in himself is not righteous.

2). By His Grace. That means that it comes from the heart of God without finding anything in the recipient that would draw out His grace. Grace is all that God is free to do for the undeserving sinner because Christ paid for our sins on the Cross. If we have to work for our salvation, then salvation is not “by His grace.” If we can earn it, why did He die?

3). Through the Redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Salvation is free to the sinner, but it cost God everything! Free is not cheap. As a matter of fact, salvation is the most expensive thing that has ever been paid. The cost of salvation was that Almighty God had to become a man and die in the sinner’s place. The cost was infinite! Webster defines “redemption” as follows: “The act of procuring the deliverance of persons or things from the possession and power of captors by the payment of an equivalent.” Sin against an infinite God requires an infinite payment. No man or church or works of any kind can pay this debt. The debt has been fully paid for by the Lord Jesus Christ. It would be the highest insult to offer to God your good works or religion in view of the fact that His Own Son suffered on the Cross to pay for your sins.

So to answer the question, “What must I do to be saved?” Stop making excuses, and place yourself in the “Qualifications” category, and receive the gift of salvation God has provided.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

“I declare unto you the gospel…by which also ye are saved…Christ died for our sins…was buried, and…rose again the third day” (I Cor. 15:1-4).

Unanswered Prayer

“Do you believe in prayer?”

The writer was asked this question some time ago by a woman who had prayed in vain for the recovery of her sick husband.

“No,” I replied, “I do not believe in prayer. But I do believe in a God who hears and answers prayer.”

The woman’s question reminded me of my childhood days.

One day at school a playmate showed me a beautiful fountain pen.

“Where did you get it?” I asked.

“Lucky stone,” he replied simply, and taking me to a hill nearby he found a smooth brown pebble and showed me how to use it.

Closing his eyes he threw it into the air over his head and said solemnly, “Lucky stone, lucky stone, bring me luck.”

“Is that all you did?” I asked.

“Sure, I tried it yesterday, and this morning I found this pen. Eddie showed me how. He found a quarter the same way.”

Needless to say, I found a good many “lucky stones” that afternoon and went through the ceremony again and again.

But, I didn’t find a thing! even though I walked about with my eyes almost glued to the ground!

The next day I found my friend, and Eddie too, and asked them: Had I done it the right way? Had I used the right kind of stone? How long are you supposed to wait before you find something?

It was not long before I had completely lost faith in “lucky stones.” When the boys kept inquiring about my luck I scoffed, “G’wan, I don’t believe in that stuff!”

This incident came back to me when I was asked “Do you believe in prayer?”

Millions of people, saved as well as lost, are positively superstitious about prayer. They try it. If their requests are granted they say, “I believe in prayer. I have found that it works.” But if their requests are not granted they begin to doubt—as though prayer in itself ever had any power or efficacy.

Of course, not all Christians are superstitious, but this only adds to the difficulty. Many sincere and thoughtful believers have trusted and claimed certain written promises from the Word, only to find those promises unfulfilled in their lives. As a result they have found themselves struggling against the feeling that God is not faithful. This is a far more serious difficulty.

To these, and to all believers who have been tempted to doubt God because of unanswered prayer, we offer God’s wonderful solution to the problem.


“And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matt. 21:22).

“Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 18:19).

Wonderful promises! Meditate upon them for a few moments. “ALL THINGS—WHATSOEVER ye shall ask in prayer, believing!” “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching ANYTHING THAT THEY SHALL ASK!”

Wonderful promises, indeed! Yet who can deny that they have proved more discouraging than encouraging to many sincere Christians?

Reading these verses, many of God’s children have been encouraged to ask for physical healing, daily employment, deliverance from temptation and many other things in prayer, believing, but have been deeply disappointed to find their requests ungranted. Such experiences have often left deeper scars on the lives of believers than their fellow men observe.

Before seeking the explanation to this fact let us first be wholly honest and acknowledge it to be a fact.

There was a time when my own faith was rudely shaken by this vexing problem. We had been holding open air meetings for many weeks without seeing any results. How we longed to see precious souls saved! Before going out one day my co-worker asked, “Do you believe Matthew 18:19, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven?”

I said, “God knows I want to believe it.” So we got down on our knees to ask for souls, claiming this promise. As we prayed I could not forget that the Lord had graciously helped one who had cried “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

We arose from prayer that day with peculiar confidence. We knew before we had even begun to preach that God would give us souls. But—He didn’t!

Few people stood around and there was no indication that anyone was at all impressed by our words. We agreed, of course, that we shouldn’t expect to see fruit immediately. Perhaps we would find out later that God had answered our prayer.

But we did not find out that God had answered our prayer and I, for one, felt it deeply. This had happened before, too often, and now I found myself struggling against doubt and rebellion.

Thank God, Philippians 1:6 is blessedly true: “…He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it….”

If Philippians 1:6 were not true this might have been the end of my Christian life, but as it was I was only driven to my knees again and—finally to my Bible!

Is it not strange that we generally place more importance upon prayer than upon Bible study! How often the question has been asked from the pulpit, “How many of you have spent half an hour in prayer today?” Yet rarely does the preacher ask “How many have spent half an hour with the Word today?” Is prayer then more important than the study of the Word? Surely what God says to us is infinitely more important than anything we might have to say to Him.

As this dawned upon me, I went once more to the Word. I realized that I had simply taken verses here and there and had claimed their fulfillment without any regard to the context, without even inquiring whether those promises had been made to me!

I had not obeyed II Timothy 2:15, and I was supposed to be one of God’s workmen! I had ignored the very verse in which He Himself had told me how I might be “approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed.”

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15).

It was not long before I knew I had the answer to my heart’s problem. My difficulties vanished as I began to practice II Timothy 2:15. And not only did they vanish, but I came into the possession of the greatest blessing of my Christian life, the key to so many problems—the knowledge of the mystery of God’s purpose and grace. This, and this alone, is the answer to the problem we have been considering. But, before we go into this, let us consider briefly some popular explanations.


Some time after I had come into the knowledge of “the mystery,” a special meeting was called by one who, though he had been saved for many years, had found his faith sorely tried by the same perplexing problem.

He invited a popular preacher to address a group of Christian workers on the question of unanswered prayer. I was one of those invited.

The preacher went through the same familiar explanations I had heard so often—explanations which certainly never satisfied my heart.

He said that there may be a divine factor in unanswered prayer. That is, God may, for His own good reasons, deem it best not to grant some request, as in the case of Job.

Then too, he went on, there are human factors to take into consideration, such as sin harbored in the heart (Psa. 66:18), selfishness (Jas. 4:3) and a spirit of unbelief (Jas. 1:6,7), all of which, he said, would result in unanswered prayer.

Then he came to the climax of his message. How could we be sure our prayers would be answered?

He asked us to turn to Mark 11:22-24,

“And Jesus answering saith unto them, have faith in God.

“For verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

“Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

From these verses he urged us to put away all known sin and selfishness and reap the blessed results of believing prayer.

But I felt like asking, “What about the divine factor? Suppose I pray in true faith, and God, for His own good reasons, deems it best not to grant my requests as in the case of Job!?”

How I longed, that day, to breathe into his ear and into the ears of all those present, the solution to the problem—the mystery! But he had already turned a deaf ear to that glorious message.


We agree, of course, that harbored sin will hinder prayer and that selfish requests should remain unanswered, but these present no difficulty. The problem is why sincere believers, seeking honestly to live for Christ and praying in humble faith, should so often find their prayers unanswered.

Granting that human failure enters into the question of unanswered prayer, is it not a fact that many, living in conscious fellowship with God, eager to do His will and confidently believing their requests would be granted have been discouraged, not to say disillusioned by unanswered prayer? They had rested in the promise that whatsoever they asked in prayer, believing, they would receive. They asked, believing, and did not receive.

The answer to this problem, as to so many problems, is a dispensational one.

Have you ever noticed where the “whatsoever” promises are found? They are found only in one small portion of the Bible—that dealing with our Lord’s earthly ministry (though they are referred to in the Hebrew Christian epistles).

Never in the Old Testament, nor in the Pauline epistles do we find that “all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

Why is this? Simply because these promises had to do with the establishment of Christ’s kingdom on earth. These are the conditions which will prevail during His reign and He proclaimed them as part of “the gospel of the kingdom.”

We do find in Isaiah 65:24,

“And it shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking I will hear.”

This is a wonderful promise, indeed, but it has not been used very intelligently by Christians in general.

How many sincere Christians have quoted this passage after receiving some blessing without even asking for it! They have said, “How true God’s Word is! Didn’t He say `Before they call I will answer; and while they are yet speaking I will hear’?” However, few quote this verse when they have struggled long in prayer without receiving an answer from the Lord!

But suppose that through some strange circumstances we should see a wolf and a lamb feeding together and I should quote the next verse, and say, “How true God’s Word is! Didn’t He say `the wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock’?”

Would I be using the Word of God intelligently? Of course not. You would say, “Yes, the Word of God is true, but Isaiah 65:25 does not apply to this. It speaks of the kingdom reign of Christ when this shall be the rule, when wolves and lambs, lions and bullocks, as well as men shall get along together.” And you would be right. That whole portion of Isaiah 65 speaks clearly of Messiah’s reign. It is concerning this period of time that we read, “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking I will hear.” It is not strange, then, that we should find “whatsoever” promises in connection with “the gospel of the kingdom.”

Certainly it is not the rule today, among God’s people, to receive the answers to our requests before we even make them, nor even while we are presenting them. Far more often we have the experience of David who cried, “How long, O Lord, How long?” And surely we need David’s advice, “Wait patiently for Him,” for God does not generally answer before we call.

But when our Lord reigns in the kingdom things will be vastly different. He will have control over man’s three greatest enemies—the world, the flesh and the devil.

The world?

“The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ” (Rev. 11:15).

The flesh?

“The child shall die a hundred years old” (Isa. 65:20).

That is, he that dies at one hundred years old shall be considered a child.

The Devil?

“And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years. And cast him into the bottomless pit…” (Rev. 20:2,3).

What a changed scene! “The times of refreshing!” In those days the Lord will no longer hide His face, but heaven will be opened to the earth.

It was all this which our Lord had in view when He preached “the gospel of the kingdom.” It was this which Peter had in view when he cried, after Christ had gone to heaven,

“Repent…the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ which before was preached unto you” (Acts 3:19,20).

But the kingdom was rejected. God did not send Jesus and the times of refreshing did not come, indeed have not yet come.

The age in which we live is, to a superlative degree, an evil age. Paul calls it, “This present evil age” (Gal. 1:4). It is the age of the rejection of the Son of God. It is the age when the world has been given up to the wrath and judgment of God.

It is only because of “the exceeding riches of His grace,” that the vials of His wrath have not yet been poured out upon this rebellious race, for “the rulers of the darkness of this age” hold sway and “the god of this age hath blinded the minds of them that believe not” (Eph. 6:12; II Cor. 4:4).

Our blessed Lord cast out Satan, the oppressor of this fallen world, and offered man deliverance, but lo, man did not want to be delivered. Satan is the god of this age. Today Satan still reigns by the will of man and the sufferance of God. (See John 12:31, 16:11; II Cor. 4:4).

But God overrules. He “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11).

This present evil age is also the age of grace. Some years after Pentecost, Paul wrote these wonderful words:

“Where sin abounded grace did much more abound.

“That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign, through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:20,21).

“For God hath concluded them all in unbelief that He might have mercy upon all” (Rom. 11:32).

“And that He might reconcile both unto God in one Body by the Cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (Eph. 2:16).

Neither man nor Satan knew it, but this was God’s eternal purpose in Christ. It was a mystery, “kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25), “in other ages was not made known,” (Eph. 3:5), “hid in God,” (Eph. 3:9), “hid from ages and generations,” (Col. 1:26), “the unsearchable riches of Christ,” (eph. 3:8), “His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (II Tim. 1:9).

Still, God waits in mercy while His ambassadors go forth with the message of reconciliation, God’s offer of grace to a lost and ruined world. (See II Cor. 5:16-21 and read carefully).

And what about prayer in this age of abounding sin and overabounding grace? Does God promise to grant whatsoever we ask in prayer believing? He does not. Even Paul had to learn this. (See II Cor. 12:8-10). He offers us something better and more perfectly suited to our circumstances.


What Christian cannot freely quote Romans 8:28!

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”

But how few Christians can quote Romans 8:26! Yet Romans 8:28 cannot be fully understood or appreciated except against the background of Romans 8:26.

Romans 8:28 tells us what “we know.” Romans 8:26 tells us what “we know not.”

Now let us consider them together:

“…we know not what we should pray for as we ought….”

“…we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”

How wonderfully this fits our present circumstances!

In “the darkness of this age” it would be calamitous if we received whatever we asked in prayer, believing. Indeed, a large proportion of the time, “we know not what we should pray for.” We must get down on our knees and say, “Lord, the way is dark. I cannot see one step before me. I do not even know what to ask.”

But though “we know not what we should pray for as we ought,” “the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities;” “He maketh intercession for the saints,” and God works “all things together for good” to us.

The highest expression of faith is found in Paul’s words to the Philippians (4:6,7).

“Be careful [anxious] for nothing!

“But in everything

“By prayer and supplication,

“With thanksgiving,

“Let your requests be made known unto God


“And” what?

And “Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive?”


“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep [garrison] your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Here is ample proof that God is not deaf to the cries of His children in this age. He wants them to pour out all their hearts before Him. There is nothing He does not wish to hear about. He says, “Tell me everything and be anxious about nothing for I’ll work it all out for your good.” He who loves us is working out our future!

How foolish then to say, “What’s the use of praying if we do not receive what we ask for?” It is because of the very darkness of this age that we must be willing to leave the outcome with Him.

He is the Head of the Body and, remember, the head always does the thinking.

Learn this lesson and “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

“For we walk by faith not by sight” (ii cor. 5:7). We walk (or should walk) by faith even though we see no public demonstrations as were seen at Pentecost. We walk by faith even though our requests are not granted. We walk by faith even though things seem to go against us for we know He is working all things out for our good. Not for our present apparent good, perhaps, but certainly for our eventual, eternal good.

Does this satisfy you, Christian friend? If not, let us ask one simple question in closing.


If you were offered either a $1.00 bill or a $10.00 bill, which would you choose?

If, in this age of darkness and sin, God should offer you either whatsoever ye ask in prayer, believing, or exceeding abundantly above all you could possibly ask, or think, which would you choose?

“Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.

“Unto Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Eph. 3:20,21).

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In the Eye of the Storm


“Day by day and with each passing moment, strength I find to meet my trials here; trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment, I’ve no cause for worry or for fear. He whose heart is kind beyond all measure, gives unto each day what He deems best—lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure, mingling toil with peace and rest.

“Help me then in every tribulation, so to trust Thy promises, O Lord, that I lose not faith’s sweet consolation, offered me within Thy holy Word. Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting, e’er to take, as from a father’s hand, one by one, the days, the moments fleeting, till I reach [my heavenly home].”

Most of our great hymns of the faith were borne out of adversity. Like the gentle mourning dove that coos, they convey a message in song that streams forth from a broken heart that has found consolation in our Heavenly Father. The hymn, Day by Day, written by Lina Sandell, is a classic example. When Lina was a little girl she recalled how she rarely spent time with other children her age. Rather, she enjoyed sitting in her father’s study talking about the things of the Lord. Her father was the well-known and beloved pastor of a parish located in Froderyd, Sweden.

As the flames of revival swept across Scandinavia, Lina, now 26, accompanied her father on a speaking engagement at Gothenburg. For some unknown reason, the ship upon which they were traveling lurched to one side, tragically throwing her father overboard. He drowned before her very eyes. You may want to read her words again in light of her loss. The Apostle Paul would have suffered the same fate, but for the providence of God. Such times have a way of showing us our true character.


“And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band.” —Acts 27:1

The Lord had commissioned Paul to go far hence unto the Gentiles, but Paul’s heart’s desire was that Israel might be saved. It seems that he never forgave himself for persecuting the church and laying it waste. He thought within himself if he could simply return again to Jerusalem he could reach his countrymen for Christ. But the Lord had forewarned him that they would not receive his testimony concerning Him. Nevertheless, the apostle disobeyed the will of the Lord believing he could reach them for Christ if given another opportunity (Acts 21:4-14; 22:18-21 cf. Rom. 10:1).

Since God never imposes His will upon ours, He allowed Paul to return to Jerusalem, but it was with catastrophic results. God interrupted the ill-advised plan of James and Paul’s cooperation in it. We believe, had not the Lord intervened, the apostle would have lost his life at the hands of his countrymen (Acts 21:17-36). The lesson here is clear: disobedience has consequences!

Here’s a contemporary example to illustrate our point. The Scriptures are clear that the believer is not to be unequally yoked with the unbeliever, whether in business partnerships or marriage (II Cor. 6:14,15). But it is not uncommon to see an attractive young Christian girl engaged to a young man who looks and smells like he just fell off the turnip truck. In addition to being unsaved, he wouldn’t know what responsibility was if it were staring him in the face, having never worked a day in his life. You begin to wonder what this girl is thinking! But there is rhyme and reason behind her thought process, though misguided.

You see, the woman instinctively wants to nurture, so she firmly believes that she will be able to mold this young fellow into a well-groomed, responsible, church-going man who will eventually trust Christ. But there is one major problem: she will have to disobey God’s will to accomplish her purpose, a decision she is sure to regret. Nine times out of ten this type of marriage relationship ends in heartache and divorce.

While some tend to place Paul on a pedestal, he was not beyond stepping out of the will of God. He was a man of like passions as we—he, too, had feet of clay! Consequently, this one act of disobedience cost him dearly. He was imprisoned for two years as a result. These were lost years for the most part, years he could have more effectively ministered among the Gentiles. But thankfully God uses us in spite of our shortcomings and failures. Shortly after Paul was imprisoned, the Lord appeared to the apostle so he wouldn’t languish in despair.

“And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome” (Acts 23:11).

“Be of good cheer.” Imperative mood: the Lord commands Paul to be courageous and confident, for the hand of God was still upon his ministry. Although the apostle had testified of the Lord under the auspices of the permissive will of God at Jerusalem, it remained the directive will of God for him to continue his ministry among the Gentiles. Hence, “so must thou bear witness also at Rome,” at Rome’s expense mind you. There are times that God uses the unbeliever to accomplish His purpose, as demonstrated here. Interestingly, Paul is never said to be a prisoner of Rome, but rather a prisoner of Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:1). The Lord makes Paul His prisoner at this point in time and sends him to Rome, a Gentile city far from Jerusalem.

Having been bound over for trial at Rome, Paul is placed on a ship in the custody of a Roman centurion named Julius. There is good reason to believe that they may have known one another prior to the voyage. One thing we know for sure, Julius did not believe the apostle was a flight risk, since he allowed Paul the liberty to visit with the brethren at various stops along the journey.

As the voyage progressed they first experienced contrary winds, then an unsettling calm as they sailed under Crete. Thankful to have arrived at Fair Havens, the Captain and crew made arrangements to sail to the northwest side of the island to Phenice, which is a haven of Crete, where they planned to winter. But it was already late fall, when sailing on the Mediterranean could be hazardous. Thus, Paul, who was a seasoned traveler, stepped forward to advise against such a plan.

“Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading [cargo] and ship, but also of our lives” (Acts 27:10).

Of course the Captain and the owner probably surmised that Paul was merely a prisoner who was in no rush to get to his own execution. More importantly, there was wine, women and song at the next stop, commodities the world craves. But the apostle was speaking from experience, not selfishness. He had already suffered three shipwrecks and spent a night and a day in the sea; therefore, he was well aware of the grave dangers (II Cor. 11:25).

Here we see something of the character of Paul, which can be very helpful in our Christian experience. What was true of him should be true of us as well. This is what he means when he says to the Corinthians, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (I Cor. 11:1). You see, Paul is more than merely the pattern of the longsuffering of God in salvation, he is also God’s pattern of how to walk well pleasing unto the Lord.


The apostle became the central figure on the voyage from this point forward. Paul was a man of conviction who wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. Morally, he had no trouble, as some do today, distinguishing between right and wrong in both spiritual and physical matters. When he stood before the Sanhedrin and was falsely accused of sedition and insurrection, he responded: “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men” (Acts 24:16). In other words, he did what was right! He knew the charges against him had no merit whatsoever.

A young pastor approached a senior minister of the gospel with a serious concern. He shared with his elder friend how some of the brethren were spreading malicious lies about him. The venerable old pastor asked, “Son is any of it true?” “No sir! Not a word of it.” “Then don’t worry about it! Their sin will find them out soon enough. The important thing is that you have a clear conscience about the matter.”

Looking over the circumstances he now found himself in, Paul perceived it would be wrong to set sail and continue the journey, not merely because of the time of the year; he also sensed they had an ulterior motive. The Captain and crew wanted to continue the voyage to the next Port of Call so they could winter there in sin. In both of the foregoing cases, the apostle stood his ground in the face of opposition. We, too, must always stand up for what is right, whether it is wrongdoing in the local assembly, or in defense of Paul’s apostleship and message. The key word here is conviction.

As you read the record, once Julius agreed with the Captain to resume the journey, Paul didn’t press the matter. This is an indication that the apostle was a man of extraordinary tact. Webster’s defines “tact” accordingly: “a keen sense of what to do or say in order to maintain good relations with others or avoid offense.” Those who demand to be heard and refuse to leave an issue rest only serve to erode their credibility in the eyes of others. Oftentimes it is merely a matter of pride to have their way.

It has been said, “Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.” For “a brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city” (Prov. 18:19). Thus, Paul was careful never to be offensive for the sake of offense. It was his desire to keep the lines of communication open with those he engaged. This earned the apostle a level of respect and gave him a hearing on weightier issues, even though the response may not have always been favorable. When these principles are violated it only serves to alienate the hearer.

We’ve all encountered those who have had such a bad experience with the gospel that they won’t even give you the time of day when you endeavor to share it with them. The lesson here is this, we should faithfully share the gospel, but we should never attempt to badger someone into believing it, although some have done their level best to do so. Once we have put the unbeliever into a defensive posture he will be less receptive the next time someone has an opportunity to share Christ with him.

Another area in which we must be cautious is not to be overbearing when sharing Paul’s gospel. Don’t be like the car salesman who takes your keys and won’t return them until you agree to purchase a new car. Personally, I never return to these types of dealerships. It is incumbent upon us to speak the truth in love. Simply give the brethren a clear, concise presentation of the Word, rightly divided, without insulting their understanding of the Scriptures.

I usually share two passages that appear to contradict one another in the Scriptures, which they have probably wondered about themselves. If I sense they are sincerely interested, I give them some literature that they can read in the privacy of their own home without feeling threatened or intimidated. The key word here is tact.

As we continue the narrative, just when the crew thought they had accomplished their purpose, a storm loomed on the horizon. Not just any tempest mind you, but one that strikes fear into the heart of any sailor, a northeaster! This type of a storm produces gale force winds that can easily capsize a ship.

“And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive….And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away” (Acts 27:15,20).

If you study the record carefully it is obvious that this was an impressive ship capable of carrying 276 souls, cargo, and tackling. Be that as it may, that old ship was up one side of the waves and down the other as the crew encountered the perfect storm. It was all they could do to pull the skiff to safety when the ship started to take on water. They used “helps” to literally tie the vessel together to keep it seaworthy. With the waves sweeping over the bow and the helps unable to keep the water out, it became necessary to lighten the ship, which was accomplished by throwing the cargo overboard, followed by the tackling. When the sun and stars failed to appear for days, the crew lost their bearings and along with it any hope of surviving the ordeal.

“But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship” (Acts 27:21,22).

As all on board faced what appeared to be the inevitable, Paul stepped forward. The man who walks with God is never affected by circumstances; he rests in the sovereignty of God, that He is working all things out after the counsel of His own will. In this case the Lord intervened to reassure Paul that he would appear before Caesar and all those with him would be spared.

Even though the apostle shared this news with the crew, some on board decided to take things into their own hands and abandon the ship. They attempted to lower the skiff into the sea under the guise that they were lowering the anchors. Here the apostle exercised sound judgment. Rather than alert the other crew members which might well have resulted in a riot, Paul informed the centurion and the soldiers as to the intention of these seamen. He knew soldiers were men of action. Time was of the essence! Once Paul informed Julius that they could not be saved if these men abandoned ship, the soldiers responded immediately and cut the ropes. This shows us that Julius held the word of Paul in high esteem, especially after his warning came true. It would not surprise us to see Julius in glory some day.

Paul also demonstrated good judgment by encouraging the men to eat after fasting fourteen days. Even the hardiest of men would be weak after such an ordeal. He knew they were going to need every ounce of strength they could muster to swim to shore, if need be. Therefore, after he gave thanks to God, he took some bread and broke it and ate in the presence of them all. This scene has been called “The meal in the storm.”

In times of crisis, it is the spiritually-minded man who maintains his composure, as we see here with Paul. The storm may rage around him, some may even abandon him, but his confidence is in the Lord, who is a present help in time of need. Like Paul, we, too, must be objective in the Lord’s service. Unfortunately we’ve all endured those times in the local church when the tension was so intense you could cut it with a knife. But while others may lose their composure, and say things they will probably regret later, let us be of the number who honor and glorify the Lord in our actions and manner of speech. The key words here are sound judgment.

Had those in authority initially heeded the counsel of Paul they would have avoided the perils of the sea, which can be unforgiving. The same is true today, spiritually speaking. Sadly, the reason the faith of some has suffered shipwreck is due to their rejection of Paul’s apostleship and message.

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Berean Searchlight – August 2003

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