Journal Acts 27 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation and notes are mine)
Scripture: [Speaking to the people in the ship] Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss.
Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’
So, take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.”
(jumping to verse 27) [Two weeks later, measurements indicated they were approaching land]… And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship and had lowered the ship’s boat into the sea under the pretense of laying out anchors from the bow, Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.”
Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it go. (excerpts from Acts 27:21-32)
Observation: Do the acts of the centurion and his soldiers constitute faith?
Application: This is puzzling, and difficult to place a biblically supported explanation to it that is satisfying.
What was the attitude of the Centurion?
In the previous chapter, Agrippa and Festus didn’t think that Paul did anything worthy of imprisonment. Perhaps that rubbed off on the Centurion and his accompanying soldiers.
Right at the beginning of the journey, the Centurion was reported to be inclined to treat Paul kindly, and when put in at Sidon, let him go to be with the brothers/friends and be cared for (Verse 3; It doesn’t say if Paul was assigned an escort and so perhaps an escort should not be inferred. Nevertheless, Paul returned to the ship without incident or issue.)
The only time Paul might have shown an attitude, was when he said, “Nanny, Nanny, boo, boo: I told you so—you should have listened to me; I told you this was going to happen! But, the God to whom I belong and worship, said…”
From this, Paul’s word was firmly believed by the soldiers—they showed faith in the God who Paul served to the point that they cut off their worldly conceived manner of escape (the lifeboats).
What kind of faith did the soldiers exhibit? They had the word of a contested, but very learned, preacher of a cultish offshoot of Judaism, who said:
- “I have a word from God, let’s wait out the storm…”
- “I have another word (since you ignored me the first time) and a visitation from an angel of God, who told me…”
and they responded in operational faith, probably shaken, but not stirred in deadly fear.
What bothers me is that if I insert my name where the Centurion’s or the soldier’s reference is in this passage, would I have demonstrated faith in what Paul said?
Would I be a soldier or one of the sailors?
As a professing Believer in Christ, what is it about the supernatural that causes me to stop and dull my “believer-thingy” from responding in faith? Why do I talk myself out of exercising faith?
Prayer: Lord God, I sure hope I am drawing from your Word accurately.
Expand and enlarge my faith, Lord. Please.
Ricky Two Shoes