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The Perseverance of the Saints, part 3

November 3, 2015

Grace to you! So far we have begun to look at how God preserves His people by leading them to persevere in their faith. Those who don’t persevere show they never were true believers from the beginning. (1 John 2:19)

In Acts 27, Paul is on his way to stand trial before Caesar. However, during the ship’s voyage they encounter a major storm that threatens to take their lives. Paul was assured by the Lord that he would stand before Caesar but now that promise seems threatened with a major storm. Acts 27:21-25, the Lord told Paul what was really going to take place.

When they had gone a long time without food, then Paul stood up in their midst and said, “Men, you ought to have followed my advice and not to have set sail from Crete and incurred this damage and loss. “Yet now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. “For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.’ “Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told. (Acts 27:21-25)

Paul knew that no life would be lost; God had told him.

Yet something interesting happens. Verses 29-32 tell us, “Fearing that we might run aground somewhere on the rocks, they cast four anchors from the stern and wished for daybreak. But as the sailors were trying to escape from the ship and had let down the ship’s boat into the sea, on the pretense of intending to lay out anchors from the bow, Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, “Unless these men remain in the ship, you yourselves cannot be saved.” Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it fall away.”

How can Paul say one moment “no life will be lost” but turn around and say “unless these men remain on the ship” they will die?! It’s because both are true. God uses the warning to bring about the foretold end! God works through means. And here God uses a warning to get exactly what He has ordained: every life saved. Yet, if they had left the ship they would have died. But God used the real warning to get them to do another action: stay put on the ship!

This is how verses the ‘guarantee our salvation’ and verses that say we must ‘continue in faith or perish’ work together. The warning passages will motivate true believers to stay on the ship of faith. Why? So that no salvation life will be lost! We will see how this principle works in Hebrews 6 and 10 next week!

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