As the situation worsens Paul addresses those onboard:
“Men, you should have listened to me and not put out to sea from Crete, thus avoiding this damage and loss. And now I advise you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only the ship will be lost. For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve came to me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul! You must stand before Caesar, and God has graciously granted you the safety of all who are sailing with you.’ Therefore keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in Godthat it will be just as I have been told. But we mustrun aground on some island.”
(Acts 27.21-26, NET)
After hitting them with an ‘I told you so‘ (v.21) Paul gives those present some serious encouragement (v.22). Hearing that there would be no loss of life and that God has graciously granted…the safety of all who are sailing…must have been welcome news in the midst of a storm that lasted two weeks (v.27, 33).
Having heard the good news from Paul the journey continues (vv.27-28). The sailors suspected that they were nearing land and, rather than crash, tried to escape (vv.29-30). Hearing the good news of being saved from impending death is one thing, but living in the light of this truth is another. The sailors heard and no doubt took heart but when push came to shove, when the time came to trust in the God who had given them the good news, they took the matter into their own hands. We then read that Paul said to the centurion that
“Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.”
(Acts 27.31, NET)
This was a huge point of decision for those present and presents us with a clear question: do we hear the good news, agree in principle, but continue to live our own lives in practice, or, do we hear the good news and live accordingly, no matter the external circumstances?
This passage is a great example of how we have moved through Acts, thinking if it is prescriptive or descriptive. No, we will most likely never find ourselves on a ship needing to cut away the safety boat to demonstrate our trust in God. We will, however, be presented with dozens of daily choices that show whether we are agreeing with the good news in principle or living it out in practice.