Have you ever been in a storm where the wind is howling, the lightning flashing, and the thunder crashing? It can be a frightening experience. But imagine how much worse it would be on the sea, where the waves seem to be crashing over you while the storm swirls all around.
The apostle Paul found himself in just such a situation. We read about it in Acts 27, where the situation became so dire that the crew and passengers threw everything overboard.
“And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship,” we read in Acts 27:18. “On the third day we threw the ship’s tackle overboard with our own hands. Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up” (verses 19, 20).
That’s a pretty dire situation. And yet there was one on board who hadn’t given up, and that man was Paul. For you see, this was not the first deadly situation the apostle had faced.
He describes his experiences in 2 Corinthians 11:24-27: “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.”
This man of God had been through a lot! How was he able to keep pressing on through all of these trials and discouragements? I believe the answer is found in what he said while in the midst of that terrible storm on the sea.
JUST AS GOD HAS SAID
Even though Paul had advised the captain of the ship not to sail further at that time, he still spoke faith-filled words of encouragement. Listen carefully to his words recorded in Acts 27:21-25: “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.”
How was Paul able to have such rock-solid faith in the midst of a storm where everything seemed lost? How could he retain hope in what appeared to be an utterly hopeless situation?
Well, you might say, it’s because an angel came to him. I’m sure that was encouraging; and yet I believe there was something more than just the presence of an angel—I believe it was the God-given message that the angel delivered to him. Notice Paul’s words, again: “Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me” (verse 25).
And that is exactly what happened. Although the ship was completely wrecked, Paul, and all on board, were saved. Paul had peace and courage because he had full and total confidence in the word of God—that it would be just as God said.
A BIGGER STORM IS COMING
Friends, for some time now we have been in a storm—the COVID pandemic, social and political upheavals, wars, natural and human-made disasters—all around us we see devastation and loss. And yet we are told very clearly that an even bigger storm is coming. “A storm is coming, relentless in its fury. Are we prepared to meet it?”¹
Ellen White continues: “We need not say: The perils of the last days are soon to come upon us. Already they have come. We need now the sword of the Lord to cut to the very soul and marrow of fleshly lusts, appetites, and passions. . . . The thoughts must be centered upon God.”²
And what is this “sword of the Lord”? It is the same sword described in Ephesians 6:17: “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Dear reader, our only safety, our only security today and in the days ahead, is to take God at His word— as revealed through the inspired Scriptures. The Bible has withstood the test of time over centuries. The prophecies given have so far been fulfilled right on time, and we can rest assured that what remains will also take place just as the Bible reveals. We can “take heart,” as Paul says, because we can confidently believe that it will be just as God has told us through His Word.
We have also been given, as indicated in Revelation 12:17 and 19:10, the wonderful gift of the testimony of Jesus, which is the Spirit of prophecy, to help guide us through these last days of earth’s history.
In the introduction to the very powerful book The Great Controversy the inspired author explains the reliability of Scripture, and the importance of the gift of the Spirit of Prophecy. She writes:
“The Holy Scriptures are to be accepted as an authoritative, infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the revealer of doctrines, and the test of experience. ‘Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness; that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.’ 2 Timothy 3:16, 17, R.V.”³
She then explains how the same Holy Spirit who worked through men in the writing of the Scriptures is still active today, including through the gift of the Spirit of Prophecy. I encourage you to read or reread the very powerful introduction to The Great Controversy, written by Ellen G. White.⁴ You will be inspired and encouraged.
As we navigate the days ahead, there is no need to worry. As long as we keep our focus on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2), believing and following His Word, being encouraged and instructed through the Spirit of Prophecy, we can be confident in reaching our final destination of heaven in safety, joy, and peace.
¹ Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 8, p. 315. ² Ibid. ³ Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1911), p. vii. Texts credited to R.V. are from The Holy Bible, Revised Version, Oxford University Press, 1911. ⁴ All of the writings of Ellen G. White, including The Great Controversy, may be accessed freely in numerous languages at egwwritings.org.
President of the Worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church •
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church. Additional articles and commentaries are available from the president’s office on Twitter: @pastortedwilson and on Facebook: @Pastor Ted Wilson.