Hopeful though Harassed (Hebrews 6:12–20; Acts 27)

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The Lord Jesus loves His sheep and one way He displays this is by giving them shepherds who care for them. You might be familiar with what is a well-known passage in Matthew 9, where this is wonderfully revealed.

The Lord had been intensely observing the people of Jerusalem and was deeply disturbed that those whom had been appointed as their spiritual shepherds were failing miserably. The Jewish leaders in fact were abusing the flock, and the consequence is that Jesus characterised His sheep as “weary and scattered, like sheep without a shepherd” (v. 36).

The word translated “weary” has the idea of “growing faint” or “becoming tired.” A good synonym, as found in the ESV, is “harassed.” As Jesus observed the spiritual condition of His people He was disturbed to see them hassled or unsettled, and this was because they were not being pointed to the Lord and to His gospel promises in Christ. The result was that they were scattered and thus helpless in the midst of grievous wolves, who were spiritually misleading and thus devouring them.

It was then that the Lord turned to His disciples and, changing the metaphor, admonished them to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send labourers into His harvest (v. 38). Our Lord was saying that that His sheep needed shepherds who will care for His flock. His flock required true shepherds, who would give Christ-centred hope in the midst of a world that otherwise harassed the sheep. Someone had prayed and an anonymous author—the author of Hebrews—was an answer to that prayer.

This epistle was written to a group of Hebrew Christians whom, quite literally, were being harassed by others because of their profession of faith in Christ. They were being ostracised, impoverished and even physically persecuted. And from what we know from chapter 12 they were growing weary (vv. 12–13). We also know from the contents of chapter 10 that they were being tempted to scatter from one another rather than remaining in fellowship (vv. 24–25). They were therefore desperate for the ministry of a shepherd, and the Lord raised this brother for the task.

These sheep needed a timely reminder of their hope in Christ. And perhaps nowhere else in the epistle is this more clearly articulated than in 6:12–20. It is here that we find the encouraging truth that our salvific hope in Christ is indeed “an anchor of the soul, both sure [certain] and steadfast [firm].” What God has promised God will perform. In the words of R. Kent Hughes, “There is no more possibility of God’s promises failing us than of God falling out of Heaven!”1

They needed this reminder, and so do you and I. It is my goal in this study to issue this reminder. I desire to help your hope, even though you may right now feel harassed. We will do so by briefly revisiting Hebrews 6 and then looking at an illustration as recorded in Acts 27.

Hope as an Anchor

Hebrews 6:12–20 illustrates hope as an anchor. The hope that the writer expounds is our hope of glory. It is the hope that Christ secured when He went beyond the veil into the very presence of God (see Matthew 27:51). This is what he is referencing in vv. 19–20.

The Captain of our salvation (2:10) has pioneered the way to glory, and what He has secured is indeed secure! Jesus will indeed save His people from their sins.

These believers needed to live in the light of this promise. This promise—rooted in the unchanging because unchangeable character of God—was the means by which they, like Abraham, were to persevere. As Abraham at times was called upon to believe in hope against hope (Romans 4:18), so were they. And so are we.

Our hope, in other words, is not circumstantial; rather, our hope truly is an anchor to keep us from drifting out to the sea of unbelief. It is a certain, not a circumstantial anchor. And it is such an anchor because Christ is the immutable, never lying and always faithful God.

Again, ours is a Christocentric, not a circumstantial, hope. It is certain and firm (v. 19) precisely because it is, literally, seated. Think about that. The reason that our hope in full and final salvation is an immoveable anchor for our soul is because it is chained to the very throne of God. A. T. Robertson writes, “Our anchor of hope with its two chains of God’s promise and oath has laid hold of Jesus within the veil. It will hold fast.”

Jesus, at the right hand of the Father, is continually making intercession for us. This intercession is articulated very strongly by Jude in his epistle (vv. 24–25). It is illustrated in many places, with my favourite being John 18:1–9. There, we have the record of Jesus protecting His chosen ones from the very danger that our writer mentions here in vv. 1–8. It is interesting to note that Peter had the same problem as we do. Note in John 18:10–11 how Peter sought to persevere by a work of the flesh rather than by the word of faith. The Lord rebuked him for this. The only way that Peter and his fellow disciples could be saved was by the cross work of Jesus. If they would be hopeful in the midst of the tempest they would need to let go of the sword of self-preservation and cling to the sword of the Spirit.

The issue facing these believers was whether they would trust Christ alone for their salvation rather than the rituals of the old covenant. Perhaps I could put it this way: Would they trust the old covenant rituals, or would they place their trust in the One to whom these rituals pointed?

The writer is greatly concerned to show that if they would put their faith in Jesus Christ, the ultimate object of the old covenant, they would be safely saved for all eternity. Though the old covenant rituals were passing away, nevertheless Christ would never pass away!

I say all of this to drive home the point that, ultimately, every trial we face is designed by God to save us; that is, to make us more like Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28–30). Thus, perseverance is ultimately about our hope of glory. If we lose sight of this, we run the risk of becoming self-centred and hopeless from the resultant disillusionment.

Christians live in a world that often harasses us. The various trials that attend living in a sin-cursed world, as well as the overt assaults on our faith, can make us weary and can tempt us to quit the race. This besetting sin of unbelief takes on various forms, but the antidote is the same: “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (12:2). As we keep our eyes fixed on Him, our hope endures and we prove God’s Word—His promises in Christ—to be “sure and steadfast.”

And so the writer to the Hebrews, being deeply concerned for their spiritual welfare, exhorts his readers to “imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” But as we have noted on several occasions, the author does not merely exhort them to pull up their socks; but he is quite willing to practically help them to their feet. And so he provides a wonderful example of such in the person of Abraham (vv. 13–20).

Abraham remains a wonderful example for us to imitate in our day. What he faced, as we recently saw, is in many ways what we still face in our Christian pilgrimage. There is much that we glean from his example and the study of his life continues to be a very fruitful endeavour. But there are other examples as well.

History as an Example

One such example is the apostle Paul. He faced many challenges in his walk of faith and yet persevered to the end. His own testimony was that he had fought the fight and had kept the faith and was awaiting the crown of life that is promised to all who persevere (2 Timothy 4:7–8).

We could point to several instances in the life of Paul, but one example is found in Acts 27. In this chapter, we see a man clinging to God’s promise in the face of overwhelming odds, but in the end, though he was water-logged, nevertheless the anchor of his soul—his hope in Christ—held firm. In this study, I trust that we will take away much from this story to help us as we face our own tempests on the sea of life.

Before proceeding we need to a couple of things.

First, we need to understand the connection between Hebrews 6:12–20 and Acts 27. That is, I need to show you the legitimate connection between them.

This requires the second issue to be addressed first; namely, why is this narrative included in the book of Acts? Once we accomplish this, we will be on solid exegetical ground to make the connections between these passages to you and me.

It has been noted by not a few commentators that Luke had a particular literary agenda when he wrote his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles.

As we have previously been reminded, both the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts have an underlying theme of the key characters (Jesus and Paul) journeying towards Jerusalem. For Jesus, Jerusalem was the final earthly destination; for Paul, that final destination was Rome. “Floyd V. Filson has called [this] the ‘the journey motif.’ Two-fifths of the Gospel describe Jesus’ journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, and the final one-third of Acts describes Paul’s journey from Jerusalem to Rome (19:21–28:31).”2

This is not the place to delve further into this motif, but we should simply observe that, if it was so important for Paul to get to Rome within the plan and purpose of God, then the shipwreck he faced in Acts 27 was obviously of great significance. After all, if Paul had gone down with the ship then the promise that God had made to him in 23:11 would have proven false. At this point then we can now make at least one important connection between Acts 27 and Hebrews ; namely, the impossibility of God lying; the immutability of God’s counsel.

Yes, God performs what He promises, despite all circumstantial evidence to the contrary. Paul made it to shore—and beyond to his promised destination—just as every Christian will make it to heaven’s shore and beyond to glory, as God has promised. Count on it. Believe it, regardless of any circumstantial evidence to the contrary.

Local churches may seemingly fail, and moral scandal abound. We may face the increasing onslaught of secularism. We struggle with our own sinful failure. But God’s promise stands firm.

A couple of final introductory observations about this chapter are in order.

First, the account reveals historical reliability. In fact, it has been noted that the details clearly reveal that Luke was an eyewitness of these events, and what he says perfectly corresponds to what any sailor would have observed in such a situation. “There is no such detailed record of the working of an ancient ship,” writes Thomas Walker, “in the whole of classical literature.”3

Second, it serves as a wonderful illustration of what it looks like to believe God and to therefore trust His promises. It is a wonderful illustration of Christian perseverance in the midst of evidence to the contrary. It is another biblical example for us to imitate. Though it is doubtful that any of us will find ourselves facing an identical trial, the principles gleaned from how Paul responded can nevertheless go a long way towards equipping us to face the varied storms of life that seem to threaten our faith.

A Caveat

But an important caveat is necessary before proceeding to our exposition and application: We want to avoid an erroneous allegorical approach to this study. That is, these events are a narrative and therefore are not prescriptive for us. There are no commands here for the Christian; this is a 44-verse chapter of narrated indicatives (facts) rather than a chapter of imperatives (commands). Though Paul gives some imperatives to his fellow passengers, this is not apostolic doctrine for the church for all time.

Yet having made that necessary qualification, we must not miss the underlying theme in this sea of verses: the hope of the believer when harassed by the circumstances of life. And our hope is rooted in the faithfulness of God. He is trustworthy—completely.

Again, the Scriptures and history are filled with examples of those who have faced seemingly hopeless situations, yet whom the Lord has brought through. This is illustrated in the storm in which we find Paul.

A False Hope

In vv. 1–12 we read of a false hope.

And when it was decided that we should sail to Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to one named Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment. So, entering a ship of Adramyttium, we put to sea, meaning to sail along the coasts of Asia. Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, was with us. And the next day we landed at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him liberty to go to his friends and receive care. When we had put to sea from there, we sailed under the shelter of Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. And when we had sailed over the sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing to Italy, and he put us on board. When we had sailed slowly many days, and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us to proceed, we sailed under the shelter of Crete off Salmone. Passing it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.

Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, saying, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.” Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul. And because the harbour was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised to set sail from there also, if by any means they could reach Phoenix, a harbour of Crete opening toward the southwest and northwest, and winter there.

(Acts 27:1–12)

After a two-year delay the decision was made to send Paul to Rome, where he could personally make his defence before the emperor (26:32). He was therefore put into the charge of a Roman centurion named Julius, and his passage was booked on a ship headed for a larger port, where he would join many others for the journey to Rome.

It was late October, after the Day of Atonement. At this time of year, travel by sea was increasingly risky. In fact, shipping came to a standstill in that part of the world by early November. We know from vv. 6–8 that there were already indications that to sail would be precarious.

Nevertheless, having ported for some time in a place called Fair Havens, the decision was made that they would put out to sea for Rome. Paul “perceived” (v. 10) that this was a foolish move and said so. However, due to economic interests, as well as the fact that the sailors did not want to remain in such a small town, they ignored Paul’s foreboding message and set sail.

A Failed Hope

Verses 13–20 shows us a failed hope.

When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete. But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon. So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her drive. And running under the shelter of an island called Clauda, we secured the skiff with difficulty. When they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the Syrtis Sands, they struck sail and so were driven. And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship. 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.

(Acts 27:13–20)

Interestingly, v. 13 indicates that all seemed well, and so by reading this “providence” they set sail, only to soon become rudely aware that they should have listened to the short and scarred missionary!

A typhoon wind began to beat down on the ship and it was seized by force and carried away. Their hope that all would be well was clearly shown to be a false, baseless one. They were now in deep trouble, harassed by the elements.

While I am committed to avoiding any unwarranted spiritualizing of this text there is a legitimate observation from this passage: We often make decisions based on what we observe, and on our experience, which in the end puts us in difficult circumstances. In other words, some storms can be avoided. Nevertheless once you are in a storm, you are in it!

We live in a world cursed because of sin, and therefore we are often caught in the middle of its groanings. We are sometimes harassed by storms that are not of our own making: unemployment due to business failure; economic hardships; relational breakdown because of the sin of others; poor health because of the irresponsibility of others; natural disasters; death of loved ones caused by any number of things; etc.

Yet the fact remains that we are in them. What I simply want to highlight is that we are unwise if we entertain the false hope that we can live in such a dangerous world unscathed. The tempests will come whether you are Christian or not; in fact, in many cases, the harassing storms will arise because you are a Christian (see Mark 4:35–41)!

The centurion, the pilot and the owner of the ship had high hopes that all would be well, and now of course they realised how false their hopes had been. The ship was rocked back and forth. The crew, along with the passengers, pull in the lifeboat, which was being towed behind them. They then frapped the undercarriage of the ship, and then simply let the ship be carried by the storm (vv. 16–17). The next day, they threw overboard any unnecessary cargo and even some of the tackle (vv. 18–19). The storm continued and all they could do was sit tight and wait it out. The storm was so intense that for many days they were tempest tossed, without the sun shining in the day or the stars at night. Luke records the mood: “All hope that we would be saved was finally given up” (v.20). What a terrible place to be: so hopeful at the beginning of the journey to now being hopeless in the midst of it. Have you ever been there? Are you there now?

Are you perhaps wondering about how you will get through the dark night of the soul of losing a loved one? Are you wondering if you will get through the tempests of financial tragedy? Are you wondering if you will survive the seeming despair of losing a relationship or of a deeply troubled marriage? Have you given up hope that your loved one will be saved? Have you given up hope that Jesus will save you from your sin? Have you given up hope that God will forgive you? Have you given up hope that the gospel will impact the nations of this world?

Indeed, life can be very difficult for the believer. We may have begun some ministry with great hope only to find that hope rocked by some Euroclydon.

I wonder if these Hebrew Christians felt this way. Perhaps they were wondering if the Son would ever again shine on them? Would they survive the Euroclydon of family ostracisation, of economic impoverishment and even physical persecution? Believer, life is hard. Don’t buy into the theology of glory, but rather embrace the biblical teaching that “when Christ calls a man, he bids him to come and die.”4 There is a cross to bear, there are storms to face and, yes, humanly the trials may seem hopeless. There is reason for this: God wants the glory when you come through them.

A Faithful Hope

Verses 21–38 show us a faithful hope.

But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “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. However, we must run aground on a certain island.”

Now when the fourteenth night had come, as we were driven up and down in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors sensed that they were drawing near some land. And they took soundings and found it to be twenty fathoms; and when they had gone a little farther, they took soundings again and found it to be fifteen fathoms. Then, fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come. And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, when they had let down the skiff into the sea, under pretense of putting out anchors from the prow, 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 skiff and let it fall off.

And as day was about to dawn, Paul implored them all to take food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day you have waited and continued without food, and eaten nothing. Therefore I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you.” And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat. Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves. And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship. So when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship and threw out the wheat into the sea.

(Acts 27:21–38)

Entering into this otherwise hopeless situation was a scrawny and scarred missionary, who thundered forth a word of hope. Real hope. Biblical hope. Godly hope. Believing hope. Faithful hope. The kind of hope that you and I need.

Perhaps Paul was fasting during these days (v. 21). Regardless, he stood in the midst of them—in darkness, without sun or stars—and mildly rebuked them for not listening to him. This was perhaps for the purpose of establishing some credibility rather than showing one-upmanship. He then exhorted them to “take heart” because he had a Word from God.

Paul explained that the God whom He served had given him a promise that no one would lose their life, even though the ship would be wrecked. The Lord was simply affirming a promise that He had made earlier (23:11) that Paul would get to Rome alive.

Paul assured them that God was faithful and that they could count on His promise (v. 25). It was because of this conviction that Paul could give such a word of hope. His hope in God was the anchor of his soul and he wanted it to be so for the others as well. There are a few things that we should note in this passage.

First, Paul’s hope was not merely self-generated optimism, but rather was grounded in the revealed Word of God. This is the only certain hope that we have in this world, and thank God for it! Believer, find God’s promise for your situation and then hopefully cling to it in such a way that hope springs eternal (cf. Philippians 4:19; 1 Peter 5:7; John 14:1–3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13–17; Habakkuk 2:14).

You may be in a situation in which there is no biblical promise. For example, you have no biblical promise of being healed of your disease, or of the salvation of a loved one. Nevertheless, cling to the biblical promise that, in all of trial and burden, the Lord is perfecting you and one day all will be well (cf. Philippians 1:6.).

Second, though the promise gave them hope with reference to getting safely to land, nevertheless they would get there water-logged! That is, things would get worse before they got better. And this is often how it is for you and me. Our ships get broken up and shattered, even though we cling to the promise of salvation. This is so important for us to face and to embrace.

As you read Hebrews, there is no indication that these believers would face a rosy earthly future. In fact, there are hints in the letter that things were going to get worse (see, for example, chapter 12). Nevertheless, the promise remained that their High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, was in heaven and would see them through the storm to the other side, where indeed they could expect to safely land. He had been through the storm of God’s wrath on their behalf, and so they were safe and sound in Him.

Third, the hope did not last for everyone. Upon hearing this word from Paul, they dropped their anchors and “prayed for the day to come.” (I can relate; can you?) But while some prayed, others connived. When the storm was at its worst, some of those on the ship wanted to take matters into their own hands. They wanted to jump ship by sneaking into the skiff. But Paul had received the Word of the Lord that they were to remain in the ship if they would survive. The time would come for them to jump into the water, but that time was not yet. Rather than taking matters into their own hands they were to cling to the promise of God. They obviously needed some help with this, so Paul gave it to them: He cut loose the life boats! This was not a popular move, to be sure! Nevertheless, Paul believed the bare Word of God over the visible circumstances. His anchor of hope kept him in the ship and, in the end, saved his life and the lives of others.

Not everyone will believe God’s Word, His promises. They will devise their own way of escape. Of course, in the end they will end up worse off than if they had stayed put. And Christians are not immune to this kind of thinking and behaviour.

Sometimes we are tempted to take matters into our own hands because we are tempted towards hopelessness. This happens when we lose sight of God’s faithfulness, because we have lost sight of His character. But we must stay in the ship as long as the Lord has ordained.

William Cowper was a great hymnist, giving us some of the greatest hymns exulting trust in God. Yet he literally sought to end his journey on the sea of life because he felt that all hope was lost. What he needed to do was to look to Christ and to believe that He would save him from his sins.

Though you might not be tempted to end your life due to an unrelenting despair, it is nevertheless often the case that we check out of life and miss out on the glorious deliverance that the Lord has planned for us.

For example, we can try to check out of a difficult marriage. We check out of membership of a church rather than persevering in difficult circumstances. We jump ship when we give in to our sinful desire rather than persevering in righteousness to the glory of God (see 1 Corinthians 10:13). Perhaps you check out of a job rather than persevering to the glory of God, or you might be tempted to check out of ministry and relationships rather than taking the risks that accompany perseverance in such.

If you are on the verge of doing so, in some area, then let me exhort you to look to Christ by considering the naked and unchangeable promises of God’s Word. You will make it; stay in the boat until Jesus takes you out!

Finally, biblical hope does not disregard practical means. In fact, it often calls for the exercise of such.

Paul gathered together the beleaguered sailors and passengers and exhorted them to eat. He assured them once again that God would fulfil His promise (v. 34). And now, as they had gained their strength they threw out the remainder of the cargo to lighten the ship, thus preserving it for as long as they could.

I simply want to use this as an illustration of the truth that the believer’s hope is practical. We do not sit around and twiddle our thumbs awaiting deliverance, but rather our hope drives us to labour. We hopefully run the race. We hopefully fight the good fight. We hopefully put to death the deeds of the flesh. We hopefully flee youthful lusts. We hopefully labour in prayer and in fasting. It is because we believe God that we utilise the means of grace He has provided. So, be hopeful and then do something!

A Fruitful Hope

This closing verses (vv. 39–44) reveals that Paul’s hope was biblically legitimate.

When it was day, they did not recognise the land; but they observed a bay with a beach, onto which they planned to run the ship if possible. And they let go the anchors and left them in the sea, meanwhile loosing the rudder ropes; and they hoisted the mainsail to the wind and made for shore. But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves.

And the soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim away and escape. But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land, and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.

(Acts 27:39–44)

Paul’s hope was vindicated by God in the end as “they all escaped safely to land” just as the Lord had promised.

Note that the way in which the promise was fulfilled was not pretty, but it was fulfilled nonetheless. We often have our own ideas about how God will do His thing. And we usually get it wrong. The first-century Jewish nation certainly did. You will recall that that they had their own idea about Messiah and how He would arrive to set up His kingdom. In fact, they assumed that it was their kingdom that Messiah would set up. It was precisely because they had customised the biblical hope that they ended up missing out on their hope. The result was that they crucified their only true hope.

The writer to the Hebrews was deeply concerned that this early Hebrew church not do the same thing. He was fearful that some might crucify Jesus afresh, and so he writes chapter 6 to warn them. They were to continue to look to Jesus as their hope, and their hope would stay.

It is essential that we keep the main thing the main thing. The writer was concerned about the final perseverance of the believer. He was concerned that his readers be comforted in the assurance that Jesus does indeed save His people from their sins. This is the most important issue that we will ever deal with. I am not minimising the varied challenges that we face in life: the heartaches of death of loved ones, the trial of broken relationships, the temptation to despair from a sense of loneliness and a multitude of other difficulties which we face. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, the most important issue that we must face is the eternal state of our soul. In other words, are you right with God, and how can you be certain that you will remain right with God? After all, God is the Judge of all, and if we are not put right before Him—by Him—we will remain under His wrath throughout eternity.

Let me exhort you to believe God’s promises. Believe God’s gospel. Jesus has entered beyond the veil and your salvation is safe and secure. So whatever storm you are in, whatever harassing you are experiencing, keep your eyes on Jesus, knowing that, in God’s good timing, you willescape safely to land.

Hardship as an Opportunity

As we bring this study to a close, let me once again remind us that the hardships, harassments and hassles that we face on this side of glory are for the purpose of proving our hope and for producing holiness so as to promote the name of the Lord.

Just as Paul and his fellow passengers all arrived safely on land, as the Lord had promised, so will every child of God. We may get their water-logged from the tempests of life, but God will see to it that we arrive safe and sound. He will remove our sin-tattered garments and the suffocating seaweed of sorrows. He will wash away the corrosive salt water of sin and will clothe us fully in the spotless righteousness of Jesus Christ.

In the meanwhile, we will face difficulties and challenges to our faith. We will encounter extreme challenges to our faith. There will be times when we will feel hopeless. There will be times when we sense that neither sun nor stars appear on our horizon and that all we can see is darkness. We will find ourselves feeling as Luke did: that all hope that we would be saved is finally given up. But, like Luke, we will only say this in the past tense. That is, though we may feel that way at times, nevertheless such times are God-designed opportunities to take heart as we believe God. So, persevere by the promises of God. Your anchor holds, if it grips the solid Rock.

Richard Phillips has noted with pastoral insight,

In the great promises of God, secured in Christ, we therefore have a cable of salvation that nothing can break or destroy, so that we can be certain of arriving safe in the harbor of heaven…. Can unforeseen circumstances break the line to this great anchor? Can the work of men, the temptations of the devil, or the hostility of the world sever a cord forged and emplaced by God himself? Can your sin break the line to this great anchor? The answer to all of these is No. God is greater than them all, and his oath shall overrule every opposition.

Be encouraged as you consider that indeed “life in a fallen world is tempestuous and the soul needs an anchor that will not drag in the storm. Jesus has blazed a path to heaven and as king and priest will guard and guide all that trust in him.”5

Yes, Christians at times may be harassed, but thank God they are hopeful.

Show 5 footnotes

  1. R. Kent Hughes, Hebrews: An Anchor for the Soul, 2 vols. (Wheaton: Crossway, 1993), 177.
  2. John R. W. Stott, The Message of Acts: The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1990), 385.
  3. Stott, The Message of Acts, 385.
  4. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (Nashville: Holman Reference, 1999), 99.
  5. Hywel R. Jones, Let’s Study Hebrews (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2002), 66.