THE CENTURION’S BELIEF
Acts 27:9 Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, 10 And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. 11 Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul. 12 And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west. 13 And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete. 14 But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.
The dear apostle is now under the supervision of the Roman centurion, Julius, on a ship with a total of 276 souls, headed to Rome. The Holy Spirit shall now use the natural man, Julius, and the spiritual man, Paul, in this providence which He has determined, in order to have their designed effect upon one another, and upon all those traveling with them. Paul, as light, shall reflect the light of the glory of God into this realm of darkness. The need of light is heightened by the frightful storm, thus supplying the fear for men to face the end of their own fleshly confidences and be brought to a sanctifying fear, which is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
The Apostle Paul speaks by spiritual perception. The words, “I perceive,” are from the Greek word translated, we beheld in John 1:14. There it states, we beheld his glory. And it is from the same Greek word translated, we have looked upon in 1 John 1:1, speaking along the same lines. So here is a spiritual man being given a revelation by the Spirit’s unction within, bringing to bear upon the realm of darkness a wisdom which they will not be able, in their lost state, to receive. – And is that not exactly like the preaching of the gospel to “every creature?” Is this not exactly like Ezekiel contemplating God’s commands to Prophesy upon these bones? For the bones were dried out and without any unity of structure, or design, whatever.
And of Julius and the rest of the ship’s passengers, (except Aristarchus, Luke and whoever else was traveling with the Apostle Paul), we know they had no ability to effectually hear. 1 Corin. 2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
And those with only a ‘works righteousness’ would ask, “Then why preach?” But this is exactly the point. We preach because the Lord appointed us to do so! We preach because the Lord, who is the Person of the Word, preaches to the hearts of men, by the Spirit, while we preach to their ears! For he has effectually designed that faith comes by hearing! And the ability to hear comes by his own grace imparted, as the Word! Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
The ability to hear spiritual revelation requires a spiritual resurrection, or regeneration! The centurion could no more hear Paul’s words to any good effect than he could have heard the Lord Jesus’ words, had he been there in person. Luke 10:16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
For hearing God’s voice in the inner consciousness by the Holy Spirit is a mark of regeneration. John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
1 John 4:5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
For Truth is a Person, not just an accurate statement of fact! John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Rev. 19:13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
John 8:42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. 46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47 He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
Now let us notice in verses twelve through fourteen the development of encroaching darkness once the word of revelation is rejected. Look at that phrase, “the more part,” in verse twelve. Now we have understanding as to why there is need of a broad way that leadeth to destruction. With the majority, the ship’s owner and master, and the centurion, they must have felt confident that they all had made the right decision not to follow the Apostle Paul’s instruction.
And what was the motivation for the majority determining to leave The fair havens (v. 8), but their fleshly comfort? It seems in our own day that those with the revelation of the gospel available to them are far more concerned with their comfort than with their holiness! And just what do we read next, but that the south wind blew softly (v.13), causing them to suppose that they had obtained THEIR purpose! My! My! Can’t you just hear Satan whispering in that soft wind, “Yea, Hath God said?”
For many times the warm winds of satanic deception have falsely brought a shallow peace in justifying many in their rejection of the revealed word. Jeremiah 6:14 They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.
They had rejected the apostle’s revelation. They had a majority vote. This harbor just didn’t have the comforts they desired to spend the entire winter in. And for a while, the wind was soft and warm. What more could the flesh want? But the only correct response in hearing the word revealed is always to be absolute obedience! Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? “There’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey!”
And loosing thence they left the place of God’s provision and safety, venturing out in the soft temptations of the flesh, and ran right into a violent storm with a wind named Euroclydon! Which loosely translated means, “an east wind of raging waves!” Now there they are, out in the middle of one of the most dangerous storm’s due to having disobeyed the word of the Lord. But what is to them, at present, an unseen blessing is that the one who knew that this would happen, is in the middle of it with them! What a reflection of Christ!
Hebrews 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
And herein lies the mystery of God in the revelation of Christ to the soul! For now a second voice comes to them. It is the voice of expressed faith, by the works of one fully trusting in the God of that storm. For revelation of the righteousness of God goes from faith to faith. (Romans 1:17). In verses twenty one through twenty five the apostle twice commends them to good cheer. And he bases that not just on having a positive attitude, but on another revelation to him from the same Lord who gave the first one. He states, after long abstinence, that God, whom he believed, gave him word that none of them should be lost.
And now we see Centurion Julius, being turned to have greater respect to Paul and his word. For when Paul tells him that the shipmen mean to steal the lifeboat, which would endanger his very life and all those in the ship, without seeking any other opinion as he did at the first, he has the soldiers cut the ropes, allowing the boat to fall into the sea.
And is this not similar to many of us? Did we not dangerously brush off the preached word until the Lord sent a terrible stormy affliction into our personal lives, thereby bringing a turning of our minds away from ourselves? Could we not all say the following lines with the Psalmist as our own personal testimonies? Psalm 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. 71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
And can we now not read the following words with fear and trembling, which express the thoughts of God regarding our turning from his preached word, contemplating how dangerous a place our souls were in? Hosea 5:15 I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.
And thanks be to the mercifulness of God that we can now “bemoan” ourselves! Jeremiah 31:18 I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God. 19 Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.
But there is yet another glimpse at Centurion Julius which grants a more favorable insight into his inner beliefs. For at the first encounter he was recorded as believing others more than he believed the apostle of God’s word! (v. 11). Then in the second encounter, after seeing Paul’s faith by his works, he responds to the statement, Except these abide in the ship, YE cannot be saved. Therefore, although he is still included in that “Ye,” there are also involved all the lives of the others in the ship. He is seen to be gradually turning from an exclusive self consciousness to that of also considering others.
And lastly, we are given to see a major change of attitude in this military man’s conduct, revealing a great change of heart and mind. For in verses forty one through forty four, we have him set forth standing against Roman military procedure in an expression of a love for the apostle! It may just seem like the smoldering of a smoking flax faith, but the Lord will never quench it! John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
For it was the law that any soldier allowing a prisoner to escape had to forfeit his own life. (See Acts 16:27). For we read, And the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape. But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land: (Acts 27:42, 43). Therefore it was the love of this centurion for Paul which God used to fulfill his prophesy that none of the ship would be lost!
And our Lord Jesus also had dealings with such a centurion. Matthew 8:8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
The last words of our chapter state, they escaped all safe to land.
Pastor Gene Breed. October 5, 2013