“Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, 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. Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.” Acts 27:9-11
Many times in our walk, we will witness to others through the testimony of our own lives. The change brought about by God through the administration of the Holy Spirit by our faith in Christ and Him crucified will be unarguable. It is, however, those things that would apply to their own lives (namely acknowledging their Sin, their inability to remove it and be deemed righteous in their own strength, their need of Jesus as Savior, and perhaps even God’s existence in their lives at all) which will be challenged.
The world, and those still in it, loves its own. Therefore, the feeling of familiarity and comfort and the acceptance of those around them will make it easier to continue to believe and follow the world than the Truth, at least until the anointed Words of the Spirit sink it. Does this mean we should not speak the Truth because chances are that our speaking it is not the time for them to finally hear? God forbid!
In our example, Paul wasn’t even sharing the gospel. He had been fasting through the time of the feast and with clarity of mind sees the inherent danger of the weather taking its toll on the voyage. He had travelled these parts many times before, and because of the time of year, he knew the possibility of bad weather was upon them. Paul was an intelligent man and was imbued with the power of God through the preaching of the Cross. Yet, because the master of the ship did not agree, the centurion in charge chose to listen to the master of the ship over the warnings of a seemingly simple, one track minded Jew who wanted to speak of nothing more than the Jesus Christ crucified.
And so it is in our own lives. They may not listen, especially when the familiar voices of the world, the flesh, and the devil beckon and say otherwise. We are called to speak the Truth anyway. It is never for us to pick and choose who hears it and who doesn’t. Only God knows His own, and only God knows who will never listen. And since He so loves the world that He gave His Only Son for any and all who would believe that they might have everlasting life, we are to speak it to all the world. We should take heart in that God is with us and He knows our lives, who we speak to, who we live before, and what we say and do. He rewards us when we remain faithful no matter the circumstances. Much more than that, He works unceasingly through the conviction of the Holy Spirit through our examples.
So, what Paul had to say came to pass, and everything was sacrificed as a result. The cargo was tossed, the skiff was cut loose, and after two weeks of fighting and struggling against the storm, Paul spoke once more to them all. He spoke of the truth of the situation and how they had all ended up in the same circumstance that he predicted, which could have been avoided had they listened to him in the first place. This time, they were ready to hear from the Apostle, and from God, and listen.
We may never again be afforded such a second opportunity to speak to an individual. Let me encourage you nonetheless. The Holy Spirit does the work of conviction, and will always be present near that person as they make their own decisions and live their own resulting lives. Though we may not be there in the moment that His convicting Spirit reaches their innermost depths and awakens their spirit to the Truth, we know that He brings to remembrance all things. The Holy Spirit will bring to their remembrance the Truth as spoken by us, and by any other individuals who spoke the same to them. Our voices will be used to say that, had they only listened to us in the first place, they might have avoided the terrible storm and the losses incurred, yet there is still opportunity to listen now.
We’ve been brought out from among them. Now, He has changed us and is changing us, and He is sending us back amongst them, not to be like them, but to be the light and the salt in a world lacking both. We are to be sheep amongst wolves, gentle as doves, but wise as serpents.
Our wisdom comes from the Holy Spirit, as directed by the Father through the Life of the Son. Therefore, we are to proclaim what we know, and what we know is that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, Who dwelt among us, and is without Sin, Who then gave His Life for us that we might be found blameless before the Father, and Who rose again, unable to be held by death nor defeated by it, but instead defeating death for us and ascended to the Father to be One once more, ready to return at the given moment which is not long from now. Let God be God and do that work which only He can do. But do not remain silent, whether they will hear it or not.