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Jim's Jots and Tittles. . .

Don't Jump Ship

When Paul went to Rome as a prisoner on a ship, the ship encountered a violent storm that eventually destroyed the ship.

When it seemed all hope was lost, and some tried to "jump ship," Paul warned: "unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved" (Acts 27:31). It may have seemed strange to be told that to leave a sinking ship meant certain death. But salvation did not exist in the treacherous water, the dark night, or the howling storm.

The church is not a sinking ship, but many treat it as such and seek to "jump ship." Just as leaving Paul's ship meant certain death, so it is with those who would abandon the church in unfaithfulness. In Acts2:47 Luke described the church in terms of salvation: "And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." Thus there are no saved people outside the church. Just as Paul said the ship was their only possibility for salvation, the church is the only possibility for our spiritual salvation. There is no alternative!

As Paul could say with full confidence that leaving the ship was sheer loss and death, so Christ could say that leaving the church leads to sheer loss of one's soul and spiritual death. The church belongs to Christ. It is His body. Is was purchased with His blood. He was its builder. Ephesians 5:25 tells us that Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.

We are not on a tempestuous sea, but we are in a tempestuous world that defies all the Christ and the church stand for. And just as there was no salvation in the sea around Paul's ship, there is no salvation in a world lost in the darkness of sin.

When we are buried with Christ in baptism, we enter His body, the church, having come up out of the water to present ourselves as alive from the influence of the world and the sea of sin. As Paul wrote in Romans 6:22-23-- "But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive you benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal live. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

And in Colossians 2:6-8 Paul writes how we can remain faithful to His body, the church: "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude."

If we do not see the church as being established by the precious blood of Christ, the church will not be precious to us, and we will be tempted to "jump ship" and wander into a sea where we will drown in sin. 1 Peter 1:18-19-- "knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ."

The church is our ship in this life. Our spiritual safety depends on our not "jumping ship." As Paul's ship brought all 276 souls to safety, so will the church for the faithful. 1 Corinthians 15:23-24-- "But each in his own order, Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to God the Father...."

He and His church are our only hope for all eternity. When we know where our eternal safety can be found, we need to stay there. "Don't jump ship!"

—Jim Hunt