‘And now I exhort you to be of good cheer …wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer’, Acts 27. 22, 25.
There was absolutely nothing for anyone to be cheerful about! Luke had just recorded his comments regarding the state of mind and heart of all the members aboard that fated vessel by saying, ‘And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was taken away’. The ship was under-girded to save it splitting apart, all the tackle had gone overboard along with the cargo. They had plunged heedlessly at the whim of the violent winds into the darkness of a raging tempest. The human spirit, usually ever hopeful of a better ending, was now dimmed and broken and fast ebbing away to despair. Yet Paul stands out before them all to say, ‘Be of good cheer’.
We need to thank God for those who take the time to stand in His presence absorbing the strength and stability of eternity, catch the vision of the real world, see the outworking of the purposes of God in the whirl of human activities, and then come out to tell us ‘Be of good cheer!’
We’ve listened too often and with far too much patience to the men of doom amongst us, who prophesy decline and departure with every message they deliver. Too easily we nod our heads as we listen to their catalogue of the ills to be found amongst the small isolated groups of believers, who despite everything, are still meeting in simplicity to the Lord’s Name alone. Shamelessly they point to the departure of younger men and women to larger denominational churches, and to the lack of evangelism and the little evidence of souls being saved amongst us and added to the assembly. In addition to this we hear of the paucity of gift and the lacking of exercise. The more we listen the more we despair and bow our hearts and heads to what by now we perceive as the inevitable end.
This state of affairs exactly compares with the condition aboard that storm-tossed vessel at that dark and depressive moment, ‘All hope that we should be saved was taken away’. It was then that Paul stood forth before them all and said, ‘Be of good cheer, for I believe God’. In total contradiction to the circumstances every one was aware of, he had had a revelation of deliverance and a confirmation of his own destiny in the service of Christ. It was not to rot on the bottom of the sea in some unknown location, but to appear in Rome as a witness for Jesus Christ! They may loose the ship but every soul was vouchsafed to reach the safety of the shore by the promise of God.
It is not the time to sit in despair but to rise up in faith and in confidence of the God who has place and purpose for us yet in His plans to bless men. Haste to the sanctuary to find again the importance of being at His disposal. Can we not find once more the grace to yield afresh all that we have to the altar of Christ? There is yet time to prove Him the Saviour God that He is. Let’s do it!
We have come to the final magazine of another year. A number of the articles in this issue challenge our conception of the gospel and the way we deliver its message to our fellowmen. A new series on Romans chapters 6 to 8 by a new writer for Precious Seed, Randal Amos, will prove a great help to many. The Keynote article leads us to examine the way we attempt to study scripture together and should lead us to examine common practices in a new light. May the Lord be in the ministry of these pages so as to once again reach our hearts through them.
As a committee we are delighted that our brother Ian Rees of Bath has agreed to join us and we look forward to his profitable input into the future of the magazine.