Anchored Till Day Break
“And sounded and found it twenty fathoms; and when they had gone a little further, sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms.
“Then fearing lest we should have fallen on the rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern and wished for the day.”—Acts 27:28–29
Paul had expressed a desire to go to Rome; he is now on his way. He had hoped for a prosperous journey—it’s a perilous journey. The twenty-seventh chapter of Acts records the perils of it. The text chosen brings us to the crisis. They were drifting, and the sensible thing to do was to sound and see how deep it was, for there was danger on the rocks! At the first sounding they found but a depth of twenty fathoms, and at another but fifteen fathoms. It was too shallow for safety. There was but one thing to do, and this they did. They cast four anchors out of the stern and thus anchored in the night. They wished for the day.
This sea scene and experience of Paul is much like the condition existing in the church of the present day. The sea is tempestuous and the night is dark. The sun, moon and stars are obscured. The church is drifting in shallow water. There are hidden rocks upon which her bark may soon fall to suffer shipwreck. It is time to do some sounding, for the age is shallow. It has substituted the Gospel of God for the schemes of man. The church is concerned with civic reforms more than with divine righteousness. The church is playing rather than praying, and is at peace with the world at a terrible cost! It is on the shallow rather than narrow way. It is time to do some sounding. Hidden rocks and reefs are in the direction of her drift. Drifting is a perilous experience. In many places the church is drifting from the authority of the Holy Scriptures, from the deity of the Holy Son, from the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and from the imminence of a Holy God. It is an awful drift! Drifting from the Word of God on the works of man! Let there be some sounding, and hastily may it be done. Said one of the speakers at the late convention of Christian Endeavorers at Springfield, Ohio:
“If you knew the foundations of this building were not safe you would not be in it. If you thought there was a weak spot here and a rotten plank or pillar there, or an undermined portion there, you wouldn’t have come in—not would I.
“The church must be sure of her foundation. Some are staying out because it is rumored that the foundation has become weakened and that there are rotten pillars and planks. They will not trust the weight of eternal issues with a church on a weak foundation. The church must rest on the deity of Christ and the infallibility of the Word of God and the truth of the Triune Godhead.”
This was a mighty utterance and, we are glad to say, was received with pleasure and profit in this convention, which is a mighty Christian factor in the state of Ohio.
In the midst of the present darkness and drift and in the danger of the rocks because of the shallowness of the water there is but one thing to do—just what they did on Paul’s journey—“Cast four anchors out of the stern and wish for the day.” Where rocks are an anchor must be. The church needs anchoring till the “breaking of the day.” Night is no time for chartless, compassless and anchorless navigation.
“Chart and compass came from Thee, Jesus, Saviour pilot me,” should be the song of the church; and what a “song in the night”!
Let us cast four anchors and “wait for the day.”
The First Anchor: The Word Of God
The secure anchor is the Scriptures. The Word holds when hope is gone. The Scriptures hold fast in the days of drifting. None ever got on the rocks holding fast the Word of Life. The Word of God is an anchor to the soul. When strong tides lift and tempest tries and the high waves of skepticism and criticism boom and crash and break and shake, the Word of God holds fast and firm! It is an anchor which has worn out many a storm and let them drop back into their own made foam and fermentation.
When sun, moon and stars are all turned out in the night the Bible is light! As the Lamb is the light of that new city so is He of this “old Book,” the Bible. When a sea swell would sweep the church of God on the rocks to wreck and ruin the anchor of Scripture holds! Praise the God of the Book for this Book of God!
There are men who have pulled in this first anchor of the inerrant and infallible Word of God and have made contribution to the present drift.
They are rationalists. They are self-constituted critics of the Book. They attempt to remove from it the miraculous and the supernatural. They know not what they do. They are setting many adrift and they do it under the guise of the “noble” impulse of an appeal to reason. The Word of God transcends the sphere of man to reason, and its great appeal is to faith. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God,” Romans 10:17. The Bible deals within the realm of the invisible, into which realm reason never rises.
There are many men now casting this first anchor to stop the present drift. God is using them. The old Book is taking a new place in the hearts of those who are privileged to their ministry.
The Word of God is the one preservative and the one conservative of the church of God.
We are suffering today from a displaced Bible. It must be replaced. It must be brought back. The Word of God alone works the wonders of salvation and regeneration. It is “quick and powerful,” Hebrews 4:12. “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life,” John 6:63.
The Bible is not like other books. Other books must be known to be loved; the Bible must be loved to be known. The Bible reveals a Person, and that Person reveals the Bible. That Person is Christ. Christ makes known God. Christ is known only by the Scriptures that reveal Him. How eternally important, then, the Bible! Bibles were once chained to pulpits and could not be removed. Blessed be the day when once again they are so forged to every pulpit in the land, that the Book and the preacher are one and inseparable! The church needs the Bible. Not in a new tongue or in modern speech. Nor does it need a restatement. It just needs statement. The Word of God is not bound. It works, it wills, it lives and does!
O, man of God, in the midst of the drift cast the anchor! Anchor by the living Word of a living God! The Bible is sufficient! Trust it. Try it.
Dr. Moorehead of Xenia used to say: “The Word of God is deep enough for an elephant to swim in and for a lamb to bathe.”
He was right. It’s the universal Book, meeting all the needs of all the people in all the ages and unto the end of the ages.
The Second Anchor: The Diety Of Christ
To hold fast in the midst of the present tempest we suggest the casting of a second anchor—the fact of Christ’s deity.
The deity of Christ will put an end to the present drift. The denial of His deity has caused much of the present drift and doubt. His glorious person is the heart and the hope of the Gospel. Christ is all God is, and God is no more than Christ is. “I and the Father are one”; “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father”; “The fulness of the Godhead dwelt in Him bodily.”
“No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.” Christ is not a manifestation of God; His is God manifest in the flesh. There is a vast difference with an ever-diverging difference.
Christ is not the Son of God “as all other men are,” but as no other one ever was or will be.
He is one with God in essence and eternity.
He pre-existed as God (John 1:1).
He was predicated as God (Isaiah 9:6).
He was professed to be God (John 5:18).
He was proclaimed God (1 Timothy 3:16).
He was promoted as God (Hebrews 1:8–9).
He was petitioned as God (1 Corinthians 1:2).
His perfections are God’s. Eternity (John 8:58).
Omnipotence (John 10:28).
Omniscience (John 10:15).
Holiness (Hebrews 7:26).
Love (John 15:6).
He created all things (Colossians 1:15–17).
He is “Providence” (Hebrews 1:3).
When R.J. Campbell of the City Temple, London, visited a city on the Pacific coast as the apostle of the “New Theology” he was asked in Berkeley, California if he believed in the divinity of Jesus Christ. He replied: “Why, I would rather doubt my own divinity than that of Jesus Christ.” Again the questioner said: “But do you believe in the deity of Jesus Christ?” To this the blasphemer replied: “I believe in the deity of Christ as much as I do in my own deity.”
It is not difficult to understand this kind of talk. It is the speech of a man who denies that sin has put a moral distance between himself and God. It seeks to bring the Son of God to the level of the sons of men. It perverts the Gospel and puts man where only God is or can be. God will have no honor but that which is in the Son. God will not be seen or known but in Christ. He that denieth the Son denieth the Father also.
The true confession of a Christian is a confession of the deity of Christ. He is not Christian who denies the deity of Christ; he is anti-Christian. One cannot possibly be a Christian and doubt and deny the deity of Christ. Think over these words and you will feel the prick of the point. Unitarianism is not Christian.
The Third Anchor: The Atonement
A third anchor to be cast in this day of drift and this night of darkness is the fact of divine atonement as accomplished by the cross of Christ at the place of skulls.
When the “Blood” is taken from our preaching there is no life in the pulpit, for the life is in the Blood. There is no life among the people, for a Christian’s life is “in the Blood.” The church today is anemic. There is no “Blood” in the system. The bloody cross is offensive and in many quarters the church seeks to avoid offense, and with them “the offense of the cross has ceased.”
They who apologize for the cross are far too many. They who magnify the cross are far too few.
The church loses the sense of the holiness of God when the cross is not preached, and for this cause sin is looked upon lightly.
The sense of God’s justice is lost when the cross is not preached, and for this cause there is much anarchy against the throne of God and much lawlessness abounds where all love should be given.
When the cross is not preached the grace of God is hidden and obscured. The richest output of God’s heart is withheld from a needy and lost world.
The cross is the place of the [most supreme] display of grace, and when grace is not preached God’s character is slandered.
When the cross is not preached the wrath of God is not known and sinners are sheltered in a refuge of lies and are found in a subterfuge of falsehood. The cross reveals the wrath of God against the sin of man. The wrath is averted only by a place in Christ. There is no judgment or wrath for those who are in Christ Jesus. Man, apart from Christ, awaits the wrath of God. It is unfair to a lost world and unfaithful to a holy God not to preach the cross and its salvation.
The wisdom of God is displayed in the cross, but man’s wisdom rejects what God trusts.
The power of God is seen at the cross, but man counts weakness what God reckons power.
That which is highly pleasing to God man declares an abomination; so from Cain down the cross has been trampled under the feet of men.
The cross must be again preached. Not a Christless cross, nor a crossless Christ, but Christ and His cross! The cross of expiation for man and propitiation toward God. The cross of substitutionary atonement. The cross where wrath fell on One who was “made sin.” The cross where sin met its judgment. The cross where iniquity came under the punitive hand of God. The cross where holiness knew no compromise, and justice could not be blinded, and where bribe could not prevail; God judged sin.
The cross of modern theology is an evaporation. It is reduced to two cedar wood beams and made the seat and throne of sentiment rather than the judgment seat of sin and the moral disorder of the universe. Cast out the anchor of the cross. It will hold the ship from the rocks. Nothing less will.
The Fourth Anchor: The “Blessed Hope”
The fourth anchor to be cast is the anchor of “hope.” Hope is an anchor. The blessed hope is the sheet anchor. It has put an end to the drift of multitudes. They went every which way till they heard of the coming of the Lord. Now they are fixed in service, faithful in testimony, fearless in defense, and filled with the Spirit.
This anchor holds in the anxious day and in the storm-black night. It keeps from the rocks which lurk in shallow waters.
In the library of the saintly Dr. W.G. Moorehead of Xenia, Ohio, the other day we picked up a book which was a favorite book of Dr. Moorehead’s, and upon the opening of the book we read the most beautiful sentence: “The coming of Christ as even imminent was with him a belief that imparted a glow to his whole piety, swayed his daily conduct, and invested his life with an habitual though cheerful solemnity.”
Sounds just like the result of the “blessed hope.” It strengthens weakness, encourages timid hearts, puts the lion in our service and the lamb in our spirit. It calls forth consecration, demands separation, and is the great incentive of sanctification. It fills the heart, thrills the soul, and imparts patience in the time of perplexity. It sustains and maintains. “Oh, blessed hope of the coming of the Lord!”
“When our eyes are filled with tears,
How our aching heart it cheers,
Blessed hope of the coming of the Lord.”
The other day a secretary of education in one of the leading denominations said to the editor at the close of an address: “There is one thing I have noticed, and that is that all the men I know who believe in the coming of the Lord certainly do preach the Gospel.”
This is a wonderful hope indeed, and does empower and impel men to preach the Gospel, and the above testimony we believe to be true. It is of deep significance and should be pondered.
So they “cast four anchors out of the stern and wished for the coming of the day.”
My brothers the day is coming! The day will break! The night is almost past—thank God!
With these anchors cast are you wishing for the day? The “breaking of the day,” says Peter. A “breaking day” and “fleeing shadows.” What a statement!
Did you ever stand on a mountaintop at the breaking of a day and see the rising of the sun?
Did you ever see the morning sun chase out of valleys and canyons the shades of night? Did you ever see night birds, night animals and night prowlers driven before the light? Oh, what a sight! The sun is a powerful pursuer of the darkness. The day will break. Are you anchored till then?
Do you know this old world will be the scene of sin till then? See what kind of a world He shall drive before Him and destroy beneath Him at His coming: “Even Him whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness,” (2 Thessalonians 2:9–10). These things await the “brightness of His coming.” The day will break! The night is far spent. The criers are even now heard shouting: “Watchman, what of the day?” Here the answer: “The day comes.” Anchor till the morning breaks.
“O, it must be the breaking of the day;
It must be the breaking of the day—
The night is almost past, the morning comes at last;
It must be the breaking of the day.”
—Delivered at the Victorious Life Convention at Restawhile, July 1, 1916.