In the closing chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, Luke describes how Paul was transported by ship as a prisoner under guard from Caesarea across the Mediterranean Sea to Rome. The trip included shipwreck and was almost fatal, yet every person on board – all 276 of them – came safely through. Although Paul had sensed in advance that their sailing would meet with great difficulty and peril, he was unable to convince the authorities to scuttle the trip. Nonetheless, when the difficulties came, Paul prayed for everyone aboard the ship. God assured Paul that his request had been granted, and Paul reported such to his shipmates. Subsequently, during one of the darkest nights, several of the sailors attempted to use the ship’s small boat to abandon the ship and save themselves. Paul told the centurion and soldiers guarding him, “Unless these stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” This time they trusted Paul’s guidance. They cut away the small boat, removing that temptation for the sailors. Ultimately, the ship ran aground on the island of Malta, but all 276 made it safely to shore…just as God had promised Paul.
The salvation that God brings to the passengers of the good ship Earth is similarly comprehensive. He ultimately brings them all safely to heaven. If God had wanted to grant entrance into heaven selectively, He had many opportunities to do so. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Deborah, David, Esther, and many others in Old Testament times acquitted themselves admirably. God could have chosen only people of that caliber and the rest of us would have had no basis for complaint at being left out. Instead, He planned that all should be redeemed. As for those who seek a salvation for themselves alone, their selfishness is apparent. Fortunately, Jesus has kept everyone in the ship and thus everyone will be saved – yet through much difficulty, especially if we do not heed His advance warnings of trouble.