CHAPTER FIVE

276 SOULS

Verses 27 - 29.

"But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the sailors deemed that they drew near to some country,"

"And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms, and when they had gone a little farther, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms."

"Then, fearing lest we should fall upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day."

Luke was probably counting the number of nights from the time the ship left Fair Havens. It's interesting that he counted by nights rather than by days. In the natural, I'm uncertain exactly why this was so. Perhaps it was because riding out a storm in the night was much worse than doing so in the daytime (which I can confirm). This would leave a strong, lasting impression on Luke as he later reflected and wrote about all the long, stormy nights they had faced. On the spiritual side, it may connote that mankind, except for the saved, remain in the dark.

The numbering suggests the following to me: The "fourteenth night" possibly alludes to the Church riding through the sea of time for fourteen centuries. Remember, the count is from the time the ship left Fair Havens, Crete (which you recall I identify as symbolizing Great Britain). The Gospel began to have its greatest impact in England about the 6th century. Fourteen centuries later brings us to the 20th century. The desire of those on board the ship to see the sun break through the storm clouds and dark nights pictures Christianity today. In the midst of much worldly-darkness, Christians are looking for the coming of the "sun of righteousness", as Malachi saw Jesus, and the "morning star", as spoken of by the apostle John.

The Adriatic Sea is between Italy and Greece. The ship being tossed "up and down" in this area could be a reference to the influences upon the Church (the saved) by the powerful ecclesiastical structures of the Roman Catholic and the Greek Orthodox hierarchies. Stop a moment and think this through.

Around midnight, the shipmen "deemed that they drew near to some country" (probably surmised by the difference in wave activity). The "some country" is the same place as the "certain island" mentioned in the last chapter. The ship approaching land symbolizes the end of the age, and those on board are beginning to sense it. [Remember to keep your thinking straight as to who's who? on the vessel. The shipmen who run the ship parallel those in charge of the physical Church; the "prisoners" represent the bulk of the body of Christ---"prisoners" being used in the same sense that Paul's chain (2 Timothy 1:16) alludes to his commitment to Christ and the Gospel.]

In our day, even the unsaved are sensing [with great unrest] that humanity is approaching some kind of finality. Listen carefully to the news and you'll hear gasps and groans from people groping for understanding. The majority, it seems, are willing to accept virtually anything but the truth. This past December, a New Age group [non-Christian] forecasted that 144,000 of the 'enlightened' would soon be swept off the earth. Where do you suppose they got that number? Surely it is a perversion of the 144,000 Israelites who will be mightily used of God during the last half of the coming Tribulation. Although grossly in error, clearly, these people are 'tuned in' to the spirit world. Their problem is that they are listening to lying devils. See 2 Timothy 3:13 for a prophetic view of this very phenomenon.

Yes, we are approaching 'land'---the land of God. Paradise is right on the horizon. We can't see it in the natural, for it is yet night and we are still being tossed "up and down" by a tempest. But if we measure the "depth" of the sea here, we can confirm the closeness of the end of the age. How is this done? In prayer; through careful Bible study of the prophetic Word; and by listening to God. Sensitive Christians---those that hear God's voice in the prophecies and who are seeking purity of thought and purposeare throwing out the measuring line. The sailors of Paul's ship who sensed they were nearing land measured the depth as very shallow, only "20 fathoms". By my reckoning, based on "depth" readings, spelled out in THE TWO WITNESSES and the metaphoric studies you are reading here, I would say that we are now less than "20 fathoms" from the island.

The spiritually-minded [including even some that have not trusted Christ], can sense the nearness of the shore [i.e., we are approaching the end of the age]. Let me explain why I emphasize this point. There are many people who are "shipmen", but not yet "prisoners" of the Lord. I'm speaking of people right in local congregations, perhaps water-baptized (but unsaved) church members. We must reach the lost wherever they are---those aboard and yet not in, and those overboard but wanting to get in. And we'll touch them the same way as all "prisoners" are reached---(1) through prayer that God will grant them repentance and (2) through preaching the simple, Gospel truth. God will save the drowning who look believingly to Jesus.

A short time after the first measurement, the shipmen sounded again and this time measured only fifteen fathoms. Closer yet. The land is right out there, still invisible to the natural eye, but clear to the mind's eye of the knowledgeable watchful.

What makes me feel so strongly that we are close to the end of this age? Jesus' Olivet discourse, described in Matthew 24, Luke 17 and 21, Mark 13, and a myriad of other prophetic Scriptures, all affirm this reality. The predicted conditions today of rampant immorality and widespread idolatry (called by John, spiritual Sodom and spiritual Egypt), the earthquakes (a severe one killing over 5,000 just struck Japan even as I write this), the storms and other natural disasters occurring throughout the earth, the pestilences...and much more..., all attest to the 'shallow' waters our ship is now in. We all have roles to play. Mine seems to be like the shipman who sounded the ocean's depth. The Owner has given me a sense of urgency and a measuring line, and I'm tossing it out.

Fearing they would crash upon the rocks, the shipmen did something very unusual by dropping four anchors. No more than two would ordinarily have been used. But this time, indicative of the severity of the conditions, they doubled the number of anchors. According to Don Kistler in his book, "The Arithmetic of God", the number 4 refers to the flesh. I wonder if the four anchors being tossed out at the stern alludes to four particular ecclesiastical structures which were operating mainly in the flesh rather than the Spirit of God. I think of the Roman Catholic, the Greek Orthodox, the Russian Orthodox and the Church of England. I'm sure at various times all these housed true saints, but all of them were apostate at the time the Church was being established in America. And they needed to be left behind---tossed out at the stern.

In the Greek, to "wish" has a much stronger implication than mere human hope. It actually means to pray to God. Knowing this, then, "wishing for the day" can be translated into what is meant to be conveyed. In our day, praying to God for "the day" pictures the longing heart of the Universal Church---that is, we want to see the coming of the Lord. This has always been the great Christian hope. [To the uninformed, let me say that it's not that Christians don't want to live anymore; it's that we want to see Jesus in the Person, and to live in His sight. We are sensing the nearness of His Kingdom just as the shipmen knew they were near land. Jesus said that His "sheep" knew His voice. Near the end, surely Jesus will be whispering hope to those praying the Bible's final prayer---"Even so, Come Lord Jesus".]

Biblical hope means earnest expectation; it is defined in these graphic terms---looking forward with an outstretched neck! What a picture to add to our growing list of images, based on the simple phrase --- and wished for the day.

Verses 30 - 33.

"And as the sailors were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under pretense as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship,"

"Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved."

"Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off."

The pretense of the sailors pictures a very important aspect that has arisen over the past couple of centuries, especially here in the U.S. I'm referring to the introduction of a multitude of cults; organizations which, ironically, base their false doctrines on the Bible. Some, of course, have also invented new writings which they believe to be just as important as the Holy Scriptures. That the sailors' intent was to get in the lifeboat and abandon ship portrays these cults who have tried, in vain, to find salvation in a "boat" other than the plain Gospel contained in the Bible [alone].

There are many denominations which house genuine believers. Some of these bodies are obviously better and purer than others. But those who abandon the Bible as the only dependable anchor of truth and guidance will soon be led into heretical teachings; teachings insufficient for their hearers to become Christians. To flee from the only vessel that saves is not the answer to frustration.

[In case you are wondering, there is no inference here of loss of salvation by Paul saying, "Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved", for he has already said that all in this ship would be saved. The statement was made to reaffirm the truth so perfectly stated in Acts 4:12: "Neither is there salvation in any other [referring to Jesus]; for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." The "Ark of Jesus" as being God's only provision to save the lost is the obvious inference here.]

Notice that it was the "soldiers" who cut off the boat and let it drop. What does this infer? The Bible pictures Christians as "soldiers" of Christ. (See Phil. 2:25 & 2 Ti 2:3.) Good soldiers will stay with their commander. The soldiers of Paul's ship believed him, and thus cut the strings and let the 'escape' boat drop into the sea to its own destruction. In the end, cults and false philosophies [whether in or out of the Church] will likewise fall to their destruction. [There are two different kinds of soldiers, those who work for God and those who work for the devil. Later we'll see that the same word (soldiers) presents a different metaphor than here.]





Verses 33-36.

"And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take food, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing."

"Wherefore, I beseech you to take some food; for this is for your health; for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you."

"And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it, he began to eat."

"Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some food."



THE DAY WAS COMING ON...

After a long, dreary, hard-working night, "the day" was coming on. Luke was speaking of the fourteenth night having ended and now daybreak was coming on the fourteenth day, which, even though they remained in the storm, must have gladdened the hearts of the whole ship's company to see the day. [For the counting to work out as it does, apparently they had left Fair Havens at night.]

Again, I think this "fourteenth day" alludes to the 20th century, the century that I believe is introducing the coming of the Lord. Jesus' return may occur before the year 2,000 A.D., but more likely early in the 21st century. [Reasons given in The Two Witnesses].

The long "fast" [fourteen days in duration] alludes to the fact that the Gospel has always gone forth with great difficulty. This has also been pictured in our story by the continual tempests all during the "fourteen" days and nights of Paul's last voyage. Until the Gospel reached America, except for the very early apostolic days, history shows that the Church has always moved very slowly and painfully --- like a fast.

But now, Paul "besought them all to take food". He was referring to physical food, of course, saying that it would be for "your health". Well, certainly, they would have all been in a weakened state, having fasted so long and at the same time working very hard. It's difficult to even imagine such terrible conditions. No wonder Paul said it was time to take food. What does this imply in our metaphoric story?

I believe it refers to the building of many good and solid churches in a land wherein the Bible became the very basis of the founding of that nationthe U.S.A. From our inception, the Bible, its translations and publications, establishing Bible schools, the preaching of the Gospel both here and abroad, missions, etc., represents the "food" Paul said the ship's company should eat. And they ate. What does this picture? The need to be strengthened, of course, for completing the final stages of the Great Commission. Food, both physical and spiritual, has never been available in any land to the extent it has in the U.S.A. To disagree with this is simply to deny historical reality. Nor does the presence of extreme wickedness in our nation today cancel these facts.

What was the response of the ship's company? They were "all of good cheer". No peoples on this earth demonstrate cheerfulness like Americans --- saved or not! Visit any other country in the world, and you'll return here fully-persuaded about this fact. This is not to say that merely by being an American citizen somehow places one in the body of Christ. However, where believers are found in abundant numbers, those around will reap some of the rewards merely by being in their presence. The whole Bible clearly indicates the reality of this principle. No place on this earth has this been demonstrated as greatly as by the presence of the Church in America.

Criticism abounds regarding the apostate condition of the Church in America [including some of my own writings]. But, even now, the Gospel is going forth tremendously in our nation and into other nations, via churches, radio, television, the printed page, missionaries, etc. But beware, Christians who participate in the prevailing-darkness causes failure to see the good God is doing in our midst right now. The solution? Repent!

This present darkness is due to the fact that Satan knows his time is short, and he is creating a myriad of false doctrines and a host of other kinds of evils in an attempt to confuse and weaken the Church. But even in spite of this, you and I are seeing what the Faithful-of-the-ages longed to see. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Remain calm, my Christian friends. I encourage you nowas did Paul to his friendstake, eat [at the Lord's table] and occupy until He comes, "...for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you".

Verse 37.

"And we were in all in the ship two hundred and seventy-six souls."

This is the key verse of my whole book. But before continuing with the commentary, I must first tell you another short story out of my past about a situation which relates specifically to this verse.

It's important for you to know that my first manuscript on Acts 27 was already completed, the convictions you've now read I already held---i.e., that the ship's company of 276 persons represented all the saved of the entire Church age, Paul symbolizing Church leadership, the centurion and his band denoting the angelic host who watch over the Church, etc. But, at the time of the situation I'm about to describe, I had temporarily set aside this study due to involvement in other ministries.

One day in the early 80s, during my absence, a Christian friend of the family [a university student] dropped by for a visit. She handed Cindy, my wife, a book, saying, "For some reason, I think Lance is supposed to have this." She stayed only a few minutes, and I don't recall that we ever saw her again.

[I'm sorry to say that I have forgotten her name. Cindy (who has a wonderful rapport with young people) and I have been involved with many college students over the years, due to a continual flow of students from the nearby University of California at Davis. Our contacts were made in various ways: Cindy worked at the Dean's Office of the Medical School; my optometric practice; I was then Director of Counseling at our church; and through our own children, Martin and Jennifer.]


To my knowledge, our friend knew nothing of my writings on John 11 or Acts 27. I think she was simply following a prompting of the Holy Spirit. When I got home and Cindy told me about what happened, I sat down and stared at the book on the kitchen table. I was wide-eyed with anticipation, for similar things had occurred before. [In 1979, another book (over 100 years old) had been left for me even more mysteriously by a man from Ireland I hardly knew. It too had information specifically pertinent to what I was studying then, unbeknownst to the man who gave me the book. I believe God's influence was responsible for all these incidences.]

It was an impressive-looking hard-bound volume called THEOMATICS, written by Jerry Lucas and Del Washburn. I had never heard of Del but was familiar with Jerry as an Olympics Gold Medal winner and the former star of the New York Knicks basketball team. However, I didn't know Jerry was a Christian, let alone writer. When he joined with Del in the study of theomatics, he was already founder of Memory Ministries and had authored two books: The Memory Book and Remember The Word. His specialty, then, was teaching Christians how to memorize large blocks of Scripture.

I can't comment on the depth of Del and Jerry's Christian commitments, or ministries. But I found their book remarkable and I want to briefly share with the reader what 'theomatics' is and how it relates, specifically, to my understanding of Acts 27. It will definitely be worth the time it takes to explain how all this ties together.

Del and Jerry admit they did not discover theomatics. The subject was introduced to them, they said, by another Godly man. But Del and Jerry did a 'ton' of work [3000 hours of research] and came up with some of the most amazing findings I have ever heard about on the 'numerics' of God's Word. And even with all the work accomplished, they feel they barely scratched the surface of the Bible's content with regards to this subject.

WHAT IS THEOMATICS?

Theomatics is based on the premise that God wrote His entire Word with a mathematical design. The authors call this design "theomatics". Some people might immediately cringe at this statement, thinking Del and Jerry [and me] have gone off the deep end into some kind of numeric hocus-pocus. The fact is, these men have made a fantastic discovery. Let me introduce you briefly to "God's arithmetic" as they present it.

There are five concepts on which the principle of theomatics is based. Only two are necessary to understand the fundamentals and to see how the principle agrees perfectly with my understanding of Acts 27.

Remember, the original New Testament was written in Greek, the choice obviously being by God's sovereign selection. This language would be special both in terms of word meaning and because it had the capacity to contain a mathematical design. Certainly, conveying thoughts and ideas are the main purpose of God's eternal Word. But having a mathematical basis too, for us to discover in these last days, adds to the awesomeness of the God who created the universe (which also, we know, has a mathematical design). [The authors of THEOMATICS assert that the principles discussed here apply equally to the Hebrew, Old Testament, but thorough research was, then, incomplete.]

CONCEPT #1.

In the English language we express numbers by the Arabic digits 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,...etc. Early Greek, [and the Hebrew language] had no such numbering system. This language uses the alphabet for numbers as well as words. The Greek alphabet has 26 letters, the number values arranged like this: a (alpha) = 1; b (beta) = 2,...and continuing like this through the tenth letter equalling 10; the next nine letters jump by 10s, and the last eight letters progress by 100s.

So, for example, the number 225 would be expressed in Greek by three letters of the alphabet: the 20th letter is (200), the 11th (20), and the 5th (5). Got the idea? It works just as well as Arabic digits once you get used to it.

Now, with the above thoughts in mind, it can readily be seen that every word in the New Testament has a numeric value. That is, each word has a certain number of Greek letters in it and each of these letters has a number value. If you add up the number values of all the letters which comprise a word, you have a total. For example, Jesus' name in Greek has six letters. The six letters, when added together, = 888. And this number (888) is also found in other words and phrases which allude to Jesus in ways other than by the use of His name. [I'll clarify this more later.]

So, Concept #1 shows that every word in the Bible has both language and a mathematical design associated with it. Sometimes the number may be found in a single word, as in Jesus, which is 888. But, also, the same number may be discovered in a group of words. That is, it may take the number value of several words, like a phrase, to make the total which alludes to the same person, or same situation---which brings us to the second concept.

CONCEPT #2.

The second concept of theomatics is the law of multiples. Let's again take the case of Jesus' name. I quote from THEOMATICS: "The many different references to Christ in the Bible are all structured around the number 888! Here is how it works. If we were to take the number 888 and cut it in half, what is the result? The answer is 444. In other words, 444 x 2 = 888. But let us break down the number 888 even further, and cut the number 444 in half. We would now have the number 222. And if we were to cut the number 222 in half again, we would then have the number 111." The authors then go on to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that this design covers the complete topic related to the birth and coming of Christ and the child Jesus.

That is, every time the subject of Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ [or any of His names], appears in the New Testament concerning His birth, totalling the number values of the words in that passage, the number 111 or an exact multiple of that number---i.e., 222, 333, 444...will always result. This may sometimes be a single word, sometimes a phrase, or sometimes a whole verse. Thus, whatever word, phrase or sentence is necessary to complete the thought relating to Jesus, will be based on the number 111. A few examples will clarify:

Word = 111 x 2 [the 2 means two 111s] (Jn 8:55)
The Word = 111 x 4 [four 111s, etc.] (Jn 1:14)
Living Word = 111 x 18 (1 Peter 1:23)
Morning star = 111 x 22 (2 Peter 1:19)


This is but a small sampling of literally hundreds of examples on Jesus' name alone! Lucas and Washburn did this to show that every time our Lord is alluded to in any truly-definable way, that the whole verse, or the phrase which refers to Jesus, will be the number 111 or an exact multiple of 111. [Probability experts the authors consulted determined that it's virtually incalculable that this outcome did not originate by omniscient wisdom.]

Let me tell you how the authors developed their tool from which the computations were made. There are several versions of Greek-English New Testaments available. Amazingly, the authors found out that virtually all translations follow the theme of their discovery within 95% agreement. Once this truth [that God's Word has a mathematical design] is seen, it becomes immediately clear that if we had the original version God inspired, in it, theomatics would be seen to be absolutely perfect.(1)

Del and Jerry used the Nestle-Marshall Interlinear Greek-English New Testament [which happens to be the one I own]. Del spent eight months going through over 1,000 pages, adding the numeric value of every word, then placing that value above each word. From this, then, they could quickly add up the numeric values of the particular topic under survey, and then write down the total of the numbers as they came to them.

Now what I want to emphasize here, is that no matter what theological idea they chose to focus on, the theomatic outcome was consistent. They used topics like the name of Jesus [already discussed], light, darkness, power, the Satanic kingdom, the number 666, the 144,000, the 153 fishes in the net, to name a few. Regardless of the subject, there would be found a specific base number always associated with that idea---from Matthew to Revelation. This would work out relative to just one word, a group of words (if it took more than one word to complete the thought), or the whole verse. Fantastic!

WHAT ABOUT THE 276?

Now let me come to the main reason I have introduced you to theomatics. As you know, I see the 276 souls in the ship Paul and the others were on as symbolic of the saved of the whole Church age. Washburn and Lucas devoted an entire chapter to what they called The Satanic Kingdom. And was I ever startled to see the base number they found was 276!

The authors began the chapter on evil with these words: "Of all the chapters to be presented in this book this one is by far the most important." This statement was shocking to me at first. How could this possibly be more important than the study on Jesus' name? But after more careful study, I then understood why they said this.

When I first read the chapter, The Satanic Kingdom, and noted the theomatic number 276 was the identifying number of the devil and evil, I thought surely these men were wrong. I was already quite certain that the 276 souls in Paul's ship represented God's called out people. Their chapter on The Satanic Kingdom is about halfway through the book and, by then, I was convinced of their discovery. Being equally convinced of their findings, and my beliefs, presented a terrible paradox. Was it reconcilable?

Further study showed that the authors of THEOMATICS and I were in agreement, and, most likely, all correct in our convictions. To explain, let me present a few theomatic highlights of the number 276.

Satan 276 x 2 (Matthew 16:23)
The evil one 276 x 8 (1 John 5:19)
The prince of the power of the air 276 x 15 (Eph.2:2)
The accuser of our brethren 276 x 13 (Rev 12:10)
Cast out demons by Beelzebub 276 x 6 (Mt 12:27)
The ruler of the demons 276 x 16 (Lk 11:15)
The dragon 276 x 6 (Rev. 13:4)
Lie 276 x 5 (Jn 8:44)
I beheld Satan fall from heaven 276 x 14 (Lk 10:18)
Hell 276 x 3 (Mt 23:33)
In hades 276 (Acts 2:27)


The authors go on page-after-page listing dozens of these kinds of words and phrases, all of which refer to the devil and his devices relative to evil. There is no mistaking the findings and evidence that the number 276 is the base number relative to evil and Satan. How could this possibly be true? I wondered. Surely you can understand the perplexity I faced at the time.

But after the presentation on evil, the authors showed their own frustrations regarding this number. For example, demon possession has the theomatic value of 276 x 3. And the theomatic value of cast out or expel has the theomatic value 888, the same as Jesus' name! How could this be? Or maybe we should ask, why shouldn't it be? After all, Jesus has power over all demons and it is through His name that they are expelled and cast out.

Then the law enters the picture. Stone tablets has a theomatic value of 276 x 2. Tablets of the covenant = 276 x 4.

Next, I saw that the Sabbath day = 276 x 8.

Then comes this surprise: free from the law of sin and death = 276 x 16.

There are voluminous amounts of Scripture which show conclusively that the number 276 is related to evil, sin, disobedience, corruption, etc. But there are also perhaps just as many Scriptures which relate to man's ultimate deliverance from these things---i.e., grain of wheat, incorruptible, incorruptible crown, justification, live again, propitiation, new creation, newborn, tree of life, and many others. These are all positive in nature relating to man's redemption and they too have a theomatic value of 276! Another paradox! Or is it?

As you know, throughout this book I have alluded to Paul's ship as the Church, or the Ark of Christ. Now I'm going to throw you a curve: Actually, the Church was in the ship. At the most, a wooden vessel on which the ship's company and "prisoners" were riding, can be thought of only as the physical structure of the Church. The Church is not made of wood or stone. She is comprised of born-again Christians. When all those are saved that God will save [represented in our story as all those aboard the ship], the Bride of Christ will then be complete. And when this point in time is reached, the physical aspect of the Church will no longer be needed and will, in fact, be destroyed. But, we know that the true Church will never be destroyed. [This is all forecast by Paul's earlier prediction that no life would be lost on this ship, only the ship itself.]

My convictions were confirmed on the last page of Lucas' and Washburn's book. I cannot describe it better than their closing remarks relative to Acts 27.

Quote:

"And we were in all two hundred and seventy-six persons..." 276 x 11 (Acts 27:37)

So right in the text of the Bible is another number that points to a great theomatic truth.

In this chapter, we have seen how God uses the number 276 to depict the satanic kingdom, hell, the curse of the law, sin, evil, the flesh, and so on. The number 276 is symbolic of all that is bad. Why then were there 276 souls saved? Let's answer this question by asking the Christian reader another question: When you were saved, what were you saved from? The satanic kingdom, right? This is exactly why there were 276 souls saved in Paul's shipwreck. The number 276 symbolizes the fact that these souls were saved from Satan's power; and the Greek word from this story meaning "to be saved" also has a theomatic value of 276. This further substantiates why 276 souls were saved.

"To be saved" = 276 x 5 (Acts 28:4)

Unquote.

Not every English version says "to be saved" in this verse. Some interpret it as "escaped from the sea", which is what happened to Paul and the others. But the single, Greek word from which the English renderings come means to be saved, and the theomatic value of this word is 276 times 5. [Lucas and Washburn didn't note this in their book, but I think even the "times 5" is significant. Biblically, the number "5" means grace, and to be saved requires God's grace. Get the mathematical connection?]

So, can you now understand my excitement when I read the book THEOMATICS? Just think, I already knew that the 276 on Paul's ship was a 'spiritual' number representing the saved. Then, a few years later, two more men arrive at the very same conclusion, approached from an entirely different perspective, and the new knowledge was hand-delivered to my kitchen table without my seeking it. Only an omnipotent, miracle-performing God can link the efforts of His saints like this so beautifully. But then, that's the way God works---a little truth here, a little truth there, the whole then grows together.

Jesus is building His Church in a similar way. Here in the midst of the darkness and spiritually-evil storms of this present world, when it seems like all hell is breaking loose [it is], the Holy Spirit is still busy sealing new believers every day. The transformation of an unworthy sinner into a son of God is still the greatest miracle of all. This happens [only] to those who look to Jesus as their redeeming Savior.

In this day when people are frantically seeking change, to be saved is still the ultimate change for any life; and every individual needs this change. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, compares to becoming a Christian. If you are drowning in the sea of fallen humanity as a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Mormon, a Jehovah's Witness, an unsaved church member, or whatever "ism", you need Jesus. He's the Master of the only ship which picks up victims dying in their sins. Don't hang on pridefully to your "religion"; it can only take you into the depths of despair. Reach up and take the outstretched-hand of Jesus; He's the only Ark that truly saves.

If you haven't yet received Jesus into your heart, right now would be a great time to make the most important decision you'll every make. Moving from the position of being a creation of God into the inheritance of becoming His Covenant child will give you immeasurable peace and joy inwardly. And outwardly, your own face will begin to reflect the love of God toward others.

Come on! Become a part of the "276". All you've got to lose is your sin and your sinful nature! Jesus died for all that garbage heaped up on your soul. Trust in Him. Believe in Him. Put your confidence in this word today. It's a true word. God will forgive and save you if you'll just believe and accept His Son. The gains will commence now, which will last and increase throughout eternity. There's nothing better than this, my unsaved friends.