There is an incredible example of God's Sovereignty and Human Responsibility in Acts 27 that is worthy of much attention by any disciple of Christ—most especially a Baptist. I hope I can do the passage justice as I attempt to communicate what is there.
Paul as a prisoner is traveling by sea under the escort of Roman guards and at the expense of the Roman taxpayer from Jerusalem to Rome in order to preach to Nero. During the lengthy journey, the weather turns very bad and it appears that all will be lost. The crew has been battling the storm for two weeks. According to Luke, the historian and author of Acts, the weather has been too bad to eat and many are near the point of exhaustion. In vs. 20, Luke records that all hope of being saved was gone.
During the 14th night of the storm God sent an angel to let Paul know that the ship would be lost but not a soul of the crew would die. What a promise. The Sovereign God of the universe during a situation in which it appears that there is no hope of anyone making it out alive lets Paul know that instead not a soul will be lost. This is reminiscent of God's promise that nothing can separate the believer from the love of God!
To some degree, Paul's words fall on deaf ears because only a short time later Paul observes in the back of the ship sailors attempting to lower the small skiff that the crew had previously worked so hard in bringing on board to keep from losing it. Even Luke was involved in the effort to secure the skiff on the deck of the ship. As the sailors are attempting to abandon ship, prisoner Paul sees them trying to get away under the guise of letting down anchors and looks right at the Roman centurion and his band of warriors and states as authoritatively as can be said,
"Unless these men remain in the ship, you yourselves cannot be saved" (vs. 31).
Now there it is, don't miss it—one incredible truth.
Paul previously said that no one would be lost. God had assured him of that. Paul had received word from the highest authority in the universe that not a soul would be lost only the ship, and now he is putting the responsibility for the salvation of the passengers on the sailors.
This chapter serves as such a great picture of God's Sovereignty and Man's Human Responsibility in the eternal salvation of the soul. Man's salvation is a work of God and God alone; yet man must repent and believe! My belief and repentance is a gift from God; yet there isn't anyone who is saved who hasn't repented and believed nor will there ever be.
Paul said take hope; an angel from the Creator God of the universe has promised me that not a soul will be lost! Then minutes later he says that if these sailors don't stay and do what sailors do best, they will not be able to be saved from death at sea.
Paul understood that not only had God ordained the salvation of the crew, but He had also ordained the means by which the crew would be saved.
The gospel preacher understands that when a soul is saved during his sermon or the invitation that follows it is the work of a Sovereign God, yet he preaches like the salvation of men is completely dependent upon his earnest appeal to the soul of man to repent and believe. He begs, exhorts, pleads, explains, creates illustrations, describes hell, calls for a decision and encourages an immediate response. From the outside looking in, you would think that the preacher believes he is the soul-winner, but His theology, if correct, communicates that it is God that does the saving.
So he petitions fellow believers to pray that God will work and save souls and continues to plead with the congregation believing that God will save the lost man that day. You see he understands that it is God that saves, but all that are saved must respond in faith in Jesus Christ and repentance toward God. So he, like John the Baptist, admonishes the people to bring forth fruit worthy of repentance, even though he knows that if God doesn't grant repentance no one can repent. But the preacher, evangelist and soul-winner all believe that God is still in the business of saving souls, so each urgently reminds all people- everyone- that God commands all to repent and then silently petitions God to grant repentance.
Paul in the midst of the storm, soaking wet, cold, half-starved, exhausted, and at the brink of death did not rely exclusively on the promise of God to save 276 souls. Instead, he saw the very means that God would use to save the 276 that were attempting an escape and told the centurion that if those sailors escape the promise of salvation was gone. The church understands that God has souls he intends to save in Fayetteville, NC yet it does not sit back and wait on God to save. No it—the body of Christ—pursues the lost as if God is completely dependent upon man; yet it knows that the truth is man is completely dependent upon God.
Paul understood the exceedingly awesome synchronization of two very important biblical truths that appear at odds with each other; yet they are held together in a perfect balance by the same force that holds the earth on its perfect elliptical orbit around the sun. These two truths also orbit around the Son.
May God give each of us the same understanding through the indwelling of His awesome Spirit that Paul had to a degree that we may boldly declare that this is the Lord's doing and it is marvelous in our eyes!