If asked what is the worst shipwreck of all times, what would you reply? There are some monumental and legendary ones: the Lusitania (1915); the Andrea Doria (1956); the Edmund Fitzgerald (1975). Perhaps you would say, “The Titanic.” While certainly perhaps the most well-known, the sinking of the Titanic (1912) was not the world’s worst shipwreck.
On April 27, 1865 the steamship Sultana (with a capacity of only a few hundred people) was transporting some 2,500 former Union prisoners of war home at the end of the Civil War. The ship’s boiler exploded, killing 1,500 men, just as their ordeal was about to end.
In 255 B.C. off the coast of Camarina, Sicily, a Roman fleet of 264 ships was caught in a violent storm. Of those, 184 of the ships were driven onto rocks and sank. The death toll from this disaster is thought to have been 80,000 to 100,000.
However, even these (labeled the worst shipwrecks in American and world history, respectively) were not the worst shipwrecks. Sadly, the worst shipwreck has happened countless times and is sure to happen again. Paul spoke of it to Timothy, 1Timothy 1:18-19, “Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.”
There is no greater disaster than a shipwrecked faith. Many things can cause such. Jesus spoke of those who are choked by the cares and riches of this world (Matthew 13:22). Demas forsook Paul because of his love for the present world (2 Timothy 4:10).
The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Conforming to the world (Romans 12:2) and the love for the same (1 John 2:15-17) have likewise caused the way to be littered with the carcasses of once strong ships. Many are its causes.
Contrary to the “once saved, always saved” position, one can so sin as to be eternally lost. In this same context to Timothy, Paul mentioned two by name — Hymenaeus and Alexander. These two have made shipwreck of their faith. What about you? Is your ship faithfully sailing? Or, is it headed for the dangerous shore line? Perhaps it already lies mangled on the rocks and reef. Determine to set your helm toward faithfulness and avoid the worst shipwreck of all. “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). — BULLETIN DIGEST