There are three key ingredients to John Marks restoration. 3 reasons why he did no give up the faith. 3 things that contributed to his faith surviving failure.
When John Mark failed, people did not give up on him. They rallied around him in different ways. I believe that this is a key to his recovery.
In my first year at university – I failed. I got into a cycle of moral and spiritual decline. There were a number of people who helped me out of that situation. They were key in my recovery.
The first guy in John Marks life is Barnabas who had a name that summed up his character, ‘one who encourages’. He was the one who looked after the newly converted Paul and brought him into the fold. He ensured that gentiles were brought into the faith. And here we see him take the failed John Mark back onto the mission field. Barnabas must have been a massive encouragement to John Mark.
Isn’t it great to have people like that in the church?
Mind you, I also believe that Paul was instrumental in John Marks restoration. Could it be that if Paul had accepted him back on the team too soon he could have got conceited?
Maybe he needed this further rebuke to see true situation and its seriousness. We just don’t know. But a stern rebuke can be a great way of restoring someone. It’s great to have people in the church who can give the right word at the right time – and that can sometimes be a hard word.
It seems to me that we need both when failure comes. We need the encouragement and the rebuke.
John Mark had both – and they were both instrumental in ensuring that his failure did not destroy his faith.
John Mark had a part to play in ensuring that he did not lose his faith. It is key to understand that we are responsible for our faith. The Bible is clear that we must persevere:
We have a role to play to persevere in our faith.
We are to flex our spiritual muscles, grow in our spiritual manhood, increase in maturity and stature.
John Mark did not give up. We have no idea what he went through in his mind and soul as he returned from the mission field early. We really don’t know what it would have been like to see Paul and Barnabas argue over him and then split.
Yet he came through – he persevered.
But ultimately there must be a better answer. Was it just the good will of others and the self will of him self that ensured his faith survived his failure?
I believe that there is a third key to his restoration – a key that underlines the other two.
John Mark was preserved. The reason people didn’t give up on him was because he was preserved, and the reason he did not give up and persevered was because he was preserved.
Look at these two passages;
Philippians 2:12 is followed by verse 13:
–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
And Hebrews 12:1 is followed by verses 2 and 3:
121Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Although we are to persevere, we can only persevere because God preserves us. You see, it is not so much ‘perseverance of the saints’, as ‘Preservation of the saints’.
In enabling our faith to survive failure, we must grasp a key word: Grace. It is all about grace. Grace is the key.
We are saved by grace and we are kept by grace. Grace is the reason we survive failure.
Its all about the cross. On the cross Jesus was able to say ‘It is finished.’ His sacrificial death on the cross was enough to save us, past, present and future.
As Richard Sibbs says in the Bruised Reed,
‘There is more mercy in Christ than sin in me.’
How beautiful is that?
When Jesus took our place on the cross and we saw that and trusted in it – we were clothed in his righteousness – that is what keeps us.
John Mark was kept by grace.
I made it through the 1st year by grace.
I am here today by grace.
You are here today by grace.
We will persevere by Grace – God’s preservative grace.