It’s hard sometimes, really hard. Just don’t leave.
MAY 19, 2022
It’s hard sometimes, really hard. Just don’t leave. Let’s talk, on Key Life.
That was Steve Brown and this is Key Life. We’re dedicated to the teaching that the only people who get any better are those who know that if they don’t get any better, God will still love them, anyway, Steve is an author, seminary professor and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. If you’re just joining us, we’re continuing with our study in the book of Acts. And we had put the brakes on at the 13th verse of the 13th chapter of Acts. Now we’ve seen Christians with brass, oh my, in the first part of that 13th chapter of Acts. But now we hit just a verse that doesn’t seem to say very much, but it’s an interesting verse, it’s that 13th verse.
Now Paul and his company set out from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem.
Now we have spent a good deal of time catching you up on the backstory, that there was a fight in the early church about John Mark. His uncle said, give him a second chance. We worship a God of second and third and fourth chances, and Paul said, no way. God forgives him, but I’m not. And he’s not going with us on another missionary journey. We’ve seen that. And before we finished this teaching next week on John Mark, we’re going to see the rest of the story, which is so good. You know, I want to tell you now, but I’m going to hold off the good ending to this story, because I want you to see the dirt in between the beginning and the end, because that’s always true in a fallen world. At any rate, the question that we are looking at is this, why did John Mark leave? I mean, he had everything, he was gifted, he was an early leader in the church, his mother had money, the church met in her house. I mean, he knew Peter and James and John and the other apostles. I mean, you can’t have a better heritage than that, but he left. And we’ve seen that he left because he didn’t like the leadership. Now the Bible doesn’t teach this specifically, but there’s enough there to Biblically draw from the text what happened. Started out with Barnabas as the leader and those who followed, then it became Barnabas and Paul, then it became Paul and Barnabas, and then it became just Paul. And given that Barnabas was John Mark’s uncle, I suspect that he didn’t like the change of leadership and decided, I’m out of here. So, not liking a leader is not a reason to leave, so don’t leave. Ask if they’re anointed, now I’m not suggesting that you be a milk toast. I don’t like Christians who don’t express what they feel, their disagreements, their problems with a leadership, but if it’s God’s leadership, you say, now that I’ve said it, I’m going to follow you. And you follow God’s anointed leader. And then we saw yesterday that John Mark maybe left because the message was a bit too strong. And we’re going to get to that later when we finished talking about John Mark, but this doesn’t sound like somebody who’s nice.
Beware, therefore, lest there come upon you what is said of the prophets: “Behold, you scoffers, and wonder and perish; for I do a deed in your days, a deed that you will never believe if one declares it to you.
And then in the 10th verse, he says.
“You son of the devil, you enemy of righteousness.”
And we have seen that sometimes the truth can be really offensive. When I was a pastor, I was not a topical preacher. And I’m not now. And, you know, we go through books of the Bible on Key Life, line upon line and precept upon precept. Why do I do it that way? Cause I’ve got a lot of opinions on a lot of subjects and frankly, I would like to share those opinions on those subjects. And I would try my best to be Biblical doing that, but I don’t do that. You know why? Because I’m a sinner. And because I know me, I mean, I like the verses that talk about peace and joy and laughter and excitement and meaning and stuff. And some of the texts don’t do that. And if I’m going through a book of the Bible and teaching you, or if I’m a pastor going through the book of the Bible, you guys know what comes next. And you will know if I skip it. And so, I teach the hard texts and I teach the soft texts. And I apply both of them to myself, because I’m a sinner and I have a tendency to avoid the hard and accept the good. So, John Mark knew that too. I think, he knew about forgiveness, about God’s love being unconditional, about heaven, about what Jesus had done for him, but then Paul starts preaching this hell, fire, damnation kind of stuff. And I think John Mark says, I’m out of here, man. This is, all he’s doing is offensive. And he’s going to get both of us killed and I’m leaving. Truth sometimes is offensive. And you’ve got to look at the whole counsel of God. But that brings me to a second reason, I think that John Mark left. I think that John Mark realized this is a lot harder than I thought it was gonna be. This persecution is way too strong and more than I signed on for. And, obedience is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. And Luke 14:25-30 Jesus teaches that we must count the cost. And I don’t think John Mark did. You know what happened? I think they were on this missionary journey and it was exciting at first, to see what God was doing and the early church, but one night when he was in his sleeping bag, he got to thinking about home. And his mother’s cherry pie with ice cream. And he said, what am I doing in his sleeping bag out in this wilderness, fearful for my life. I’m out of here, man. I’m going home to cherry pie and mommy. And I think he left. Now, listen to me, the Christian walk and you know I teach a radical grace. If you don’t do it, if you mess it up, if you’d rather have cherry pie, Jesus will still love you. And there’s a principle that you all to know that it’s a part of that, the only people who get better and I’ve taught you this before, are people who know if they don’t get better, that Jesus will love them anyway. And so, I’m not saying John Mark lost his salvation. You can’t do that. But I think he was thinking, you know, this is dangerous, this is scary. And these pagans are really angry. I’m going home. It was a lack of courage. It was cowardice. And I, and I get that. I understand that. Admiral Drake said something that was really good he said.
My flesh trembles at the many dangers into which my resolute heart is going to lead me.
You know, we need to be honest with new Christians. We need to tell them that no matter where they go, what they do, who they hurt, the sin they commit, that Jesus will still love them. That’s the message, the message of forgiveness, that is essential to the gospel. But we have to say to them, this walk that you’ve decided to walk is going to hurt sometimes. That great theologian, Mary Tyler Moore, one time said.
If it doesn’t hurt some, you’re doing it wrong.
And that’s true. The Christian faith is a place where some people are not going to like you. Where you’d rather do anything, but stand for the truth, but you’d do it anyway. And you pay a price. It’s the place where you let the world know who you belong to and if they can’t deal with it and become angry, then so be it. That’s what the Christian faith is and we need to let new Christians know that. God has promised you, jesus has promised you three things, promised that he’ll always love you no matter what, he’ll never leave you no matter what and thirdly, you’re going to get into a lot of trouble no matter what. And I think John Mark recognized that, I think he didn’t expect all of that. He thought, you know, this is more than I signed on for. I sometimes feel that way too. Don’t you? You know, it’d be a lot easier to be a pagan and just be quiet and let the devil take the high most. Sometimes I say to Jesus, hey Lord, I wouldn’t do this for anybody but you. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. Wow. Is it Thursday already? That was fast. Remember if he missed any episodes this week, you can listen to those anytime you want, for free at keylife.org. And tomorrow it’s time again for Friday Q&A. One question on tap for tomorrow, does Satan know what’s going to happen to him? Now that is an interesting question. Be sure to tune in and hear Steve and Pete answer it. Hey, speaking of questions, there are some that come from just a, I don’t know, kind of a general curiosity, I guess, but other questions come from some more deeper, right? Questions like, does God exist? Am I really forgiven and free? Well, Steve is no stranger to doubts and questions, in fact, he wrote about those things in a mini-book called Faith and Doubt: When Belief is Hard. In it, he explores the reasons behind our doubts and explains how we can actually rest in faith. May we send you this mini-book for free? If so, let us know at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for the mini-book. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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