Jerry Locke
Series of 11 Short Studies
Deserted The Work of God

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FAMOUS FAILURES - Part 6 - John Mark: Deserted the Work of God

Acts 16

What is the one thing we all have in common?

Failure. Let me remind you of three things when it comes to failure.

<1> We all fail.

<2> We all fail often. We don't fail just once or twice, here or there.

<3> We will continue to fail until we die. Death is the only thing that's going to keep us from failing.

In this study series we are looking at several Bible failures.

· How did Adam fail? He defied the command of God. God used a symbol to get his attention --- an animal slain for his sin.

· How did Moses fail? He disregarded the plan of God. God used to get his attention? A sight - the burning bush.

· How did Jonah fail? He disobeyed the Word of God. And God used a storm to get his attention.

· How did Peter fail? He denied the Son of God. God used a sound to reclaim him --- a crowing rooster.

Now, today I want us to consider a young man by the name of John Mark.

Turn to Acts 12:12 where he first appears. After Peter's miraculous release from prison look where he shows up. "And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying." The first thing we find out about John Mark is.…

1. His Family.

His mother's name was Mary (the same as my mother's). And from all indications Mary was a woman of distinction among the early Christians.

The atmosphere of a godly family. Without any doubt, the atmosphere of a godly family has two major ingredients.

Christ is real. There is a personal relationship with Christ. Hay, these people were first generation Christians. They knew first hand of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This wasn't about religion or ritual — it was a relationship!

Church is regular. What does it say here about Mary's house? It where believer's met for prayer. And if you will look back up to verse 5 you will see this was in church capacity.

"Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him." This is exactly where many families are short. They have the relationship, but there is no sense of responsibility.

The advantage of a godly family. What a heritage, what a gift, what a legacy to pass on to your children. Kids, don't ever forget this — you are blessed beyond all others when you have a Christian parent and they bring you up in a godly home and a good church!

2. His Faith.

Salvation. It is one thing to be raised in a Christian home and it is another thing altogether to be a Christian yourself! Just because your mom or dad is a Christian does not automatically make you a Christian. That same logic would mean...

* If you were born in a donut shop makes you a jelly-roll.

* If you were born in an oven makes you a biscuit.

* Born in a garage makes you a car.

I'll tell you later in this message why I believe without a shadow of a doubt that Mark had personally trusted Jesus Christ to forgive him of his sin debt and trusted Him to secure his soul against the day of death (his gospel account of Jesus).

Service. Mark's was not a dead faith, without works. His faith was alive and active. We don't serve God to be saved; we serve God because we are saved! Service does not convey salvation; service confirms salvation.

· Acts 12:25. When Barnabas and Paul left Jerusalem to take up their ministry at Antioch, they "took with them, John, whose surname was Mark."

While in Antioch the church and the Holy Spirit sent Barnabas and Saul to preach the gospel to the regions beyond, and looks who goes with them. Acts 13:5 "And they had also John to their minister." There was no special commendation of the church or the Holy Spirit on Mark's ministry. He just came along, perhaps invited by his uncle to join the missionary work, but he does not seem to have been sent by the Holy Spirit. Phillips says "minister" is a nautical term, literally meaning a rower on a ship, such as a galley slave; it refers to one serving in a subordinate capacity, somebody under orders.

John Phillips tells about a godly old man in the church who said there are two kinds of missionaries —there are the sent ones and there are the went ones.

He had hardly gotten started and then it happens, Acts 13:13. When they arrived at Perga, Mark decided he had had enough. When the going got tough, John Mark abandoned the preachers and returned home to Jerusalem.

3. His Failure.

What was Mark's failure? Mark deserted the work of God. The history of our Lord's work is littered with the stories of people who have said, "I'll go," "I'll help," "Count on me," but, who in time, end up dropping out!

Why did he quit, drop out, desert the work of God? We are not told.

* Homesick. Worried about his mother.

* Afraid.

* Had a hard time adjusting to the travel.

* Got tired of being the "go-fer."

* Lack of maturity.

What keeps people who have deserted the work of God from returning?

* Pride. Ego. Humbling ourselves.

* Priorities. What comes first?

* Price. They know the change and the cost required to follow the Lord and to get back in His work.

Jesus said, "No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God," Luke 9:62.

· Ecclesiastes 5:1-2, 4-5 "Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath n o pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay."

The next time Mark shows back up in the history of the work of God he is the focus of a major disagreement, Acts 15:36-40. Paul and Barnabas who had loved, laughed, and labored together over the years were not in agreement. And now, Mark finds himself the focus of their disagreement.

* Barnabas had a deep ccompassion, Acts 15:37.

* Paul had a deep conviction, Acts 15:38. We have given people the impression that serving God is optional — do it when you can, if you can, as you can. Paul was in a ministry to "F.A.T. men" and Mark had failed his entry exam.

F=Faithful; A=Available T=Teachable.

They agreed to disagree, Acts 15:39. Paul goes off with a new associate, Silas, and is blessed.

And Barnabas goes off with his arms around an old friend who had failed - John Mark and the story of John Mark is not over.

· Moses disregarded the plan of God...God used a sight

· Jonah fail disobeyed the Word of God..God used a storm.

· Peter denied the Son of God...God used a sound.

· John Mark deserted the work of God...God used a servant.

How do you overcome the failures we have had in the work of the Lord? God has used some servants of God who loved us, and prayed for us, and helped us, and believed in us. It says of pastors in Hebrews 13:17 that they "watch for your souls." Galatians 6:1, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one is the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, let thou also be tempted."

Mark had two men like that in his life.

* Barnabas, his uncle.

* Peter. 1 Peter 5:13 Peter calls Mark "His son." It is possible that Peter had won him to Christ. Possibly, while back in Jerusalem after his failure, one failure who had made a full recovery helped another failure recover.

No one needs to stay the way he is. By the grace of God the man who had deserted the work of God made a full recovery and a fine finish.

4. His Finish.

Follow a few Scriptures with me.

· Colossians 4:10 When Paul wrote the Colossians he urged them to received Mark.

· Philemon 24 Mark is called a "fellow worker."

· 2 Timothy 4:11 Paul requested a visit from Mark before his death saying Mark was "profitable for the ministry."

And before life's end, Mark authored what was to be the first of four gospels under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

This is why I said earlier that Mark had personally trusted Jesus Christ. His gospel account of Jesus is a testament to his love for our Lord. (All but some 20 verses in Mark's gospel are included in either Matthew or Luke.)

While there is . . . Time . . . Opportunity . . . Desire everyone who has deserted the work of God needs to return!

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