This morning as I was reading in Acts 15, I was struck by verses 36-38. Paul and Barnabas, partners in ministry, had a major disagreement over taking Mark with them to visit fellow believers. For whatever reason, Mark left them in Pamphylia—actually, he deserted them. Maybe it was because of fear, or maybe it was because his own relationship with the Lord wasn’t what it should have been and he caved under the pressure of missions to Gentile pagans.
Regardless, this led to a blow up between Barnabas (the Son of Encouragement) and Paul, the pioneering winner of souls in foreign lands. Barnabas’s natural bent would be to encourage Mark and to restore him to ministry. Paul’s mindset was probably, “Look, ministry is difficult enough for us. We don’t need any dead weight hanging around who might run off again at the first sign of trouble.” As a result, Paul and Barnabas separated.
Yet, being familiar with 2 Timothy 4:11, my mind instantly went to this verse:
“…Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.”
Later in Paul’s life, he changed. He apparently saw that Mark repented, could be trusted, and was useful to Paul in his ministry.
I am so thankful that God never stops working in the lives of his children!! The believer is never beyond the ability to be changed by the grace of God. God transformed both Mark and Paul, and he is transforming each of us, as well through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Dr. John Piper recently stated, “one of the greatest sorrows of my life and one of the reasons I love the gospel of Jesus so much is because I grew up as a full-blooded racist… It was a cesspool of sin, and I was swimming in it. So I love the gospel because it cleanses me from sin; it forgives my guilt; it imputes to me a righteousness that is not my own; it gives me the Holy Spirit that begins to put to death the old racist nature and open up a whole new possibility of life and hope and joy and justice.” (Bloodlines DVD, 2011, available at http://www.desiringgod.org).
The Holy Spirit is the power and hope for change in the life of every Christian. He is God, and He indwells the life of every true born-again believer in Jesus. Though His work may appear to stop, He never stops. “He is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it” (Ephesians 1:14).
Though His work may seem slow, it is steady, unrelenting, and certain. Jesus Christ through the power of His Holy Spirit will win the battle in your life.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
Praise Him for that today.