Acts 15

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“Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work” (Acts 15:37-38 NLT).

June 24, 2018

Paul wanted to travel to check on the new believers that had come to faith on their first missionary journey. Barnabas agreed. However, they disagreed on taking John Mark with them again. Apparently, Paul considered the young man unreliable after he had “deserted them” and went home early on their last trip. But Barnabas, being the encourager that he was, wanted to give John Mark a second chance. Just as Barnabas had seen the potential in Paul, he saw it in John Mark. This led to a sharp disagreement, so they ended up splitting up the power team. Barnabas began to travel with John Mark. And Paul took on Silas as his new missionary companion.

Even committed believers can have disagreements. In this case, it led to two missionary teams going out. Over time, apparently the disagreement was forgiven and forgotten. For Paul wrote in at least two places concerning John Mark. In his letter to the church at Colossae, he wrote, “Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you his greetings, and so does Mark, Barnabas’s cousin. As you were instructed before, make Mark welcome if he comes your way” (Col. 4:10). When others had deserted Paul while he was in prison, John Mark had remained faithful to him.

And in Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he wrote, “Bring Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me in my ministry” (2 Tim. 4:11). Paul’s impression of John Mark had certainly changed.

Traditionally, John Mark or simply “Mark,” is considered the author of the gospel according to Mark. I’m glad Barnabas kept on believing in John Mark, and Paul too, for that matter!

“We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 15:11 NLT).

June 23, 2018

After certain Judaizers came to Antioch, teaching that circumcision was required for salvation, Paul and Barnabas were sent to bring the question to the apostles at Jerusalem. After much deliberation, Peter stood and reminded everyone that he had been the first one chosen to carry the gospel to the Gentiles. He reminded them how the Spirit had been given to them when they heard the gospel and believed in Jesus. He questioned why the yoke of the law should be added to salvation when even the Jews couldn’t keep it and in fact, weren’t saved by the law, but by the “undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”

The means of salvation is grace, which is God’s unmerited favor revealed to us in Christ Jesus. As the apostle Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

There is not a Jewish “way” or a Gentile “way” of salvation. We are all saved by the “same way,” which is by the grace of Jesus!