I am an avid reader. As a pastor, I spend a good deal of my time reading commentaries and books about theology, soteriology, ecclesiology, ministry, and leadership. One of the things that always intrigues me is discovering the reason or purpose of why someone wrote a certain book or article. What is the point the writer wants to make? What is the bent he is aiming at? Who is the audience he is trying to address? I am currently reading in the epistle of 1 John for my devotions and in the second chapter the words “I AM WRITING” leaped off the page at me. There, John under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells us who he is writing to and why! Check it out:
“I am writing to you who are God’s children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus. I am writing to you who are mature in the faith because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning. I am writing to you who are young in the faith because you have won your battle with the evil one. I have written to you who are God’s children because you know the Father. I have written to you who are mature in the faith because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning. I have written to you who are young in the faith because you are strong. God’s word lives in your hearts, and you have won your battle with the evil one.” – 1 John 2:12-14
Although there are four stages of our physical life (childhood; youth; adulthood; and “My, you’re looking wonderful”), John tells us there are three stages of spiritual life: little children; young men; and mature fathers.
John writes to the little children because they know that their sins are forgiven and they know God as Father. It is awesome to see in the life of a new believer, the joy they feel in knowing that their sins have been forgiven and that God loves them as a Father, unconditionally and perfectly. John writes to the young men because they are battle- tested and have become strong in the Lord. It is awesome to see young men full of zeal and passion for the Lord and His word, who are learning how to stand strong in the Lord by being young men and women of the word. John writes to the mature fathers because they know Christ. The word “know” in the Greek speaks of a deep, personal knowledge; and intimate knowledge. It speaks of the person who finally comes to realize that the Christian life is all about Jesus: believing in Jesus, learning about Jesus, falling in love with Jesus, serving Jesus, and one day seeing Jesus! Everything else in this life pales in comparison to Him
As I was pondering this passage, I came across some helpful insights from my friend and fellow pastor, Jon Courson.
Two things are characteristic of the little child: He realizes his sins are forgiven (verse 12), and he knows the Father (verse 13). While this is an excellent starting point, the child must go on to become a young man.
The young man in the faith not only knows the Father and knows his sins are forgiven, but he has overcome the wicked one (verse 13). How? By the Word of God (verse 14). In His wilderness temptation, it wasn’t the Word quoted three times by Jesus that defeated the enemy. It was His submission to it.…
The third category of spiritual life is that of fathers, or mature ones. Like little children, fathers know their sins are forgiven and understand the nature of their Father. Like young men, they overcome the wicked one by being submitted to the Word. And as a result, they have a simple, singular passion: To know Him that is from the beginning (verse 13). As you walk with Jesus, spiritual life gets simpler and simpler because the longer you walk with Him, the fewer principles there are. I used to have notebooks full of principles concerning success in ministry, theology, and family. But the more time that passes, the more I say, “Jesus, You’re my life—not ministry, not theology, not success as a family, but just You. I love being with You; I love talking with You; I just love You.”
“That’s when you know you’re reaching the state of spiritual fatherhood. And the interesting thing about fathers is that there’s reproduction. In the office, on the campus, around the neighborhood, others sense the Lord in you and are inspired to follow in your footsteps.” – Jon Courson
The apostle John’s writing here also reminds us that the Christian life is meant to be a life of progression and growth. Growing in our relationship with the Lord; growing in our knowledge of the word; growing in our understanding of spiritual warfare and how to stand strong in the fight. So whether you are just starting out in the Christian walk or you have been walking with Jesus for a long time, keep moving forward! Keep running the race and looking for ways to grow in your knowledge of who Jesus is and your understanding of who you are in Him!Christian Growth, Encouragment, Spiritual Walk