1 John 2:12-14 (NKJV)
“I write to you, little children, Because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake. 13 I write to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, Because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, Because you have known the Father. 14 I have written to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one.”
Intro: “Like a Stump!”
Last Monday morning I started my devotional by asking God to help me with a Father’s Day Message. I found tucked away in my Bible something Adrian Rogers who is now with the Lord, had written on “How To Be a Growing Christian” This was an article from the ministry Love worth finding in the Bible Study Tools, Oct. 6, 2012.
“Do you know and love the Lord Jesus Christ better today than you did last year or last week? Are you a growing Christian? If you don’t love Jesus Christ more today than you did yesterday, you’re backslidden. Some Christians are saved, but they’re not growing. Unlike that tree Psalm 1:3 talks about, planted by the rivers of water, growing, flourishing, bearing fruit-they’re like a stump. They don’t grow. You will never know the kind of victory and joy God has for you until you learn to be a growing Christian. When you think “Growing Christian", think “Maturity.” You grow on toward maturity. You can be young only once, but you can be immature for a long time. You can be 50 and still be spiritually immature.
There are three groups that are applied to this text: the children, aged fathers & young men. I don’t think John is leaving out the man without children or the woman. I believe the content is focusing on the stages of spiritual growth in a Christian’s life, and the fact that a child of God never stops growing. As long as God continues to bless you, you must mature. Part of the progression for the Christian starts with the ABC’s, you become a new creature in Christ, you crawl through the Babe in Christ stage, experience the up’s and downs of adolescence. You continue on to maturity. Application: Fathers are you growing?
1. “I write to you, little children, Because: your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake. This is a message for the whole church. There are little children, people who have just received Jesus Christ and begun to follow Him their newborn Christian and their sins have been forgiven. All believers must remember that their sins are forgiven. But young believers—you who are young children in the faith—you in particular must remember this. Because you are young in the faith, because you have just recently left the world and its pleasures and possessions, you are more likely to forget what Jesus Christ has done for you. You must focus and concentrate upon Jesus Christ, upon the glorious fact that He has forgiven your sins. You must guard against returning to the world and its enticements. Always remember: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" 1 John 1:9
2. “I write to you, fathers, Because: you have known Him who is from the beginning. There are fathers, spiritual fathers, believers who are spiritually mature with a deep and rich knowledge of God. Imagine having this kind of maturity: To these few who have walked so faithfully for so many years remember, you have known God from the very beginning of your conversion, and you have faithfully and diligently served Him. Day by day you have, fed upon the Word of God, set aside time for prayer and learned to walk in prayer all day long. You learned to fellowship and commune with God all day long, striving for an unbroken communion and fellowship with Him. You have witnessed to the saving power of Jesus Christ, been loyal to the church, its members, mission, and ministry. You committed your life to minister to the needs surrounding you and reached out beyond to the world through your prayers and gifts.
The spiritually mature who have a deep and rich knowledge of God must never forget where they have come from; never forget how they grew in Christ. They must remember how they grew and came to know the Father so well. They must remember how they gained such a deep and rich knowledge of God. Remembering and staying focused upon the Father is the only way a person can finish the Christian race faithfully and receive his reward. The spiritually mature, those with a deep and rich knowledge of God, must remember and continue to grow in the knowledge of God. “And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:15
3. “I write to you, young men, Because: you have overcome the wicked one. There are young men, mature believers in the church. These must remember how far they have come. They have come a long way: they have fought a long battle and they have now overcome the wicked one. The wicked one used to attack them right and left, at every turn. He attacked them with every temptation imaginable, but especially with the sins that were so common before their conversion. Believers who have walked faithfully with Christ over a long period of time have overcome the temptations of the wicked one. The temptations do not strike as often nor with the force that they once did. It was a difficult struggle, a fierce battle all along the way, for it is never easy to die to self, never easy to deny self completely. It is never easy to give up all one is and has to Christ and His mission. After we have committed our lives and possessions to Christ, the wicked one attacks us more fiercely than ever before. Satan does not want to lose us and our loyalty to sin; he wants to cause God as much pain as possible. Therefore right after we accept Christ, he attacks us with far greater force than ever before. But the mature believer overcomes. However, he must remember how he overcame, for Satan stays after the believer as long as he is on earth. The attacks perhaps are not as often nor as fierce as when the believer was younger, but the believer must stay strong or else he will be caught off-guard and fall into sin. The mature believer must remember how he overcame the wicked one and continue to combat him in the Word. Young men, must remember that they are strong. They must know their strength and be assured and have confidence in the strength they have gained. But mature believers must remember where their strength comes from and how they became spiritually strong: all through Jesus Christ. "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing" John 15:5
John Here gives reasons for writing:
I am writing this because -
- To the little children among you, that is, the newborn Christians – Because your sins are forgiven.
- To spiritual fathers among you, that is, the spiritually mature with a deep and rich knowledge of God - Because you have known God and have been faithful from the beginning.
- To the young men among you, that is, the mature believers - Because you have overcome the wicked one.
The second part of this letter is similar but different, now John mentions reasons why he has written:
- To little children among you, that is, the newborn Christians, Because you have known the Father.
- To spiritual fathers among you, that is, the spiritually mature with a deep and rick knowledge of god, Because you have known God and have been faithful from the beginning.
- To the young men among you, that is, the mature believers, Because you are strong, have the Word of God abiding in you, and have overcome the wicked one.
It's interesting that John changes tenses from "I am writing" to "I have written to you." I think John is driving home the point that believers must grow in Christ, they must confirm their growth in Christ, confirm their great relationship with god over and over again.
How do we know if we really know God? Do you remember your spiritual growth? Do you remember how you have grown in Christ from the beginning of your conversion? Do you remember how God has grown and matured and developed you in Christ? If you really know Christ, then you have grown in Christ; you have developed and matured stage by stage. Have you grown in Christ since you professed Christ? If you have grown, then you know God. You are a child of God. If you have not grown in Christ, you do not know God. Once a person is truly converted they grow in Christ. That is what conversion means: to convert over; to change over; to become a new person; to be born again; to exchange the old life without Christ for the new life with Christ. If a person is truly born again in Christ, they begin to live and walk in Christ. If their truly converted over to Christ, then they follow Christ, focus upon Christ and grow in Christ. A person who truly knows God follows God. They grow spiritually; they grow in the knowledge of God and of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The person who truly knows God remembers their spiritual growth. They have a spiritual growth to remember.
Conclusion: No matter what a person may think or say, there is no spiritual growth apart from God's Word. Mature believers must never forget this, and they must continue to give their lives to studying and living in the Word of God. “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” 1 Peter 2:2-3
Just like the Lay’s potato chip, once you have tasted it, you can’t have just one. Have you tasted the Lord?
Are you growing or snoring? Are you awake and alive or have you died? Live for Christ, Love for Christ. Never stop growing!
Is your picture on the wall in the post office in hell?
In : Sermon
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