John - His Good Reasons for Writing

Bible Book: 1 John  2 : 12-14
Subject: Growth; Progress; Christian Living; Maturity in Christ

1 John 2:12-14

As we continue in our study of I John, we'll look at chapter 2, verses 12, 13 and 14. As we examine  the scripture together, we'll see that there are good reasons why God chose to use the vessel of a man named John to write. He didn't only write the new Christians and the early Christians; he was used by the hand of the Spirit of the Living God to write to you and me. I hope you don't consider what we're studying to be a sort of archaic historical expression, but I hope that you'll understand that this is exactly the kind of love letter that some of us, if not all of us, need to hear at this time in our lives.

Note with me I John 2, verses 12-14: I write to you (said John), dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. 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 evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

Picture someone planting seeds, as that's how it all begins agriculturally. It begins with seeds. Plants never come until there are first seeds. Then when the seeds are watered they begin to take root    and then they begin to take a shoot that bursts through the solid soil and begins to look like what you are hoping it will produce. Then it continues to grow and as it grows you see that the roots grow deeper into the ground and you begin to see more leaves as evidence of growth. Finally, ultimately, you get what you had hoped for from the beginning and that is a full-blown plant. This is the agricultural cycle of growth.

Now let's picture how it is with us biologically. There's a family with a father, a newborn baby being cuddled by its mother, there are young children and also those who are growing older and that's an expression of the Warren Baptist Church family as well. Every one of us came from a family we were born into and became a part of. Whether or not you live with them any longer is not the case to study. All of us have not only an agricultural model to look at in our world, but also a biological model.

But John has every good reason to write to us today because we also are a spiritual model and in very similar ways what he's trying to point out is that some of us are still young, still children, still babies. Some of us are still undeveloped. Some of us are stumbling in our development and others of us are fully functioning and mature Christians. These are good reasons for him to write.

I. Because He Is Grateful (v. 12)

The first reason for John to write is because he is grateful. God is grateful when He looks upon a church family like ours and he sees that some of us, most of us I pray, have come into the family of God. Just like you were born into your own family, God invites you to be born into His family. The question is this: Have you truly come to be born a second time? Every one of us has experienced the first birth, but not every one of us has experienced the second birth. Jesus said, "You must be born again." This phrase became very popular during Jimmy Carter's presidency and it still remains popular because it didn't come from his mouth, it came from the mouth of our Savior and we must be born again. He's writing to them because he's grateful.

A. For The 'Born Ones' (Dear Children)

I wonder, have you been born into the family of God? You see he's grateful for the born ones. This is the word that we had that said "dear children", "I write to you dear children." If you look at it in the original language you would understand that he's saying, "I write to you who are a part of the family of God." No wonder he's grateful. I'm grateful too to be a part of God's family.

B. For The Forgiveness Of Sins

But you know what expresses the true characteristic of being a part of the born ones? It is because of forgiveness of our sins. You say, "Well wait a minute now, I don't think that God really truly can forgive my sins. How could He possibly do that? He doesn't understand the depth and the level that I have gone to." Oh yes He does, and He knows where you are today. Some of you who are a part of God's family, a part of the born ones, you perhaps have mistakenly thought that you've gone too far and God can't forgive you and draw you back to Himself; but He can and He wants to. How does it feel to be forgiven? Well I know what it feels like for me. It feels like there's cleansing, there's purity and there's power in my life. For some of us, we've been a long way from that kind of lifestyle for a long time and we need again the reassurance that God gives us His forgiveness.

If you could look at it with me in the original language, you would understand that this is the first of six different expressions in these three verses using what is known as the perfect tense in the Greek. I only mention that to simply say that what he's talking about is the forgiveness of our sin that we were born in when we received Christ as our Savior and the continual action of that forgiveness. That's what the perfect tense does. It gives to us the understanding that it happened back then, but it continues to happen for those of us who continue to come to Him for forgiveness.

Are you a part of the family of God? Here's how it happens. If you have truly come to understand that you were born in sin, you know that you're in a problem and that in that problem you need a solution. And the only solution is a Savior. You can't be that savior, your friends can't be that savior, this church cannot be your savior, the baptistery cannot be your savior, only Christ can be your Savior and only  He can offer forgiveness for sin.

When Christ healed those who were paralytic, who were blind, whose hands were withered, and when He leaned over to touch them to bring them physical healing, He also brought them forgiveness of sin. Why did He say that? Because only He has the power to do it and He offers it to us again today.

In fact, let me just tell you what Peter preached as outlined in Acts 4:12. He simply said, "There is no other name under heaven given to me by which we must be saved." Friend, you can't be saved by being just a member of a church. You cannot be saved by just being baptized. You cannot be saved by just simply saying that you are a Christian. There is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved except the name of Jesus. How wonderful and forgiving He is to every one of us who desperately need the forgiveness that only Christ can offer.

C. For The Power Of His Name

How does forgiveness come? It comes by the power that's in His name... in HIS Name alone. John was grateful for the power of His Name. Do you understand that power? Do you understand how it comes about? It is not simply by tagging it on at the end of your prayer and saying, "In Jesus Name, Amen." That doesn't mean that you truly are a believer and a part of the born one family. It does mean, if you are a part of the family, you are acknowledging the power of His Name. Do you know that someday every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, but today that hasn't happened and not every one of us are guaranteed believers, nor are we guaranteed to be a part of the born one family? The only way that can happen is when we truly trust Him with all of our hearts and with all of our lives.

Now John wrote in the gospel of John 20:31, "But these things have been written to you that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God and that by believing you may have (listen to this) life in His name." Life in His Name! Some of us feel so dead and so desperate and so despondent and so depressed and we need life. God offers you that life today and He opens that life for any who will but come to Him and I am so grateful that He has chosen to come and to invade our lives so that we can know the truth and respond to it.

II. Because Some Are Grown (vv. 13a, 14a)

There is a second good reason for John to write to us today and it is because some of us are grown and that's good news! God wants us to grow in Him and some of us are grown. In fact the unusual writing in this particular scripture found in the first portion of verse 13 and 14 is repeated and it addresses those who are known as "the fathers." Some of you ladies are disconnected with that and  I want you to understand that this is a spiritual term; it's not a generic term or a term that simply speaks to who you are as far as your gender. You can be a father even if you're not married. You can be a father even if you're not a man.

A. As Mature In Knowledge
(Knowledge from Greek Ginoska, Known By Experience)

A father, according to this description, is someone who is mature, someone who has come to know Christ and to know Him by experience. The New Testament word there is used throughout the New Testament to provide for us the understanding that it's not just a mental understanding of who God is, it is truly to know Him by experience.

I want to reveal a secret to you that I've never told the congregation before, except for the two this morning. That is simply that some day I'm going to fulfill what I know a lot about... skydiving! Now, I've read about it, I've got friends who skydive, I've got people who have tried desperately to get me up on the airplane to jump out there with them! I even have my sons who tell me that before I turn 50 I'm going to jump out of an airplane! Now you better believe I'm going to know everything that I can possibly know and I'm going to go to the very best place for training if and when I fulfill that commitment. You see, just because I know a lot about it doesn't mean I've done it. Some of you have done it and you'll come to me after the service today and you'll say, "Hey, it's the best thing that ever happened;" or you'll come to me and say, "Don't do it, it's the worst thing that you could ever do."

But you know what? The same thing is true of marriage. Who would I go to if I had marriage problems? Would I go to someone who has never been married before and who had never been through the pitfalls and the ups and downs and the upside down, inside out experiences of marriage? No! I would go to someone who doesn't just know a lot about marriage, but who knows it by experience.

The same is true of us as Christians. You cannot be a grown Christian until you first come to know Jesus by experience. Have you come to that point in your life? That's what John is writing about and that is whom he is writing about as he expresses it.

One of our faith fathers from years ago, Augustine of Hippo, wrote these words. It was a prayer and he said, "Lord, teach me to know Thee, and to know myself." You see the more I know about God, the more I know about me. And the more I know about God, the more I want to become like Him. And the more I know that I'm not like Him, the more I know that I need to grow to be more like Him. That was Augustine's prayer; is it your prayer today?

Most of us reverse that and say help me to know myself, and then maybe I'll get a little bit more knowledge about whom you are. But the correct order is the way that he led in this prayer.

B. As Leaders Following The Leader

('From The Beginning')

I know too that a maturing, mature Christian is someone who knows how to follow the Leader. We need to be as leaders following the Leader. Are you that kind of individual? Would God look into your life and say, "Hey you're a person who's truly following the Leader." I loved to play that game when I was a kid. I really did, except for when I got called out of bounds, when I didn't do what the leader did, or I didn't follow the way that the leader was leading. I would be called out, disqualified, set down and told, "You're out of the game, you can't play any longer!"

A leader following the Leader is someone who is humbled before the cross of Jesus Christ. I find that I do my best following when I'm on my knees and not when I'm running as fast as I can go to try to get as much done as possible so that I might honor God. The best way I can honor God is by following the Leader and sometimes that's by crawling toward Him, listening to Him and wanting to do everything that He's called me and given me the gifts to do.

Are you willing to follow the Leader like that? Some of you knew Him, know Him by experience, but you're not following Him any longer. You feel like you're disqualified, but here's the good news: Jesus is coming to you to pick you up out of the penalty box and bring you back in line with Him. But the devil tells you that you're disqualified, you're no longer able to do it. "God doesn't love you anymore," he says. That's not true, He loves you with an ultimate, obvious love and He's asking you to follow after Him in every single way. John wrote because some of them were already grown up.

III. Because Some Are Growing (vv. 13b; 14b)

But the third good reason for his writing is because some of them were growing and I think that's where most of us are. The scripture simply writes it this way and calls them "those young men." He writes, "I write to you young men because you have overcome the evil one," and then he picks up on that same theme at the second half of verse 14, "I wrote to you young men because you are strong and the word of God lives in you."

A. As Devil Defeaters

( 'Overcome' / 'Strong' )

My friends, some of us are growing today because we're growing as devil defeaters. What do I mean by that? Well the Bible language for the word evil one is the word ‘poneron’. It is the word that specifically and definitely speaks to Satan. It's not just generic evil, it's not just doing bad things or thinking bad thoughts; it's talking about the kind of battle that you and I are in constantly.

Some of you think that the worse battle that you've ever had was in the car on the way to church. It wasn't! Some of you think the worse battle is the mental and emotional battle that you're going through as you prepare to start school in the next week or two. It's not! Some of you think the worse battle you've ever been through is a divorce or a separation or a hurt that you've experienced because someone told a lie about you and ruined your reputation or at least bruised it. It's not! The worse battle that you go through as a Christian seeking to grow is the battle that you go against with the  devil himself day by day by day.

Now, lest you become overwhelmed by this let me just remind you that God provides for us a way up and out. Even though you may feel like a victim, God says you can be a victor even though you feel like you are overwhelmed, He says, "I will help you to be an overcomer and to be strong in me." You can grow; you can win. Once again it's the perfect tense. It's the perfect opportunity to say that we are continuing to overcome; we are continuing to be strong.

B. With The Word As A Weapon


How do you get that way? Well the simple truth is that we've got to get a grip on God's Word. The truth that I've displayed for you today is this: When we get a grip on God's Word, God's Word gets a grip on us! The problem is that a lot of us have let go. We think we've learned enough in Sunday School,  Bible Study and in Life classes. We think we've listened to enough sermons and enough tapes and we're sort of going to coast right now. But the Lord is pulling some of us back dynamically and dramatically and saying it's a daily feeding. God wants you to get a grip and He first grips us through His Word.

The Word is a weapon and he's complimenting those who are growing because they are growing strong; and the scripture reminds us here that they are in the Word of God and that the Word of God lives inside of them.

The New Testament word for word is logos. It's the same word that's used in John 1:1: "In the beginning was the logos (the word), and the logos (the word) was with God and the logos (the word) was God." Do you know what this means? Jesus... Jesus was with God from the beginning and Jesus is with Him now and Jesus is with us now if we've become a part of the born one family. We can rejoice in that because it's our greatest weapon.

I remind you of what Paul wrote the Ephesian church. It gives us the dramatic display of the sword and it said that we're to "Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." It's the only offensive weapon that we are equipped with because we are in a battle and we need to fight. We don't just need to be protected from the devil's darts, we need also to willingly take up the sword and do our own damage. I remind everyone who might be a little bit fear filled right now that, "Greater is He who is within you (that is Jesus and the Spirit of the Living God) than he who is within this world (and that is simply the devil and his destructive ways)." You have more power than you are wielding, and it comes from the logos, it comes from God's word and it comes from Jesus who offers it to you right now. It's a good reason for us to read what has been written.

IV. Because Some Are Groping (v. 13c)

There's a fourth and final reason for his writing. He writes because some are groping. You know  what it means to grope don't you? It means that you're crawling around, you're seeking to find what you think is the best thing. Now you might call me to task here and say, "Preacher wait a minute now, according to the scripture it's the same two words that were used in verse 12, dear children" and here it is again in verse 13. First you said it meant born ones and now you're telling us here that we are groping as immature ones.

A. As Immature Ones

Let me give you a picture of what this literally means. It's a picture of a baby who's trying his or her best to get on with life, hoping someday, through groping that they will mature in some way. The truth of the matter is that even though it's expressed in English by these same two words, dear children, in the original text it is two distinctively different words and this time it means immature ones and it's speaking to us about some who are still in the baby stage. Now you may have been a Christian for 30, 40, 50 years, but your picture, as God would see it is as that of a crawling baby. You've not grown like you need to. You are still in the stage where you're receiving the milk of God's Word instead of the meat of His Word.

Now I don't say that to condemn you, I simply say that it's a truth in every church. Some of us need to grow up and quit groping. In a recent flight coming back from Boston to the Atlanta airport, I had my briefcase in hand; my wife Clare was seated next to me and a middle-aged woman was on her right. We had three seats in the middle portion of the airplane. I had all this work that I was ready to do and Clare had just bought a brand new book in the store at the airport and she was ready to dig into it and there we were settled with this woman who seemingly was going to be very quiet and very easy, as far as a passenger goes. But suddenly the flight attendant came up and said, "Mam, I believe that you're in the wrong seat," and she moved that nice quiet middle-aged woman up to the front seat where she belonged, and then came Benjamin, who was two months old, seated on his mother's lap. Clare and I, after 27 years don't have to say it, all we have to do is look at each other...and I thought, "Oh boy, three hours and I thought I was going to get some studying done and I'm going to have a crying baby!" Now don't think I was insensitive at all, because the first thing that came out of this woman's mouth was, "Oh I hope you're not like the last passenger. He said to me in his nice new black suit, 'If that baby throws up on me, woman you're in trouble!'" So Clare and I decided to  use this as an opportunity to make friends and we did, and within two minutes little Benjamin was in my wife's lap and he was jumping, and cooing and we were having a great time. I'm telling you it was one of the best airplane trips we'd ever had. We had an opportunity to see this little tiny baby, but you know he couldn't hold his head still. Even though he could push with these giant thighs against our thighs, he still was a baby groping and totally dependent upon his mother to meet his needs.

What a picture that is for some of us. We whine, we cry, we want what we want, and we want it now. And all the while God says, "Wait a minute, you're supposed to be growing, you're supposed to be grown, but you're still immature." Paul said these words to the Corinthian Church, "When I became a man I put childish things behind me." When you become mature in Christ, you understand that there are some things you must leave behind, and you must learn to grow in Him.

B. As Children Under Authority

You know what I think the real problem is? It's a problem with authority. Some of us have remained groping children, hoping to grow someday, because we have a problem with authority. You see, as children under authority, John was writing to these who were groping in the faith as little, dear children and the was telling them, "Come under authority and you'll grow quickly." But we don't like authority. I don't know anybody I've ever talked to who said, "I just really enjoyed getting that speeding ticket. That was terrific. I couldn't believe that that officer cared so much about me to pull me over off   of I-26 and say to me, 'Oh yes, you're going ten miles per hour over the speed limit; it'll only be $85.'" "Thank you, sir, I needed that. I'm under your authority." Nobody's ever said that to me. None of us like it no matter how young or how old we are.

Maybe you don't like the authority that you're under with your parents, maybe it's your teachers to be authority that you will rebel against, maybe it is your children who see in older siblings’ authority and they rebel against it. I don't know where it is but I do know where it belongs. It belongs in the hands of God and only when we make a godly choice to come under His authority are we ever going to grow as Christians.

George Eliot said it this way: "The strongest principle of growth lies in the human choice." You have a choice as to whether or not you'll stay where you are or whether you'll grow in Christ; and God offers you the opportunity to make a choice. I have three questions for you. I wonder if when God looks at you and your life, is He grateful for you? As John wrote to the church and he said, "I am grateful for those of you who are grown in the Lord as dear children," is God grateful for you. Are you a part of the Born One family? Have you been struggling? Have you been thinking that there's no way God will accept me. Well today forgiveness of sin is for you. You can come today and we can share with you how to become more in the family of God.

Here's another question that may be a little frightening as you approach school and as report cards come in just a matter of weeks. The question is simple: How would your growth be graded as a Christian? Would you be A, B, C, D or would you be honest enough to say, "Hey I failed, I'm still a baby, I need to grow, I need someone to help me grow." Well here's good news! This church family is here for you and God is here for you not only to offer forgiveness, but to offer the opportunity to keep on being a growing Christian. I guess the most important question is, "What will you choose today?" It's not, "If you do," and it's not, "What would you do if the circumstances were different" but it's, "What will you do and what choice will you make today?" Would you pray with me about those choices right now?