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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“I write to you little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. 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. 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.”—1 John 2:12-14 (NKJV)
When reading through the Book of 1 John, it’s important to hold the author’s original audience in our minds. Most scholars agree that John was specifically writing to the church in Ephesus when he penned this letter. But the exact church really isn’t what matters most. The far more important fact is that he was writing to an actual church.
Why is it so important for us to remember this detail? Because what he wrote has particular significance and application to the life of any local church body today. Allow me to explain why . . .
For starters, we need to notice that John identifies three different types of believers in the passage above: little children, fathers, and young men. Not only that, but he also assigns something distinct to each specific type of Christian.
Little children are noted for knowing their sins are forgiven. Within a church body, there are those who are young in their faith. They haven’t walked with God for very long yet, nor have they had the opportunity to plumb all the doctrinal depths of their faith. But they do know this—their sins are forgiven! This brings a much-needed “new blood” to the body of Christ. Their youthful zeal for the gospel is a contagious blessing that refreshes the church as it circulates through the body of Christ.
Fathers are mentioned as those who “have known Him.” In other words, they’re the more seasoned saints who have a lifetime of experience with God and are marked by His wisdom. They don’t bring new blood to the church, but they provide the structure of faith. They aren’t swayed or moved by false winds of doctrine or cultural currents. They’re the pillars who lead the younger believers by example, the power lifters of disciple making. Fathers are the bones that keep things straight and stable for the church body.
Young men are cited as having “overcome the wicked one.” This group is in between the other two. They’re prepared and ready to engage the enemy on the battlefield of faith. In the church, they’re the muscle that enables the body to be active, effective, and advancing for the sake of the gospel.
Blood, bones, and muscle . . . all are just as necessary in the church body as in our physical bodies. May we recognize, embrace, and celebrate God’s wisdom in blessing His Church with the strengths of each type of Christian. May we encourage one another and build one another up in love and service to thrive in whatever stage we’re in. And may we recognize the amazing, lifelong journey that is the Christian life.
DIG: What are the three types of believers John identifies?
DISCOVER: What makes them distinct in the church body? Which group do you fall into?
DO: Pray for your home church. Pray the Lord strengthens people in their various stages of their walk with Him. Pray for unity, a spirit of collaboration, and a desire to consistently build one another up.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.