[1 John 2:12-14]
I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been 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 evil one.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is the eighth session of the 1 John Lecture series.
Those who have accepted Jesus Christ, who is the true light, will gain a new life.
When a person is born he cannot immediately become a fully matured adult.
The baby has to grow up to become a young man and later a grown adult.
It’s the same in spirit.
From the time when a person receives the Holy Spirit and gains a new life until he grows up to reach the full measure of Christ, there has to be the process of growth.
So, in today’s passage, the believers are called in various ways.
According to the measure of faith, they are called little children, children, young men, and fathers.
1 John 2:12 says, “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake.”
Little children are those who are at the first level of faith, namely, the faith to receive salvation.
John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,”
When those who used to live in darkness, being the slaves of the devil, accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, they become God’s children.
As God’s children they receive the forgiveness of sins through the name of Jesus Christ and they also receive the Holy Spirit.
As the reading passage says, “…because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake,” we can be forgiven of our sins only by the name of Jesus Christ.
Some worldly people say Christianity is an exclusively closed religion.
They argue that there are so many other religions, and why is it that there is salvation only in Christianity.
But it is not because Christians are exclusive.
It’s because there is only Jesus who is qualified to become the Savior according to the rules of the spiritual realm.
The Savior is the one who can save mankind who were destined to fall into Hell since the time of the fall of Adam.
Those who have listened to the sermon series ‘Message of the Cross’ understand the conditions to become the Savior.
Let us review it briefly. First, the Savior has to be a human being.
Human beings can be redeemed of their sins only by a man, not by animals or by angels.
Second, the Savior must not be a descendant of Adam.
It’s because all Adam’s descendants are all born with the original sin inherited as sons of a sinner.
One cannot redeem others from their sins while he himself is a sinner who is born with the original sin.
Third, the Savior must have the power.
In spiritual realm, the power comes from sinlessness.
A person can break the authority of death and save sinners, who are bound by the enemy devil and Satan, only when that person has no sin.
It’s the same as being able to rescue your prisoners of war from the enemy only when you have the power.
Therefore, a person can become the Savior only when he has no original sin and no self-committed sins.
Fourth, the Savior must have love.
In order to save the sinners, the Savior has to receive the punishments that the sinners would have to receive.
Namely, he has to pay the price of ‘death’ by being hung on the wooden cross, shedding all his blood that is same as life itself, and dying.
To take this kind of punishment, one has to have such great love.
[Please refer to the sermon ‘Message of the Cross’ for more details on these four conditions.]
There are many great men in this world who are respected by so many, but no one but Jesus has fulfilled all the conditions to become the Savior.
All men are descendants of Adam and therefore they are all sinners who have original sin and self-committed sins. They cannot even solve the problems of their own sin.
Only Jesus Christ alone was born as a man, yet had no original sin because He was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
He did not commit any personal sins and lived completely by the word of God.
He had such great love that He took all the sufferings of the cross and died after shedding all His water and blood.
With His love He received the punishment of death, but because He was sinless, He broke the authority of death and resurrected.
Acts 4:12 says, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
Those who believe in the name of Jesus Christ and have received the Holy Spirit are called ‘little children’ in a spiritual sense.
Those who have the faith of little children have received the Holy Spirit and have the faith to be saved, but they do not know the word of God well.
So, they don’t really try to live by the truth nor do they have the power to live by the word.
They say they believe in God, but they still have much love for the world.
Even though they seem to be very fervent in their faith, they may easily get discouraged and stumble by tests.
After receiving salvation and becoming the children of God, no one should remain like a new born baby in faith.
He has to take in the word of God and increase his faith just like the babies that are nourished and growing day by day.
The next level of little children is the level of ‘children’.
1 John 2:14 says, “I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.”
[In the reading passage, ‘fathers’ are mentioned first, but I will explain according to the level of spirit.]
When babies are born and after the weaning period, they become children.
They begin to walk, and their senses undergo development.
But they are not independent. They just begin to learn the things about this world.
They recognize their parents, but they do not know about their hometowns, education level, hobbies, or their heart.
Spiritually, children are the ones who are beginners in faith, comparatively they are around the second level of faith.
As little children grow up, they are able to recognize their mother and father. Likewise, in the case of children of faith, they come to know about God the Creator, who is our Father.
They know how Jesus saved us, and how those children who have been saved should live. Namely they know that they have to cast away sins and live in the word of God.
In other words, they know the basics of faith.
So, knowing the basics, they try to obey the word of God, but they cannot practice all of it completely.
Sometimes they obey the truth while at other times they don’t.
When you preach the gospel to others, some unbelievers say they know God.
They say they once went to church, they read the Bible many times, or they know about God.
It is a lie for unbelievers who have not accepted the Lord to say that they know God.
If they truly know God, they know that God is our Father who has created heavens and the earth.
They also know that there is Heaven and Hell, and that God sent His one and only Son to save the souls who were destined to fall into Hell.
If they know these facts and really know God, how can they not accept Jesus Christ-
John 8:19 says, “Jesus answered, “You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also.”
As said, to know God the Father is to know His Son Jesus Christ.
Also, to know Jesus Christ is not just to know Him in knowledge alone, but to believe with the heart, accept Him as our personal Savior and to live by His word.
Those who neither accept the Lord nor live by His word are those who do not know God and have nothing to do with Him.
As the believers learn that God is our Father and begin to live by His word, they will increasingly feel that God is friendly.
So, when they first pray, they address the Father as ‘God’. But, they change in addressing the Father to say ‘God the Father’, ‘Father God’ or just the ‘Father’.
God is also pleased when His children call Him ‘Father’.
To the extent that we obey His word, we can have a more intimate father-son relationship.
But in official worship services, we are not supposed to address God as just ‘Father’.
There are many new believers and new comers who do not yet have faith to call God ‘Father’.
Because the prayer is said on behalf of all kinds of people there, we have to address Him as ‘God’ or ‘God the Father’.
The next level is the faith of the young men.
1 John 2:13 says, “I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.”
Also, 1 John 2:14 says, “I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”
The young men in this world are at the beginning stage of pioneering their life based on the knowledge they gained.
They are vigorous and they have the confidence that they can do anything.
In spiritual sense, young men are confident in their Christian life to the extent that the word of God is cultivated in them.
They have faith and hope of Heaven, so they cast away sins and they overcome the tests and trials.
They can stand against the enemy devil and Satan with the authority of being the children of God.
In terms of level of faith, it belongs to the third level of faith, and more precisely they are those who stand on the rock of faith reaching 60 percentile of the third level.
With the faith of children, they know the truth in knowledge but they still do not practice it all completely.
But as they continue their Christian lives, they diligently hear and learn the word of God and cultivate it in their hearts. Then, they will gain increasing strength to practice the word.
As they change their hearts with the word of God and practice it, they become increasingly strong and bold in spirit.
That is why it says, “because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you.”
Those who have reached the level of young men understand the word of God in heart and obey it.
They do not rejoice in doing evil but diligently store up goodness.
They keep on trying to cast away even the sinful natures from their hearts.
Those who have faith of young men are not tempted by the world and they do not befriend darkness.
As said, “you have overcome the evil one,” they can drive away the temptations of the enemy devil and Satan with the word of God.
They do not cease to pray even in tests. They can overcome tests with joy and thanksgiving.
Many of you are in the third level of faith, and quite a few of you are standing on the rock of faith.
But you must not become at ease thinking you will take a few moments of rest.
You have to vigorously march forward towards the next level.
Even though you have the faith of strong young men who can overcome the evil one, what God really wants of you is not just the faith of young men.
We can go into the level of true children that God really desires only after we quickly pass through this stage.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the next level after that of young men is the level of faith of fathers.
1 John 2:13 says, “I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning.”
After the time of vigor and youth, they will become a mature adult.
Rather than trying to show who is right and wrong within their self-righteousness, they can discern many kinds of situations and accept others.
They do not insist on their opinions, but they can humble themselves.
In spiritual sense, the faith of fathers is the level of mature faith. It is the fourth level or higher, otherwise called the ‘level of spirit’ and ‘whole spirit’.
It is said that the fathers know the One who has been since the beginning of all creation. The ‘One who has been from the beginning’ is God.
It is also said that at the level of the children that they know the Father, but the knowing of the fathers and knowing of the children are different characters of ‘knowing’.
Even young children know their mom and dad.
They know that they are their mom and dad and the ones who gave birth to them and raise them with love.
But they do not really understand what kind of lives their parents live or how much love they have for them as their children.
Of course, they feel the love of their parents to some extent and say they love them, but it comes only from the level of children.
But when they grow up and become adults, they can then understand about their parents clearly.
They know what kind of lives their parents lived, what kind of personalities they have, and what kind of love they showed to their children.
At the child’s level of faith, to know the Father in spirit means that they know the basics of faith.
It means they realized that God the Creator is our Father and that Jesus Christ is our Savior.
However, when the ‘fathers’ know God, it means they understand the origin of God and realize the love of God deep in their heart.
Ephesians 3:18-19 says, “[you] may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
If we realize the breadth, length, and height and depth of His love, and if that love abides in us, we will also act in love in every matter.
That is why the passage did not say just ‘God’ but ‘He who has been from the beginning.’
Moses knew the origin of God clearly, and he recorded the five books of Moses by receiving many revelations of the secrets of spiritual realm including the creation.
Abraham understood the deep heart of God and he obeyed even the things that ordinary people can never obey, understanding the things that others couldn’t understand.
For this reason God acknowledged him and called him God’s friend.
Those who have the faith of fathers know about God deeply and communicate with Him deeply.
Let us delve into the faith of fathers just a little bit more.
In the faith of young men, they begin to bear spiritual fruits, but they are not ripe.
They try to live by the truth, but sometimes they insist on their self-righteousness and have conflicts with others.
But those who have reached the faith of fathers have well ripened spiritual fruit.
They can practice the truth completely without swaying to the left or right.
They are humble like Jesus who washed the feet of His disciples. They serve others with their hearts.
They follow the way of peace and sanctification with everyone. They can understand and accept anybody.
They love God more than anything else in this world, and they just obey the will of God.
Furthermore, those who have gone into whole spirit will do more than what they are supposed to do to obey and please God.
To the extent that they love God and please Him, they receive blessings and prosper whether they come in or go out.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today, I briefly talked about the measure of faith, about the faith of little children, children, young men, and fathers.
Most of you have listened to the messages about the measures of faith in detail, so you might think you know the contents well.
But in surprisingly many cases, you don’t correctly discern your own level of faith.
Because you listened to many words of truth, and because you are working as a leader in the church, you think you are standing on the rock of faith in the third level.
But in fact, you are still committing works of the flesh not to mention having things of the flesh in you.
Also, if your sinful nature is not revealed greatly through some extreme situations, some of you mistakenly think that they are close to being of spirit.
Though they have many sinful natures remaining in them such as passing judgment and condemnation, adulterous mind, pride, changing of mind, seeking their own benefit, but they have adorned themselves in a way that their evil will not be revealed externally.
They give hard times to others from within their self-righteousness and frameworks, but they think they are living in righteousness and truth.
Also, some of you are staying at the same place just because you have changed a lot compared to previous condition and are now satisfied with yourself.
You have to struggle against sins to the point of shedding blood, but even though you find some evil, you just cover it up.
You say, “I am trying my best. I am praying and working for God. I am still changing, so I will change more as time goes.”
The second prayer point of this year 2010 for all church members is ‘The Measure of Faith’.
God gave us such a point of prayer so that we can correctly distinguish and evaluate our faith and understand what we have to do from now.
Then, what kind of level of faith have you reached-
The year 2010 is the year in which God has proclaimed the third stage of take off. It is already going towards the end.
Through this message, I hope you will check your faith once again and quickly jump up to the next level of faith.
I hope your fervor for sanctification will burn hotter than the sun of the hot summer days!
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will quickly change into men of spirit who can accomplish world evangelism at this end time, and the era of Canaan Sanctuary.