Excite Believers: I John 2:12-14

Excite Believers: I John 2:12-14
Pastor John Weathersby
Sunday January 30, 2022

Let’s look for and be excited about a walk in Christ that stands the test of time.  We’ll be excited by John’s writing to take on that task of endurance.  We are encouraged to more than a fleeting feeling that comes up at a conference and fades with time, but an abiding walk in Christ-centered on truth in the Word.  He’ll conclude that knowledge makes them discerning, and their discernment makes them strong to endure.
John, the beloved disciple, sat next to Jesus at the last supper.  Remained at the cross’ foot for Jesus’ crucifixion who Jesus trusted to care for his mother and who saw the empty tomb on the First resurrection Sunday.  Who was with Jesus by the lake and is now authoritatively qualified to write about the impacts of abiding in Christ?  This John writes a pause in focus from initial salvation and abiding to an enduring life in Christ – and he excites us forward.

1 John 2:12–14 (ESV)
12    I am writing to you, little children,
because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
This breakout structure begins the joining of chapter 1and the first half of chapter 2’s encouragement to abide and live the fruit of repentance.  Moving the reader towards a life of enduring in Christ and takes these 6 statements that conclude in overcoming the evil one in a final since. 
We’ll look at I am, I am, I am, then I write, I write, I write “why”, the careful Bible student asks this change here?  Depending on your English translation, that tense swap may not have been preserved.  For example:
As we progress I think reading verse 13 backward helps to give the sense of the passage and order and meaning of fathers, young men, and children.  Much narrative has been given to understanding why these and in this order and why the tense moves from present in v12/13 to Aorist in 13b-14. We’ll talk about a few of those conclusions and lean towards one.
Interestingly in v12 we see the “little children,” which I maintain is the entirety of the Church, those in Christ, our “sins are forgiven.”  John encourages us here because the message has been hard. Our sins are forgiven for a specific reason:
For His Name’s Sake. 
Our sins are (read are currently) forgiven for his name’s sake.  The name of Jesus reflects His personhood and the work that He finally completed at the cross, giving up His spirit, saying, it is finished. 
Remember John is writing or even preaching to a church who is being tried by the lie of some Gnostic hidden deep truth; he encourages them that in Christ your sins (present future and past) are continually given over to Jesus.  Nothing is hidden away. There is no need to search high and low.
Matthew 10:22 (ESV)
22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Revelation 2:3 (ESV)
I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.
Psalm 25:11 (ESV)
11    For your name’s sake, O Lord,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Sin is put away for His Name’s sake –
1 John 2:1 (ESV)
Christ Our Advocate
1    My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
Our advocate is Jesus. This is The Name from which our salvation is found, John writes to the little children, those who found faith in Christ – their way to saving knowledge of God.  Paul said of Jesus, the advocate in:
Philippians 2:9–11 (ESV)
9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus emptied Himself, choosing the role of Savior rather than having stayed in eternal Glory.  He subjected Himself to human form and trial, the endurance of life, and bearing our Personal sin. 
Hebrews 12:2–3 (ESV)
2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
And so we say with the Psalmist:
Psalm 20:7 (ESV)
  7    Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Does this give you pause and peace? It should:
Psalm 32:1 (ESV)
  1    Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Let’s do a backward read on the next verse, as I think that approach helps us to better see the use of the Fathers, the young men, and the children:
13    I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
       I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
       I write to you, children
because you know the Father.
Little children have the father, young men have overcome the evil one, fathers know Him who is from the beginning.
It *could be that fathers are of the generation who could have known Jesus.  However, I think John is exciting the reader with double meaning. One being is an order through “ages” that characterize spiritual maturity.  Children initially know and are known by the father.  This is the first level.   Next, Young men have victory over the evil one as they walk out their beliefs (john 1:1-2:11); and fathers, through experience, know Him (God in Christ) through the experience of their walk, and verse V-14 gives the conclusion of our walk.  The next would be less specific than I first said, not necessarily that they could have known Jesus as personal disciples (though it is conceivable) but in the sense that the early church understood Jesus as Lord and only Son of God.  Not like John is battling against heresy in the gnostics that Jesus is man only – John is anchoring understanding in the historical early church understanding of Jesus as important to the faith.
I’m writing to you fathers, older members of the Church because you know the fuller doctrine. You’ve been taught it and lived in it.
Similarly, I see John carrying the reader forward in this breakout of verses – from 12-14, to go from obedience in abiding – to walking in Christ over a life time.  We’re moving from initial obedience to an enduring faith;
J. I. Packer said once:
“If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.”
Our Adoption in Christ; under His righteousness is what John desires to excite these believers to endure the trials of this life in, as their faith matures, pressing on from victory to victory from knowledge of the father (initial faith) through victory over the evil one and sin (through life abiding in Christ) to deep experiential knowledge of Him who was from the beginning – a lifetime of abiding in the word, and victory over sin, and a lifetime spent in Christ. 
In verse 13 he encourages the young men as they have overcome the evil one.  Not the construct of evil in a daily battle with temptation, but in a historical past since, they’ve overcome the evil one because they’re in Christ and Christ as overcome the personification of evil, the enemy Satan.  Jesus secures the victory over the accuser, the evil one with His once finished work. 
I like the illustration of the father and daughter in a prairie (a large dry grassy area) with a windstorm and raging fire coming. They’d never outrun it. They’d be engulfed and suffocate – the only way to survive, the father reasoned, is to burn the area where they are and then walk into the spent ashes as the fire burns past and around them. 
In the same way, we stand in the ashes where Christ has already been.  John excites the young men, who’d perhaps desire to rely on their strength with all zeal and vigor, you win because Jesus won.  The Nicene creed from 325 AD addressed a heresy that Jesus couldn’t be God because he had emotion (lame argument) etc.  Therefore; the creed resulting from councils at Nicea and Constantinople said this of Jesus:
“God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God”

As our verse continues the tense switches, and John writes:
I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.
God’s forgiveness of sin and knowledge of God are unbreakably linked – the bond is found in the Name of Christ.  He moves to past tense, as the knowing of the father has happened. This gives a feeling of movement from salvation to growth – as he talks about moving from initial salvation and abiding towards a life of Christian living moving right of verse 14. 
John is talking about God fulfilling a mystery He promised since the beginning:
Jeremiah 31:31–34 (ESV)
31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,
32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord.
33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
One translator who writes an expanded version of the NT to give the sense of the Greek is Kenneth Wuest (I’d recommend him to you. He was introduced to me as a gift from my friend Sid) – here is how Wuest translates verse 13:
“I am writing to you, fathers, because you have come to know experientially the One who is from the beginning, and as a present result are possessors of that knowledge. I am writing to you, young men, because you have gained the victory over the Pernicious One and, as a present result, are standing on his neck. I write to you, little children under instruction because you have come to know the Father experientially, with the present result that you are possessors of that knowledge.”
We continue to verse 14.
14    I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
       I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God abides in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.
1 John confounds people, and I love that about it.  In this section, people struggle with why verb tenses move around (I write, I am writing). Here in verse 14, a new, more personally familiar word for the “young men” is used than was just used in 13 above – more broadly, people say this is an epistle, others a sermon, people struggle to agree solidly that this is the Apostle, John. 
1 John grabs our attention. 
1 John doesn’t read linearly – meaning it doesn’t start with an idea and work out to a point. It is circular.  John develops an idea, comes back in – then circles back out and continually refines into a fuller idea. 
Verse 12 wrote to the children, verse 13 to the Fathers, Young Mean, and Children, verse 14 begs us on, writing to the fathers and the young men, yet the children fall off.  The young men enduring in the faith are strong, AND the word of God abides in them, forever locked into the currently happening since believers are encouraged, as sealed permanently in Scripture, even excited on – that the Word abides in us.
The Word abides as a welcomed resident within them.  It is this that gives them the strength for endurance. 
Psalm 119:11 (ESV)
11    I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
The younger believer is encouraged and excited.
2 Timothy 3:14–15 (ESV)
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it
15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Abiding in this word is how we move from youth to maturing, and John excites us forward, never leaving us still.
John is the qualified disciple of Jesus’ to talk about the power of obedience and now abiding in Christ.
John, the beloved disciple, sat next to Jesus at the last supper, at the cross’ foot during Jesus’ crucifixion, who Jesus trusted to care for his mother, who saw the empty tomb on the First resurrection Sunday, with Jesus by the lake, is qualified to write about the impacts of abiding in Christ and ready to excite the church on.
Each of us will mature and grow over time – give yourself room for that while desiring forward momentum.  Here, in this break-in chapter two, John calls us on, from hard truth through the Christian life, there is great reward in continuing to know God Himself.  1 John should leave you excited, compelled to dive in and understand more – his circular logic and thinking crawl through the details, refining and refining our understanding of sanctification – it is designed to excite the believers to more.

That isn’t through secret knowledge, nor some private langue between you and God. It is in His Word, secured by His spirit, through His Son’s work on the cross for us, un-doing sin, perpetually for His namesake. 

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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