A Portrait of A Life of Faith

April 7, 2018

I hope you all had a joyful Easter Sunday as you celebrated the victorious resurrection of our Savior and King. The highlight of my weekend was seeing a dear friend and her husband publicly identify with Jesus’ death and resurrection through baptism. One of the things she said before she was symbolically “buried” (plunged into the water) with Jesus was how much she was changing. She said it with such surprise and pleasure. She has not been a Christian for long, but ever since she called on God as a Father and asked him to wash her clean in Jesus’ name, these changes have been taking place. And I’ve been privileged to view them in high definition. What a testimony of the power of God to erase even the guilt of sins from our hearts. And what power he continues to work in his children as he transforms them from the inside out, recreating them into the image of his dear Son.

Now that we’re through the Easter season, I’m returning to my study of I John. Chapter 2:12-14 are next in queue.

I am writing to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
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, dear children,
because you know the Father.
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 lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.

If you’re like me, at this point in the I John series, you may be feeling a little discouraged over your failures. How did you score on the obedience test? What about the love test? After that kind of heart searching, highly introspective types may even begin to doubt their salvation.

Well, John anticipated those doubts and fears, that’s why he opened his letter with a call to continually repent of sins and to remember we have an Advocate in Jesus. And now in these verses he’s going to describe the experience of all true Christians in order to assure them that they indeed have the eternal life Jesus came to proclaim.

In these six descriptive statements of believers, he addresses God’s children at every stage of maturity. Though we are all God’s children, the children he describes in these statements are ones who have recently come to faith in Jesus, like my recently baptized friend. He describes their experience at salvation–when they first called on God to wash them clean by the blood of Jesus who bore their sins on the cross. In those moments, faith expressed itself in a cry to God as their Father. God, who was once far off and opposed to them in their rebellion gently stooped down to lift up and exalt those who had previously been his enemies to the positions of treasured sons and daughters. (Vv 12,13)

As the life of a Christian progresses, that early joy of salvation gives way to a settled dependence on God. The Word of God has taken deeper root in the hearts of these “young men” and women and they have come to take refuge in the power of the one who defeated death and the Evil One (Satan) when he rose from the dead. Their transformation process is ongoing. There are spiritual battles to be fought; there is virtue to pursue. Armed with resurrection power (new life!) these Christians overcome the temptations of the Evil One, knowing that his power has been undone by the greater power of the one indwelling them. (Vv 13,14)

As we approach the sunset of our years, that name we first called out at our salvation and then repeatedly named as our Advocate has become even more dear. Knowledge has ripened with age; many spiritual battles have been won, and Jesus is treasured as he is–not just as Savior and King, but as the one who is from the beginning. Mature Christians (fathers, vv 13,14) have come to know and love Jesus as the eternal Creator and Sustainer, as the incarnate God, the Word of Life, the atoning Sacrifice and Advocate, the victorious King, and as “the first and the last. The Living One who died but is alive forevermore and now holds the keys of death and hades.” (Rev 2:17,18)

This is the trajectory of all true believers–from that initial helpless cry of faith to a deep love and understanding of him who is from the beginning.

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