Having God’s forgiveness and spending eternity with God is GREAT and WONDERFUL. But, for now, where is the abundant life the Lord Jesus promised? Why is the Christian life often such a struggle? It is because being forgiven is only half the Gospel! The rest of the Gospel is not dependent on our own performance to be good Christians, but rather it is Christ’s transforming Spirit living His life uniquely in us and through us as we rest in Him.
Through believing in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we are credited and sealed IN Christ with ALL of His love, acceptance, forgiveness and righteousness. God wants our everyday life to express what already is true of us through His shed blood on Calvary’s cross. The LORD God delights in drawing us deeper into Himself. The Apostle John describes in 1 John 2:12-13 three stages of Spiritual growth that many believers experience.
- I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.
- I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one.
- I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
The little children know two things: (1) Their sins are forgiven and (2) that they have a relationship with the Father. The vast majority of Christians are in this stage.
The young men know three things: (1) They know that they are strong, (2) they know the Word of God abides in them, and (3) they know that they have overcome the evil one. They still know what they knew as little children, that their sins are forgiven and that they have a relationship with the Father. They have moved beyond the little children’s stage.
In both these Spiritual growth stages, the emphasis remains on themselves! Look what happened to me! Look what I have done! There is nothing wrong with these growth states, yet they still are performance-focused with their own point of reference.
Fathers know God! In the third growth stage they do not know just the power, they know the Person. Fathers recognize the Person of God, that they are in union with Him, not with just one aspect of God (power), but with the personhood of God. They know Him Who has been, is and ever will be. They know the I AM. When you come into the Father stage, it no longer is only what you know; it is Whom you know! In the Father growth stage you are settled into God’s Rest. You rest calmly in knowing that it is God who is working in you and in others uniquely.
There is no reason for fathers to be impatient with young men or little children. Fathers have been in the young-men and little-children growth stages themselves. Fathers are able to be patient, understanding, sympathetic and compassionate toward those who are in earlier stages of Spiritual growth and maturity.