Gems in the Letter of 1 John

Part 105 - 1 John 2:12-14
Why John Wrote...

These are rather strange verses both in the format they are in and their content. John says ‘I am writing to you’ 3 times to children, fathers and young men; then he goes on to say ‘I write’ or ‘I wrote’ 3 times to the same 3 groups of people. (We will consider the people he does not write to next time!) To pick 2 examples: he says to the third group in each case: ‘I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one’ and ‘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.’ Fine, but it is hard to see why he should say what he did to each of those groups and not one of the others. The young men are physically strong but are they spiritually strong? And the same sort of questions can be raised against each of the other statements.

Two things follow from that observation. First we should not be at all concerned about what was said to each specific group but take it that all the statements are addressed to all the groups. Secondly, and directly following from that comment is the observation that John considered all the church to be involved in what he was saying and requiring. This is not what most modern churches do. We split things up. Children go to Sunday School. Young people go to their separate meetings, possibly not even attending the main fellowship meetings very often. We have Ladies Fellowships etc. Of course we have to live as a fellowship in our culture and not in theirs and the two cultures will be radically different wherever you may be in the world listening to or reading this. A significant part of leading a church or any sort of fellowship has to be working out, with the guidance of the Spirit, what is best and most effective in a particular situation. Not all answers will be the same. There is plenty of room in the world for us all, reflecting as we do many different attitudes to worship and service. There should be straightforward main line churches emphasising Biblical teaching as well as charismatic churches leaning much more heavily on experience in every place. Things go wrong when churches split apart for social and inter personal reasons rather than any genuine desire to cater for different people and different personalities.

The clear teaching of this passage is that all sorts and branches of the followers of Jesus are to have a common source of authority. It is variously described in these few verses as ‘him who is from the beginning’, ‘the Father’ and ‘the word of God’. No one of the parts of John’s threefold division is given any priority in these authority statements. All, from the infant part of the Sunday School to the senior elders meetings has any other authority basis.

What about the place where you worship? Has due concern been given to where the source of authority comes from? Or is it the case in practice, if not in principle, that the real source of authority comes from one charismatic (in the non-religious meaning of that word) personality? That is all too often the way it is and it is ultimately disastrous for the long-term continuing life of the fellowship.
Have you given proper thought to what happens in your place? Have you taken any steps to ensure that the place has a proper basis?

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