Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

1 John: True, Fulfilling Fellowship With God
Part VI: Identifying The Three Stages Of Spiritual Maturity In Fellowship With God
(1 John 2:12-14, 18-19)
  1. Introduction
    1. Christ and His apostles were concerned that believers grow, that they mature in their Christian faith. Paul taught this in Ephesians 4:15, Peter taught it in 2 Peter 3:18 and Jesus also implied it in John 21:15-17.
    2. However, we may wonder how we are to grow in actual terms, and that takes discerning where we are now, and 1 John 2:12-14, 18-19 identifies three levels of spiritual maturity for our insight to that end:
  2. Identifying The Three Stages Of Spiritual Maturity In Fellowship With God, 1 John 2:12-14, 18-19.
    1. Dr. John G. Mitchell, the late and longtime Bible teacher and founder of the Multnomah School of the Bible, in his book, Fellowship: Three Letters From John, 1974, p. 63-77 takes the difficult passage of 1 John 2:12-28 to break into three couplets of sections about three maturity levels in the Christian walk.
    2. The section opens at verse 12 addressed to all believers, the teknia, "born ones" who comprise "the whole family of God," Ibid., p. 63. That verse calls all believers regardless of their maturity level to realize their sins have been forgiven for the sake of God's own Name, meaning they are assured of salvation! (Ibid.)
    3. However, not all believers are at the same spiritual maturity level, and John describes these various maturity levels in 1 John 2:13-14, 18-19 though he addresses the needs of "young men" in 1 John 2:15-17 and "little children" in 1 John 2:18-27 (with the 28 summation) in sections we will cover in future lessons. In this lesson, we only identify the maturity levels and their features as follows, 1 John 2:13-14, 18-19:
      1. Spiritual "Fathers," those in the highest level of maturity, are repeatedly identified as those who "have known Him that is from the beginning," 1 John 2:13a, 14a. The word for "know" here is egnokate, the perfect tense of the verb, ginosko, "to come to know (by experience)," Ibid., p. 64; U. B. S. Greek N. T., 1966, p. 815; Arndt & Gingrich, A Greek-Eng. Lex. of the N. T., 1967, p. 159-161. Thus, spiritual fathers are believers who, through extensive experience in their Christian walk, have permanently (perfect tense, Ibid., U. B. S. Grk. N. T.) come to know that all they need for fulfillment in living is found in fellowship with Christ, Ibid., Mitchell. The world consequently has little pull on them, the sin nature is mostly kept in subjection, and if they fail, they confess their sin to God for forgiveness and cleansing to get back into fellowship with the Lord. (Ibid.) They thus need no further admonition.
      2. Spiritual "Young Men" in the intermediate maturity level have overcome Satan (1 John 2:13b, 14b), they live by God's gracious provisions and rely on His Word, but they have yet to overcome the world:
        1. To be spiritually "strong" is for a believer to rely on God's gracious provisions for victory in the angelic conflict (Eph. 6:10-12) and in Christian living and service (2 Tim. 2:1-2 with 1:3-18). This believer knows he must not try to live or serve God in his own human effort, so he relies on the Holy Spirit for power in living and God's spiritual gift to serve, and confesses his sins for cleansing.
        2. Such "Young Men" also have the Word of God abiding in them (1 John 2:14b), that is, they have a working knowledge of Scripture so they can counter error and Satan as Jesus did in Matthew 4:1-11.
        3. However, "Young Men" must learn that fellowship with Christ is all they need for fulfillment, not the world, a lesson addressed in the next lesson we will cover in 1 John 2:15-17. (Ibid., p. 65-70)
      3. Spiritual "Little Children," those at the lowest spiritual level of maturity, the paidia introduced in 1 John 2:18-19 (Ibid., U. B. S. Greek N. T., p. 816), though learning to be sure they are saved (1 John 2:12), are unsettled from realizing that not everyone in a Church and Christendom is truly saved or godly, 1 John 2:18-19 implied. They stand in need of understanding God's gracious provisions for life and service, and for functioning victoriously in the angelic conflict and overcoming sinful failure by God's forgiveness as do the "Young Men." However, some steps are needed to get the "Little Children" to that "Young Men" stage, and these steps addressed in 1 John 2:18-27, 28 (to be covered in a later lesson) deal with relying on the Holy Spirit and Scripture for power and discernment for growth.
Lesson: From these descriptions, we can discern our maturity level either as that of "Little Children," "Young Men" or "Fathers," and discern what God specifically wants us to do to grow to the next level.

Application: May we identify our maturity level, and so note where we must focus to grow in the Lord.