My Musings – Been thinking a lot about the aging process here lately. In my adult Sunday School class yesterday, we talked about the various age groups in the Body and how they relate to each other, noting that older does not always equate with more mature in the faith. Wouldn’t it be nice if we matured as fast (at least it seems fast now that I am in my mid-sixties) as we aged? I confessed to the class to being older (it was quite obvious, of course), but not old (some denial going on?). I also told them I aspired to being the oldest in our Church, but was willing to be patient about it.
Back to aging, versus maturing. In the above text, as John speaks of three ages of men (children, young men and fathers) he could just as well be speaking about the three stages of salvation and Christian maturity (justification, sanctification, glorification).
Dear Children (Justification) – A judicial act of God, by which he pardons all the sins of those who believe in Christ, and accounts, accepts, and treats them as righteous in the eye of the law. In addition to the pardon of sin, justification declares that all the claims of the law are satisfied in respect of the justified. The law is not relaxed or set aside, but is declared to be fulfilled – Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers. This is a past event that is accomplished through the work of the Son.
Young Men (Sanctification) – In Christian theology, a distinction is made between justification and sanctification where justification refers to having saving faith and sanctification refers to the process of gradual purification from sin and progressive spiritual growth that should mark the life of the believer – The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press. This is an on-going process that is accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Fathers (Glorification) – In the Scripture the idea of glorification deals with the ultimate perfection of believers. It is ours by inheritance – Evangelical dictionary of biblical theology, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. This is our future destination through the work of the Father.
Interestingly, while these three aspects of salvation occur in the past (“have been justified through faith“), present (“are being transformed into His likeness“) and future (“we shall be like Him“), John speaks of them all as having already taken place (“have been forgiven“, “have overcome“, “have known Him“). How each of us progress is different, and all of us experience our ups and downs, but that first act of faith guarantees the ultimate perfection of them all. It kind of looks like this:
My Advice – Do not be discouraged. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the Day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6, NIV 1978).” It’s a done deal. So, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily [those ups and downs] entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1, NIV 1978).” And one day “we shall see Him as He is.” What a glorious thought!