Big Idea: As we think about the nature of the church and our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we see that there is strength in our diversity. That each one of us have something to offer to the spiritual growth and doctrinal fidelity of the church. And that each stage of growth has strengths and weaknesses. There is protection in the local church.
John is talking here about 3 stages of spiritual maturity. He is not necessarily speaking to physical ages, although our physical age can contribute to our maturity. He is addressing children, fathers, and young men as three categories of spiritually mature believers. We could say those who are young in the faith, those who are strong in the faith, and those who are seasoned in the faith.
1 Timothy 3:15 (ESV) 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.
Infants in Christ
Spiritual _________________ Men
The young men provide spiritual _______________ and doctrinal _____________ for the overall protection of the church.
In contrast to spiritual children, who are primarily focused on devotion to God, spiritual young men have advanced to be concerned with clarity of doctrine.
Spiritual young men are marked by an understanding of Scriptural truth (cf. Pss. 1:2; 119:11, 16, 97, 103, 105, 148; Acts 17:11; 20:32; 2 Tim. 3:15). They have outgrown the childish self-absorption with feelings and moved beyond the elementary struggles often associated with new Christians. They have a biblical worldview, their theology is largely in place, and they have a mature love for the truth and a desire to proclaim and defend it (cf. Eph. 6:17; 2 Tim. 2:15; Heb. 4:12).
1 Timothy 4:11–16 (ESV) 11 Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
The strength of the church is found in these young and strong believers who are eager to defend the truth of the word of God.
Because these young men are overcomers, they have a tendency to be overwhelming.
Titus 2:6–8 (ESV) 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech (that is a balanced and controlled speech) that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
2 Timothy 2:22–26 (ESV) 22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
These young men have a lot of learning, but they also have a lot to learn. And the Lord puts these young and strong in the faith, in our midst both for their strength but also because of their weaknesses.
Questions to Consider
Where do you find yourself within the categories of spiritual maturity? What might you learn from those around you?
What is the characteristic of young men that the Spirit is impressing upon us in th