2 Peter 3
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. – Vs 18
Keep on growing. Continue to increase. Make every effort to mature. That's the essence of what Peter says as he ends his letter. He has warned his readers about false teachers and their destructive heresies, about mockers who cast doubt on the Word of God, and about the need for believers to keep their eyes and hope focused on the return of the Lord. But he closes his letter with a charge, an admonition. That his readers will respond to all of this by continuing to grow or increase in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Grow in Grace
What does this mean? How do you "grow in grace?" First of all, we have to get our minds around the concept of grace. In the New Testament it refers to the free, unmerited favor of God; to the favor or kindness given to those who can never deserve it or earn it by anything they do or refrain from doing. As Chuck Swindoll aptly puts it, “Every time the thought of grace appears, there is the idea of its being undeserved. In no way is the recipient getting what he or she deserves. Favor is being extended simply out of the goodness of the heart of the giver.”
Grace is a gift. So how do we grow in it? I think what Peter is really saying is that we are to grow within the context of grace, remembering that even our spiritual growth is up to God and not us. We can no more make ourselves grow spiritually than we can save ourselves by our own effort. Both are made possible by grace. Sure, we can study the Bible and memorize Scripture. We can pray, meditate, fast, and practice all of the spiritual disciplines. We can serve God and share the Gospel with the lost. But if we do it thinking that we are somehow gaining favor with God or earning merits that put us in a better light with Him, we have failed to understand the grace of God. And the truth is, many of us as believers fail to grow in the context of grace. It is not the environment in which we spiritually mature. Think of it this way. It is like a plant that finds itself in an environment that is perfectly suited for growth – ample sunshine, gentle rain, fertile soil. The plant does not do anything to improve its environment, it simply grows in the midst of it. It takes full advantage of it. It grows because the context is perfectly suited for growth. So as believers, we need to constantly remind ourselves of the context within which we have been place. The context of grace. We must remind ourselves that God has placed us in His garden of grace, where self-effort, human achievement, hard work, and self-righteousness play no role and add no benefit. In fact, remember what Peter said at the beginning of his letter:
His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. – Vs 3
So we should grow, increase, mature – because His grace makes it possible. In fact, within His grace, growth is natural, normal and effortless. It is when we step outside of His grace, that it becomes painful and labored, leaving us stunted, immature, and fruitless.
Grow in the Knowledge of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
In the garden of God's grace, we are to increase in our knowledge of Jesus. As verse 3 states, it is through our knowledge or recognition of Jesus Christ as our Savior that we gain everything we need for life and godliness. And that doesn't change after salvation. It is still all through Him. We need to remember the context in which we live: Grace. And we need to remember the source of all we need: Christ. Our goal is to seek to know Him better and better. Not to know about Him, but to know Him, personally and intimately. To increase in our relationship with Him. As we increase in our knowledge of and intimacy with Jesus, we take on His characteristics. We begin to live like He lived, love like He loved, and serve like He served. And the qualities listed in chapter one, verses 5-7 begin to appear in our lives.
The tendency for us as Christians is to look at our immediate surroundings and question how we can possibly grow in a place like this, surrounded by sin. But what we fail to remember is that we are IN grace. We have been firmly planted in the fertile soil of God's garden of grace. We are being nourished by His grace, watered by the gentle favor of His grace, and warmed by the sunshine of His grace. So we can grow and increase in our knowledge of Jesus Christ, the One who made God's grace possible in the first place.
Father, may I remember each and every day that I am planted firmly in the garden of Your grace. My growth is no more up to me than was my salvation. Help me remember that. I still need to study, meditate, grow, share and serve, but I also need to remember that any growth that takes place in my life is due to the undeserved favor of God. Not because I somehow earned it. So even on my worst day, I can grow. Even when I am tired, I can grow. Because the sunshine of Your grace always shines on me. Thank You! Amen