GROWING IN GRACE #1
2 Pet 3:18
Our text is: “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
This is the last thing Peter wrote in this epistle. I arose this morning and looked again at the book written by Roy Hession: GOOD NEWS FOR BAD PEOPLE published by Christian Literature Crusade and was reminded again of the grace of God for sinning saints. It is the ground for revival and the principle of the continuous filling of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. Grace is the most difficult thing for a lost person to accept for salvation and the most difficult principle for a saint to walk in after salvation. The unsaved man does not want to admit he is a hell deserving sinner. He will admit that he is a sinner. But admitting that he is a hell deserving sinner is altogether another thing. And he will never be saved until he does. And the saints (all born again believers) move almost immediately beyond the need of grace because of the perceived progress they are making in practical righteousness caused by repentance and spiritual growth.
I believe all of us understand the grace that brings salvation. We understand that. We have experience that. We know that it is the unmerited favor of God. That is, unless someone has believed in vain (1Cor 15:1-2). To believe in vain is to believe the gospel without repentance. Repentance is taking the place of the hell deserving sinner. To believe in Jesus without doing this is like using him as a fire escape from hell. It is like saying “Jesus, I want you because I want to go to heaven, but I also want to continue in my way while I’m here on earth. I will join the church, I will be baptized, I’ll give a tithe but I will not admit that I am a hell deserving sinner. I’m just not that bad. I know there are others who are, but not me.” I know the church is full of people just described in the quote. The reason I know this is because of the Parable of the Tares (Matt 13:24-30 and 37-43). While I do not have a right to judge who is a tare and who is a wheat, it is obvious something is wrong within the professing church and the Parable of the Tares is prophetic of our age. And since they all profess to be believers, the words “Unless ye have believed in vain” is a good statement of Scripture though which to look at the situation. We who are saved understand the concept of grace.
Peter tells saved people: “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” The word “grow” (auxano) is speaking of “inward Christian growth.” It is used of the growth of a plant. It is a present active imperative verb. The present tense means to grow continually. It is continuous action in the present tense. There is no place for growth to stop until the return of the Lord or our physical death. When a Christian ceases to grow, sin is present. The active voice of this verb is placing the responsibility for growth on the believer himself. Growth is a choice. The imperative mood means two things. First, it is a command. A command must be responded to. It is a choice. So we see the believer’s responsibility in the active voice of the verb and the imperative mood. Second, the imperative mood speaks of urgency. Why would Peter by inspiration of God make this a command? Because the Christain who ceases to grow is vulnerable to Satan and every heresy that comes down the pike. How many have you seen draw back from service to the Lord and find themselves back in the world of sin or Satanic heresy? And I must add, if they were truly saved, under the chastening of the Lord (Heb 12:6-8). The believer must take responsibility for his growth.
Peter said, “But grow in grace.” The word “grace” is the unmerited favor of God. I believe that the believer needs to grow in his understanding of grace as he applies it to the daily need of forgiveness. Here is where I have a problem. I know what grace means by definition. I am learning what grace means by application. My progress in the Christian life seems to be stored in my mind as merit. Flesh is still a part of my make up as a Christain. I cannot escape that until I receive my glorified body. Paul said, as an apostle, in Philippians 3:20-21: “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” He said “our vile body.” He was talking about the Adamic fallen nature received by inheritance (Rom 5:12). When I am aware of progress being made in my Christian life, at that point, Satan and my own human rationalism, tells me that I should get some points for this. At that point I cease to be a candidate for grace. Grace is good news for bad people. I know someone may want to argue at this point. I just ask you to meditate on this truth. Think it through.
This is how it works. The greater your sin, the greater grace becomes. Paul said in Romans 5:20: “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:” It is not that we sin wilfully to qualify for grace. Paul deals with that concept in Romans 6. It is facing the issue that as we grow spiritually our old sin nature is making no progress at all. Paul said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Rom 7:18).
You say, “Oh yes, I know all that. It is something you can’t change. It is always there. So you just learn to live with it.” Let me ask this question. Do you learn to live with it without confessing as sin the things that it causes you to think and do? If so, you are not living a life of brokenness. Psalm 51:17 says “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” The man who lives the life of brokenness stays acquainted with grace that is up to date. He can help the sinner in need of grace because he is experiencing it daily in his own life. This one will not look down on the sinner, he is where the sinner is. He can talk to him about his own failures and how grace continually restores the fallen. It is a witness not just a theological discourse.
Peter says “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
I find that he blood of Christ continually cleanses me when I take the place of the sinner and deal with reality in my life. I don’t to go out and find something to do wrong in order to experience the grace of forgiveness. The best I have ever been able to do has still left me in need of grace. And I must tell you, it has always been there for me. And I’ll tell you something else. You cannot be more right with God than the blood makes you.
I see a great need of the understand of grace in my own life. I will continue to share my finding with you. God bless you.