Grow in Grace
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18
This is the last verse of the epistle of 2 Peter. It is the last words of the apostle Peter to us. It’s a call to make individual progress in the Chrisitan faith. It’s a commendation toward spiritual growth. There can be no neutrality in the Christian life. You are either growing in discipleship toward Spirit-filled maturity in Christ, or falling away in apathy and worldliness. We are convinced that God is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), but we are commanded in passages like this to respond to the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work in our lives. We must grow up in the gracious ways of Jesus and love the Lord with all our minds by applying ourselves to study out a right knowledge of God. Let me share with you Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones’s six part pattern of Christian living that has helped me focus on how to apply Peter’s command.
First, you must study the Bible. Studying is different from just cursory reading. Reading is often for relaxing or entertainment. Study is for knowledge, understanding, and life-change. Study takes the time to dig out details, and study takes seriously remembering important things. Lloyd-Jones writes, “You will find invariably that the people who do not grow in grace are the people who are neglecting to read their Bible. On the other hand the people who have grown have been regular, daily students of this Book.” If you need help reading and understanding the Bible, please reach out to an elder. We are happy to point you in the right direction!
Second, participate in the ‘means of grace’ given to us by God, such as baptism, the Lord’s Supper, gathering of the local church, and biblical preaching. You must walk in these ways. If you neglect these ways in which God pours out His grace in your life, your Christian life will be weak and divided. After you have believed in Jesus as Savior, obey the command to be baptized. Regularly partake of the Lord’s Supper, and in so doing confess your sins and reflect upon the work of Christ on the cross. Do not forsake the local church and the building of vital, meaningful relationships with other Christians. Lastly, bring yourself under the preaching of the Bible. By doing this, you are opening your heart to the work of the Holy Spirit.
Third, avoid every sinful thing that is harmful to the life and growth of the soul. In terms of a garden, if you let all the weeds grow unchecked, none of the fruit-bearing plants will survive. In a similar way, you must pull up, cut down, and avoid sinful practices in your life. It is a constant theme of the Bible that those who love the world, and count themselves friends of the world, will not grow in grace. The affections of their heart are captured by the world. We must put to death (mortify) the desires of the flesh, turn away from evil, and walk in holiness.
Fourth, if spiritual life is to grow, it must be exercised. It is true with the soul, as in all other areas, that knowledge must be applied and acted on to become transformational. We are not called by Jesus to become academics. We are called to become living disciples that observe all the commands of Jesus. We will quickly realize that great knowledge will be corrupted by a weak will. In this we must call out to the Holy Spirit to bear fruits in our lives that only He can bear. The Holy Spirit will take what we learn in the Bible, reveal its truth to us, and help us live it out!
Fifth, in this process of striving to grow in grace and knowledge, we must each get the right amount of rest. There must be regular periods of rest to maintain the Christian life. You must be able to slow down, cease striving after the world, and unplug enough to regularly have a quiet mind to contemplate the Bible and pray. God has commanded that we keep the sabbath. This builds in a day of rest each week.
Sixth, you should practice self-examination. You should look at your life objectively. Are you growing? Do you understand more of who God is now than years ago? Is your obedience to the commands of Christ increasing? Do you have a greater sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit? Most importantly, is the love of God increasing in your life? Does your life bring glory and honor to Jesus? Is God using your life and witness to bring others to salvation? It is very important in self-examination that we remind ourselves that we are justified by faith alone. It is by grace that we are saved through faith. Our hope is fully in the grace of Jesus, but by His grace we will become more like Jesus.
In closing, Lloyd-Jones writes, “The object of growth is not that I may be better than someone I know to be worse, or better than I used to be; it is that thereby I may glorify God, that God may use me more, that I may be a more efficient instrument in the hand of God. In other words, the motive must be right.”
May we grow in grace for the glory of Jesus Christ,
To read more fully on this subject, see chapters 22-25 of “Expository Sermons on 2 Peter” by D.M. Lloyd-Jones – available in the church library.