2 Peter 3:17-18, Growing in Grace

"Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. 18But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen," (2 Pet. 3:17-18).

God wants you to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior. But how? How do you who are in Christ grow in a proper and healthy manner? Like a vine growing on a wall, without a solid root and good light, it will die. You too, without a solid root in Christ and without His light of the Word, would shrivel up spiritually.

Like all things that live normal lives, there is a beginning and maturity.

  1. Introduction
    1. The Christian Life begins with a Birth
      1. Jesus died on the cross and rose physically from the dead three days later.  He died for our sins, for us, so that we might escape God's righteous judgment and so we might also enjoy God's presence.
      2. Upon receiving Christ we are born again. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God," (John 1:12-13).
      3. Nicodemas and the new birth (John 3:3)
        1. Jesus said to Nicodemas, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
    2. This is what separates the gospel from religion.
      1. Religion is man's effort to reach up to God; but Christianity is God reaching Man.
        1. In his heart man knows there is a God. That is why there are so many religions in the world, because man has invented so many to account for the knowledge that is in him.
      2. Salvation is God coming down to man and making him a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).
        1. Not religion, but relationship.
    3. But after birth comes growth.
      1. If there is no growth after being born, then there is no life.
    4. This is what it means to be "in Christ." It means to be saved, regenerated, and growing in sanctificaton.
  2. What is growth in Grace and Knowledge?
    1. First, let's look at what it is not.
      1. It is not becoming more saved than at the moment of conversion.
      2. It is not becoming more pardoned than when converted.
      3. It is not becoming more justified than at salvation.
    2. What Christian growth is
      1. It is learning more of what God wants through His Word.
      2. It is being able to do more of what God wants.
      3. It is living more of the love of God.
    3. Consider the expectations of physical growth
      1. In a child, a flower, a tree.
      2. The gardener and his garden.
    4. Consider Bible evidences of growth in men. This growth resulted in change.
      1. Peter: From backsliding to blessing
      2. Paul: From the Damascus road to the Roman Road
      3. John: From the Son of Thunder to the disciple of love
  3. What are the evidences of Growth in Grace and Knowledge?
    1. An increase of love
      1. "and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all men, just as we also do for you," (1 Thess. 3:12).
      2. "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another," (John 13:35).
      3. "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers" (1 John 3:14).
      4. We are nothing without love (1 Cor. 13).
        1. "Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails," (1 Cor. 13:4-8).
    2. An increase of faith
      1. "We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater," (2 Thess. 1:3).
      2. What level of the faith are you at?
        1. The answer to the question is directed related to how much you love.  True love, true Godly love is not easy.
    3. An increase of the knowledge of God
      1. "so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God," (Col. 1:10)
      2. "Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge," (2 Pet. 1:5).
      3. What you saw in Christ when you accepted Him compared to now.
        1. What changes have undergone in your understanding from when you first accept Christ.
    4. An increase in the fruit of the Spirit
      1. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control," (Gal 5:22-23).
      2. "You will know them by their fruit," (Matt. 7:20).
        1. Have you taken inventory lately of the kind and quality of fruit that you are producing in your life?
        2. Are you increasing in godliness, in patience, in love, forgiveness, gentleness, joy and peace?
  4. What are the means that God uses to help you grow in Grace?
    1. He uses His word: "like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation," (1 Pet. 2:2) .
      1. You never outgrow your need for milk.
        1. You need to grow continually. You always need the Word of God in order to grow.
      2. There's a new you coming every day.
        1. You are growing every day: through the good and the bad.
      3. Look in the Bible first
    2. He uses trouble and experience
      1. "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing," (James 1:2-4).
    3. He uses the private devotional life.
      1. In His presence you mature, your soul is affected, holiness becomes more of a part of you.
    4. He uses public worship and service.
      1. In worship your heart is lifted to Him, and you discover there one of the purposes for your creation C to truly praise and worship God.
      2. In service you learn humility, compassion, and patience. These virtues help keep unstained your fellowship with God.
    5. He uses the fellowship of believers.
      1. How your needs are met by others (1 Cor. 12)
        1. Other Christians have spiritual gifts.
        2. Gifts are used for the benefit of the body of Christ. "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit...11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.... 25 that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another," (1 Cor. 12:4,11,25).
      2. What friendships and fellowships do to you.
        1. They stretch you
        2. They strengthen you
    6. He uses communion - the Lord's Supper.
      1. It is a means of grace to strengthen you and bless you with His presence.
  5. Conclusion
    1. Are you growing?
      1. Growth is a sign of life.
      2. Growth is sometimes painful.
      3. Growth is always good.
    2. If not...Why not?
      1. Is there unrepentant sin?
        1. Then confess.
      2. Is there a lack of desire?
        1. Then pray.
    3. Look to God and depend on Jesus completely to bring you to the place of growing in His grace.

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.