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Sermons

Sun, Jun 14, 2020

Grow in Grace

We precede the sermon recording today with communion.

Welcome video:

Songs:

Duration:34 mins 3 secs

Introduction

The message of 2 Peter 3:18 is simple. The driving theme of this verse is “grow”. It is then followed by the two things that produce and shape our growth: grace and knowledge.

Peter then tells us where that grace and knowledge is found – in Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus.

The verse concludes by a wonderful benediction directed to Christ himself. Only three doxologies in the New Testament are directed to Christ, and this is one of them. The others are directed to God the Father. Peter says that Christ will have the honour from now and to the day of eternity – that eternal day is an important theme in 2 Peter. How to live now in light of the return of Christ. Ethics in light of eschatology.

2 Peter teaches living in light of the return of Christ. So it is fitting that Peter concludes with these words, both now and in eternity. And what Peter is saying in 3:18 is that the way to prepare is not to worry, predict, but grow.

Let’s walk through this verse. I have four points.

One: the fact of growth - what God wants of us.

Two: the command to grow – Grow!

Three: the shape of growth - in grace and knowledge

Four: the reason we must grow - But

And if we look carefully, we can find all of these in this little verse.

One: the fact of growth - what God wants of us

The word grow is such a beautiful description of our walk with the Lord. It’s an accurate picture of our journey from new birth to eternal life. Peter could have used any number of descriptions of the Christian life as he closed his epistle– live in grace, pray in grace, work in grace, evangelise in grace, fight in grace. And the Bible describes our walk with the Lord in these terms elsewhere.

But his final words to his fellow believers is this, Grow in grace. It’s a beautiful picture.

Grow symbolises organic, progressive, fruitful, and beautiful. It speaks about something alive. We’re alive.

I’m so glad that the Lord has told us here to grow. Not just act. Not just operate. Not just push religious buttons and mechanically advance. But grow – there’s life, progress, beauty, fruitfulness.

First, growth implies life. 1:3

Then growth implies progress. 1:5, 3:14

Next, growth implies beauty. 2 Peter portrays many ugly things, like the filthiness of the lives of the false teachers in chapter 2. In contrast to that, he says Grow – how beautiful.

Then growth implies fruitfulness. 1:8

Someone said, there is no instant growth hormone treatment we can take as believers. Good growth is slow but steady growth. (Mark Johnson). And it’s so important that if you are not growing in your walk with the Lord, there is something desperately wrong.

So that’s what the Lord wants of us – grow. Progress. So that’s my first point – the fact of growth.

Two: the command to grow – Grow!

3:18 is not a description of the Christian. It’s a command. It’s not a wish, not in the future tense, nor the past. It’s a present imperative verb. Grow! It’s a DO thing and It’s a NOW thing.

This is important for us to understand.

Some people may have this idea that healthy Christian living is just sitting back and waiting for God to do it all. They have a passive-only understanding of sanctification.

No, We are commanded here. Get up and grow. Christian living is active, God tells us, God commands us. Peter wrote of the active Christian obedience in his first letter when he said,

“Abstain from the passions of the flesh which wage war against your soul.”

What God commands he also gives, said Augustine. But what he gives he also commands.

And the command here is to grow.

So be careful of a passivist, “just wait for the Spirit to live the Christian life for me view” of sanctification. No. The Christian life is active, strenuous obedience. O yes, we Fully rest in God’s grace and power, but we are commanded to grow.

Christian living is warfare, it is Olympic training, it is bootcamp training, it is the hard working farmer. And so the word grow here is a command, and a command we must obey.

Are you growing? And it’s not just, Am I reading my Bible more?

Do I look more like Jesus now than ten years ago?

Do I love the things God loves?

Do I hate the things he hates?

Am I walking by faith and not by sight?

Am I trusting when I suffer?

Am I boasting less, depending more, rejoicing louder?

We need to be constantly growing.

Someone has said that the Christian life is like riding a bicycle. You have to keep moving or you’ll fall off (Michael Green). Peter realizes this so he tells us, Grow!

Three: the shape of growth - in grace and knowledge

Next, we come to this little phrase, grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. First, grow in grace. Then, grow in knowledge.

These are the things that make us grow. Grace and Knowledge are the fertilizer you lay at the roots of your new plants. It’s what produces what the Lord commands when he says here, Grow.

Let’s first talk about grace.

We mature not just when a list of church rules is put before us and someone tells us we better start keep them or else.

We grow When we understand how sinful we are and how gracious our Lord has been, When we see Christ on the cross hanging for our sins, When we hear words like, Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as wool. That’s grace. And that makes us grow and want to grow.

And then there is the fertilizer of knowledge. Knowledge of Christ. Specifically, here, knowing that Christ is two things – Lord and Saviour. Lord – he is the sovereign lord of judgment. Saviour – he is the one who rescues us from his own judgement.

Throw knowledge of Christ as fertilizer at the roots of your growing walk with the Lord. The more we know him, the more we love him. The more we love him, the more we want to be like him. And being like him is what we call growth.

So grace and knowledge are what produces our growth.

But the wording here in 3:18 is general and broad. Growing in grace and knowledge could mean that this is not only the fertilizer but also the fruit.

And these are the things that growth produces. Produces growth, but also that growth produces.

The first fruit that should be big and ripe on our branches is grace. We grow in being gracious to others. Gracious, merciful, showing pity, compassion, to our spouses, neighbours, children, brothers and sisters in the church.

The second fruit that should be ready for the picking is knowledge. We love to study Christ– his life, his incarnation, the trinity, his teachings, atonement, ascension, seating at God’s right hand.

I think if Peter were here today, he’d ask us at least two questions. Are you growing in grace and are you growing in knowledge?

Four: The reason we grow – "But"

We skipped an important little word in our verse. We looked at grow, grace, knowledge. But the first word in this verse is so important. “But” – it contrasts with what Peter has been talking about. 3:18 is part of an argument. It’s an argument that goes all the way back to the beginning of his letter. But more narrowly, it begins back at v14.

2 Peter 3:14-17. Note three threats to healthy Christian growth:

Waiting for the return of Christ – antidote for worry is grow.

The threatening teaching of false teachers – antidote to heresy is grow.

The instability of weak faith – the antidote for weakness is grow.

Conclusion

Are you growing?

Aren’t you glad Christ himself practiced this? He grew in knowledge and stature. He even learned by the things he suffered. He was the spotless lamb who went to Calvary perfect. And it was Calvary that gave us grace to grow in.