GROWTH

 


“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18

A few days ago I met up with a friend I made about 6 years ago during a summer camp at which I was speaking. During one of the messages, the Holy Spirit broke through in my friends life which began an exponential growth in her faith and walk with the Lord. She and her husband became friends of ours and through the years, quite often we would get together as she desired to grow in her relationship with God. At that time some of her other friends were committed Christians and certainly an encouragement to her, but I noticed that the emphasis in their love for God was very emotionally based. It was something that concerned me, and every time we met we would discuss the need for being Bible-based in our approach to living out Scripture. Now don’t misunderstand me, I believe we need a balance of our understanding of the facts revealed through God’s word along with an emotional connection to what we read and study. Some Christians have encountered that issue in their lives with an emphasis on one extreme or the other. An intellectually based faith without a practical and emotional attachment can be very cold and can often turn into legalism. An emotionally based faith, even though sincere, can also take us on a roller coaster ride of feeling; which can leave us confused and hurt if we don’t understand how the Scriptures help us to balance these two extremes.

The key is not meeting in the middle as we often do when we balance things in our lives, but rather our responsibility is to fully embrace them both. As we consider 2 Peter 3:18 I suggest we think about some of the reasons why 2 Peter was written. William MacDonald says “When Christendom lost its love for Christ’s coming and settled down in the world (under Constantine and following), the morals of the church went plummeting. The same is true today.” The need for us to understand truth is to identify fully with the Lord Jesus Christ, His life that was set apart, and His suffering for the sake of the Gospel and the redemption of mankind. His mission was always clear, it was something beyond this life; we should live that way as well. So as we live here on earth as citizens of heaven, how do we incorporate both emotional and intellectual disciplines into our daily walk with God?

Firstly in 2 Peter 3:18 it clearly states we are to “grow”. For growth to take place we need a point of beginning. This takes place at birth and we have many avenues of growth in our lives, in maturity, intellect, physically, emotionally and spiritually. To grow spiritually requires a moment in our lives when we repented of our sins and became a believer and follower of the Savior. To grow means constantly evolving, it’s not a stagnate position but a state of consistently moving forward.

Secondly, there are two words that tell us what we should be growing into. The first is “grace”. This word expresses what the fruit of the Spirit of God accomplishes in our life as we become more like the Lord Jesus Christ on a daily basis. Grace is “unmerited favor”, which God has freely given to us as we have believed in Him. We did not deserve God’s forgiveness for our sins, but His great love was expressed through His grace when He gave His own Son to be a substitute and take the punishment for our sins. That makes me very emotional that God would love me so much and reach out in grace so I could be His child. The second word expressed in how we are to grow is “knowledge”. This means getting to know God through the study of His word and submitting ourselves to that word which includes His works and His ways. The combination of these two words help us fully embrace Him both emotionally and intellectually, but as the closing words of the verse states: how we really understand God is only through His Son “our Lord Jesus Christ”.

A verse in Colossians chapter 3 and verse 16 sums it up nicely “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

 

 

By: Pastor David Jones