I often ask those whom I am teaching, discipling, or counseling what they think it means to grow in grace. We are all familiar with Peter’s exhortation to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18). But what does that mean, exactly? For the most part, the answers I get are as follows:
- Reading the Bible more
- Regular church attendance
- Stronger prayer life
- Consistently tithing
- Volunteering more at church
- Increasing service to community
These are all good answers and there are other practices, as well, which give evidence to the grace of God at work in the life of the believer. And yet I must say to you that these answers do not go deep enough.
Growing in grace is more about what we know than what we do. Peter says we are to grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In other words, we are to be growing in our understanding of the Gospel: the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. We must seek to understand more deeply each day what Jesus has done, continues to do, and will one day complete on behalf of sinners like you and me.
He obeyed perfectly . . . He loved unconditionally . . . He forgave completely. And all of this was done on behalf of rebels who deserved nothing but His wrath, judgment, and condemnation. The more we understand this unmerited favor, the more we are strengthened by His omnipotent strength to fight the good fight of faith. The more we understand what Jesus has done for us, the more we grow in grace; the more we grow in grace, the more we are transformed by its truth. J. C. Ryle rightly observed:
When I speak of a man growing in grace, I mean simply this: that his sense of sin is becoming deeper, his faith stronger, his hope brighter, his love more extensive, his spiritual mindedness more marked. He feels more of the power of godliness in his own heart; he manifests more of it in his life.
Growing in grace means we are growing in our understanding of God’s great mercies given to great sinners. It makes the Cross central in our lives, as we daily gaze upon our Lord nailed to crossbeams—broken, bleeding, struggling for each agonized breath, and crying out to His Father, “Why has Thou forsaken me!” Growing in grace magnifies the majesty of the One who set His face to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51) to pay so great a price to secure our eternal redemption. At the same time, we see our weakness and utter dependence upon the One who died in our place and has promised never to leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!