Key Passage; 2 Peter 3: 14-18
Key Text: 2 Peter 3:18 – “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
Growth is a consequence of life. Everything that God created and is living grows. So the natural progression of life is growth. Babies grow, plants grow, animals grow, churches grow, businesses grow and families grow. But we all know that growth is contingent on all factors remaining constant. If plants don’t get water and sunshine they stop growing, they shrivel up and die eventually. So it is with everything that has life and can grow. They need nourishment and good conditions to continue to thrive. I like the look of Bonsai trees. I think they are cute and I marvel when I see them, but I have refused to buy one or even attempt to cultivate them, because I see an antithesis in every Bonsai tree. I see that man has limited the scope and glory of the tree to such an extent that the tree is limited in size and the value of what it can give. Think about this, a tree that has the potential to be over a 100 feet tall and have a branch span of over 50 feet is reduced to a tree just over 1 foot and branch span of just a few inches. These Bonsais are clipped and pruned so they become so limited in their growth. They are not allowed to flourish to their full extent and as such we never see the full glory of such trees.
This is what happens if a believer is not growing in the grace of God. They are like Bonsais. They are stunted and reduced to mere midgets. They are malnourished and uncared for. They look really unhealthy as Christians. God wants us to grow in grace. So the more we learn to accept and live in the grace of God the more we grow and flourish. No one can live the Christian life in his or her own strength. This understanding is very crucial to living the life of grace. Most people who do not know this find themselves struggling in an endless battle to be right with God. This is actually an error and a grave mistake. We cannot make ourselves right with God; we are made right with God through what Jesus did on the cross. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. God has made us righteous by this one act, and all we really need to do is understand that and lean on His arm and we would keep standing in His righteousness.
But today, I want to talk more about growing in the grace of God. The more you are able to behold and know Jesus Christ, the more you are likely to grow in grace. The more you appreciate His all sufficiency in all things, the more you learn to yield and allow His life to flow through us and the more we flourish under His matchless grace. Do not put any confidence in your ability to live right. Do not boast about your will power or personal ability to walk in righteousness. This is a recipe for disaster. If you must boast, boast in the sufficiency of Jesus Christ to sustain you and keep you. Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ, it no longer I who live, but the life I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who died for me.” Powerful words from the apostle of grace. He knew what he was talking about. He had been in Judaism and was a strict observer of the law. He was a Pharisee of Pharisees. He knew what it meant to be in such a strict, personal effort to be right with God. He knew how limiting this was and how stunting. He knew how painful it was when he found himself wanting and didn’t have any means of getting out of the fix he was in. So when Paul caught the message of grace, he grabbed it with all his heart and ran with it. If you have been a prisoner or under a kidnappers grip, once you are free, you never want to go back there again. You run far from that place.
So to grow in grace, you must live in the knowledge of your personal inability and weakness to walk right outside the power of God. You must have a sober mind and recognise that only the presence of grace in your life can keep you from stumbling and falling. Two scriptures pop into mind; Romans 5:20 “….But where sin increased and abounded, grace (Gods unmerited favour) has surpassed it and increased the more and super abounded,” I understand this to also mean that where there is prevalence of sin, there is an even greater prevalence of grace. So for those caught in an atmosphere of sin, there is a greater atmosphere of grace, so we can draw on God’s grace so we are not sucked into the sinfulness around us. Second scripture is found in Jude 24 – 25 “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. God is able to keep us from falling and present us blameless before God. The key word here is that Jesus is able to keep us, uphold us, and steady us, so we do not fall.
So growing in grace is contingent on us continuing to recognise that we need God and fully affirm our dependence on him and trust his all sufficiency in all things. The more we are able to raise our hands in surrender, the more we attract His grace and the more we grow in grace.
Let’s Pray: Father God thank you for your all-abounding grace. Thank you that you have made grace to be so available that we do not need to struggle to live the life of Christ on earth. Today, we want to continue to grow in grace, so we affirm our need of you and put no confidence in our flesh. Thank you for keeping us from falling and thank you for the never –ending supply of your grace, in Jesus name we pray. Amen.