Challenges are all around us. Some are to do good and others would pull us in the wrong direction entirely. In the short book of 2 Peter the writer laid out all the wrong things that were going on among the people of God. Many hadn’t grown up the way they should have in Christ and the result was they were short sighted and blind, barren in their life for God and in grave danger of falling away from him. In chapter two he described those who were false teachers who were leading away disciples from the truth of God’s word to go in their own ways. He calls them wells without water, clouds that give no rain. They spoke great swelling words but there was nothing of substance behind it all. In verses 20-22 of chapter two he said, “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them: The dog returns to its own vomit and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”
In chapter three he described how scoffers had arisen saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? Since our father’s fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning.” He reminded them of the days of Noah and the flood that destroyed the world at that time and the scoffers who doubted the message Noah preached right up to the time that the door was shut on the ark and the rains began to fall. He pointed out that God wasn’t slow to carry out his promise to come again but was patiently waiting, wanting all to come to repentance. But that day was coming and it would bring dire results for those who now scoffed at the will of the Lord and his promises. As he reached the conclusion of the book in 3:14 he pleaded with them, “Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him.” He warned that some were twisting the things written by Paul that were sometimes hard to understand to their own destruction. In verse 17 he said, “You therefore beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.”
It is then that he reached the final conclusion of the book and the greatest plea of the whole thing. “BUT GROW IN THE GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. To him be the gory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” Think about this final exhortation. It is the one we need so desperately today and every day. Troubles are all around you. People are turning from the truth into gross error. Many are now lost that were once right with God. Some have gone so far away that it would have been better for them to have never known the truth at all. In such a time, what should we do as the people of God? BUT GROW!
We could stand alongside Peter and discuss all the problems in our own time. We could point to all the wrong teaching and twisting of the truth going on now. We could talk about the fussing and complaining that is so prevalent in the world. We could point to the reality that people seem almost to hate anyone who disagrees with them on just about anything. I was driving home from our Bible classes last Wednesday night when I entered an intersection and pulled out in front of a guy that evidently thought I had cut him off in some way and the anger he demonstrated would have made you think I had really done him wrong. Most of us even who have lived for quite a while have never seen so much distrust and questioning of motives as is obvious today. Even in churches folks are ready to divide and leave over things that seem pretty small. So what should a Christian do in such times?
BUT GROW! Peter’s whole point is that no matter what the troubles may be around you, whether in a world that was then persecuting the church on every side and fusses inside the church because of some disagreements often over minor issues or in a time of peace our obligation is the same. His response was that in such times the right thing for us to do is grow. Grow in grace. We are saved by the undeserved favor and blessing of God that comes to us through his amazing grace. He offers us salvation that we can’t possibly earn or deserve. His challenge to us is to grow in that same heart toward others. If we wish to claim grace for salvation from God but aren’t willing to extend grace to others around us in the name of God, we have missed something that is vital in living for the Lord. Grace isn’t just a means of salvation, but it is to be a way of life. We ought to become more and more graceful in our dealings with others all the time. Grace always leads to mercy in our actions.
Notice he tied growing in grace to also growing in the knowledge of Jesus. No one better lived out grace in his actions than Jesus. He constantly offered love, forgiveness and acceptance to people that they didn’t deserve. He healed their sicknesses, raised their dead, gave sight to the blind and caused the deaf to hear. He cleansed lepers and made the cripple able to walk again. He looked at those possessed of demons and drove them out. He took tax collectors who had cheated the people and made godly people of them. He lived by grace and extended to all whom he met. When we grow in our knowledge of Jesus we will obviously grow in our understanding of grace and if we understand grace better we should also be motivated to extend it more freely to others.
When we grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus it leads to glory to Him forevermore. So grow in his grace and knowledge of Jesus all the time.