Peter's Last Word
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
Peter knew as he wrote this last letter that he did not have much longer to live here on earth (2 Pet. 1:14). But though he was an old man, his zeal for the cause of Christ was not diminished. Peter passionately exhorted his beloved fellow-saints one last time, reminding us of an old general addressing his troops on a final, dramatic occasion. The verse above closes out his letter. What is the final word of exhortation? Grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ! There is an urgency here. For the Christian, growing in Christ is not optional, but mandatory. It is not a matter of convenience, but is one of those essential things.
To grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ is, of course, connected. To grow in grace is to be more influenced by it. To delight and rest in it more; to have greater dependence on it; to be shaped by it; to be trained, purified, and motivated by it. To know Christ is a gift of grace; to know grace is to possess Christ! So, Peter says, keep on growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Believer, You Can Grow!
Christians have a way of allowing God-honoring humility to turn into self-pity, despondency and even an excuse for negligence. We see and grieve over our failings, our lack of Bible knowledge, our weakness, our missed opportunities and more. We can allow that to be a cloud that distorts our spiritual vision. “Why try to study, read the Scriptures? I'll never know as much as the pastors. I have already wasted so much time; I am way behind everyone else! What's the use?” But, believer, listen to Peter: Keep on growing! If the Spirit of the living God has created new life within you, formed a holy nature within your soul...you have the capacity, by His grace, to grow in Christ! No matter what stage is your life in Christ, no matter how much or little you have matured, no matter how many wasted opportunities. There is certainly a place for remorse and repentance. But after you repent, be encouraged that if you diligently seek this gracious Lord, He will richly bless those efforts.
This Is a Never-Ending Growth:
The imperative in the original language is indeed, “Keep on growing”. A teenager may go to an amusement park and be blown away by the thrill of the rides. He may even go so often that he rides every single ride. He finally reaches the end of the amusement park's glory and thrill. But, friend, with Jesus you can never get to the end of His greatness, beauty, love, grace and wisdom. The other articles in this edition of The Baptist Witness give us a delicious taste of that reality. They speak of prophecies about Jesus, names of Jesus, works of Jesus. In the Scriptures, words like these are tied to Jesus: riches, fullness, treasures, exceeding riches, breadth, length, depth height (indeed a love that surpasses knowledge), gain, better, unsearchable riches, excellency, preeminence, glory...and more! Keep on growing in the knowledge of Jesus.
Growth Through Diligence:
In 2 Peter, the aged apostle exhorts repeatedly to diligence. There is no short-cut to growing in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus. Regular disciplines of readying/study, prayer, worship and service in the local church, memorization and meditation of the Scriptures are the avenues to growth. Granted, every time you read your Bible you may not be dazzled and thrilled. But the more you seek the Lord through these disciplines, the more He will teach and feed you. The idea is not one or two joy-rides, but a lifestyle of pursuing Jesus. Sometimes, growth is obvious. Other times, it may be imperceptible. And, there may be times when it is stalled by sin and negligence. Don't fixate too much on your “level” of growth, but focus on the object of your growth, Jesus. Growth also happens as we walk with Jesus through life experiences. In these times, truths that we have known, perhaps more in our heads than our hearts, are made more precious and real to us in the sweat, toil and adversity of the Christian race.
Growth Is a Powerful Protection:
Peter's final word is connected to the surrounding passage. In the verses right before, Peter warns of false teachers who twist the Holy Scriptures for wicked designs, from wicked motives and will bring upon themselves destruction! Then, the old pastor says to the flock, “...beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace...” A serious warning! Satan loves to use the Scriptures for his own sinister designs. He works through false teachers who use the very word of God in illegitimate ways to seduce and deceive people from Christ. Think of it: our adversary is willing to use anything but the Scriptures and even the Scriptures themselves in his battle against the cause of Christ. Whether it be overt temptations to sin, false religions, or worldly philosophies camouflaged in misapplied verses of Scripture, the enemy is clever. The protection: keep growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The more that we feed on the solid and healthy nourishment of the gospel, the more protected we will be against the laced Kool-aid of the wicked one. The more we are anchored in the treasures, riches, glory and excellency of the Savior, the less we will be tempted by the counterfeits of this world. Hear the exhortation of Holy Spirit-inspired Peter who would soon take his exit to glory: Keep on growing!