Summary: An end of year sermon that admonishes the congregation to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
A Year To Grow!
Text: 2 Peter 3:18
By: Ken McKinley
All week I contemplated and prayed about whether I should preach one more Christmas sermon, or a New Year’s sermon. And since this is the last Sunday of 2010, I thought it might be fitting for us to look at the last words that Peter wrote, probably shortly before his death. So it’s not a Christmas sermon, but it’s not necessarily a New Year’s sermon either. But I believe it’s the right sermon.
Now tradition tells us that Peter was crucified outside of Rome sometime between 65 and 68 A.D. during the reign of Nero – As the guards laid him on the cross and readied to drive the nails, he said that he wasn’t worthy to die in the same manner as Jesus so the crucified him upside down. When he wrote this letter, he knew his time was short and so what he wrote should be of great interest to us, at least I hope it is. And let me just tell you; as I was studying this text, I was thinking to myself that I need to be studying something on shrinkage rather than growth, with all the good food I’ve eaten over the past couple of days, but of course Peter here is talking about spiritual growth, and as we come to the end of 2010, and look forward to 2011, I hope that each one of us here today is resolved to grow spiritually. And if you know much about Peter, then you know he’s somebody who could speak of spiritual growth. This was the guy who the Lord rebuked by saying, “Get behind me Satan!” Peter was the guy who denied the Lord 3 times even though he swore that he would never deny Him. Later on he even gets rebuked by the Apostle Paul, in public no less. But by the time he wrote this, Peter had been walking with the Lord as a Christian for about 30 years. He had grown a lot.
Now there are basically two things that he tells us here. We are to grow in grace and we are to grow in knowledge. And I want us to look at those two things, but we’re going to look at them in the opposite sequence that Peter mentions them, and the reason I’m doing that is because I want us to see the emphasis that’s put on grace before knowledge, so I’m actually going to end with that instead of being with it.
So… first of all we are to grow in knowledge. But what kind of knowledge? Well he says, “The knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” But what’s that mean exactly? Does Peter want us to learn historical facts? Does he want us to learn certain doctrines about Christ? Or does he want us to get that heart knowledge, where we know Jesus relationally? Well; I have to tell you, I think he means both. We are to grow in knowledge about Christ & we are to grow in knowledge that is relational to Christ. We need to remind ourselves over and over again about the basic truths about Jesus. His virgin birth, His life and ministry, His teachings, His death on the cross, His resurrection and ascension into heaven, His being seated at the right hand of the Father, and what all of those things mean to us. You know several studies have been done that show that Christians rarely read their Bible’s anymore, and it blows my mind how so many who claim to know Christ are content with a half our service on Sunday morning and a half hour service on Sunday evening and to be in the world without ever cracking open their Bibles during the week. I don’t know… that doesn’t seem to be enough to grow us up in our faith. We live in an age where we have more access to Christian literature and sermons and Christian teaching than ever before. And yet study after study shows that we are probably the poorest educated followers of Christ in history. We can’t articulate Biblical doctrines, we can’t adequately defend our faith against the worlds attacks.
We have a whole library of Christian books in there… and I just made a check out list and set it on the lectern in there. Please feel free to use that resource. If none of those books are of interest, I can give you a list of books that I recommend on a variety of Christian subjects. Number one on that list is the Bible.
We need to grow in the knowledge of the Lord, and one of the best ways to do that is by reading… reading books, WITHOUT PICTURES. Even within our own, human legal system, lawyers will tell you that ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking it, and WILLFUL ignorance will often result in a stiffer penalty than just plain ignorance will. In other words, there are some within the world who don’t know, because they don’t have the opportunity to know, but then there are some in the world, who don’t know, because they chose not to. The resources are available, but they chose not to know. Now I know there are some who would say, “I don’t like to read.” And all I can say to that is, “Take it up with God. He’s the One who chose to put His Word into book format.”