Growing Up in Grace
Text: 2nd Peter 3:14-18
By: Ken McKinley
Now if you were hoping that we were going to be back in the Book of Genesis this morning, you’re going to have to wait til next Sunday, or maybe even the Sunday after that, as the Lord’s been putting more than a few things on my heart.
Instead, we're going to look at this passage from 2nd Peter this morning.
But before we get into this passage, I want to give you a brief overview of the book so you’ll have an understanding of it in context. In chapter one Peter began by talking about how Christians should be growing in their faith – we see that in verses 5 – 11. Then in verses 12 – 15 he says that he’s wanting to remind his readers of these important truths, because he knows that his time is short. He knows that the persecutions he was enduring and that all Christians were enduring, would eventually catch up to even him, and that he would be put to death because of the faith.
HE then concludes chapter one by talking about the trustworthiness of God’s Word. In chapter two; Peter begins his warnings. Back then, just like today, there were men and women going around and perverting the Gospel… we talked a little bit about that last Sunday evening in our study of the Book of Galatians. So Peter says, “There have always been and there always will be ‘false prophets’ who will bring in destructive heresies… and people are going to follow them.” But Peter is warning his readers, and us as well, to be on our guard against this sort of thing. And then the rest of chapter two is devoted to how these false prophets and false teachers… how these wolves in sheeps clothing will get what’s coming to them.
Chapter 3; he begins by talking about how God is not slack concerning His promises, specifically in regards to the 2nd Coming of Christ. And he does a bit of teaching on that subject, and then finally we come to our text. And in our text, what we have is Peter wrapping up his letter with a bit of helpful instruction to us as Christians. And in verse 14 we see those words, “Therefore.” What this is; is logical reasoning. In-other-words, what Peter’s saying here is, because of all of these things I’ve just said to you, you ought to be doing this. And the “this” that we ought to be doing, is being diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot or blemish.
To be diligent, means to make every effort. This is the responsibility of every believer. It is your responsibility and mine, and everyone who would name the name of Christ, to exert ourselves in Christian conduct. Now let me explain this. It’s not saying we are saved by works. It’s not saying we keep ourselves saved by works. The bible is clear, over and over again, it’s clear – that we are saved by grace through faith, that’s Ephesians 2:8-9. And we are kept by the power of God. But what Peter is saying here is the rest of that section in Ephesians 2… Peter’s saying Ephesians 2:10 in his own way. Ephesians 2:8, 9 and 10 say, “For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
And so this isn’t a call for ethical activity. It isn’t a call for believers to pull themselves up by their boot straps and maintain their salvation. It’s not a call to busy work. No… it’s a call to progress in the sanctification that should be evident in all believers.
Turn with me to Philippians 2:12-13 (Read). Now I want you to notice something about that passage… or a couple of things. First of all, we are to work OUT our own salvation, not work FOR our own salvation. We work it out in a tangible way through our lives, then notice verse 13 – For it is GOD who works IN YOU both to WILL and to DO for His good pleasure.
Think about that for a minute. How is it that a person who is dead in trespasses and sin, comes to choose God. How is that when there are none who are righteous, no not one, when there are none who understand, when there are none who seek after God… how is it that such people as this can at some point in time choose to believe in God and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior? How can such people to whom the message of the cross is foolishness, or a stumbling block, embrace that message? How can we be made right with God, when our free will which is controlled by our sinful nature and is at enmity with God? Well Philippians 12:13 tells us how. It is God who works in you, both TO WILL (that’s to chose Him) and to DO (that’s to believe and to have works of faith and sanctification). GOD HAS DONE IT and we are to actively be working it out in our lives. And so we should ask ourselves; are we making any progress towards righteousness? Or are we coasting along? Are we, as David Platt says, choosing comfort over the cross?
When I was an assistant coach at OPSU, we had days when the team was supposed to go to the weight room. And some of the other coaches and I would go into the weight room with the players and make sure they were actually working out. And it never failed; you would have those players who were dedicated to getting better, and they would be hitting the weights, working hard to improve their strength and conditioning, and then you would have a few of them who would just stand back, maybe do a couple of the exercises they enjoyed, but then they would stand back and just talk and joke around and waste their time. And I wondered about them – did they think they didn’t need to improve? Did they think they were good enough already? Because our record disagreed with that notion. Well what about us? Do we think we don’t need to be in God’s Word through out the week? Do we think to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord? Peter was talking to someone else not us right?
I hope that we’re being challenged by this. It challenges me; and I hope it does you as well. You see the focus of the Christian life is to be like Jesus. The focus; believe it or not isn’t heaven. If it were, when we got saved, we would be immediately raptured and taken there, but we are left here for a time, so that we can progress in sanctification and be more like Him, and be about His business. We are God’s ordained means to reach the world, and show forth His glory. That’s why Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that by testing you will discern what is the will of God, and what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
You see; a lot of times our attitudes is more like some of those players: Hey I made the team, what’s the big deal? We say, “Hey I’m saved, I’ve got my fire insurance. What’s the big deal?”
Well… here’s the big deal. Sin in the Christians life doesn’t remove us from our relationship with the Father.
If you are born again, if you have been bought by the blood of Christ, and redeemed and reconciled, then your relationship is secure. But your fellowship is hampered, and in this life you’ll struggle to have peace, you’ll struggle to have assurance, and if that fellowship is hampered, you will be focused on reclaiming that peace and reclaiming that assurance and reclaiming that fellowship. When what we should be doing as Christians is doing the work of the Kingdom. You see; that’s the plan of the devil. If you are a Christian, he can’t steal you from the hand of the Father, but he can get you to focus all your time and energy and efforts on yourself, so that you’re not doing the work of the Kingdom, so that you’re not reaching the lost, so that you’re not progressing in your Christian walk.
So Peter says, “Make every effort! Be diligent!”
In verse 15 Peter says that we should count the patience or the longsuffering of the Lord as salvation. What he’s doing there is trying to get us to think about the reason the Lord delays in His coming. So Peter wants to remind us that it’s because of God’s patience. The longer God delays in patience, the more opportunity we have to be about His business, and the more opportunity those who are lost have to come into the fold. To be consumed with a desire for the return of the Lord can say something about us. Granted; we are too look for it with expectancy and eagerness. But if you’re consumed with it and all you’re doing is watching the prophecy teachers on TV and keeping a close eye on the news and rubbing your hands in anticipation, then chances are – you’re not out sharing the gospel. You see; the problem is that so many Christians are not looking for deliverance from sin and this present evil age, but they are looking from deliverance from their Christian responsibility.
As a side note, I want you to notice something else here. Look at verses 15 & 16 (Read). What this shows us is that even at this early date, Paul’s letters (and probably the other apostles letters) were being collected and considered as authoritative, inspired Scripture. Turn with me to 1st Timothy 5:17-18 (Read). In verse 18 where Paul writes, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” That’s from the OT, from Deuteronomy 25:4, and then Paul says, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” And that’s from Luke 10:7, and notice Paul says that they are BOTH Scripture. And so what Peter is saying in our text is that we should study the totality of the Bible so that you’re not led away with the error of the wicked. You see; God’s revelation to man is incomplete without both the OT and the NT in their entirety.
What Peter is telling us is that we should listen with a critical ear, that we should be like the Bereans. Because people will distort the Scripture, and it seems all the more common nowadays. That’s what he’s saying in verse 17 – BEWARE!
You see; Peter knew how easy it was to fall. He knew that he was the one who had denied the Lord 3 times. So we need to learn from his mistakes. Paul again tells us the same thing in 1st Corinthians chapter 10:12 where he writes, “Let him who thinks he stands, take heed, less he fall.” What all this means is that we as Christians should beware of the company we keep, be wary of what we read and what we listen to, and with whom we associate ourselves with. Be on your guard. There are wolves in sheeps clothing, and if you’re not watchful, you won’t know that they aren’t sheep.
Let’s go on… we’ve got one more verse to look at… verse 18 (Read). You notice that grace comes before knowledge. Having knowledge in an anti-intellectual world is extremely important, but knowledge by itself causes conceit. Without grace, knowledge puffs us up, and makes us think more highly than we ought to.
That’s why Peter says, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ…” and then he says, “To Him be the glory, both now and forever.”
Let me close with this: About three years ago, I got to talk to an old friend of mine, a guy I knew from back when I was in high school. He wasn’t quite as ornery as I was, but he was still pretty wild. He lives in Wichita Kansas now, and he told me then that he had been going to church, and I was encouraged by that. He asked me what he needed to do, and I told him, “Just keep going, listen to your pastor, and read your Bible.” But then I lost touch with him until about 4 months ago. I managed to find his brother on Facebook and got my friends phone number from him. So I gave him a call and asked him how things were going.
Here’s what he told me. He said, “Well I’m still going to church. I started out in the beginners Sunday School class and after a few months of going to church, going to SS and reading my Bible I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.” I said, “That’s awesome man!” He then said, “Yeah, well about a year ago, I moved up to the Bereans class (that’s the advanced Sunday School), and I’m on the community evangelism team now.” I said, “That’s great!” Then he said, “Yeah. You know, I love God, and I love my church family, and I’m thinking about going to school so that I can become a missionary.”
That’s the perfect example of someone whose growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You can tell it, not only by what he’s saying, but by what he’s doing. His life is being marked by a love for God, a love for his church and a love for the lost.