Terry R Baughman is Lead Pastor for LifeChurch in Gilbert, AZ. See his complete bio at trbaughman.com
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Grow in Grace
… a new beginning!
Terry R. Baughman
“Beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:17–18).
Just as growth is a natural part of physical life, so progress and growth are necessary in spiritual development. Any life form that fails to develop and grow is either dying or in a degenerating process. Spiritual growth begins with a New Birth and continues to develop mature into perfection or completion. Paul related to this process, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known” (1 Corinthians 13:11–12).
That which fails to grow ceases to be normal. Full development is never achieved and maturity is aborted. Peter wrote that the desire for milk is a positive attribute of those who are growing in God, “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). Meanwhile, those who failed to develop rejected solid food and only wanted milk. Another writer said, “You have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, …” (Hebrews 5:12–14). We would not expect a baby to have an appetite for meat or the ability to derive nutritional protein from such a diet. However, it is quite natural for a mature person to adapt to a stronger diet and derive strength from it.
Peter’s expectation was that believers would, “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). This implies that grace flourishes in a progressive unfolding in our lives and the knowledge of the Lord can increase. Actually, this is the purpose and plan of our Lord. Grace brought us to salvation, “by grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). What He has begun in us, He is faithful to complete. (See Philippians 1:6.) As the songwriter said, It was “grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home” (Amazing Grace, by John Newton, 1779).
Growth in grace is indicated by the acceptance of what He has done and illustrated by what He continues to provide. Failure to embrace His forgiveness and His loving acceptance shows a lack of spiritual maturity and reflects limitations in our development. The more we can understand His incredible love and absolute passion for us the greater His grace can be experienced. Grace is neither a license to sin nor intended to minimize the severity of judgment, but rather the experience of grace will lead us to comprehend how much salvation cost Him and how much He was willing to sacrifice for our redemption.
The grace of God is instructive. Paul said it is, “teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, … zealous for good works” (Titus 2:12, 14). God’s desire is that we would achieve our ultimate growth potential in Him; “We are complete in Him!” (Colossians 2:10).
“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4 NIV).