Growing in Grace

by | Feb 27, 2018

Peter wrote to those of pure minds and exhorted them against falling from their own steadfastness. Instead they should “Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).

Purity may come in a moment of radical cleansing. Maturity, however, is by a process that is coextensive with life itself. While it is impossible to grow sin out of the soul, it is possible after sin is removed to grow always in stature of Christlikeness. We are to come “unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). Perfection in this instance is by a process of growth….

A baby Christian may be a perfect Christian up to his level of age and light. He may be free from all disease and harmful impediment. Yet he is a babe and must grow to maturity. A thing is perfect, we may recall, when it is just what it was designed to be. A green apple may be immature and yet be a perfect apple. It is just what it should be at the particular stage it has reached. Only growth is required to bring it to a perfection of maturity….

God has made ample provision for our continued growth. His Word is given to us for this as well as other purposes. Referring again to Peter’s instructions, we find these words:

“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2).

In Colossians 3:16 St. Paul says,

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” …

[T]he fullness of the Spirit is similar in effect to having the Word of Christ dwelling richly within us. The first must be accompanied by the second. We must strongly emphasize that the Spirit’s fullness cannot be maintained without application to the means of growth, and the Word of God is primary among them.

Human life could not survive beyond a few moments if it were isolated from all sustaining resources, such as air, water, and food. Likewise the life we have in the Spirit must have resources if it is to continue.

Many young Christians fail right at this point.

They feel that a sensational crisis experience must have the capacity for maintaining itself apart from diligent application to God’s Word and other resources. Alas, in every instance such misguided people are tragically mistaken. If life is to continue, growth must continue also…. It is not enough to have a pure heart; if we are to maintain a pure walk we must have the Word of God hidden in our hearts and applied to our actions….

God often permits trials to beset us that we may grow. In themselves they have no power to produce growth; but they may be instrumental in stimulating faith, prayer, and discipline. So the Hebrew writer could say,

“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous;

 

nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Heb. 12:11).

The fruit does not automatically appear; it depends on the exercise produced by the chastening….

We need to recognize that every difficult place which God allows His obedient children to enter into can become a means of growth if they are thereby exercised unto prayer and faith. There are no exceptions to this rule; there is no occasion when they should fight their problems as dreadful enemies.

St. Paul once asked God to take away a “thorn in his flesh.” The answer was this: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” So Paul asserted, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:9).

The Apostle grew in patience and strength, not because of the thorn alone, but because in the experience he drew closer to his Lord and received enabling from Him. May we do likewise.

This excerpt is from The Holy Way (Schmul Publishing, 1984, pp.134-136).

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