Tensions in Grace and Growth

This Sunday we will be continuing in our Resolved series. Every Sunday we are pulling back the curtain on our motivations and, by God’s grace, praying for the Scriptures to take root and produce new convictions and habits. Personally, I have found this series both challenging and encouraging. It has been challenging because I am finding so many areas where I leave my life unchecked. It has been encouraging because grace always stands to receive me when I realize that.

This Sunday we delve into just that idea—how do we think about the grace we have in Jesus and, at the same time, our own personal growth as believers? These topics bring tension—both for the preacher and for the listener.The passage we’ll be in is a wonderful one—2 Peter 1. In particular, we’ll look at verses 3-11. The passage is below, but I want to highlight some parts of it:

3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (ESV)

Do you see the tension that exists? It is not a tension that is insurmountable, but it is one that is important to understand.

  • God has given us everything to live: All things that are needed to live this life in the way God desires have already been given to us in Christ. The Christian has nothing further she or he needs to gain. Everything is at our disposal for the life we are to live now and the life God has for us in eternity.
  • We are to supplement our faith: Watch out here, because you might assume that supplementing our faith means “for your salvation.” It does not. This point is our tension. We have what we need (v. 3) and, thus, we grow in our character, our understanding, our love for one another, etc. As we increase in these qualities, we prevent spiritual blindness—perhaps even to our own condition.
  • Growth in these qualities evidences the salvation God has given us: As we grow, we become all the more sure of who we are in Christ. Verse 10 tells us that in doing these things, we will “never fall” (that is, stumble and be led astray by our own sin).

The Christian life is not about just sitting idly by and hoping you grow. In fact, your growth (which comes at different rates and in different ways for every believer) reveals the life that God has given you. The question I always need to be asking myself is: am I making every effort to grow in the grace I have been given or have I become sluggish, tired, and blinded? 

If you are in Baton Rouge, I hope you can join us this Sunday.

I'd love to hear your thoughts . . .