Growing in the Knowledge and Grace of Christ
By Nathele Graham
Growth is an important part of life. Life starts at conception. Cells divide and grow until the child is ready to be born into the world. After that little person is born, growth continues. One day that little person will run and jump, possibly becoming an Olympic medal winner. It all takes growing and learning. There’s a more important growth that should take place in every human, and that’s growth in Christ. The Apostle Peter knew this. He was one of the closest followers of Jesus, but Peter also denied knowing Him. Peter was afraid that his friendship with Christ would cost him dearly…maybe even cost his life. After Christ was crucified and buried, Peter was one of the first to peer into the empty tomb on the day of Christ’s resurrection Now what? Peter had a lot to learn about Christ’s love and forgiveness. He had to learn that even though he failed, he could be restored to a close walk with Jesus. Peter was an expert in failing, then being restored. We can learn much from his experience.
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To hum be glory both now and forever. Amen.” – 2 Peter 3:18.
The other disciples had their moments of failure, too. Today we still refer to someone with many doubts as a “Doubting Thomas”. This refers to Thomas who doubted that the risen Jesus had paid a visit to the disciples as they fearfully gathered together in a locked room. Thomas hadn’t been there to see with his own eyes, and wouldn’t believe it unless he put his hand in Jesus’ wounds.
“But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, we have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” – John 20:24-25.
Eight days later, Thomas was with his friends when Jesus again entered that locked room and told him to examine the nail prints. We all have our moments of doubt, but Jesus never fails. What’s your reaction when your need is great and Jesus answers? We should all react like Thomas.
“And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God” – John 20:28.
Thomas had grown in his understanding of Christ. His head knowledge told him about prophecy, and he had heard the words Jesus had spoken. What he had now was heart knowledge that allowed growth in Christ. Maybe you’re down to your last dollar, and out of the blue you get a rebate in the mail that you had forgotten you mailed in. When that happens, don’t forget to thank God. If that check had come sooner, you would have spent it on something you didn’t really need. If it had come any later, it would have been too late. God planned it to arrive exactly when it was most needed. Take time to thank Him and praise Him.
We begin gathering knowledge when we enter into this world. A newborn baby cries and soon learns that his parents will ease his discomfort. As the child grows, more knowledge is acquired…how to walk and talk. If that child does not begin to learn and use knowledge, something’s wrong. Knowledge is continually imparted to us. Learning is natural to a child. It should be the same with knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. One evening a Pharisee paid a visit to Jesus. Nicodemus had many questions. Questions are good when asked in order to gain knowledge, and Nicodemus was searching for answers. Jesus took time to answer the questions, and John recorded that conversation for us.
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” – John 3:3.
Are you born again? Then, like any newborn babe, you need to begin learning about Spiritual things? Once born into God’s family, our knowledge of God’s ways needs to be cultivated, and we need to live according to His word so grace will also grow. Anger and hatred no longer have a place in your life.
Peter gained much knowledge and grace through his life with Jesus. He begins his second epistle:
“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of our God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord” – 2 Peter 1:1-2.
Peter understood that knowledge of God and of Jesus brings grace and peace to a believer. He understood the need to grow in grace and knowledge. Most of us can identify with Peter because of his enthusiasm, followed by his failures. If we study Peter’s life, we can learn more about the love of Jesus. He will allow us to fail, but will always be there to help us when we call to Him. It was Peter who saw Jesus walking on the water to reach the boat caught in the storm. Peter enthusiastically wanted to walk on water with the Lord. He had no doubt that he could if Jesus told him to come. Peter was about to learn an important lesson in spiritual growth in Christ. Jesus told him to come out of the boat. Peter enthusiastically did, and even took a few steps.
“But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried, saying, Lord save me.” – Matthew 14:30.
Eventually, Peter learned to trust Jesus, and not look at the storms. He became the leader of those first believers. Not only could Peter encourage others to step out into impossible situations, but could also remind them to keep their eyes upon Jesus. The years that Peter was with Jesus, watching and observing, were important to his growing in knowledge and grace, but it wasn’t until Peter finally understood Jesus’ words that he became the man Jesus knew he could be. Peter’s knowledge of God and His ways finally were combined with living out that knowledge, and that’s when Peter began growing in grace. Finally, he could feed the sheep just as Jesus had asked him. Sometimes, like Peter, we require knowledge bumps to finally gain a particular bit of knowledge. Growth and knowledge of Jesus Christ will elude us at every turn of life unless we actually delve into our Bibles. We also need to step out in faith, even if a storm is raging. Jesus will be there if we begin to sink.
There are plenty of folks who claim they know of Jesus but have very little knowledge of His ways. They attend worship services on Sunday mornings and receive a few minutes of instruction a week, but by Sunday afternoon they’re back to living like the world. Growing in Christ takes more than knowledge of Christ. Knowledge must be applied to life. Sunday mornings are a good place to whet your appetite for more knowledge and understanding, but an in-depth study seldom happens from our pulpits today. The best way to learn and grow is to study line upon line and precept upon precept through Scripture.
“For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line, here a little, and there a little.” – Isaiah 28:10.
Knowledge of Christ comes from studying our Bible from Genesis through Revelation and then applying that knowledge and grace to our everyday life will bring growth. Sometimes what we discover in Scripture is very different than what we assume to be true. When that happens, you need to adjust your thinking to fit God’s truth. The more we learn and the more we rely on Jesus for everything the more peace we will find. Even when things seem to go wrong, our faith and knowledge of Christ will give us peace.
Scripture isn’t always easy to understand. Peter pointed this out. Speaking of Paul’s epistles, he said,
“As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” – 2 Peter 3:16.
The word “wrest” comes from the Greek word “strebloō” which means: to twist, to torture, put to the rack, metaphorically to pervert, of one who wrests or tortures languages in a false sense. If due diligence isn’t taken in studying Scripture, the meaning will be twisted.
“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.” – 2 Peter 3:17.
It takes a conscience effort to study and learn, but the Holy Spirit will lead you in your study if you allow it. If we don’t have solid knowledge of God’s word we can easily be led astray. There are many false teachers who spout ideas that sound nice but are really heresy. How can you know truth from lies?
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:15.
Pray and allow the Holy Spirit to guide your study. If you’re serious about growing in Christ, spend some time alone with him. Fast and read Scripture beginning in Genesis. When you come across something you don’t understand, or that contradicts something you’ve been taught, stop and pray. The Holy Spirit will open your understanding.
As we study about our Lord and Savior and learn about His grace and mercy, it becomes easy to acknowledge Him in all aspects of life. This knowledge will set us apart from worldly people. By nature, Peter wasn’t a patient man, but he learned and grew in faith. We are blessed in that we have both the Old and New Testaments to learn from. Peter had the Old Testament but he had walked with Jesus, and learned. The Holy Spirit worked through him to write letters included in the New Testament. Thank God he was willing to serve.
“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” – 2 Peter 1:10-11.
We must be willing to learn and be diligent in our study of God’s word. Continual and diligent study produces knowledge. His grace is imputed to those who will diligently seek Him. Do you strive to grow in knowledge of our Lord? The choices you make will determine your growth. If you choose to prayerfully study His word rather than reading the latest “how to” book about new ideas on a Christian life, the Holy Spirit will lead you to a deeper knowledge. Your heart will be turned to Him and your desire to please Him will grow. As His grace and knowledge grow in you, you’ll turn away from worldly pursuits which lead to sin. Knowledge will help you to grow, but applying that knowledge to life is what makes it real and leads to fuller grace.
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” – 2 Peter 1:5-7.
Do you see how knowledge grows? A foundation of faith in Christ is where we begin building our Christian life. By faith we accept Christ and that faith should make a change in how we live. Virtue (moral goodness in feeling and action) should follow. Add knowledge of Christ to virtue and apply it to your life, and so on. It’s a matter of building upon a foundation of faith. Can you imagine what a Christian with solid knowledge of Christ can do? I can. Scripture tells us about the actions of Peter, James, Paul, Barnabas, and all the others who lived their faith in Christ. They shared their faith and spread the Gospel. We are the beneficiaries of that most valuable knowledge. If we don’t study Scripture, we waste that knowledge and don’t grow in faith.
Study the Gospels, and learn about knowledge without grace. The Pharisees had much knowledge but little grace. They studied the Jewish Law – both written and oral. They were able to point out another person’s sin, and were also able to justify their own. They tried time and again to find reason to discredit Jesus. Jesus tried to teach them the Truth. He always showed grace and mercy to the common people. Jesus healed the sick on the Sabbath, ate with sinners, forgave sin, and many other acts of kindness. No wonder the Pharisees were out to get Him! Jesus had much to say to them about their lack of grace.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” – Matthew 23:27-28.
Ouch! This is just a small portion of His speech to them. These men had lots of knowledge, but they had no grace, and refused to grow, even when God was demonstrating to them the way, the truth, and the life.
Jesus said “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” – John 14:15.
To know His commandments we must prayerfully study His word and gain knowledge. Then we need to choose to keep His commandments in how we live our life every day. Then we will grow in knowledge and grace of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Do you love Him? Then keep His commandments and grow in Christ.
God bless you all,
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
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