First Mennonite Church
January 21, 2018
Growing in Grace and Knowledge
Text: 2Peter 3:14-18
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
The words of Peter in this passage are in the context of a larger discourse about false teachers and their scoffing of the apparent failed promise of Jesus’ imminent appearing—the parousia or what is called “his second coming,” which Peter also mentions in chapter one, verse 16. These false teachers were questioning: “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!” (v.4). Peter argued that the intended reason for false teachers to scoff at the apparent failure of Jesus’ coming was to give them freedom to live lustful lives (v. 3). It was implicit in the false teachers’ perception that the day of the Lord would be a day of reckoning; it would be the Day of Judgment. The Day of the Lord, according to Old Testament, is a day of cosmic and social upheaval or thorough destruction followed by God’s judgment. The scoffers were saying, “Look around, everything remains the same.” But Peter reminded his Christian brothers and sisters that God’s judgment is real and had happened in the past. Peter reminded his fellow Christians that God destroyed the world in the past through the flood. But Peter believed the coming judgment of God will be with fire. He believed that the apparent delay of the coming of the Lord and the day of God was to give time to all to repent and to believe in God.
Although Peter was addressing the danger posed by the false teachers regarding the delayed coming of the Lord, Peter took this opportunity to encourage the church on how to live their Christian faith. That is where our passage begins. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Often times many preachers and Christian teachers of today do not do as Paul, Peter, and even Jesus himself did when talking about the coming of the Lord. Many teachers of the so-called “end times” encourage their followers to stay focused on the political developments occurring in Israel rather than calling for Christian character and morality. But one of the greatest weaknesses among Christians in general is the attitude towards the very teaching of the Lord’s coming. So often we forget or simply live so indifferently to the fact that Jesus will come one day. And it could be any day. To many people the idea that Jesus will come again seems preposterous. Let us be reminded that Jesus spoke about it, and so did Paul, Peter, and John. It is written in the New Testament. To you and me, this is what Peter wants to tell us: So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
First, Peter calls for three things:
- Ø Make every effort to be found spotless.
- Ø Make every effort to be found blameless.
- Ø Make every effort to be found at peace with him.
Peter reminds us that if we believe Jesus is coming again we must strive to be found by him spotless and blameless. That is, Jesus must find us living holy lives. Pursuing to live a holy life should be reflected in the daily choices and decisions we make. These daily decisions should show that God has separated us for himself. We are no longer living for ourselves, but for the Lord. When we live fully aware that we have been separated by God to be his, we choose wisely the things we buy. We are mindful that God has set us up to be good stewards of our time, resources, abilities, and in fact our very lives. We are also vigilant about the way we treat others if we want to be found blameless. We are ready to forgive and to ask for forgiveness so that neither anger nor grudge darkens our heart and mind.
Third on Peter’s list is that we should make every effort to be found at peace with the Lord. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote: Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled (12:14, 15). If failing to be at peace with others can prevent us from seeing the Lord, how much more if we are not at peace with the Lord himself? Are we at peace with God? I pray we all are.
Let me jump to verses 17 and 18.
Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
Peter made a final call. After he had warned his dear friends about the danger of those who were spreading false teaching, he gave a last call: Grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord and Savior. Growing is a natural process in life. If something or someone does not grow as expected, we worry. In our family, every year we measure each of our children on the day of his or her birthday. We want to know how tall each grew since the last birthday. We have a measuring chart marked with inches up to five feet. Lilian and I would ask the birthday girl or boy to stand by the chart and write his or her name and date by the line marking his/her height. It is interesting to see how children grow up. The years between seven and ten they seem not to grow up much. But the years between 10 and 14 are when they seem to stretch the most. Interestingly, parents do not only measure their children’s physical growth. Parents also measure their children’s social and intellectual growth.
In 1Peter chapter two, verses one to three, Peter writes:
Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
As we find today, in his second letter Peter writes: Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We never stop growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord. There will always be room for improvement in our lives. Growing in grace is growing in the likeness of our Lord’s gentle and humble spirit. That kind of growth does not happen naturally. It requires effort, deliberateness, and discipline. Growing in grace also happens in the midst of our everyday situations. If we believe growing in grace will only happen if there were a perfect condition, let’s say, when we do not have to work 5 or 6 days a week, or until after we get baptized, or until our children leave home, I want to tell you there will never be a perfect condition or time in life. Growing in grace will have to take place as we go through the struggles of life. Growing in grace will take place as we cope with the pressures of work, as we help the neighbor, as we wait in line at the DMV office, as we feed the cows, as August does, or as we deal with the sticky issues at church, as we will today. If we are not deliberate in our effort, we will grow old but not in grace necessarily.
Let us strive to be found by the Lord blameless, spotless and in peace with him. Let us strive to grow in grace by taking time to nourish our soul with the spiritual bread, which is the word of God. This year, let us make the conscious decision to read our Bible daily. Take one of your Bibles by your bedside so that before you sleep you can pull it and read something. Let us grow in grace through prayer. Again, take a little more time to pray. Give thanks to God for his grace and knowledge of him. Pray for those around you. Let us keep growing in grace by seeking to be in fellowship with our brothers and sisters. Let us keep growing in grace by allowing the grace of God to fill our heart each day. The apostle John writes: From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. . . . grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:16, 17b). I want to assure you that those around you will notice something radically different in you and me as we grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord. May God’s abundant grace rest upon each of us. Amen!
 Today we have the annual church business meeting after the worship service.