UNDERSTANDING THE GRACE OF GOD

Part 5: GROWING IN GRACE


“Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men 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.”(2 Peter 3:17-18).


Like a vine growing on a wall, without a solid root and good light, it will surely die. You too, without a solid root in Christ and without His light of the Word, would shrivel up spiritually.

2 Peter 3:18 tells us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.” To grow in grace is to mature as a Christian. We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9), we mature and are sanctified by grace alone. We know that grace is a blessing that we don’t deserve. It is God’s grace that justifies us, sanctifies us and eventually glorifies us in heaven. The process of sanctification through which we become more like Christ, is synonymous with growing in grace. Like all things that live normal lives, there are beginning stages and stages of maturity.


AFTER BIRTH COMES GROWTH


All life begins with birth. This is true for the Christian life as well. Jesus died on the cross and then rose from the dead three days later. He died for our sins so that we might escape God's righteous judgment and be redeemed back to Him so that we can also come into and enjoy God's presence.


Upon receiving Christ we are born again. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,…” (John 1:12-13).


Jesus said to Nicodemas, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) This is what separates the gospel from religion. Religion is man's effort to reach God, Christianity is God reaching man. In his heart man knows God exists. That would explain why there are so many religions in the world; man has invented so many to account for the knowledge that is in him. Salvation however, is God coming down to man and making him a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).


Not religion, but relationship. After birth comes growth. If there is no growth after being born it would mean that there is no life. This gives a new understanding to the meaning “to be in Christ”. It means to be saved, regenerated as well as growing in sanctification. Before we proceed with what growing in grace is, let us look at what growing in grace is not:

· It is not becoming more saved than at the moment of conversion;

· It is not becoming more pardoned than when first converted;

· It is not becoming more justified than at salvation.


GROWING IN GRACE BY LOOKING UNTO JESUS


According to John 1:14 Jesus is full of grace and truth. If I want more grace in my life, I need to look at Jesus. Here’s the pivotal question: How did Jesus exhibit grace?


I see three ways Jesus was full of grace, three ways that He wants me to copy:

1. Forgiveness: One of Jesus’ prayers on the cross was for forgiveness for those who had put him there. The intent behind Christ’s voluntary death was to offer us forgiveness. Christ had to die in order to release us from the debt we owed God for the sins we’ve committed.

The number one way I can express grace to other people is in my ability to forgive them for their trespasses against me. This is a command I cannot ignore, a command reiterated many times in the New Testament. Colossians 3:13 says, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Jesus went a step further: if we don’t forgive, neither will He forgive us (Matthew 6:15).

We grow in grace when we cultivate our ability to forgive others – not only in words but through our daily actions and interactions with those who have hurt us.


2. Mercy: Mercy is showing kindness to those in need whether or not they deserve it or can pay us back. Throughout His ministry Jesus constantly showed mercy to those around Him. Two blind beggars recognized this quality and cried, “Son of David, have mercy upon us.” He showed compassion to the hungry crowds, sorrow over a friend’s death and displayed patience and respect for a woman who had suffered a painful, debilitating and humiliating disease for twelve years.

Mercy is a closely related to forgiveness but broader in its meaning. Think about it; did any of the people Jesus healed deserve to be healed? In the story of the centurion (a man of authority and rank by the world’s standards) admitted that he wasn’t worthy for Jesus to even enter his house, much less do the kindness of lending aid to the man’s servant. We grow in grace when we mirror the mercy of Christ to the needy.


3. Service: Service is a mind-set, not a program. Service involves sacrifice. Jesus said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

Serving others requires that I lower myself before others, that I put aside my own greatness to meet the needs of others. Jesus did this. He left the halls of glory, emptied Himself of all God’s splendor and stuffed Himself into the confines of a human body so that He could give us what we needed the most. If I am to grow in grace, I need to practice and perfect my skills of servanthood.


OTHER WAYS OF INCREASING THE GRACE OF GOD UPON YOUR LIFE


· Through the knowledge of God and Jesus

As you increase your knowledge of God you will also increase in God's grace. The Word of God reveals more about God to you which builds your faith in God and increases your tendencies to reach out for His grace. Jesus wants to make Himself known to us more and as we allow Him in by studying God's Word and listening to sound teachings, His grace will be imparted to us. The Bible is the word of His grace.

Peter also confirms that we need to grow in our knowledge of Jesus. He tells us that we must have an intimate relationship with Jesus and that the more we know Him and about Him, the more of Him will be seen in our lives. Paul said in Colossians 3:1–4: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

The Scriptures contain all the knowledge we will ever need to learn about God, His Son and His Spirit for this life. God`s desire for those that He has saved is their sanctification and transformation. He wants us to become more holy like Himself. He wants to transform us into the image of His Son. We need to be part of this process by meditating on the Scriptures and applying their principles to our lives as we yield to the conviction and power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. Then we will prove 2 Corinthians 3:18: “We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord


· Through prayer…Hebrews 4:16

We don’t only grow in grace by reading God’s Word and allowing it to dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16), but by praying the Word too. These disciplines don’t mature us by themselves, but God uses these spiritual disciplines to help us grow. Therefore, maturing in our Christian life is not about what we do, but about what God does in us, by His grace. Understanding and applying God’s grace in our lives is important.

Paul admonishes us to come boldly to the throne of grace and obtain grace. Jesus said that if we ask we shall receive (Matthew 7:7) Therefore, ask God to multiply His Amazing grace upon your life, knowing that when you ask you shall surely receive. Receive more grace of God daily and your life will never be the same.


· Through humility…James 4:6

We must not to impair the grace of God by being proud. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). Grace is an attribute of God that enables us to break free of our sinful nature so that we can follow Him. It gives us strength and protects us. Without God’s grace and favour, we would be hopelessly lost in this world. The more grace we have and ask for, the more mature as Christians we will become.

God gives more grace to the humble. With humility, we provoke God's mercy and intervention. Humility is an attitude of the heart and where self decreases. Therefore, as you decrease your focus on yourself and increase your focus on God, you will multiply the amazing grace of God upon your life.

When our Lord came to the earth, He came to minister to the poor, the suffering and the needy. To the “poor in spirit” Jesus offered the riches of the Kingdom of heaven. Jesus had come to this earth in order to minister to those who were in need and knew it. When Jesus chose to associate with the needy rather than with the elite of His day, it greatly offended the Jewish religious leaders. “And when the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax-gatherers, they began saying to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax-gatherers and sinners?” And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinner.” (Mark 2:16-17).

Pride was offended and turned it to jealousy (Mark 15:10), so that if the religious leaders of Israel couldn’t persuade Jesus to endorse their ideology, they concluded that He must be done away with (John 11:47-50).


Let’s look at an example; Jesus addressed the matter of pride when He taught the parable of the Pharisee and the tax-gatherer in Luke 18. The Pharisee had no appreciation for his own sinfulness, and thus he could pray, “God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people, swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get” (Luke 18:11-12). The tax-gatherer, however, was humbled by the awareness of his sinful condition and so petitioned a gracious God for mercy: “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” (Luke 18:13). Jesus said it was this humble sinner who went home justified (verse 14).

God's grace is what we need to be able to serve God with diligence and to be effective for His glory. It is not by our works but by God's grace. An understanding of His grace will change our perspective to life and our actions, releasing us to receive all the blessings that Jesus purchased for us with His blood without any extra involvement from us. It will help us to relax in Jesus, trusting Him in everything. We will not struggle to get things done, depending on our own strength but we will absolutely depend on God knowing that His grace is more than sufficient. Our lives will no longer be burdened with guilt because our sins are truly washed away.


To grow in grace is to grow in our understanding of what Jesus did as well as to grow in our appreciation of the grace that we have freely been given. The more we learn about Jesus, the more we will appreciate all He has done, and the more we appreciate His love and sacrifice for us, the more we will perceive the never-ending grace of God.

His grace is sufficient for us and is enough to get us to reach our destinies. Increase His grace upon your life starting from today by being a vessel for the Word to flow through. Look unto Jesus, the Author and finisher of our faith.


May God Himself, the heavenly Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, release GRACE over you and impart total wellbeing into your life in Jesus Name, Amen!

Shalom Shalom!!!



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