Frequently in our spiritual journey we will come to a point where we do not understand nor cannot grasp what God is doing. Maybe it will be during some long physical ordeal or perhaps the death of a loved one or maybe even financial ruin. Dr. James Dobson wrote the book, “When God Doesn’t Make Sense”, following a plane crash which I believe killed 4 the board members of Focus on the Family. Many times in Scripture we see people going through very difficult times. But I believe God uses trials to help us to grow in grace and in our understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ. When we’re going through a dark and difficult time we need to make sure that our eyes and our ears and our hearts are open to the voice of God. In 2 Peter 3:17 – 18 Peter writes, “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. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen”. Peter begins this passage with a warning to his friends. He holds out the possibility of falling from a secure position. That happens many times when people go through great difficulties, sometimes we see people even walk away from their faith when they go through a dark trial. The “but” in verse 18 is very significant. Instead of falling away during a trial Peter would have us instead to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Someone has said that growth in the Christian life depends on obedience in times of crisis. The word “grow” in the Greek language is in the present imperative, which is a command that is expected to have a continuous or repeated application in the present tense. If we are to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ we must really seek to engage our world as salt and light. A growing Christian is never committed to stay at the status quo. It’s interesting because you don’t have to tell a child or a plant to grow, it is a natural process. So it should be in our Christian life as well when we walk with the Lord Jesus. But many times Christians will resist the known will of God because of their own self will. The Christian life is like riding a bicycle, unless you keep moving you fall off.
The two elements that we are to grow in are grace and knowledge. Grace is the sphere of God’s unmerited favor. It is when we are at the end of our own resources that God’s grace sustains us in the midst of our trials. The grace affirmed in the New Testament is always mediated by the Lord Jesus Christ. This grace is a dynamic force that affects our standing with God by crediting us with Christ’s righteousness. It is something that needs to have a powerful impact on how we live and relate to one another each day. The second area of growth is in the area of knowledge. As I increase my acquaintance with Jesus Christ I will grow in my knowledge of Him. Without a growing knowledge of Jesus Christ there is no growth. Remember that growing in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ means getting out of our comfort zone. Think with me for a moment about Peter’s life. Peter had always been very comfortable sitting in a fishing boat, but is it wasn’t until he got out of the fishing boat and walked on the Sea of Galilee that he really experienced the presence and power of the Lord Jesus Christ sustaining him. It was also on that occasion that he saw the danger of taking his eyes off of the Lord Jesus Christ. You won’t drift into spiritual maturity but is certainly easy to drift out of dedication and service for the Lord Jesus Christ. If your spiritual life is a drift then you are moving away from the Lord Jesus Christ. I think Peter’s heart was moved by his own words. After Peter’s own falling away on the night of Jesus arrest and trial, Peter really knew the danger first hand of taking his eyes off the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter also knew that it was Christ alone who deserves all the praise and glory of any service that he would perform. The result of spiritual growth is that we reflect the glory back to God. Growing in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ means being open to the different opportunities to serve that God may present to us. Peter never thought that he would walk on the Sea of Galilee but getting out of the boat was an amazing experience as long as his eyes were focused on Jesus. So too you and I in the midst of our storms need to keep our eyes and our ears and our hearts open to what Jesus may be saying to us in the midst of our storm. He may be calling us to step out of our safe and warm comfort zone and trust Him to do something amazing, even amidst lives difficulties. We all will experience storms in life. How we respond to those storms will expose the foundation that we have built into our lives. Remember Jesus told the story of two builders in Matthew 7:24-27. The wise builder built on the rock (the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ) and the foolish builder built on the sand. Which builder are you? If you build on the rock you will indeed grow in the knowledge and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace and peace,