17 “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:17-18)
2 Peter 3:17-18 are the last recorded and biblical words to come from the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Peter. As I remarked in my previous blog, these verses were the foundation of a radio teaching ministry, Growing in Grace, the Lord allowed me to be a part of for over ten years in the greater northeast Indiana region.
How are believers in Christ to “take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability?” What must we do to ensure that we do not lose our firm grip upon the truth of God’s Word? What is the believer’s proactive and positive responsibility to be in order to not be carried away by false doctrine and false teachers?
The Apostle Peter provides the answer in 2 Peter 3:18. “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
What does it mean to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? The word grow (αὐξάνετε; auxanete) is in the imperative mood. This means God gives each believer the command to grow. It is a present, active command. To grow means to increase, spread and extend. This is what God charges believers in Christ to do.
But the question arises: grow in what? Worship? Good works? Evangelism? All of these items have their place in the believer’s life. However, what God commands the believer to grow in is not primarily worship, good works or evangelism but rather in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Grace (χάριτι; chariti) means kindness, charity, and good will to others. Knowledge (γνώσει; gnosei) refers to doctrinal content. Both grace and knowledge are centered in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Believers can ensure that they will not be carried away by false teaching and false teachers if they continue to increase in their biblical knowledge of Christ and display that knowledge by being gracious to other people.
It is interesting to note that the Apostle Peter concluded his epistle with the same idea that he began this epistle. Do you recall what Peter said in 2 Peter 1:3-10?
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.”
Both passages parallel each other regarding the believer’s responsibility before God and man. What is the ultimate result of this kind of disciplined life? God is glorified. “To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
All of the believer’s efforts to become more holy and godly, in other words to become increasingly sanctified, is so God will be glorified, honored and praised. To bring God glory is to be our focus not only in the present, but also for eternity. Why? It is because God is worthy of all glory, honor and praise.
What remains to be said but Soli deo Gloria!