Growth and Defense (2 Peter 3:17-18a)

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. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:17–18, AV)

Babies are quite fragile and helpless creatures. They require the care and protection given by their parents. As they grow, they gain strength and function. Yet as toddlers they still are quite helpless, especially in vulnerability to harm from others. They still grow under the protection of their parents. When children become teens, they kind of think they know everything. They may be able to physically defend themselves to some extent. However, they often lack the wisdom that comes with age to help protect them from harmful things such as substance abuse, corrupting relationships, poor financial decisions, etc. They still need to grow.

Growth is essential for our protection. In self-defense training, the student needs to grow mentally, physically, and in skills. While I was in the military, we were taught hand-to-hand fighting. While this was the last thing a soldier wanted to do, it might become necessary when all the ammunition was spent. The training for hand-to-hand fighting was much the same as self-defense training. It required the soldier to be physically strong, mentally alert, and skilled.

Here, Peter gives his readers a final exhortation in regards to the false teachers. Now that they knew false teachers were on the prowl, they were to be alert and ready to reject their teaching. Following this warning, Peter gave them a vitally important exhortation for remaining steadfast in the truth.

To remain steadfast in the truth and not fall to the heretical teachings of the false prophets, they must grow. The verb to “grow,” is a present tense imperative. It is a command that is to be obeyed continuously. Peter wrote that the readers must continuously “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

So, how does one grow in grace and in knowledge of Jesus? First, we must understand that growth in grace and knowledge cannot be separated. Grace and knowledge are vitally connected. It is impossible to grow in one without the other.

Second, we must understand that this growth encompasses the totality of one’s experience in the faith. It begins with the initial moment of faith in Christ and is to continue throughout one’s life. It includes one’s exercise of the disciplines of the faith such as prayer, fellowship, service, obedience, and the study and application of God’s word in life.

Third, God has designed our growth to happen in the context of community. We are to grow together. We are stronger together than we are as individuals. False teachers love to move entire congregations from the truth. In the process, they normally pick off the weak and immature. This is where the corporate church is so vital. The strong and mature watch out for the young and the weak, like a parent protects a child. We can never underestimate the strength of the body of believers, the church. The church grows together and is strong to defend against the false teachings together.

Seek to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. Realize that God desires this to happen as believers gather together to love, encourage, serve, support, study, and pray together. In doing so, the church will be steadfast in the truth.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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