Dear Readers,

Text: 2 Peter 3:18

The new church theme for the year is Read, Pray and Grow. The exhortation to grow is based upon 2 Peter 3:18 – “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.”  The growth is of course not physical but spiritual. It is written here as a command to be kept at all times. There is human responsibility. All Christians must grow!

On the other hand, there is also divine sovereignty involved in the growth of the Christian. There are two frequent words used for growth in the New Testament. The first is prokóptō which emphasises the conscious effort for advancement. There is also tendency for the achievement to be highlighted, whether for good or evil. For example, in Galatians 1:14, Paul wrote of how he “profited” in the Jewish religion, indicating how he was consciously advancing the field of Judaism. However, the word used in 2 Peter 3:18 is auxánō. The picture is how a plant receives water, minerals and sunlight that it may grow. (Zodhiates). So it is for the Christian. The source of growth for the Christian is none other than God Himself. So while there is needful responsibility on the part of the Christian to pursue growth, it is God who will cause us to grow. It is impossible without His help.

But how are Christians to grow? First, Christians are to grow in grace. Grace refers to the unmerited favour for God. Here, it refers to all that is given by God to aid us in our service and witness for Christ. As Christians, we are given various spiritual “grace gifts” (charismata) for the work of the Lord. We are not to neglect these gifts, but to stir them up that we may abound in service. Barnes further adds that “though men are to be thankful for their gifts, and be contented with them, yet they may lawfully desire more, and in the use of means seek an increase of them, which may be a means of preserving themselves, and others, from the error of the wicked.” In addition, it also refers to our inward growth of faith and love towards the Lord Jesus Christ. As we grow in grace, we will be more and more like Christ in our thoughts, words and actions.

Second, Christians are to grow in knowledge. This knowledge is not earthly knowledge, but rather the earthly knowledge of “our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”. The fact that he is not just “the” Christ, but “our” Christ stresses on how we have a relationship with our Saviour. How much do you know the doctrines of Christ? Do you understand what it means for him to be your Lord? Do you know what it means for Him to save you? How is He our Atonement? How is He our Substitute? How is He the propitiation of our sins? What is the nature and essence of our Saviour? We must grow in our understanding of the theology of the Scriptures!

Moreover, this knowledge is not just a cognitive knowledge, but one that is experiential. It is different from a person who knows the President as a foreigner, and another who knows him as a family member. The same goes for our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. A person may know how God is a loving and gracious God. He may also be able to quote how “it is more blessed to give than to receive”. Yet in reality, he may be a most miserly, abrasive and unhelpful man. This is because his knowledge of Christ is yet to be fully experiential.

How then can a Christian achieve growth? This is where we have to go back to basics. As the children chorus goes, “Read your Bible, Pray Every Day, you will Grow, Grow, Grow”. It is a song that is catchy and easy to memorise.  But we must put it into practice.

All Christians must grow! Are you growing? Amen.

Preacher Clement Chew