By: Gary L. Hutchens
It’s probably fair to say that most people have a poor, or at least a very limited, understanding of God’s grace. It seems that most people equate grace almost exclusively with salvation. The connection is definite and profound, but that’s not all there is to God’s grace. Peter admonishes, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). How does a person grow in grace, and is it important to grow in grace?
Growing in grace can be thought of as growing spiritually. But while they are closely connected, the two concepts probably should not be thought of as exact equivalents. One cannot grow in grace without also growing spiritually, but growing spiritually covers more than just grace. It’s probably better to think of growing in grace as an aspect of growing spiritually.
Grace should work in the life of a faithful Christian in a number of ways. Certainly, it begins with an individual coming to salvation through Christ (Eph. 2:8-9). But that’s the beginning, not the end, of grace working in that person’s life. Paul speaks of being able to face a physical infirmity in his life by grace (2 Cor. 12:9).
God gave mankind His word by grace (Acts 20:32). As one reads, believes and implements into his life the teachings of God’s word, the changes brought about by so doing can be rightly understood to be the result of God’s grace. Therefore, as a person learns and lives by God’s word, he will become stronger spiritually, and that result will be by God’s grace (2 Tim. 2:1). Obedience needs to be viewed from the perspective of growing in grace (Rom. 1:5). Paul speaks of giving, in worship to God, as a grace (2 Cor. 8:5-7).
We could go on and on noting ways in which growing in grace is evidenced by productive life changes. Now, the second question: “Is it important to grow in grace?” One might as well ask, “Is it important for a baby to grow physically?” Is it important to grow in knowledge as one progresses through life? Is important to grow in wisdom? Is it important to grow emotionally? Of course, the answer is readily understood in the question. In every case, it is a resounding “Yes!”
In a number of texts, God’s word emphasizes that a Christian needs to grow, to mature spiritually (1 Cor. 3:1-3; Eph. 4:14-15; Heb. 5:12-14). Growing in grace is both a part of that growth, and also an evidence that it has occurred. Developing the “fruit of the Spirit” is one aspect of growing in grace (Gal. 5:22-23). Growing stronger in Christian character is another way we grow in grace (2 Pet. 1:5-8).
If we are serious about getting to Heaven, we’d better get serious about growing spiritually, and growing in grace is an essential part of that process…
Gary L. Hutchens