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 (ESV)
I hope you were as blessed by our study of 1-2 Peter as I was. We are truly blessed to have elders who allow the Word of God to be preached unhindered in our church! And in my concluding sermon on 2 Peter we talked about the importance of growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. And in my message Richard W. DeHaan reminded us about the danger of complacency in the church and how to combat. His points were so on target that I decided to repeat them this month!
One of life’s greatest tragedies is complacency in the church! Yet, it’s impossible to maintain even a spiritual status quo; if you don’t grow spiritually, you retrogress, or go backward! One of life’s greatest tragedies is the Christian who, in his middle to older years, like most of us, is less loving, less kind, less generous, less faithful, less gentle, and less self-controlled than he was right after he became a Christian! On the other hand, in fact, in direct contrast, is the believer who steadfastly, though perhaps not spectacularly, grows in Christian virtue and knowledge year after year, and becomes more and more like the Savior!
Now, someone may object, “I agree with you in principle, that I should be growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus, but I don’t know how.” And for those who want to grow in Christ, the principles are the same that we most likely have discovered in raising a child.
First, the little one needs nourishment. Translating this into the spiritual realm, it means that the believer must feed on the scriptures. You simply cannot ignore the Bible and become a “strong Christian!”
Second, a child need to exercise if he is to grow. A youngster kept in a small area day after day, week after week, will never develop properly nor reach his full potential. In the same way, the believer must exercise himself in an obedient walk and with willing service! Yet, this area is probably one of the greatest weaknesses in the church today! No wonder some Christians never grow! They never do anything for the Lord! Oh, they may spend some time reading the Bible, and may even attend a Bible study when they feel like it, but that’s as far as it goes.
They never trust and obey God’s Word by applying it to their own lives! And they certainly don’t share the Good News with others! So, they can’t grow because they are not getting any spiritual exercise!
Third, communication is essential in a child’s development. There are so many boys and girls out there today who are socially maladjusted, and having a difficult time finding their place in the world, because their parents never gave them enough, if any, attention! (Mary and others involved in education can attest to this fact!) In the same way, a believer will never develop into a vibrant and mature Christian unless he communes with God in prayer and enjoys the blessings of his presence and guidance through the means of grace – the Word, sacrament, and prayer.
Fourth and finally, and child needs a friend, someone he associates with who can help him grow into normal adulthood. And of course, this is also vital for the Christian! To defeat complacency in the church, we must grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, by feeding on the scriptures, walking in obedience and service, spending time with God in prayer, and attending a Bible-believing and preaching church where you can enjoy the fellowship and support of other believers!
*From 1-2 Peter and Jude, Sharing Christ’s Sufferings, by David R. Helm, Preaching the Word, R. Kent Hughes, Series Editor
**Studies in Second Peter by Richard W. DeHaan