How Can You Grow in Grace?

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How Can You Grow in Grace?

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“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18 2 Peter 3:18But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
American King James Version×
).

In the book of Mark we find the story of a blind man named Bartimaeus. Here is how the story goes: “Now they came to Jericho. As He [Jesus] went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Naza­reth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’” (Mark 10:44-48 Mark 10:44-48 [44] And whoever of you will be the most chief, shall be servant of all. [45] For even the Son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. [46] And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. [47] And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, you son of David, have mercy on me. [48] And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, You son of David, have mercy on me.
American King James Version×
).

Bartimaeus was threatened to stay quiet! The crowd told him to keep his mouth shut—but then Jesus heard his cries.

“So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.’ And throw­ing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. So Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ The blind man said to Him, ‘Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road” (Mark 10:49-52 Mark 10:49-52 [49] And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying to him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calls you. [50] And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. [51] And Jesus answered and said to him, What will you that I should do to you? The blind man said to him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. [52] And Jesus said to him, Go your way; your faith has made you whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
American King James Version×
).

This blind man who couldn’t see could, in a different way, see much more than those around him with physical sight, having far greater discernment.

He recognized Jesus as “Son of David”—a term used in that day for the long-awaited Messiah. He announced Jesus’ character, His person, His act, as “mercy.” Jesus then told him, “Your faith has made you well.” His faith allowed him to see what the many could not see—that God is a God of mercy!

Bartimaeus announced a profound and life-changing truth.

Trusting in God’s mercy

Trusting in God’s mercy and grace implies ceas­ing from making any excuses for your behavior. The moment you trust in God’s mercy, you give up all apologies and excuses. You don’t try to justify why you sinned.

If you are on trial before a civil court, so long as you plead with excuses and try to justify your actions, you appeal to justice. But if you go before the court and plead guilty, offering no justification or apology whatsoever, you throw yourself on the mercy of the court.

So it is then in God’s realm. Trusting in mer­cy is a final giving up of all reliance on justice. You have no more excuses, and you make none. You need God’s grace and mercy—and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ—if you are to avoid the death sentence you have earned and, instead, receive God’s priceless gift of eternal life.

How do you respond to God’s mercy and then approach His throne of grace?

The gift of grace

The apostle Paul reminded the Ephe­sian brethren: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of your­selves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 Ephesians 2:8-9 [8] For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast.
American King James Version×
).

Eternal life comes as a result of God’s grace and mercy. It is His gift, unearned and undeserved on our part. No one will ever be able to boast that he or she has earned or deserves the gift of eternal life.

But let’s add some balance to the equa­tion. As blind Bartimaeus showed us, God is not only the God of justice but also the God of mercy. Look at the last part of the second of the Ten Commandments: “. . . but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My command­ments” (Exodus 20:6 Exodus 20:6And showing mercy to thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
American King James Version×
).

God balances justice—and His insis­tence on us keeping His commandments—with mercy, by considering what is in the heart. So long as that possibility exists, God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
American King James Version×
).

We can be thankful that God con­siders our attitude. One who is will­ing to “sin no more” is eligible for mercy instead of condemnation—as Jesus told the woman caught in adultery in John 8:11 John 8:11She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.
American King James Version×
. Jesus showed judgment—she was clearly a sinner—but also grace and mercy: “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

The right response to God’s grace and mercy

There’s a lesson here as to the right response to God’s grace and mercy. As the recipients of God’s grace and mercy, the right approach after we are forgiven is to “sin no more.” We should obey God’s laws according to their full spiritual intent, not by doing only the bare minimum of what is explicitly stated.

Jesus Christ made clear the importance of the spiritual intent of God’s law with several examples in His famous Sermon on the Mount. He explained that not only should we not murder, breaking the sixth of the Ten Commandments, but we should not even view or treat others with contempt, as this violates the spirit of this command (Matthew 5:21-26 Matthew 5:21-26 [21] You have heard that it was said of them of old time, You shall not kill; and whoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: [22] But I say to you, That whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. [23] Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has ought against you; [24] Leave there your gift before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. [25] Agree with your adversary quickly, whiles you are in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison. [26] Truly I say to you, You shall by no means come out there, till you have paid the uttermost farthing.
American King James Version×
).

He followed that up with another example, pointing out that God’s command against committing adultery extends to lusting for another person, as this is committing adultery in one’s heart and mind (Matthew 5:27-30 Matthew 5:27-30 [27] You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery: [28] But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. [29] And if your right eye offend you, pluck it out, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell. [30] And if your right hand offend you, cut it off, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell.
American King James Version×
). Through the remainder of this chapter He gave other examples showing He was certainly not abolishing God’s law, but rather was extending its spiritual intent—requiring an even higher level of obedience not just in actions, but also in thoughts!

Throughout the Sermon on the Mount Jesus shows that God’s law serves as our continual guide toward attaining truly righteous thinking and behavior. That law—and Christ’s magnification of it in this message—helps define what it means to actually be one of His followers, a true Christian.

The word grace is regularly used by some religious people as if it replaces all need to obey God’s law. That conclu­sion is terribly wrong. Here is the reason: Without law—which defines sin—there would be no need for the forgiveness of grace. Grace refers to how God extends His favor and benevolence to others, including to repentant sinners by forgiving their former disobedience of His law—their sins previously committed. This is necessary because “everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4 1 John 3:4Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
American King James Version×
, NIV). If there is no law to break, then sin would not exist (Romans 5:13 Romans 5:13(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
American King James Version×
). And if there is no sin the very idea of grace as God’s forgiveness has no meaning at all.

The gift of the Holy Spirit

It is God’s grace and mercy that allows us to be pardoned for our sins when we repent, accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, are baptized and receive God’s Spirit. We then receive the promise of the gift of eternal life.

Grace, as we have seen throughout this study guide, encompasses much more than just forgiveness for past sins. It also includes the gift of God’s Holy Spirit to help us obey God’s laws, which define sin and God’s standard of required behavior. Indeed, it refers to all the free and undeserved gifts of God. It includes His help in initially turning us away from sin and leading us to His truth and way of life, His forgiveness of our past sins and ultimately His granting us the greatest gift of all—eternal life in His Kingdom!

God’s Holy Spirit is essential in our goal of eradicating sin (to learn more, be sure to read our free study guide Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion). The key to solving the problem of sin is the help we receive through Jesus Christ and God’s Spirit. Jesus was born not only to make possible forgiveness of the past, but to help us conquer the pulls of sin, the entrenched habits that are so dif­ficult to dislodge from our lives.

He is our merciful High Priest in heaven, interceding with the Father on our behalf—sitting at the Father’s right hand. “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Romans 8:34 Romans 8:34Who is he that comdemns? It is Christ that died, yes rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
American King James Version×
). Yet He and the Father are also near to us, and will even live in us through the Holy Spirit to help us change.

What must we do?

Acts 2 records the founding of the Church in Jerusalem on the Feast of Pentecost. Many among the crowds were convicted of the fact that their sins had led to the death of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, and they asked Peter and the other apostles what they needed to do. Peter’s response in Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×
was clear: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Later, in Acts 8:17 Acts 8:17Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×
, we see that this Spirit is conveyed through the laying on of hands by true ministers of God.)

Then Peter added something else: “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:39 Acts 2:39For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
American King James Version×
). God calls or chooses people by His grace (Galatians 1:15 Galatians 1:15But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,
American King James Version×
; 2 Timothy 1:9 2 Timothy 1:9Who has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
American King James Version×
), but He isn’t calling everyone now. As Paul wrote in Romans 11:5 Romans 11:5Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
American King James Version×
(NIV), “at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.” 

If you are reading and understanding this right now, God is likely calling and choosing you by His grace for an incomparable, almost incomprehensible future!

And what is that future? Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:4-6 Ephesians 1:4-6 [4] According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: [5] Having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, [6] To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has made us accepted in the beloved.
American King James Version×
: “Even before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be his through our union with Christ, so that we would be holy and without fault before him. Because of his love God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his children—this was his pleasure and purpose. Let us praise God for his glorious grace, for the free gift he gave us in his dear Son” (Good News Translation).

Our future in the family of God

God’s plan is for you to be a member of His eternal, immortal spirit family! In 2 Corinthians 6:18 2 Corinthians 6:18And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty.
American King James Version×
the apostle Paul quotes God as saying, “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

This truth is confirmed many times in the pages of the Bible. For example, in Revelation 21:7 Revelation 21:7He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
American King James Version×
God tells us, “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.”

Paul writes in Romans 8:14 Romans 8:14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
American King James Version×
that “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” Romans 8:16-17 Romans 8:16-17 [16] The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: [17] And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
American King James Version×
go on to tell us that God’s Spirit within us “bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ . . .”

A staggering truth is revealed here. Our future is not to sit around heaven strumming on harps for all eternity, but to be “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” What does this mean? Hebrews 1:2 Hebrews 1:2Has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
American King James Version×
tells us that God has appointed Jesus to be “heir of all things.” Hebrews 2:8 Hebrews 2:8You have put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.
American King James Version×
adds that God’s future plan for man is to “put all things in subjection” under us—and though we don’t see that yet, as further explained here, it is certainly coming, with Jesus leading the way.

What must happen before we can inherit all things with Jesus Christ? The apostle John gives further details in 1 John 3:1-3 1 John 3:1-3 [1] Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. [2] Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. [3] And every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.
American King James Version×
: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

John tells us here that our future is to “be like Him”—like Jesus Christ, now resurrected as a glorious spirit being. And what is He like now in His resurrected state? We find a description in Revelation 1:12-18 Revelation 1:12-18 [12] And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; [13] And in the middle of the seven candlesticks one like to the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle. [14] His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; [15] And his feet like to fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. [16] And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shines in his strength. [17] And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand on me, saying to me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: [18] I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for ever more, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
American King James Version×
(NLT), where John saw Him in vision:

“When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lamp-stands. And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves . . . .

“And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever!’”

When John tells us in 1 John 3:2 1 John 3:2Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
American King James Version×
that “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is,” this is the kind of spirit power and glory we will share with Him! (To learn more about this, be sure to read our free study guide Why Were You Born?)

Paul tells Church members in Galatians 3:26 Galatians 3:26For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×
(NLT) that “you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus,” and John 1:12 John 1:12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
American King James Version×
tells us that “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

This is the astounding future God has planned for those who accept and act on His amazing gift of grace—to become His immortal spirit family, changed to glorified spirit beings, just as Jesus Christ now exists as a glorified spirit being!

But how does this happen? How do we receive this gift of eternal life? What must we do?

What should grace motivate us to do?

As we have seen throughout this study guide, grace is neither a license to continue a life of sin nor an excuse or means to discard the spiritual law of God. “The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and righteous, and good,” Paul tells us (Romans 7:12 Romans 7:12Why the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
American King James Version×
). We are no longer under the penalty demanded of the law, which is death; we are under grace (Romans 6:14 Romans 6:14For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace.
American King James Version×
).

So what should grace motivate us to do? As we saw in the preceding chapter, grace should motivate us to thanks and complete loyalty to the One who gave us grace, seeking to please and serve Him with all of our being.

Notice what Paul said about the role of grace in who he now was and the work he did: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:9-10 1 Corinthians 15:9-10 [9] For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. [10] But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed on me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
American King James Version×
).

The grace of God brought Paul to a peace with God the Father and Jesus Christ. But it also led him to change from one who persecuted the Church to one who proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. It led him to dedicating his life to serving God with his whole being! (See “The Apostle Paul: an Example of God’s Grace in Action”).

Grace should lead us to a change in thinking and actions, otherwise known as repentance. As Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, “Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4 Romans 2:4Or despise you the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
American King James Version×
). “Goodness” here is derived from the word chrestos, which can mean “gracious,” being related to the Greek word charis. The grace of God can and must lead you to change your life!

Grace leads to a transformed life

God’s Word clearly spells out what the life of a person transformed by God’s grace should look like. Again Paul, the biblical writer who wrote about grace more than any other, plainly spells it out for us.

He wrote to the church in Corinth in 2 Corinthians 9:8 2 Corinthians 9:8And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
American King James Version×
that “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” Grace, says Paul, gives us everything we need so that we can “have an abundance for every good work”! Grace should clearly produce good works in our lives!

This is even more clearly stated in Ephesians 2:9-10 Ephesians 2:9-10 [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast. [10] For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.
American King James Version×
(NIV): “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”—or, as this is also translated, “to be our way of life” (NRSV). Again we see the clear expectation that receiving God’s grace leads to “good works.”

Paul clearly didn’t hold the modern view that once one is saved by God’s grace, there’s nothing more to do and one has a free ticket to salvation. On the contrary, he knew that God’s grace creates a greater obligation to demonstrate our appreciation and thankfulness because now “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.”

As seen in the preceding chapter, Paul viewed God as the ultimate patron who gives gifts of grace, and we as the recipients are obligated from that point forward to always show complete loyalty and devotion in return. It was unthinkable to do otherwise. How strikingly different from the huge misconception that grace frees us from any obligation to obey God!   

The purposes and goals of grace

Grace has several specific goals and purposes, Paul told his fellow minister Titus in Titus 2:11-14 Titus 2:11-14 [11] For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; [14] Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
American King James Version×
: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people for his own possession, eager to do good works” (CSB).

Let’s notice some of the specific points Paul makes here:

The grace of God brings salvation.

The grace of God instructs us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts.

The grace of God instructs us to live in a sensible, righteous and godly way while we await our great hope of the appearing of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ came not to free us from the law, but to “redeem us”—to pay the ultimate price (His death) for our lawlessness, sparing us from the penalty of eternal death.

Jesus Christ came to cleanse—to purify—for Himself a people who belong to Him.

Having been redeemed and purified for Christ, we are to be “zealous for good works.”

What a vastly different view from the common misconception of grace!

Paul then concludes this instruction to Titus by telling him in Titus 2:15 Titus 2:15These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise you.
American King James Version×
, “Proclaim these things; encourage and rebuke with all authority.” Paul wanted to be sure Titus understood these things and made them a key part of his own teaching! 

Called to a holy life

All of this, of course, ties back into God’s ultimate plan and purpose for us—to give us eternal life in His Kingdom, that we may be part of His family forever. This great promise will be fulfilled at Jesus Christ’s return, of which the apostle Paul foretold:

“We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 [51] Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, [52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. [53] For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
American King James Version×
, NLT).

This will be the ultimate fulfillment of God’s grace. The apostle Peter encourages us to keep our minds focused on this promised future: “There-fore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming” (1 Peter 1:13 1 Peter 1:13Why gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
American King James Version×
, NIV).

Peter also emphasizes that we must live a transformed life—a holy life—if we are to receive this gift of salvation. He continues: “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:14-16 1 Peter 1:14-16 [14] As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: [15] But as he which has called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of conversation; [16] Because it is written, Be you holy; for I am holy.
American King James Version×
, quoting Leviticus 11:44-45 Leviticus 11:44-45 [44] For I am the LORD your God: you shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall you defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creeps on the earth. [45] For I am the LORD that brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: you shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.
American King James Version×
; Leviticus 19:2 Leviticus 19:2Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them, You shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.
American King James Version×
).

Paul points out that for us to live “a holy life” leading to salvation is what God had planned for us from the beginning: “For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:9 2 Timothy 1:9Who has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
American King James Version×
, NLT).

Staying the course with the help of God’s grace

God never says this path will be easy (Matthew 7:13-14 Matthew 7:13-14 [13] Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: [14] Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few there be that find it.
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; Luke 13:24 Luke 13:24Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say to you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
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). But He does say it will be worth it!

Paul, imprisoned and beaten many times for his faith, was able to stay positive in the midst of tremendous trials, declaring: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God . . . And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:18-19 Romans 8:18-19 [18] For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. [19] For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God.
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, Romans 8:28 Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
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).

Life will be a struggle as we strive against sin and the pulls of our selfish nature, as well as a world that increasingly rejects God and is hostile to His way of life (see “The Apostle Paul on Struggling With Sin Yet Still Under Grace”). 

This is nothing new. It has always been that way for God’s faithful servants. Hebrews 11 lists many examples of courageous men and women of faith who persevered against great odds and often at the cost of their lives. They were able to do this with God’s help, just as He promises His help to us in all of our struggles in this life. Hebrews 4:16 Hebrews 4:16Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
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tells us to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

God is willing and wants to help us! And Peter assures us that He will: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10 1 Peter 5:10But the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.
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, NIV).

Along with our great hope, we have God’s promise of encouragement and strength in 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 [16] Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which has loved us, and has given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, [17] Comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work.
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: “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word” (NIV).

What now?

Now that you’ve seen what the Bible really teaches about grace, what next? What will you do?

Regardless of your status or condition in life, you have been the recipient of God’s grace in some of its many forms. James 1:17 James 1:17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no ficklenss, neither shadow of turning.
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tells us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”

All that we have and are is a gift of God’s grace. And He wants to give you more!

Are you humble and teachable enough to accept His instruction and willing to do what He says? Proverbs 3:34 Proverbs 3:34Surely he scorns the scorners: but he gives grace to the lowly.
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says God “scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble.”

Humility is a trait God values highly, because He knows He can work with those who know they have a need for Him and want to humbly serve Him. In contrast, those who aren’t humble don’t realize how empty their lives are without God and a relationship with Him!

The apostle Paul had to deal with such people in the church in Corinth in the first century. In 2 Corinthians 6:1 2 Corinthians 6:1We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that you receive not the grace of God in vain.
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he told them, “As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.”

Clearly some there were in danger of having received God’s grace in vain. They did not appreciate God’s many wonderful gifts. They did not understand the depths of God’s love, care and hopes for them. But saddest of all, they did not allow grace to change their lives. The rest of Paul’s letter is filled with the evidence of this as he recounts their many problems and failed and failing lives.

So again, what will you do? Will you, as Peter encourages us to do in 2 Peter 3:18 2 Peter 3:18But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
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, “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”?

It is possible to grow in the favor and blessing of God the Father and Jesus Christ. We must understand that further blessings and gifts come from God “because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22 1 John 3:22And whatever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
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). As we walk with God, relying on Him to help us in ongoing obedience, we ourselves become instruments of His grace to bless others (1 Peter 4:10 1 Peter 4:10As every man has received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
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)—returning grace to Him in grateful thanks and devoted service, becoming more and more like Him.

So yes, we can indeed grow in grace, as we see from the many positive examples in God’s Word. Or we can go in the opposite direction and alienate ourselves from God’s grace. Think on this deeply.

Our hope and prayer is that you will choose to follow God’s encouragement in Hebrews 12:28 Hebrews 12:28Why we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
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: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear”!

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