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What Does It Mean to "Grow in Grace?"

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What Does It Mean to "Grow in Grace?"

MP3 Audio (16.63 MB)


What Does It Mean to "Grow in Grace?"

MP3 Audio (16.63 MB)

We are going to examine the statement that Peter made admonishing the church to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.



Now today we're going to examine, as closely as we can, what statement that Peter made, probably his last statement that he makes to the church of God that we have. Certainly the one that we have record of, in 2 Peter 3, where he's admonishing the church to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Now, Peter is writing this, living in Babylon, so far as we know, at the time he had already gone from Jerusalem. This is 65, 66 A.D., just prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, and Peter is not going to last much beyond 70 A.D. As a matter of fact, so far as we know, he himself was martyred prior to the destruction of Jerusalem. And so we know these letters are somewhat before then and around the time of the Apostle Paul also, around the end of his life, which we think took place around 66 A.D. because he refers to the Apostle Paul. That's a little bit of the background there. And but what he says finally, after his first letter and his second letter, he says this in...

2 Peter 3:17 2 Peter 3:17You therefore, beloved, seeing you know these things before, beware lest you also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.
American King James Version×
­ You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked.

So he wants you to be steadfast. But then he goes on and says...

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×
­ But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever, amen.

Now, this was said ­­ if you try to understand the context of it ­­ in the context of persecution, in the context of false teachers that were coming amongst the church, because he refers to that in this very letter, unbelievers entering in. In general the world was against them. The world was not a nice place to live in at that time. It's not really now. And we have continuing problems with it, but we can be thankful for what we have now. God has made it possible for us to have stable governments in which we live in the western world, primarily the nations that have been descended from Israel. We don't have to face what the early church faced. We don't have to face persecution from our own government, do we? The early church did. They had to face persecution from their own countrymen, the Jews. Not only in Judea, but wherever Paul went and preached the gospel. One of the first ones to oppose him were the Jewish community. We don't have to face threats and controls placed upon us by an occupying power, which they did. It seems like, from time to time, the Roman government then took up some form of persecution, depends where you were in the empire, and there were various times of persecution. Paul himself was, of course, imprisoned at one point. So we're not in bondage to a foreign government in the way the Israelites were in Egypt.

We live in the land where we individually have rights and we have freedom of worship, so we don't have that. It's not to say it will always be that way. One day Australia itself may be occupied by a foreign power. Prophesy seems to indicate that to where if that were the case we would not be meeting here today. Simply the way it's going to be. And we ­­ it's something that we have to consider. If so, what do you do? How would you act? On top of that, then, we have the particular, let's say, problem that we've always had to deal with. The church has always had to experience this, where it says being led away with the era of the wicked.

So we have a world, an environment in which to live, and how do you deal with all of this? So he says here his last admonishment, "Grow in the grace." That's how it should be understood. "Grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So if you are to grow in his grace, what is it that you have to grow in? What does it mean to grow into the grace of Jesus Christ? That's the question today.

The hard part of living by Christ's commands deals with one primary issue. Now, there are others, so don't misunderstand what I'm saying. But I want to tell you there's one in which that he ­­ that he covers more than perhaps any other issue in His commandments or his teachings, and that is the commands having to do with offenses, sins and enemies. What do you do when that comes against you?

Much of Christ's teachings and His examples, his life had to do with these commands, as we're going to see, and how He, Himself, dealt with people. Let's define this. First of all, growing in grace doesn't only have to do with accepting Jesus so that our offenses and sins can be forgiven. We tend to think, well, if I grow in grace that means I grow in the amount of grace that he extends towards me. I grow in the amount of favor, unmerited, undeserving favor, that he has ­­ that he gives me. I'm not so sure ­­ I don't think that's the case, if you just analyze it, for a moment, how you grow in the amount of grace. You either have grace or you're given grace or you're not. The knowledge of Jesus Christ, many times, is understood ­­ or when we talk about grace and the knowledge of Christ is generally understood about Christ and that is how a person feels when you know someone loves you, how someone forgives you, how someone is in your favor, how ­­ is ­­ as in you are in favor with that person, and the grace and the favor that that person extends towards you.

The hard part, as I said, in the commands of Christ, has to do with following the commands of Christ with respect to sins and offenses, which are committed. So Peter is saying then to grow, in light of all this that's happening to the church, grow in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Now, to grow in the grace of Jesus Christ as ­­ as we are to grow in the same knowledge of Jesus Christ is to grow in your capacity and ability to show and maintain the same grace that Christ has shown to you and how he has shown it to others. So it ought to be understood in this way and in this particular scripture. That's what this means. It is your capacity then to extend to others the same kind of grace that Jesus has extended to you. So grow ­­ growing in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ is not growing in the grace you personally receive from Him. That's not what it is, because ­­ just because you're growing in favor with Christ. But how you personally have grace toward others, the same kind of grace that was shown towards you.

Now, we may all do this to some extent. After all, it is the whole basis of our teaching of what Christ was about. We can be gracious to some infractions, but not others, and, you know, in how we feel, depending on our mood, depending on who it is sometimes.

Now, we're going to see that's not how Christ Himself operated. He didn't ­­ He didn't extend grace to people only if he felt generous toward that person. This is the way He was, and we're going to see He was this way towards ­­ towards people. That's ­­ let me just make that as simple in a blanket statement. What kind of grace ­­ what kind of grace was it that Jesus taught and what kind of grace was that He himself lived by that he expects us to show, to exhibit, to ourselves live by and to be a part of our life? How was ­­ let me ­­ let's put it this way. How was Jesus then a person of grace? That's the question we ought to ask. Very instructive, and I can't remember fully examining this before. Today is not a full examination of that, anyway. We would ­­ we would not have the time to do that, I think, as you'll see as we go along.

Turn to John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
American King James Version×
to start with. Here in John's prologue to who Jesus was kind of sets the stage for this.

John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
American King James Version×
­17 ­ And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

It says full of grace and truth is how He is characterized then. Full of grace and truth. And it is that the Word being a living being, an entity, capable of choice, capable of making a decision, capable, of course, complying with and agreeing with the Father, but nonetheless, making the choice to become flesh? You consider who He was, consider He was the lawgiver, considering He was the one through whom God created all things through. Here is the one who became flesh. He became a human, and He dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Now, we see grace and truth that God has in the form of a human, flesh, living amongst us.

John explains in 1 John 1. He says we beheld the very word of life. We saw Him in the flesh, our hands handled Him, you know. They put their arms around Him. They lived with Him for three­and­a­half years. They were a part of his life. They saw it all. They were there. And it was ­­ it was a very profound experience to actually be there with him for that period of time.

1 John 1:15 1 John 1:15
American King James Version×
­ John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.'"

V. 16 ­ And of His fullness we have all received... we have received this... and grace for grace."

Now, that may be a difficult little phrase to understand, "grace for grace." The meaning probably is simply we have received through Him an abundance of grace or favor. Grace for grace, most probably means much grace. It's a superlative of the favor bestowed upon man in general. This is what He sees. Favor superior to all that had been previous, superior to anything that had been under the law.

Now, the law did have grace, by the way. It certainly did. It had a means by which a person could, if they broke God's law, still have a relationship with him through the atonement of sin. That was a part of the law. This is talking about more than that. So much more than that. He says grace for grace, superior to all other things that God can confer on men. And this type of favor consists of pardon, consists of redemption, protection, blessing, eventually salvation, all of this is a result of this kind of grace. Now, in Verse 17…

V.17 ­ For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Doesn't mean no grace came through Moses, as we understand it was ­­ everything was done by grace, by the way. The fact that the law was given was a matter of grace. It's something God chose to give to man for his own good, for his own benefit. That of itself was a matter of grace. And when a person violated the law, they had the capacity even through the law now then to be atoned for. They could continue that relationship with him and continue to be blessed, because God simply understood man would sin. Man is weak. Man ­­ and so God had to make that possible.

Now, we have grace being extended to us personally by the Word, the One who became flesh, and it is done in the form which is quite remarkable. That is the fact that He was a man Himself showing and of giving out, of pouring forth that grace at that time to other people, so they could really get a handle on as to what ­­ what was really happening to them.

I want to turn, first of all, to Mark Chapter 2, starting with Verse 1, and I'm going to recite just a couple of examples from the very life of Christ. Now, the only way you're going to understand grace is to understand, well, what did He do? How did He extend grace? And how ­­ how should we understand what he did? And then we would have to ask the question, then, what do we do?

Mark 2:1 Mark 2:1And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.
American King James Version×
­ And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house.

V.2 ­ Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them.

V.3 ­ Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men.

V.4 ­ And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.

V.5 ­ When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic ­­ notice what he said ­­ "Son, your sins are forgiven you."

Well, that's not what he came for. But that's what Jesus said. He had a reason for doing that. Oh, he was going to be healed. But this is what Jesus said, "Your sins are forgiven you."

V.6 ­ And some of the scribes were sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts ­­ I suppose the scribes got the seats. Everybody else was standing. Kind of an interesting little observation ­­ and reasoning in their hearts,

V.7 ­ "Why does this man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

And, of course, in one sense, that's true. That is in the ultimate sense, that the person's sins are forgiven. But this is what Jesus did.

V.8 ­ But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, "Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?"

I imagine that was a little bit of a surprise to them that He knew what was in their hearts.

V.9 ­ Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Arise and take up your bed and walk'?
V.10 ­ But that you may know that the Son of Man has power ­­ or that is authority, is what the word is, exousia ­­ the authority on earth to forgive sins" ­­ he said to the paralytic,

V.11 ­ Then I say to you, "Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house."

V.12 ­ Immediately he arose, took up the bed, went out in the presence of them all, so that they were amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw like this!"

This was unheard of. A person's sins being forgiven, right before their very eyes. They never went through the process prescribed by the law.

Now, as I said before, it's not that there wasn't grace. There was. Now, it's coming through Jesus Christ, and it was being shown through the Word in the flesh who was forgiving them. He was with them. He was forgiving them on the spot. And this is quite remarkable, that Jesus would do this.

Now, there may be an immediate question that you have in your mind. How come He didn't follow the prescription? Mr. Nelson referred to repentance, of course, and that is something that a person has to do. Did this person repent? We're going to ask that question as we go along. Did he know what repentance was? Had he repented? Did he simply have faith? Was he the one who had faith or did people who let him down through the roof have faith? It doesn't say.

Mark 7:24 Mark 7:24And from there he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid.
American King James Version×
, I want to go to this example, and I choose this one because it brings out two points. One similar to what any other incident of healing that we may read about that Christ did would have, which we're going to draw from that. But there's a ­­ yet, another point that he's making with this, and I think with this, I think we can make the point a little bit better.

Mark 7:24 Mark 7:24And from there he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid.
American King James Version×
­ From there he arose and went to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And He entered a house and wanted no one to know it, but He could not be hidden.

V.25 ­ For a woman whose young daughter had an unclean spirit heard about Him, and she came and fell at His feet.

V.26 ­ The woman was a Greek, (meaning a gentile) a Syro­Phoenician by birth, and she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter ­­

Now, in Matthew's account, he says the woman asked Him, and He never replied a word to her. He just kept silent. And while that's implied here, it doesn't quite say that. But she keeps asking Him.

V.27 ­ "But then Jesus says to her, "Let the children be filled first, because it is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs."

Wow. Well, that doesn't sound like grace to me, does it? You mean, she's referred that ­­ there's something he's getting at here. In that, she's assuming something. In Matthew's account, she says ­­ she calls Jesus, You Son of David ­­ as if she had some claim to be, you know ­­ asking Jesus to heal her daughter on the basis that he was the Son of David as if she were, let's say, an Israelite too, and she wasn't. Now, she's assuming something here, or she is putting herself in a position that Jesus knew that was not hers. So he makes the statement, "Let the children be filled first. For it is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs."

As I said, that doesn't sound like a very generous or an accommodating statement to this woman. But she came back with an answer, which tells us something about this whole episode.

V.28 ­ And she answered and said to Him, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children's crumbs."

Ah, now, we have a little bit of a different attitude here.

V.29 ­ And then He said to her, "For this saying, go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter."

V.30 ­ And when she had come to her house, she found the demon gone out, her daughter lying on the bed.

This tells us something here about why Jesus healed. Number one, when Jesus healed people, first of all, they asked. They believed to one extent or another that He could do it and that He would do it. They ­­ they had to believe that. To some extent He required a contriteness and a humility. Well, this woman didn't quite express that to start with. Not just to expect it because, well, He happened to be in town. We're in sort of the same location, and they said, "Might as well ask. Won't do any harm."

That's not why a person ought to go to Christ and ask Him for healing. If you're going to do that, it's ­­ you have to ­­ well, first of all, you have to really desire it. You have to really want it. It's something that you have to show that. But it ought to be done with some contriteness and humility. And you find how people generally approached Him in that way, and He saw that attitude there, and He was ­­ He seemed to be very happy to accommodate their requests by doing that. He did require that of this particular woman. You may not understand why He did that. But this ­­ this is where He was leading her, and He did lead her that way, by the way. He saw this as something she really deeply wanted, but He saw that she wasn't really in the right frame of mind, and He led her in a way where she would see the point, and then she would make her requests in a right and proper way, and He says, okay. Good. I understand. You're right. I will heal her, and so He did.

There's a third observation that you'll see here that you see with the man who was let down through the roof. As you see with any of the incidents where he healed, repentance was not required for Christ to show this kind of grace. Okay. You'll not find that. That's not a part of it. Here are people who had not repented. They were not ready. They were not up to following the prescription that we find that Peter says to repent and to be baptized for the remission of sins, and then you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. We have a prescription there as to how that ought to take place.

However, this is Christ, then, doing something for a person who requests, who comes in, let's say, a reasonable attitude of contriteness and humility, and they want it, they desire it, they see the plight. He sees the plight at their end, and He is willing then to do this for this particular person.

Now, we find repentance even of the apostles did not come until later, but Mr. Nelson brought that out quite well. Now, we tend to think that grace has to do with salvation. We turn to Paul to define for us grace in terms of salvation. We are saved by grace, Paul says, meaning that we are offered salvation through no goodness of our own, no deservedness of ourselves, or that we were called because of some meritorious act, or that our life was somehow so good and so great God simply called us.

A calling from God, whenever He does call us, it is done by grace that is emanated completely from Him, totally from Him. That's what a calling means. The person who does the calling chooses, and so that's what we find. Many are chosen, as it says. So He chooses from his goodness. He chooses from His compassion towards the person He chooses. So we understand then that that has to do with salvation, and we tend to relegate the whole idea of grace to the idea of salvation as Paul explains it.

I want to show you that Jesus Christ showed grace in a most extraordinary way to simply people in general, and repentance was not a requirement. This helps us to understand grace from a little bit better point of view here.

Verse 31 of Mark 7, here is to continue on with, yet, another particular point.

Mark 7:31 Mark 7:31And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came to the sea of Galilee, through the middle of the coasts of Decapolis.
American King James Version×
­ Again, departing from the region of Tyre and Sidon, He came through the midst of the region of Decapolis to the Sea of Galilee.

V.32 ­ Then they brought to Him one who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech, and they begged Him to put His hand on him.

V.33 ­ And He took him aside from the multitude, put his fingers in his ear, and he spat and touched his tongue.

Now, this was a rather strange way of doing this.

V.34 ­ Then, looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, “Be opened."

V.35 ­ Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was losed, and he spoke plainly.

V.36 ­ Then He commanded them that they should tell no one; but the more He commanded them, the more widely they proclaimed it.

It shows that ­­ how much of a regard they had for the immediate instruction that He was giving them. They didn't have any. So you would not think that there's a person who was really clued in, you know, as to what they ought to be doing.

V.37 ­ And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, "He has done all things well. And He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak."

Now, the reason I want to use this example is the same I would use for any of the other examples is that there was no prerequisite to repent. They did not have to follow the formula first to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, then to receive the Holy Spirit. Christ simply extended to them grace. It was His to give, and He gave it. He gave it when they asked. He gave it when they exhibited faith, a certain amount of faith. I don't know to what extent the faith that He extended them.

Now, does He require them to repent? Well, yes, he does, of course, indeed. Does He require them to turn to them in obedience? Well, yes, He does. Everyone has to do that. But God can extend grace to anyone, and He does, without regard to them ever having followed this formula first. As I said, it's His decision. It's His to give. And when He gives it, He does so. He does it in good faith. Saying in one case, "Well, go and sin no more." Does He know that that person's going to sin anymore? He doesn't know that. The person could. In fact, when He gives a person the Holy Spirit and forgives them of their sins, that person could still go and sin some more, and sometimes they do. Many times they do. But He takes them upon their face value, as he meets them, as He talks with them, and what they are asking them for at the time.

This is not saying, if you understand, that's not what a ­­ I mean, a person then is excluded from following that. A person must. We're not talking about that. We're talking about grace. That's it. Grace that is extended to these people.

Now, I want to talk about grace in a little bit different way now. Perhaps one more that ­­ a way which you and I could perhaps understand better.

Luke 7:36 Luke 7:36And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat.
American King James Version×
­50 ­ Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee's house, and sat down to eat.

V.37 ­ And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil.

V.38 ­ And stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.

Now, this is very interesting here. Here this was happening in the Pharisee's home. Not exactly a friend, say, a person who could put on a dinner for himself, His disciples, and invite a lot of other important people from the ­­ from the town. And this woman comes in and begins to anoint his feet, bow down behind him, anointing His feet, and then wiping His feet with her tears, as it says, and with the hair of her head.

Now, what did Christ do? He could have said, "Not now, lady, please. Not now. Don't. Please, you're embarrassing me. It's inappropriate for you to do this here." It's ­­ as a matter of fact, you know, what did He ­­ He never said anything like that. He never embarrassed the lady.

Let me ­­ let's use another term that we could use for grace, and that would be gracious. He was very mindful of where she was coming from. He was very mindful of how she ­­ what she was doing and how she felt about it, and He was certainly not about to embarrass her, not even in Simon's house, in front of all these other people. He wasn't going to do that. He accepted what she really wanted to do out of the purest of reasons, and He was prepared to accept that.

The story doesn't end there. Let's read on. There's another side, another part of this.
V.39 ­ Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner."

Now, of course, Christ not only knew that, but he also knew what they were thinking about what she was doing, and what they were thinking about him. Now, that's kind of scary, isn't it? I imagine you wouldn't invite Him to dinner if you knew He would know your thoughts all the time and what you were thinking.

V.40 ­ And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you." So he said, “Teacher, say it."

V.41 ­ There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.

V.42 ­ And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?"

V.43 ­ Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more."

And He said to him, “You have rightly judged."

Well, what's happening here? Have you ever been with a group of people, maybe at dinner, similar to this, where somebody's made a terrible faux pa. I mean, they've made just a huge mistake, in what they said. They only realized it afterwards. And what would ­­ maybe what somebody in the group might do, they could say, "Ah, I can't believe you said that." You know, they could say that. They might say ­­ well, they might even laugh at the person, you know, and the person, then, is very embarrassed that they said ­­ and, in other words, drew attention to the person ­­ made the person look really bad and silly, and the person was really embarrassed.

Jesus knew this person's thoughts. Jesus knew this person's hostile thoughts. How did he handle Simon? What would you do? You would probably like to nail Simon's you know what to the wall. I mean, you would feel like it, wouldn't you? Of course you would.

What did He do? He tells a story. Does Simon get off light? Probably. What's Jesus trying to do here? He's got grace. He knows how to handle the situation. He does so. He's not going to embarrass His host. He gets his point across. He even draws the man in, gets him to answer.

Is He angry at him? No, doesn't appear to be angry at the person. He's teaching, as He did in so many cases. He says ­­ he saw the crowd ­­ he saw the multitude, and he was moved with compassion, and what? More than one place, what does it say? And He taught them. That's it. Didn't chide them for their ignorance. He didn't chide them for the fact that, "Well, you should know better. I'm surprised, Simon, you're thinking this." He never did that. Very gracious individual in the way He handled Himself, even with Simon, and the woman.

I simply wanted to point that out to you. I don't know that we would be that generous, would we? Sometimes we feel like, well, Simon would have to pay. He needs to understand the offense he's caused. And that's not what Jesus did. Jesus was very mindful then as to how best to go about this. And as I said, He was a person of grace, full of grace and truth. Remember? He knew exactly what the man was thinking. Full of truth. He knew truth. But He was able to extend grace. Matthew 9:9 Matthew 9:9And as Jesus passed forth from there, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said to him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.
American King James Version×
­13, let's notice, yet, something else.

Matthew 9:9 Matthew 9:9And as Jesus passed forth from there, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said to him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.
American King James Version×
­13 ­ And as Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And he said to him, "Follow me." So he arose and followed Him.

Now, that raised a few eyebrows of itself, that he would get a despised tax officer of the Roman government, one of their own people who collected taxes from the Jews, to then be a follower of him, an apostle, as it turns out.

Matthew 9:10 Matthew 9:10And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.
American King James Version×
­ "Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.

V.11 ­ And when the Pharisees saw it" ­­ apparently they either were not invited or they would not dane to be a part of that group ­­ "the Pharisees saw it, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"

So what are you even doing that for?

V.12 ­ And when Jesus heard that, he said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick."

Did He recognize where the issues were? Yes, He did. Well, the other people had some problems too, but they weren't ready to listen.

V.13 ­ "But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but the sinners, to repentance."

He says, "I desire mercy and not sacrifice." Know what He's saying? He says I don't desire that you're going to pay. I'm not requiring anything of you. I desire mercy. That is when mercy is given, it's freely given. That's what Paul tells us. Freely forgiven. Freely given, free redemption, as he says. Matthew ­­ I'm sorry.

Romans 3:25 Romans 3:25Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
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, he says that's the way it is. He says I desire mercy, not payment. I don't want to make you pay. I don't want to make you feel bad. I'm not here to give them a lecture. I'm not here to ridicule them. I'm not here to shame them. I'm not here to make them admit wrong and to grovel or to give me an apology. That's not what I'm here for. He says I want to extend mercy.

Now, would a person repent? Well, he was banking on that. He knew they would in time. He knew they all would in time, except the ones who thought they were righteous. Now, those were the ones He would have a problem with. That's what He desired. That's what He wanted. I want to simply show that simply in what He did here, He was a person of grace, where He gave. He gave to people. You say the person didn't deserve it. That's not for me to judge. Does He say the person deserved it? That's not the point He made. He never made that point with anybody.
He simply ­­ He knew that they had not repented. He knew that they were still in their sins. He knew that later on if He was going to call them that probably they would repent, because of the attitude that they were showing there, an attitude of faith, but that was not a prerequisite. A person of grace. You say, "Why, Christ can't do something like that." He can do whatever he wants to do. He's God. Don't you understand that? He's God.

Now, let's see how far Christ will go as a person of grace. How far do you go? Let's go back to some of his commands.

Matthew 5:38 Matthew 5:38You have heard that it has been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
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­ You have heard that it was said an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

Is that a valid command? Indeed it is. It's in the Bible, I think, about three times, if I'm not mistaken, from the law. Now, Christ is not taking issue with that as a statement or as a part of the law. As a matter of fact, when some of these other things that were done ­­ or, I'm sorry, that He quoted from the law, He never took issue with them in the context of the law in the way that they were written, in the way that they were meant and intended to be applied. He never took issue with any of that. He took issue with the way they understood it. So what do we mean?

Matthew 5:38 Matthew 5:38You have heard that it has been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
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­ You have heard that it was said an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

Christ did not take issue with this rule of judgment when it's used by a judge or a magistrate. That was a part of the law. If you've got a law, you've got an institution, you've got a rule for order to take ­­ you know, to have order within the community, within the nation, you had to do this, human nature being what it is. You would have infractions, and you would have to judge in a certain way, and this is the way a magistrate would judge.

But it was being applied to personal relationships here, and people were trying to exact justice for everything done to them. And if you want to live that way ­­ if you want to live that way, then an eye for an eye and a ­­ you do this to me, I do that to you. The bikeys do that. Isn't that the rule? Sure. That's what they say. "You do this to me, I do worse to you. You do good to me, I do better to you. Hell’s Angels, that's their motto. Ask them.

Now, Christ did say if you're going to live by the sword, you will die by the sword. Now, this was being applied to personal relationships. And if you're going to counter everything that's said to you, take offense at everything that's said to you, have your feelings hurt over everything that's done or said to you, how many friends are you going to have? That's a question I ask you to answer for yourself. It doesn't mean that. And I hope that we ­­ we will understand that.

He says, "But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also." A lot of misunderstanding about this. What's he saying? Not to resist an evil person. Christ did not intend to teach that we are to sit back and see our families attacked, perhaps murdered, violated in some way, murdered ourselves, maybe. Rather than make resistance, what would you do? Any man here wouldn't resist that? I don't see anybody not doing that. I would do it. You going to come to my house? I'm going to resist you. Stay away from my wife. You got to go through me first. That's just the way it is.

Okay. Now, this was not what he's talking about, about a certain reasonable self­defense for people. You can defend yourself, your family, in the situation where you know some harm is going to come to you or to them. These are things of comparatively trivial interest.

And what He's saying is it's a lot better in these situations to take wrong, rather than enter into strife, rather than enter into lawsuits, rather than entering into an extended or, let's say ­­ what's the word I'm looking for ­­ escalated situation that just grows and develops and everything else. Wait a minute. If you're going to do the tit­for­tat thing, where is this going to go? He says, you don't resist this, he says.

This does not prevent ourselves from having something to say about what a person does to us mildly on somehow the injustice of the thing and insisting that justice should be done to us. It's not saying that. Example from, let's say, John 18:23 John 18:23Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smite you me?
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. I can show you that, where Jesus himself was slapped. What did He do? He did have something to say about it. But He understood the situation. He never hauled off and socked the guy who did it to him. Okay. I think we'll see the point here.

John 18:22 John 18:22And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answer you the high priest so?
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­ And when He had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, "Do You answer the high priest like that?"

V.23 ­ And Jesus answered him, "If I have spoken evil, then bear witness of the evil; but if I have spoken well, why are you striking me?"

He verbally defended himself in that way. And then ­­ well, I think He set a very good example in that way.

Then, of course, there's an evil of the litigious person who just, you know ­­ he goes to law about everything, determined to take all ­­ the entire advantage that the law can give him, following lawsuits that are very bitter at times. Christ says this, rather than contend with a revengeful spirit in a court of law or outside a court of law, even for that matter, on a trifling injury, this is mere ­­ you know, forget about it. Can you do that? Can you really do that? Can you understand that?

A lot of us ­­ let me just reiterate the point again. We lose friends, we make enemies, because we seek justice. We seek retribution for every slight, every offensive, every wrong, real or perceived. And we're just quick, quick off the mark. Why did you say that to me? Huh? How many friends are you going to have? How many people want to talk to you after that? How many people want to say anything, if you're going to be operated like that all the time.

Grace does what? I think you see the point by now, don't you? What does grace do? Overlooks it. Forget about it. Let's move on. Don't resist the evil person. Don't try to bring the person to justice. Don't try to get the person to feel bad about what he's done. I'm going to lecture you. I want you to feel ­­ I want you to feel the full force of my lecture. I want to preach. I want ­­ here it is. You're going to ­­ I want you to know how you made me feel. You know, we ought to ask the question, "Is this about us?" Really. You know, Matthew 18 is very instructive in this regard, and that is it's not about you. It's about the other person.
We have here a situation if your brother sinned against you. Why would you go to the other person? I think if you read on down a bit you see how you have gained your brother. Hmm. It doesn't say anywhere that you have received satisfaction because, "Justice has now been done. I feel so much better about that." If that's what you want, you'll be waiting a long time.

Now, you might be able to get a person to admit they're wrong, you know, from that point of view. But the person may not see that. The person may not go down that route. The person may say, "I believe you did such and such." I say, "Well, I don't believe I did that." The person, "Well, I'm sure you did, therefore, it must be." "I don't think so." Nothing's resolved. You ever been down that road? I have. This is their opinion against yours. We're talking about small stuff, really small stuff here.

Matthew 18 is about a disfellowshipmental offense, because it goes on to the point where you have two witnesses, then it goes on up to the church. It goes on up to the fact where the person could be disfellowshipped. A person disfellowshipped because you slighted somebody? How did it get to that? That's got nothing to do with that. Trifling events in our own personal lives. Matthew 18. You got to work this out yourself. You don't start going up to make it a federal case out of this thing. It just doesn't work that way. You need to be able to handle it.

Now, this is grace. This is what grace is. How many times Christ was slandered. How many times Christ was spoken against. Of course, considering who He was and what He said, He was spoken against quite a bit. How did he handle it? What did He do? How did He deal with it? What example did He show His disciples? Was He a man, a person of grace? And this is what this is.

Matthew 5:40 Matthew 5:40And if any man will sue you at the law, and take away your coat, let him have your cloak also.
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­ If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.

It doesn't say he's trying to get your house and property. It doesn't say he's trying to put your wife in jail. The tunic or cloak, that may be a big item to some people; I will say that. But let's say comparative to what could be happening, it's not. All right.

Chapter 5:41 ­ Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.

You see, you had to cooperate with the occupying powers. This comes ­­ goes all the way back to the Persian empire, when letters were sent out from the king to the far reaches of the empire. You had stations of horses every so far, the best horses there were. And if the courier from the king had to carry a message to some far flung place, and he pressed you into service to help you out, to help him out, get that message there. He says you don't just go one mile; you go two. Go twice as far as he's asking you. Cooperate with him. What would the Jews do? "I'm not going to cooperate with a filthy Roman. Hmmpf."

You know, let me explain something. And I think I explained it to you before. That if the Jews would have only listened to the commands of Jesus Christ, they wouldn't have been killed by their millions and, first of all, 70 A.D. at the rebellion and where women, children, old people were killed by the hundreds of thousands in 70 A.D., and then 62 years later the Bar Kokhba rebellion, you had another million or two Jews killed, because they're not going to be in submission to the Romans. And the Romans, after that, would even let them get back into Jerusalem.

And they only recently have come back in and formed a nation for themselves. That never had to happen. All they had to do was do what Christ said, and they would all be alive. They would all have continued. They would all be in Jerusalem. They would all have been there for hundreds and hundreds of years. They would still have been there. Not going to do that. You didn't even have to believe He was the Messiah. Just do what He says, and you would have been fine. Not going to do that.

Christ came with grace that was such a characteristic of God, and the Jews completely missed it. They missed it, much to their own detriment. And Jesus said, Jerusalem, how come you just didn't listen? You're just not even getting the point. You've seen it all. You've heard me speak. You've seen me heal people. I've been with you. I've fed multitudes, and you're not getting the point. And He says, It's going to be your demise. You're going to go into captivity. He knew it. He just knew the way they were. All you had to do is listen to what Jesus said. He was a person, indeed. The person of grace extraordinaire.

V.42 ­ "Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away." Verse 42.

This is a certain application. This is exactly what Christ did. Now, He had plenty more to give than we do, but what we do has to be weighed against our own obligations to our own families, of course, and that's ­­ that's understood.

Now, at the same time what if somebody asks you, what are you going to do? It's your choice. It's yours to give. It's yours not to give. What if he's lying to you? How would you know? You wouldn't. What can you give? Dig in your pocket. I've given to people before. Are they lying to me? They could be. I don't know. I'm not there to prove it. Couldn't tell you. When a person seems like they're in need, their story sounds plausible enough, I reach in my pocket. If I didn't and the person needed it, I would have committed perhaps a pretty bad sin. What's worse than I've given it to him and the guy's taking advantage of me or trying to get some money out of me under false pretenses.

They came to Christ. "I need this. I need healing. My son needs healing. My servant needs healing. Please heal me." What did He do? "Well, I don't know if you deserve it or not? What have you been doing the last 24 hours? How did you get to be this way to start with? What did you do in your childhood all this time, and look at you now. Hmmpf." Did they receive a lecture? Show me one lecture. Show me one.

The only thing He said to the woman caught in adultery, he says, "I don't accuse you. Just don't go sin anymore." A person of grace. That's it. You see, this is quite extraordinary and quite different from somehow other than the way we tend to think of things.

Grace is quite extraordinary when administered and given, freely given by the One who not only had so much to give but who could have held people to account every time. He certainly could have.

We come then in verse 43 to even a greater expression of grace. Now, he's stepping up ­­ he's stepping up the tempo here as to grace, what it really means.

V.43 ­ "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

V.44 ­ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you."
I can't believe he said that. Like I said, the commands of Christ are hard. And he says them ­­ he has got more commands about how we are to deal with people who sin and commit offenses and what we are supposed to do for their good, not for us.

And by the way, this is a little edge on to Matthew 18. John and James understood what that means because He says, "If you see a brother who sins a sin not unto death, he who restores such a one shall save a sinner from a multitude of sins," and you understand what he says there. And that's what he's talking about there.

It's for the other person. It's not so that we ourselves can get satisfaction. Whenever it's about us, we don't do it right. When it's about we feel hurt, remember hurt people hurt people. Okay. Someone just told me that the other day. I said, "That's a good one. Appreciate it. Thank you very much. I'll use it." Hurt people hurt people.

"Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who..." are some of the most difficult statements in the whole Bible. "Pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." We want to put conditions on this. We say, "Well, I don't know if I can quite do that. Look, we wish the person well." You may not approve of his conduct.

You do not have love for the conduct of the person who curses and reviles you. You do not have love for the injury that the person does to you or your property, or you don't have love for the person who violates ­­ I'm sorry, you don't have love for the violation of God's laws, but you still wish well the person. You may pity his madness and his folly. We may speak kindly of him and to him. We may return good for evil. We may even aid him in time of trial. We may seek to do him good here and to promote his eternal welfare. You may do all of that.

You don't have to be best friends, but it does say this. It takes a positive point of view. "Love your enemies." That's great. "Bless those who curse you." You do hope the best. You pray for God's mercy upon them as you, yourself, have experienced His mercy.

Now, here we have then one of the big reasons why we should extend mercy, is because we've received it. I think that was the lesson, was it, with a woman who washes His feet with her tears and with her hair. She understood the kind of a sinner she was and, therefore, she loved much. And so she could be very generous to other people. Very generous to other people, because she understood how generous God was with her.

I ­­ if at anything we get from this hopefully we'll understand how generous God has been to us, and that we will understand the grace of God in that way and be able to extend it towards other people. Because they deserve it? No. Verse 45. Why?

V.45 ­ "That you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."

As I told the people in Toowoomba this morning, they would relate to this, how, you know, you've got a farmer over here. He is a cheat. He treats his animals badly. He cheats other people. He's cantankerous. He's ornery, and he's very mean. Why is it raining on his property?
Well, here we are. He makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, sends rain without distinction on the just and the unjust, so his people then should show that they should imitate or resemble God, and they should do so in the very similar way.

You and I would be judging people as to whether they should be healed or not. Disciples, remember, couldn't heal some people. I don't know what they were thinking, but Jesus never had that thought in His mind. He healed the person, casts the demons out, and they didn't. There's something maybe that they needed to understand.

V.46 ­ "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

V.47 ­ If you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others do? Do not even the tax collectors do so?"

Even the tax collectors hang together, so you don't do better than them. Well, I think I'll just hang around with these people here. I feel more comfortable. I'm not hanging around with that person. I'm not going to be around that person. You know that person has slighted me. I'll make him pay. Who are you really paying? Who's really paying? You are. Of course you are.

You know, God does deal with us favorably before we make the decision to repent, doesn't he? I would certainly hope he does. That's how I ­­ that's how I came to understand what repentance was. He didn't lecture me. Didn't do bad things to me. I understood it through his goodness, and he understands that. We tend to want to punish people. We tend to want to see everybody sitting upright in the school bus, everybody sitting upright in class. It's got to be perfect. Then I'm happy. I feel good. What are you feeling good about? Yourself? God says, "I desire mercy, and I sacrifice."

You know, the whole thing on forgiveness ­­ you've heard me speak about this before, forgiveness, and I'm going to put it this way ­­ is yours to give. It's yours to give. It's yours not to give. But it's yours to give. You can do that if you want or not do that. That's up to you. And so He doesn't put any prerequisites on it. You might think He does, but He doesn't.

Now, does a person have to repent? Yes, he does. But I'm not the person to judge. Thank goodness for that. Will all sin be judged? All sin will either be judged or forgiven, one of the two. No exceptions. Will every word be held into account? Absolutely it will. Nothing's going to fall by the wayside. That's the way God says it will happen.

Is it up to me? Not up to me. He doesn't say, "Well, you'll be able to judge these people." Aren't you glad He doesn't? I'm glad I'm not judged by anybody, except God, and I know His generosity. I know the way He is. When you forgive, you make a choice. You bear the loss. That's what forgiveness is. They can't pay you back. They can't owe you anything. They can't make it up. They can't even make you feel better about it. You bear the loss. Christ did. And He says, "I want you to consider the grace that was there."

Let me cover a couple of points here in closing. Luke 9:51 Luke 9:51And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
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Luke 9:51 Luke 9:51And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
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­ It came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem,

V.52 ­ and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him.

V.53 ­ But they did not receive Him, because his face was set for the journey to Jerusalem.

They felt slighted. Huh! What an insult. "And they did not receive Him."

V.54 ­ Then his disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just like Elijah did?"

Well, we always got to be like Elijah, don't we?

V.55 ­ And He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what matter of spirit you are of.

V.45 ­ For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them.

It didn't come to destroy them. Understand that. But to save them.

V.46 ­ And they went to another village.

Nothing more said. Nothing more said. Guys, get over it. Let's go to the next village. No more discussion. It's over. Guys, suck it in. That's what He's saying. And they went to another village. It's over. Okay. Now, you could continue on the way to the next village another couple of Ks down the track and running these people down because of what they did. Doesn't say they did that.

I told the Counsel, I said, "In any administration here's the way it's going to have to be, that if anything came to our attention that we have to deal with, we talk about it one time. If it has to be dealt with, we do it. If it's not worthy of being dealt with, we forget about it. It's over. We make the decision then no more discussion, no more talking, no more gossip. No more slandering. It doesn't go out the door. That's where it stays."

How many of us have followed that? Just a thought. I said, "That's how we're going to have to operate if we expect them to operate the same way. That's the way we got to operate." As you can see, I was a little bit direct with what I had to say, but you got to be that way, all the way through, no exceptions, no respecter of persons. It's the same standard all the way through. You know they dealt with it. It's over. Grace.

In Luke 23:34 Luke 23:34Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
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now, we're going to see just how really serious we are when it comes to grace.

Luke 23:33 Luke 23:33And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
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­ When they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.
V.34 ­ And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." And they divided His garments and cast lots.
V.35 ­ And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, "He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God."

V.36 ­ The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself."

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." I'm not going to sit here and argue with anybody as to whether they're forgiven or not forgiven. That's a technical matter, which is no consequence to this point right here. None whatsoever. If they knew what they were doing, Jesus couldn't have said that. We have to assume they didn't know what they were doing.

And there's a lot of grace, a lot of grace here. So much so that it's kind of hard to comprehend how they could say such a thing. I believe Stephen understood that grace. That's why he was able to say a similar thing whenever they were stoning him. They didn't know. We see such a generous approach towards other people, towards sinners, such a generous and merciful approach towards people who didn't know better, such a generous approach to the whole of mankind of which we are a part, in which he decided to even come to this earth to start with and live a life among us. Merciful to us and forgiving us, understanding what it's like to be a human being, and being prepared then to die on our behalf. Now, this is grace.

So when Peter says, "Grow in grace," now, this is what he means.


  • Greg Redlarczyk
    Mr. Bradford, Just heard this sermon on Growing in Grace and was deeply moved by its fundamental importance of why we need to "put on Christ" and great need for the Church to focus more on learning what a Christian should be by following Christ's example. There would have been peace in the Church and more blessing from God if our teachings in the past would have included focusing on becoming "Christ like". The deception of the Protestants over emphasizing Christ, I believe led us to deemphasizing our need to study, understand and put to practice Christ like behavior. Keeping the Sabbath and Holy Days is not enough, if don't grow in Grace.
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