GROWING? (2nd Peter 3:17-18)

What is the Grace of Christ? Let’s begin by looking at both John 1:14. The apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to stay strong in grace, 2nd Timothy 2:1. When Christians during the first century spoke of “seeing” the grace of God, they saw people becoming Christians, Acts 11:21-23. Can you think of anything more gracious in the world, than Christ making a new creation from an old sinner? Therefore in order to grow in the grace of Christ, must have something to do with helping people become a Christian. Correct? We know for certain that grace comes in various forms according to 1st Peter 4:10, so how many ways can we think of, which people help the Lord create new creations? Most people in our fellowship call this “evangelism”, yet the word “evangelism” isn’t in any version of the Bible. Maybe a better phrase is “the work of the Lord”? See 1st Corinthians 16:10.

What is the Knowledge of Christ? Let’s begin by looking at 1st Corinthians 2:16. When we speak the truth in love, we are promised that growth will be experienced, Ephesians 4:15. When we read or speak the gospel of Christ, is love truly the motivation for reading or speaking? To grow in the knowledge of Christ must mean we are growing in whatever Christ shares about His/Our Father, since Christ was always doing the Father’s will. Please take John 17:3 very seriously as we ask in prayer for our faith in God to become knowledge in experience of his will. His life can become our experience and his life is what Christ shares with us from the Father. Christ’s knowledge helps us experience an abundant life, here and now and forever, John 10:10.

Both the grace and knowledge of Christ contains the message of righteousness. Righteousness itself is a virtue which Christ’s Spirit helps us grow, Hebrews 5:13 & 12:11 and Ephesians 5:19. God’s righteousness is a gift which no one can merit to receive, nor can anyone be smart enough to know His righteousness without having God as our teacher in what is truly right. There is a way that seems right to a person, but at the end of that way is death. (Proverbs 16:25) Being right as God in Christ defines right, leads to life, because Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, John 14:6.  Are we growing in the grace & knowledge of Christ to reflect his enlightening righteousness in this dark world?


Whatever subject matter is elementary or basic for one person, might be incredibly advanced for the next person. First century Christians with a background in Judaism, would be very well versed in the following topics from Heb. 6:1-2.

  1. Repentance from Dead Works.  2. Faith in God. 3. Baptisms,  4.Laying on of Hands. 5. The Resurrection,  6. Eternal Judgment.

But 21st century Christians, with a background in the restoration movement would certainly have a different list of topics which are probably elementary to most of us. In reality, it is very likely that there are a number of different faith-based backgrounds in any one single congregation of 21st century Christians. This situation would demand we consider the purpose of God’s letter to the Hebrews to tell us why any Christian would need to go beyond elementary instructions. There are three phrases which point us to the purpose of maturity.

  1. The Message of Righteousness, Heb. 5:13.
  2. Better Things Relating to Salvation, Heb. 6:9.
  3. Eagerness for the Fulfillment of your Hope, Heb. 6:11 
  4. Emulating Persevering Saints to Inherit the Promises, Heb. 6:12.

Firstly, start by writing down some Bible topics which you feel like you are more than familiar with. What are they? If you are not sure about being familiar with any topics in the Bible, can you list subjects that you are troubled or confused about?

As a first principle, we can not ignore Paul’s passage about the gospel being a priority in 1st Corinthians 15:3-5. Do we look at the death, burial & resurrection of Christ as the gospel, and everything else as doctrine? Or, do we consider that there is a significant difference between certain letters and the four gospels? What is your understanding of the authoritative inspiration of the Scriptures? Remember the context of 2nd Timothy 3:16, to gain wisdom for salvation through your faith, grow in His grace & knowledge.

Baptism, Romans 6:3-7

There are actually quite a few baptisms spoken of in the New Testament. However, regardless of how many baptisms the Bible speaks of, they are of little importance since God proclaims in Ephesians 4:5 that there is only ONE baptism. All the other baptisms are historical and only one is imperative for Christians today. Which one is it? By the context of Ephesians 4:1-7, it must be the baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ, the one and only begotten from God the Father. Not the baptism of The Spirit, or of John, or of Moses or any one else. Why? Because Christ died for us and was raised, proving he was the Son of God with power, but the Spirit did not die for us, and baptism is best understood as a watery grave, victorious by His resurrection from the grave. That grave is what God speaks of in Romans 6:3-5.

Why is the baptism of Christ important?

  1. It is a command/ordinance from the Lord, Matthew 28:18-20.
  2. It contains a promise of Christ’s Spirit as a gift, Acts 2:37-39.
  3. It contains a principle/the source of unity, 1st Corinthians 12:13.
  4. It is the venue for the operation of God by faith, Colossians 2:11-12.
  5. It is the venue for coming into Christ from the outside, Galatians 3:27.
  6. It is a type of Christ’s burial, by immersion, Romans 6:3-7.
  7. It is our personal pledge for receiving salvation, 1st Peter 3:21.

Immersed believers are not baptised by one Spirit, we are baptised by a fellow believer. We are immersed into the Body which brings us into a relationship with the Spirit as a gift, Acts 2:38-39. The one Spirit of Christ is God’s gift we receive when obeying the baptism of Christ as a fellow Christian baptises us. The racial, social and gender differences that divide society and sometimes even a congregation, do not exist within the body of Christ: “You are all sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-27) So even if we make divisions within the church and denominate the church into different denominations, if a believer obeys Christ and is baptised according to the will of God (a Biblical reason) by faith, then the Spirit does what He promises to do, no matter who baptises or officiates in the ordinance of baptism. The Spirit unites the people of God by having them all immersed into the one body where we have access to “the one Spirit to drink.” 1st Corinthians 12:13. Having this clear understanding of who is doing the baptism, which baptism we are baptised into, and who we receive in baptism, helps us understand the difference between Christ’s baptism and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is actually a very different subject. Do you believe anyone can come into Christ by faith through immersion? See Romans 6:4-11.

The Lord’s Supper, 1st Corinthians 11:20-31

When Jesus told his disciples to “DO THIS” (Luke 22:19) He was speaking as the Lord, and proved by giving his body & blood, to be the Lord of lords in the resurrection of that body and blood. How dare anyone treat the LORD’s Supper as an option! His Apostles & disciples continued steadfastly in observing it, Acts 2:42. The Church in Troas shared every Lord’s Day, Acts 20:7 and the Church in Corinth shared, “often”, 1st Corinthians 11:26, not as some Churches practice observing it as every once in a while.

Jesus established His Supper as a memorial for us, giving us an opportunity to do three things with him. In each of these activities, we are in fellowship/communion with him.

  1. Give Thanks for his powerful & sacrificial love.
  2. Remember Him in his suffering and victorious death.
  3. Examine our self as unworthy and participating in a privileged memorial.
  4. Publicly proclaim His death

The environment, context and background for establishing and maintaining the Lord’s Supper is solemn & respectful, NOT frivolous, casual or ritualistic. Here are the reasons.

  1. He established it the night he was betrayed, 1st Cor. 11:23
  2. The elements, bread & wine are blessed in prayer, and sanctified by His Spirit. This is holy fellowship/communion, it should never be treated in a common, unholy way. 1st Cor. 11:24-25
  3. It is pointing to his death, 1st Cor. 11:26
  4. If respect and meditation are not part of His Supper we condemn ourself, 1st Cor. 11:28-29. A worthy manner must involve a sincere, prayerful gratitude.

This Memorial defeats idolatry from living in our heart, 1st Corinthians 10:14-17, we can not have a higher love than this, if we believe his body suffered and bled to death for our sins, then He took our punishment, freeing us from the consequence of our sin. The Communion is not ours, it belongs to Christ as His Spirit shares a priceless and powerful gift with us. Are we grateful?

The most important sharing we have in the Body of Christ is this:  His flesh & blood!  His Spirit shares Himself with each of us personally as much as we will let Him share with us in obedience to Him, Acts 5:32. God has appointed every individual Christian to come together in worship on the Lord’s Day to share in the Body of Jesus, his flesh and blood.  Why?  Because we are human and our human hearts are deceptive, Jeremiah 17:9.  We are self-willed and it’s too easy for us to swell up with pride throughout the week, thinking we can make ourselves acceptable, instead of remembering that it’s only the sacrificed and risen body of Jesus that can make us worthy in the presence of God. 

John 6:43-65 Is the passage which best explains why the Lord’s Supper is not an act of transubstantiation. It is an actual spiritual experience, not a physical one. The physical bread and wine, are truly and prayerfully emblems that represent the reality of what Christ did on the cross for us. His teaching points us to a spiritual reality, not a physical one. Do you believe this?

Christian Singing, Ephesians 5:19

The WHAT? Making Melody, being two words in English is actually only one word in your Greek New Testament, “PSALLO” meaning ‘to pluck or twang’. The following NT verses use this word, Ephesians 5:19, James 5:13, 1st Corinthians 14:15 (twice), Romans 15:9. Everytime the point is to pluck at something, Eph. 5:19 the heart. Jas. 5:13 the happy person. 1Cor. 14:15 the spirit & understanding of people. Rom. 15:9 the foreign person.

The WHY? There is a reason for God teaching and instructing us to PSALLO or pluck at. The context of each passage above makes clear why God wants us to pluck at something. Rom. 15:9 in order to praise God’s name for his mercy. 1Cor. 14:15-16 in order to give clarity and agreement with everyone who hears. In Jas. 5:13 in order to show we are happy. Eph. 5:18-19 in order to be filled with the Spirit. 

The HOW? Singing! The Greek word is ODAY, from where we get our English word for “ODE”. Everyone can sing, not everyone can maintain harmony, some can’t even keep a beat, but we can ALL SING. If you are doubtful, just pray about it and try.  Since God is a Spirit, he is not desiring a good physical experience, he is actually desiring a good spiritual experience. He wants to feel your gratitude, love and praise, from your heart.

If God can feel your pain, then he can certainly feel your joy. Heb. 4:15 “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities” Also, there is a direct implication that our joy and the joy of the Lord can be intertwined, when Jesus says in John 15:11 “These things have I spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” Singing does indeed MOVE people, which is what some people might need in order to begin the actual “plucking or twanging” of our heart/spirit.

The WHO? Christians of all ages, genders, races & social positions. Romans 15:9-11 & Galatians 3:28, Matthew 21:16. For of such, belong the Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom of God is righteousness, JOY and peace. Romans 14:17. 

The CONTENT? Last week we looked in detail for New Testament Lyrics. Here is a list of New Testament statements that resemble anthems, choruses, odes or poetic refrains. Romans 11:36, Ephesians 3:21, 1st Timothy 1:17, Revelation 5:12-13, 7:12, 15:3-4, 19:6. Some scholars have suggested that the majority of Ist Corinthians 13, the ‘love’ chapter is a song.

The CONCLUSION: Singing is an obvious act of worship, an expression of our love and gratitude for all that God is, all that Jesus has done, and all the Spirit is doing. No matter how happy or sad we are, we should know Christ wants us to gather together on Sunday to sing. Our determination to do this is pinned on the example of the church in Acts 2:42, but the result is in v47.