“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
(2 Peter 3:18)
Today’s verse passage is the last inspired words the apostle Peter ever wrote. In context, Peter was warning God’s people that in the last days there would be a wave of doctrinal heresy built upon a corrupt moral foundation (2 Peter 3:3-4). He explains that these people will actually try to advance an argument in defense of their faith system. “Where is the promise of his coming?” they will ask, denying the doctrine of Christ’s second coming in judgment, “for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:4). This is the philosophy of uniformitarianism, which has super-saturated the western world since the late nineteenth century. The overriding idea here is that observed cases are infallible guides to future or unobserved cases. Of course we believe in a general uniformity to natural processes—our Creator has guaranteed that (Genesis 8:22). However, we also believe the Creator when He tells us that He has contravened so-called natural laws in the past and will do so in the future; it is not the case that this world will continue on indefinitely in strict, uniformitarian fashion. “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night;” wrote Peter, “in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). Peter is not only interested in the stupendous changes about to take place in the created order, he is interested in the changes that we are called to make in our own lives. “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” In his first epistle, Peter likens us to seedlings and newborn babies (1 Peter 1:23; 2:2). Both are expected to make progress in their growth and development. The idea that we can make real progress in this life, that we can become better people, is common to virtually every people group and demographic on the planet. Everyone knows that progress is possible and they feel some moral obligation to move in that direction. The challenge, however, is in accounting for this given our views on reality. For the Christian this is no problem. We believe that God provides the standards we are striving to move towards in our thinking and conduct as well as the obligation to do so. On this view, real intellectual and moral progress is possible. This is not the case with other, competing faith systems. Without a known, objective standard of goodness, moral change may be possible, but not moral progress. We ought never to forget that God is not only our necessary rational and moral foundation, He is, in Christ, the best friend we will ever have (Proverbs 18:24b). May the Lord help us to grow in grace together, to make real progress as His redeemed image-bearers, for His glory and for the good of others.