That is an excellent question! Let’s read that verse, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen” (NKJV). Notice, we are to grow in both GRACE and KNOWLEDGE and I believe they are intimately connected. We shall see that it is as we grow in the KNOWLEDGE of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we will shall, at the same time, be growing in GRACE.

What is grace? The word has been defined as “God’s UNMERITED FAVOR,” which means God’s “unearned blessings.” We do not deserve them nor can we earn them; they are a FREE GIFT. But as we shall see in order for God to bless us there is a tremendous COST to Him, for He had to send His Son into this world to take our place in death and judgment to procure these blessings for us. 

We first learn and experience God’s grace when we receive the FREE GIFT of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. We are taught this in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by GRACE you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not works, lest anyone should boast.” No one can earn salvation by doing good works. It is “the gift of God,” which He offers FREELY to the sinner who will simply receive it by simple faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work on Calvary. Again, God had to pay a high price to offer it to us, but it is absolutely FREE to the believing sinner. “For God so loved the world that HE GAVE His only begotten Son, that WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

After we are “saved by grace,” God desires that we “grow in grace,” which means He wants us to continue to receive His blessings freely by faith. In Romans 8:32 we read, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not WITH HIM ALSO FREELY GIVE US ALL THINGS.” Salvation is merely the beginning of the blessings God has in store for us, blessings that are given to us FREELY through His Son. Christ did the work on the cross to offer us salvation and after we are saved we must learn, through the “knowledge of Christ,” the blessings God has in store for us. The knowledge of Christ is the “channel of God’s grace.” I will now quote a verse which teaches us this:

In 2nd Peter 1:2 we read, “GRACE and peace be multiplied to you in the KNOWLEDGE of God and of JESUS OUR LORD.” Peter began his epistle as he ended it, by teaching us that GRACE and KNOWLEDGE go together. We “grow in grace” as we “grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

It is sad, but this is not always the experience of a new believer. After one is saved, the tendency is to lose sight of the grace of God and think we can now please God through our own efforts. I would encourage you to read Romans chapter seven where we learn that the Apostle Paul experienced this very thing by trying to please God by keeping the Law. I’m sure he reasoned, “Okay, I’m now saved and have been given a new life, so I should be able to obey God’s commandments and live a sin-free life.” He learned, by bitter experience, that he was as powerless to be “saved from sin’s power” as he was powerless to be “saved from sin’s penalty.” He eventually discovered that he still had his fallen nature of sin in him (see verses 18-20) and that if he was to be delivered from sin’s power it must be from someone else. In Romans 8:2 he discovered true deliverance, “For the law of the Spirit of LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS has made me free from the law of sin and death.” In short, He learned that the Holy Spirit, who lives inside of Him, sets him free from sin by focusing our attention on the life we have in Christ Jesus! Jesus spoke of this in John 16:14, “He (the Holy Spirit) will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” This is the mission of the Holy Spirit, to teach us more and more about Christ, and as we “learn of Him” (see Matthew 11:29) we will, at the same time, be “growing in grace.”

I must emphasize that GRACE is so foreign to the human mind and heart. We are so used to “earning everything we possess,” that even after we are “saved by grace” we tend to adopt certain rules to live by in order to receive God’s blessings. The Apostle Paul learned this lesson well and after he did he wanted to teach others to “continue in God’s grace.” He wrote to the saints at Rome and said, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but UNDER GRACE.” He had to teach the same thing to the Hebrew Christians (who were still clinging to the Law) in Hebrews 13:9, “Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be ESTABLISHED BY GRACE, not with foods that have not profited those who have been occupied with them. His testimony to the Corinthians of God’s grace is beautiful: “By the GRACE of God I am what I am, and His GRACE toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly that they all, yet not I, but the GRACE OF GOD WHICH WAS WITH ME.” What did he mean by saying “the grace of God which was with me?” His words in Galatians 2:19-21 give us the answer:  “For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God, I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but CHRIST LIVES IN ME; and the life which I now live in the flesh I LIVE BY FAITH IN THE SON OF GOD, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the GRACE OF GOD; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” It was Christ “in him” and Christ “outside him” (as the OBJECT OF FAITH) that supplied him with the grace of God.  As he “grew in the knowledge of Christ,” he “grew in the grace of Christ.” This was his key in “living to God” (living a life pleasing to God) and this is our key as well!

In closing, I will quote another passage from the Apostle Peter. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may GROW THEREBY, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is GRACIOUS.” No matter how long we have been saved, we should have a thirst for the “milk of the word,” for as we read and meditate upon God’s Word we will be learning of Christ and we WILL “grow thereby.” And as we “grow in the grace and the knowledge of Christ” we will BE BLESSED and even more importantly, Christ will BE GLORIFED. For Peter’s very last words to us from our verse today are: “To Him be the glory both now and forever.”  (419.5)  (DO)