Preface: The symbol of continuity for God’s church is His law, which, after the Fall, must always be coupled with God’s saving grace. Together, both are the essence of the gospel.
When I combine the definitions of “grow” and “grace” from Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary, and discuss this topic, I arrive at the following definition: to grow in grace is to “increase by natural development in beauty or form with a manifestation of the Spirit of God operating in man to regenerate or strengthen him.” The Bible, however, reminds us that we are in need of a Saviour so that we can grow in grace (2 Pet. 3:18).
Grace is a central doctrine of Christianity. Salvation is God’s free gift through Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8, 9). As a plant springs, in most instances from a seed, and is watered and nourished in order to grow, so must children of God acknowledge that they are in need of a Saviour, in need of salvation. They must admit to weaknesses and insufficiencies and allow God to nurture them. They must open their hearts for Christ to dwell in them so the Holy Spirit may come and abide.
“If you are growing in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ, you will improve every privilege and opportunity to gain more knowledge of the life and character of Christ.”1
At all levels, the human psyche resists help. We live in a do-it-yourself world, so the premise that grace is unmerited favor and the believer is justified without any works of his or her own, without any claim to offer to God, seems unbelievable. But Ellen G. White says, “Day by day God labors for man’s sanctification, and man is to cooperate with Him, putting forth persevering efforts in the cultivation of right habits. He is to add grace to grace; and as he thus works on the plan of addition, God works for him on the plan of multiplication.”2
Additionally she says, “Daily prayer is as essential to growth in grace, and even to spiritual life itself, as is temporal food to physical well-being.”3 It must be remembered, however, that yesterday’s grace—like yesterday’s food—is not enough for today and that there is an abundant supply of it.
When we acknowledge God’s grace in our lives and submit our will to His leading, we give up a “present good for a larger return.”4 Let us remember that, “at every stage of development our life may be perfect; yet if God’s purpose for us is fulfilled, there will be continual advancement.”5
1. Ellen G. White, Messages to Young People, p. 121.
2. White, My Life Today, p. 101.
3. White, The Sanctified Life, p. 93.
4. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 65.