FULL TEXT + VIDEO: Primatial Address at the 14th General Synod of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion.September 22, 2023
- Korede Akintunde
- August 15, 2023
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The theme for the 2nd Session of the 4th Synod is from the epistle of Peter to all Christians “But grow in Grace and in the Knowledge of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ” 2 Pet 3:8
This theme is in line with our focus as a diocese for 2023. We declared by faith that 2023 is our year of “Greater heights and growth” Our determination is to grow and move to higher heights in our individual and corporate walk with God in this Diocese. We are determined by the grace of God to move this Diocese to the next level of glory.
DIOCESAN ANCHOR TEXT:
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! 2 Pet 3:18
Introit: I’m pressing on the upward way,
1. I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day; Still praying as I onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.” Refrain:
Lord, lift me up, and let me stand
By faith on Canaan’s tableland;
A higher plane than I have found, Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
2. My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where these abound, my prayer, my aim, is higher ground. Refrain
3. I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground
4. I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till rest I’ve found,
“Lord, lead me on to higher ground. “Refrain:
Our theme for the 1st Session of the 2nd synod was “Fear not for I am with you” Isa 41;10. With the assurance of his ever- abiding presence, our hearts are open to grow in our relationship with God. The theme for the 2nd Session of the 4th Synod is appropriate as we move forward as a Diocese. We are experiencing growth across this Diocese despite several distractions and obstacles the enemy is putting on our way. We are moving higher, greater, and growing deeper in Jesus’ name. Amen
Background and Introduction on the Book of Peter:
It is believed that the letter was written around A.D. 64 by Peter, the apostle. The writer introduces himself in verse 1 and 2 as “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” (1 Pet 1:1-2 NIV)
The book of Peter can best be described as a book written to give hope to the believers in the midst of persecution and suffering. Peter offered praised to God for the special privilege given to believers through the new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Believers are called to be holy, live out our time as foreigners here in reverent fear, and to not conform to the standard of this world. Peter goes further to say “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect (1 Pet 1:18-19). A clear reminder of how and why we are saved from the mundane things of this world.
In this letter, Peter addresses the persecutions and the sufferings that the believers have been enduring for the gospel’s sake, as well as encouraging them to stay strong in the faith and to ‘be holy’ (1 Pet 1:15-16).
“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peters 2:1-3)
He emphasizes that God’s people are misunderstood minority and that they are a ‘chosen race’ and a ‘royal priesthood’, and that their behaviour must be exemplary amongst the unbelievers in order to give a good witness for the Faith (1 Pet 2:12), that people may see this and glorify God.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Pet 2: 9 – 10).
Believers now have new family identities irrespective of their background (Gentiles or Jews). We belong to the family of God. In this call to the new family, we are to expect suffering, challenges, and persecution. The writer enjoins his audience to see suffering as a witness for Jesus in this perverted and perverse world.
Chapter 4 exhorts them to discard their previous ‘lusts of men’ and instead to live for the will of God, for the end of this age is near. The trials that they are undergoing should be no surprise to them because they are indeed sharing in the sufferings of Christ in this matter.
Peter warns us to be on guard against the devil, who is the real adversary behind the scenes, whose tactics are pretty much the same as they always were. If he cannot discourage us with persecutions, then he can offer many other inducements in order to distract us from our ultimate goal of simply worshiping The Lord Jesus, and expectantly awaiting his return. Peter encourages the Christian believers to stay strong in the face of persecution. To emulate Christ in his suffering and to beware of their real adversary, the devil who “prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour”.
He finishes this book with the warning that they must beware of their adversary the devil, and to resist him by being strong in the faith.
2 PETER SUMMARY:
Peter begins his 2nd letter by reminding the believers of his earlier ministrations concerning Christian behaviour, and the person of Christ. False prophets and teachers were posing a problem at this time, so Peter warns them throughout the second chapter to be aware of such people; advising amongst other things that these people are ‘slaves of corruption’ (2:19) and to be avoided at all costs.
Peter stresses the fact that Jesus’ people (believers in Christ) must be people who never stops growing. Peter warned his audience about the corrupt leaders with corrupt ways of life and corrupt and distorted theology.
The concluding chapter of this book house our theme. It contains a strong warning against false teachers, manipulators, and those who deliberately twist the word of God to satisfy their fleshy desire and arrogance. The writer counters the false teachers who say that the Lord is not coming back at all and reminds them that God’s timing is not the same as ours, and indeed one thousand (1000) years is only a day to Him. Peters says:
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare (2 Pet 3:8– 10)
He ends the book by again exhorting them to be alert to false teachings, especially those who would attempt to distort the teachings of the Apostle Paul, whose writings are sometimes difficult to grasp (2 Pet 3:15-16). Brother Peter emphasize, “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” (2 Pet 3:14)
We are to make every effort and do all that is necessary to ensure we live a life that is pleasing unto the master.
The last two verses of chapter 3 are the climax of the epistle. The writer explicitly says “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
The goal of the enemy is to carry us away. Make us miss the mark, loose our focus and confuse us and lead us away from the main message of salvation in Christ Jesus. Peter provides a clear solution and what is very necessary to avoid falling into this pit – Grow in Grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.
The writer appears to be saying with all I have said in these two books and eight chapters, one undeniable and greater thing for your journey is that you must grow. As you continue to grow you will gain greater understanding and knowledge in the things of God that will enable you dispel the falsehood of the enemy.
False teachers and disinformation campaigns have always been one of the enemy’s biggest ploys, in his battle to undermine the work of Christ and discredit his people. Interestingly it is a ploy that has been used by various governments and peoples since time began, to confuse and defeat their enemies. Disinformation is a very powerful weapon in times of war, and helps keep the opposition ‘on the back foot’, so to speak.
As Paul tells us in the book of Ephesians (6:12), we are in a time of spiritual warfare so we should not be surprised that the devil uses disinformation and false teaching to try to undermine the true Faith, thereby weakening our resolve to be effective witnesses for the Lord. The antidote to this negative strategy of the enemy is for us to keep growing in Grace and in the knowledge of Christ.
BASIC STUDY OUTLINE FOR THE BOOK OF PETER
• Introduction I pet 1: 1:1 – 2
• Living hope in Christ 1pet 1:3 – 12
• Call to Holiness 1 Pet 1: 13 – 25 1 pet 2: 1- 3
• You are chosen generation 1 Pet 2: 1- 10
• Living Godly Lives in a Pagan Society I pet 2: 11 – 25
• Family life in pagan society 1 pet 3: 1-7
• Theology of suffering 1 Pet 3: 8 – 22
• Living for God 1 Pet 4: 1 – 11
• Believers’ suffering 1 Pet 4: 12 – 19
• God’s expectation for leader and the led 1 Pet 5: 1- 13
• Believers calling, election and prophesy of the Scriptures 2 Pet 1: 1- 21
• Impact of false teachers and false teachings 2 Pet 2: 1 – 22
• The day of the Lord 2 Pet 3: 1- 13
• Warning and how to overcome 2 Pet3: 14- 18
BUT grow in the Grace & Knowledge of our lord and saviour Jesus Christ (2 Pet 3:18).
This is an important part of the letter. It is a clear concluding mandate from Peter to his audience. It could be better rephrased as, “despite all I have said, it is essential you must continue your upward movement/growth, so you are not distracted” Peter highlights all the distraction earlier but wants to see the believers in Christ continued growth. He is presenting growth to them as not an optional process. “But Grow” It is an admonition and directive. It also implies a private and personal decision, others may decide not to grow you, but you my audience (brothers and sisters) grow; it is not optional. Grow in the right direction – in the Grace. It takes determination and commitment to do it. You don’t have a choice. No doubt it requires the help of God. Peter is calling his audience to a change of direction. Despite all the challenges I stated in other parts of this letter, I ask you to pursue a different direction. Despite all that is happening around you and all I have said about distraction and works of the false teachers, BUT you need to take a different approach – Grow.
To properly dissect this verse of the Scriptures, it is important to understand some keys words in this verse. There at least five key words in this verse – GROW, GRACE, KNOWLEDGE, LORD AND SAVIOUR
GROW: To grow is to develop from infancy to maturity. It is a language of forward movement towards progress. Growth is also defined as the act or process, or a manner of growing; development; gradual increase. development from a simpler to a more complex stage1: To grow is to advance; to improve; to make progress; as, to grow in grace, in knowledge, in piety2 The Greek word use in this verse for grow αὐξάνω – αὐξάνετε (auxanete) imply to grow or enlarge (literal or figurative, active or passive).
GRACE: Grace is the basis for the Christian faith. Grace is the undeserved and unmerited favour. Grace in this case is designated as the ability of God and things that will draw you closer to God. We believe we are saved by faith through grace. God’s grace cannot be earned; it is something that is freely given. We count on God’s grace and the bridge he built in our relationship with him.
KNOWLEDGE: Synonymous to deeper understanding. This is a call to get our root deeper in his knowledge and understanding. An important part of that growth involves knowledge, but there is always more to learn, and of the making of books there is no end (Ecclesiastes 12:12).3
LORD: Mariam Webster dictionary give a simple definition that will help our learning – “Lord as a ruler by hereditary right or pre-eminence to whom service and obedience are due”. For Christian, Lord one is one in whom dedicated service and full obedience is to be rendered.
SAVIOR: The saviour means our deliverer and one that give us the escape from the yoke and power of darkness. In this case it is the Lord Jesus Christ: the anointed one.
With this basic understanding we can render 2 Pet 3: 18 as follows but develop or be spiritually matured in the abundance of merit and in the deeper understanding of HIM as our God and deliverer to whom service and full obedience is to be rendered.
Peter called his audience into a deeper relationship with their saviour. Same is required of every believer in Christ Jesus. In our daily walk, every Christian is called into a deeper relationship with our Lord and Saviour. With all the challenges we have in our world, in the midst of heresy, misinformation and things that way us down, we are still required to grow and keep growing in him. Peter reminds us “Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment” (1 Pet 2:2NLT). Continuous growth is therefore not optional for believers in Christ Jesus. Every believer must grow. Stagnancy and retardation is not an option in the Christian journey and race. As we grow, we get matured and able to handle matters of life and death. With consistent growth, we will not be babies toss to and fro by every wind of doctrine. Growing is what keep us standing.
In the gifts of grace, which, under a divine blessing, may be increased by using them: gifts neglected decrease, but stirred up and used, are improved and increase. And though men are to be thankful for their gifts, and be contented with them, yet they may lawfully desire more, and in the use of means seek an increase of them, which may be a means of preserving themselves, and others, from the error of the wicked. The work of grace is gradual; it is like a grain of mustard seed, or like seed cast into the earth, which springs up, it is not known how, first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear; saints are first babes, and from children they grow to young men, and from young men to fathers. There is such a thing as growth in grace, in this sense; every grace, as to its act and exercise, is capable of growing and increasing; faith may grow exceedingly, hope abound, love increase, and patience have its perfect work, and saints may grow more humble, holy, and self-denying: this is indeed God’s work, to cause them to grow.
The apostle gives them a word of caution: Therefore, [let me warn you] beloved, knowing these things beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men [who distort doctrine] and fall from your own steadfastness [of mind, knowledge, truth, and faith] – 2 Pet 3:17 – Amp version)
Where, He intimates that the knowledge we have of these things should make us very wary and watchful, inasmuch as there is a twofold danger, 2 Pet. 3:17. We are in great danger of being seduced and turned away from the truth. The unlearned and unstable, and they are very numerous, do generally wrest the scripture. Many who have the scriptures and read them do not understand what they read; and too many of those who have a right understanding of the sense and meaning of the word are not established in the belief of the truth, and all these are liable to fall into error. Few attain to the knowledge and acknowledgment of doctrinal Christianity; and fewer find, so as to keep in the way of practical godliness, which is the narrow way, which only leadeth unto life. Those who are led away by error fall from their own steadfastness. They are wholly unhinged and unsettled, and know not where to rest, but are at the greatest uncertainty, like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed. It nearly concerns us therefore to be upon our guard, seeing the danger is so great.
To avoid the occurrences of these errors and ensure we are on the right path till the Savior and Redeemer returns we must focus on what will keep us from the error. Our current work is not immune from same challenges that befell the people of Peter’s days. Infact, the challenges are stronger now. We are in the last days. Paul reminds young Timothy along same path
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God — having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone. (2 Tim 3: 1 – 9)
These serious errors and false teachers and teachings are evident today. They are very subtle and sometime takes maturity in Christ to discern them. That we may better avoid being led away, the apostle directs us what to do in 2 Pet. 3:18. We must distinguish ourselves and be determined to make it to the other side. This is what we are calling every member of this Diocese to take note in this journey. Beware of misinformation and false teaching. Matthew Henry summarises 2 Pet 3:18
We must grow in grace . . . Peter advises us to grow in all grace, in faith, and virtue, and knowledge. By how much the stronger grace is in us, by so much the more steadfast shall we be in the truth. (2.) We must grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Follow on to know the Lord. Labour to know him more clearly and more fully, to know more of Christ and to know him to better purpose, so as to be more like him and to love him better.” This is the knowledge of Christ the apostle Paul reached after and desired to attain, Phil. 3:10. Such a knowledge of Christ as conforms us more to him, and endears him more to us, must needs be of great use to us, to preserve us from falling off in times of general apostasy; and those who experience this effect of the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ will, upon receiving such grace from him, give thanks and praise to him, and join with our apostle in saying, To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
But Grow: It is an admonition and directive – But grow. The hope is that Peter’s audience will purpose in their mind individually to grow in the Grace. Others may decide not to grow you, my audience, brothers and sisters grow. He did not present it as an optional process. It is a call to grow in the right direction – In the Grace The grace of God spills over the pages of Peter’s epistles like so many sparkling jewels, and in the final words of his letter, we are encouraged to grow in the grace of God that has been so freely bestowed on all who believe in His free gift of salvation. We are to dig our roots down deep into the depths of His Word, and we are to reach out into the farthest extremities of His grace, which are higher than the heavens above and deeper than the ocean depths. But the apostle Peter also makes it clear that our spiritual growth and our progress in the Christian life must be a continuous maturing in grace and an ever-increasing knowledge and understanding of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Growing in God’s grace is not the accumulation of facts and information about the Lord Jesus, but a day-by-day transformation of our life, as we become increasingly like Him in disposition and character. This only happens to the one that is walking in spirit and truth and is submitted to the guidance of the Holy Spirit – Who by grace is conforming us day by day into His lovely likeness as we die to self and live for Christ.
Spiritual growth is a life long process of nurturing, maturing and becoming more like the lovely Lord Jesus. As more grace is added to the grace we have already received, the more we mature in the faith and change into the beautiful image and likeness of the Lord Jesus. Just as we need physical exercise and nourishing food for our bodies to grow and develop, so also, we need spiritual exercise to mature in the faith. We need the milk and meat of the Word to become strong in the Lord and carry out the work that God has prepared for us to do.
Firstly, we are instructed to grow and expand our trust in God. We are to mature and ripen our precious faith, and we are to stand on His promises and believe His Word. We are to develop and flourish in our dependence upon the Lord as day by day, the Holy Spirit works within, to direct, govern, lead and chasten us, and to conform us into the image and likeness of His dear Son. As we die to self, live for Him, and do His perfect will, He begins to remove every trace of prideful-self and vanity’s fleshliness. As we walk in spirit and truth and submit to the Spirit’s leading, we discover that we will grow in every facet of grace and virtue, faith and love, holiness and understanding, wisdom and obedience – but there’s more!
We are also to grow “in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This must be the pinnacle of God’s grace, that we increase in our knowing HIM. Intimately knowing Christ is what the aged Paul sought with every fibre of His being in His final days of life, “that I may KNOW Christ.”(Phil 3:10). And we are to take hold of the eternal life to which we have been called. We are to pursue, with a passion, the intimate and personal relationship to which we have privileged access, as we confess our faults to our Father and keep our eyes on our God and Saviour Jesus Christ – our all in all.
Access to the same grace of God and intimate knowledge of Christ is also what Peter, in the closing days of his life, is urging all who have a saving faith in Christ to strive for earnestly, in this closing verse of his second epistle, “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
We cannot grow in grace apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, for without Him we will remain spiritually stunted in our Christian life. Without Him we can do nothing (John 15). However, we are promised that we can do ALL things through Christ, who gives us the strength, for He is able and His grace is sufficient. So let us take this verse, at the end of Peter’s epistle, our focus and goal – to, “grow in the grace and in a knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” And may we, “give HIM the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
Christ should be the centre and circumference of our worship and praise, for all the things that He has done for us during our brief sojourn on earth. Should we not delight to worship Him in this world and rejoice that in the world to come we will show forth the immeasurable riches of His grace, in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
May we ALL grow in grace and in a knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ . . . for by grace we are saved through faith, by grace we are to live our lives through faith, and one day by God’s grace we will pass into His wonderful presence, when we shall see Him as He is and we will be like Him and live with Him into the eternities of eternity.
Please take note it takes raw determination and commitment to do it. You don’t have a choice. It requires the help of God. Paul planted and Apollo’s waters and only God grants the increase (1 Cor 3:6)
The subject of growth is not just limited to individual growth. It applies to our corporate life, our church plant, our parishes, archdeaconries, Region and Diocese. This is a call to be distinct and separate. God is calling every member of this Diocese to be distinct. Yes, misinformation and false prophets abound and persist around us, but we must determine in our heart to be distinct and separate. Learn the act of separation and standing. That others are doing it does not mean you must do it. Don’t join multitudes to sin. Stand! Stand! Stand
HOW DO WE GROW?
As we consider this subject matter, it is important we understand how we can grow in the path. What do we need to do to grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ? How do we apply our understanding of Peter’s message to our day to day life so as end time Christian.
1. Laying the right foundation: The first step to serious growth is laying the right foundation. To grow in grace, you must lay the right foundation. A seed cannot grow until it is planted in the right soil and dies. Jesus is the only foundation required for your growth. You must be planted in him and die to begin the process of genuine growth. The foundation of every spiritual growth must begin with a personal encounter. You cannot build on a wrong foundation. Jesus pointed Nicodemus in the right direction. Your foundation is faulty; Jesus said. “Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again. (John 3: 1-7). Though he has been a religious leader with many years of experience in the service of the temple. He is considered to be a fervent leader yet with wrong foundation. He thirsts for the truth and sought affirmation from the Lord Jesus. Jesus knew the foundation was faulty and referred him back to the basis. This is important for real growth. We need to go back to the basis. Are you saved by grace? How can you grow in what you do not know?
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). It is not about how long you have been in the church and the services you render in the church, it is about having a divine transformative encounter with Jesus, the Christ. We must ask ourselves this very serious question. Do you know Christ? We cannot discuss growth without the foundation been laid. You must be born again. There is no other alternative. We cannot grow individually or corporately except we lay this important foundation. Our churches and parishes can only grow if we lay this important foundation. “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 3:11). Nothing can replace this primary foundation. No amount of services, programs and religiosity can replace this foundation. Many are swept away with false doctrine because their foundation is faulty. Laying the right foundation is not synonymous to being a member of a church or been confirmed in the Church. Just like foundation is important to a new building your foundation is very important in building our faith and shielding ourselves against false teaching. How is your foundation? Are you built on Christ or something else? Are you saved or you are just a church goer fulfilling mere tradition? “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me (Rev 3:20). For you not to be swept away, we are calling you to embrace this solid foundation and accept this sure invitation.
2. Beware of erroneous doctrine and false teaching. There is so much going in our world today. One of the major plagues of the church today is the feel-good doctrine and culture-based doctrine that have limited and no root in the church. Janet Kidd says “The key to growth is NOT in downsizing the gospel message to the level of the world’s values, but to proclaim the gospel as a positive and viable alternative to today’s culture and values. If you compromise on truth, you preach a different gospel to the one Jesus preached. But where the gospel is unashamedly proclaimed, the Holy Spirit brings about conviction, repentance, and transformed lives.” 9 – Beware of erroneous teaching. The teachings may appear reasonable and logical to human understanding, it does not make it right. “But test everything that is said. hold on to what is good (1 Thes 5:21 NLT). If you must grow in grace, you must reject every erroneous teaching. Peter says in 2 Pet 3:3 “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.” There are many within and outside the church who are set out to deceive and draw people away from the truth. You must be on guard. This is necessary for your growth. Don’t get carried away. Remember they may be “Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof: from such turn away (2 Timothy 3:5). Brothers and Sisters beware and be on guard. The approach of the Berean Church will be helpful. Though Paul was well known, the Scriptures record with respect to the Berean Church “Now the Bereans were more noble-minded than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if these teachings were true.” Act 17:11. Don’t just swallow any teaching out of excitement, check if they have basis in the Scriptures. Beware of celebrity preachers, no one is immune from error, every believer must be on the alert. If you must grow in the Grace of God, you must be prepared to filter falsehood and lies.
3. Endure persecution, suffering and trials: Unfortunately, we are in a generation that detest any kind of suffering and persecution. The feel-good Christianity of today has taken the church to a point where we now detest any form of suffering. Infact we now have those who say suffering is ungodly and for
unbelievers. This is not the true gospel. This is not a teaching founded on the genuine word of God. Jesus our Saviour clearly says “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]” John 16:33 Amp. Any other teaching suggesting otherwise is not of God. Don’t get carried away. Paul clearly stated to Timothy “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Tim 3:12 KJV). Persecution is necessary for us to grow and to live a godly life. Trial, temptation and persecution are not to destroy our faith but to strengthen us. Peter says “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world” 1 Peter 1:7 NLT. To grow in grace you must be willing to endure persecution and suffering. “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. 1 Pet 4: 12-16, 19.
Thomas Merton says “The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt. 10” FT. A McMahon speaks further “For the believer in Jesus, every trial of suffering is an opportunity to grow in the faith, to grow in our relationship with the Lord, and to see Him work in our lives in a uniquely personal way that demonstrates His compassion, His comfort, His tender mercies, His loving kindnesses, His grace, and His endless love. Only God knows what each of us needs to experience and learn in order to be “conformed to the image of his Son”. 11 It is necessary for our growth. Peter called his audience to endure persecution and suffering to help their growth. We are saying to every believer associated with this Diocese to embrace the theology of suffering and persecution. The pleasure of our society cannot exempt us from persecution, trials and suffering. It will only come in different forms. Individually and as a diocese we may be going through difficult times in some areas, we must pray and ask God, what do you want me to learn in this situation? How can I grow in your grace through this challenging time? Suffering is part of the secret of growth. There must be pain to have a significant gain. Only those who travail will prevail. We continue to experience discrimination, persecution and suffering in North America because of our stand for the gospel, let us not loose hope. God is working out his purpose now and, in the years, to come. There is measure of growth that is embedded in trial and persecution.
4. Your daily 3 Ds matter – Discipline Daily Devotion. Grow daily: Growth is meant to be a daily occurrence. Your physical body grows daily and same is expected of your spiritual body. It is important we embrace a disciplined daily devotion as individuals. It must be time to fellowship with God, to hear him speak to us, opportunity for us to pray and have his words minister to us. This will expose self to us and we can develop into maturity. Then we can grow in Grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. Peter says “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” 1 Pet 2:2. Every believer must approach the word of God as newborn babes desiring to grow into maturity. This does not mean we must remain as babes, but we must grow and graduate from rudimentary things to more mature food. Babes graduate from drinking milk to eating solid food and bones, In spiritual matters, we must do same. We must be ready to drink milk, eat meat and bones of the Word. “For everyone who lives on milk is still an infant, inexperienced in the message of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained their senses to distinguish good from evil. Therefore, let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God (Hebrews 5: 13-14: 6:1). To grow in grace, we must invest considerable amount of time in the study of the word and prayer. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Tim2:15). Jesus, our great saviour and Lord laid example for us “Early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left [the house], and went out to a secluded place, and was praying there.” (Mark 1:35 Amp). If Jesus can make out time, no excuse is tenable for us today. He was busy just as we are today. It will take determination and intentional decision to follow through on this daily disciplined daily devotion. The daily devotion is not a time to prepare sermon, but a time to be alone with God to know more of him and grow in his grace and knowledge of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. Growth brings changes, changes does not necessarily portray growth. “Mere change is not growth. Growth is the synthesis of change and continuity, and where there is no continuity there is no growth.” 12 There is need for consistency and continuity if we must grow into maturity in Christ Jesus. You may struggle at the beginning, but when you cultivate the habit, it will become part of your life and daily routine. Endeavor to have daily encounter with God. Often, we claim we are too busy. That excuse will only hinder us from growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour. Don’t be too busy for an encounter with God.
5. Prayers. Growing in grace will involve the help of the owner of the Grace – God. Our greatest asset, access and tool in tapping into this grace is prayers – fervent Prayers. Growing in grace will require divine connection with the Almighty. Peter says to his audience. “The end of all things is near. Therefore, be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray” 1 Pet 4:17. This is another connection of watching and praying (Matt 26:41). No one is able to do exploit in divine and spiritual matters without genuine prayers. Jesus taught his disciples to pray and he also led by example in his constant connection with the father. He further stated “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” Matthew 17:21. Paul also reminded the Corinthians Church “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” 2 Cor 10:4. The weapon and tools of war includes prayer. God specially invited us to come to the throne of Grace that we may receive help. “Therefore, let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment]” (Heb 4:16 Amp). We need spiritual help to Grow in Grace and that require prayer. We cannot grow in grace without prayers. We need God’s help now and, in the years, to come to keep growing. The pages of the Scriptures are filled with examples of people who prayed to receive grace and increase. The disciple stated clearly in Act 6: 4 “But we will [continue to] devote ourselves [steadfastly] to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” The result of this decision, commitment and dedication is “And the message of God kept on growing and spreading, and the number of disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem; and a large number of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith [accepting Jesus as Messiah and acknowledging Him as the Source of eternal salvation]” (Act 6:7 Amp). Our individual and corporate growth also depends on this important act of Grace. Prayer – the master key
6. Love and Service. Peter goes further to say in “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” 1 Pet 4:8 – 9. In growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord and saviour we must commit to loving and serving one another. As we love our fellow Brothers and Sisters, we will continue to grow our rooter deeper in him. Commitment to love and service of humanity is another mean of growing in Grace. Serving and loving one another have both present and eternal benefits. Jesus stated in his parable about the end of time and his return “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, “I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25: 31- 40” (NIV). As Christian and people associated with this Diocese and committed to growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ, we must love and serve one another in our parishes and in our world. We will grow thereby.
7. Use your gifts to foster growth and unity. Another important tool in growing in grace is the use of your gifts. Peter stated clearly again to his audience “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Pet 4:10 -11 NIV). We are all stewards of the grace of God. God’s gifts are given to us by Christ “But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, it says, when he ascended on high, he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men” (Eph 4: 7 -8 ESV). God has endowed us with his gifts and it is important we fan these gifts to flame. As we use the gifts, they are developed in us. We must put into remembrance always that the purpose of the gifts is to serve the body of Christ. Apostle Paul also reminded the Ephesians on the purpose of the gifts. “… to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming (Eph 4: 12-14 NIV). God has invested in us to build one another up. The gifts are given for the work of the ministry. Growing in grace involve using our gifts properly to advance the cause of our savour Jesus Christ on earth. Across this diocese we have varying gifts that can be used to build the church of God. The gifts will grow and work better is we use for the edification of one another. How are you using your gifts in your quarter? To build or to destroy?
8. Beware of Distraction: Another plague today is distractions. All who desire to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and saviour must understand and beware of distraction. Many leave the substance and follow mundane things. We are distracted from the main thing. Distractions are all around us. Sometimes it is difficult to say no. With everything going on in our world today, it’s difficult and hard not to get distracted. Whether you are looking up at a news channel on our television or on your phone, you will find things that distract you. Distraction is inevitable but we can overcome it. We may not have control on the distractions and sources, but we can decide on how we respond to distractions. We are distracted by what we see and hear but God has given us grace to overcome this distraction. If you can master distractions, you will grow in grace and in the knowledge of our lord and saviour Jesus Christ. “It is difficult in today’s world to not get distracted. Distraction is trick of the enemy. The bible has several examples of God’s people being distracted by the enemy they worked to follow God. Thankfully, God has given us His living word and we can pray and meditate over these verses in our lives implementing these prayers and medication will help us overcome the distraction the enemy is using 13 Peter reminds his audience 1 Pet 5:8 “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” The devil is out to destroy us, he has come to steal, to kill and to destroy but Jesus has come to give life (John 10:10) . The enemy of our souls, the devil knows that if we are constantly distracted by the noise of the world, it will keep us from hearing the voice of God. The loud and sometimes interesting noise of the world distract us from the still small voice. Therefore, when he cannot destroy us, he distracts us. The devil is constantly pulling us away from what we are suppose to do. The word distraction doesn’t appear in the Bible very often but we do see it happen often and numerous examples in the Scriptures of men and women who are distracted from fulfilling purpose. David had a duty to perform but he was distracted and fell into the sin of adultery and murder (1 Samuel 11). Peter was distracted immediately after the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, he led many fishing. His ministry would have ended but for Jesus who intervened (John 21). Martha was distracted by good works and missed out on some of the intimate teaching of Jesus Christ (Luke 10:38-42). Samson was distracted from his purpose (Judges 13-16) and he was led away by demonic Delilah and was distracted from his identity and gave away his secret. Paul says concerning Demas “for Demas, having loved [the pleasures of] this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.. “2 Tim 4:10 Amp. Distraction is a serious matter. Many who would have fulfilled purpose have been distracted. Many who would have made great impact in the kingdom are pursuing the kingdom of dollars today. Many have forgotten their first love. Many came to this country with fresh fire and zeal for God, today they are not interested in the things of God. This weapon have been used by the enemy to pull down giant. Are you distracted from purpose and destiny?
You cannot grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord saviour if you continue to be distracted. We are calling you to come home. Jesus saved Peter from distraction that would have ended his ministry and gave him a task to feed the lamb. May God grant you a fresh encounter today so you can be delivered and restored.
9. You need a DREAM. Determination; Resilience; Efficiency; Aspiration; Motivation. Many desire to grow in grace but they lack the Determination, and Resilience. Peter encourages his audience to be determined and motivated. There is so much at stake. Eternity in view and false teaching abide but they must DREAM (Determination; Resilience; Efficiency; Aspiration; Motivation). With determination, the three Hebrew boys overcame their trial and challenges (Daniel 3: 16 – 28). With determination and resilience Daniel survived the lion Den (Daniel 6), With strong Motivation from his Spiritual Father, Timothy made full proof of his ministry. It takes determination to move forward. In growing in grace, you must focus on Jesus. Purpose in your heart to grow in HIM in this challenging world. Remember the song of the Indian missionary Sadhu Sundar Singh who gave all for the sake of Christ.
I have decided, to follow Jesus (3ce) No turning back, No turning back
If no one joins me, still I will follow (3ce) No turning back, No Turning back
The Cross before me, the world behind me (2ce) No Turning back, No Turning back
You take the whole world and give me Jesus (3ce) I am satisfied, I am satisfied
Will you think of the DREAM as you strive to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Saviour Jesus?
10. Pursue Holiness: To grow in grace, holiness must be priority in your life. Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound, the answer is NO! Peter clearly stated in the epistle “Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children; do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Pet 1: 13-16. To grow in Grace holiness is not negotiable and must be your watch word. “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” Heb 12:14. How can we grow when we cannot see the Lord. In holiness and Sanctification, we can have encounter with him. We cannot afford to tolerate sin in our life, parishes, archdeaconries, regions and Diocese and expect growth in the grace of God. In a perverse world like ours we need the grace of God to be holy.
Bishop’s Charge to the 2nd Session of the 4th Synod of ADOTT page 46
For us to move to greater heights and growth in this Diocese, it is also a measure of how many of our members grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour. So many areas in our Diocese are without Churches, we need to make effort to reach out to the unreached. God is calling us to spiritual and numerical growth.
As we conclude this charge we ask every clergy, laity and church to reflect on the following. This is our ask of the house of laity, house of clergy and every church in ADOTT in this our communal journey of growth
1. Have a solid foundation for your faith
2. Grow daily in your relationship with God
3. Spend quality time in his presence.
4. Be prepared for challenges, and endure trials and persecution
5. Serve one another in love.
6. Use your spiritual enablement (gifts) for the body of Christ
7. DREAM (Determination; Resilience; Efficiency; Aspiration; Motivation).
8. Pursue Holiness in all that you do.
9. Every Church to think seriously of how they can plant another church.
10. Every archdeaconry in ADOTT to plant one church in 2023
Our mandate for every archdeaconry this year is to have at least one new church plant. No excuses. Are you ready to commit to this new walk with God? Will you ask God to help you grow in Grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? Will you ask for the fresh fire today? Growth! Growth!! Growth!!!
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold and precious silver Purify my heart
Let me be as gold Pure gold
My heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for you Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for you my master Ready to do your will
Purify my heart Cleanse me from within
And make me holy Purify my heart Cleanse me from my sin Deep within
My heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for you Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for you my master Ready to do your will
My heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for you Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for you my master Ready to do your will
And I am ready to do your will Make me ready to do your will
Thank you for your patience and for listening and responding to this call. Let me conclude with prayers of Paul to Ephesians 3: 16 – 19 “I pray that out of his glorious riches, he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” and may God work in you what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen
Your Brother, Friend, and Bishop
Bishop’s Charge to the 2nd Session of the 4th Synod of ADOT