Someone once said that a diet of grace is a weak and insipid meal. What is needed is a large helping of “meat” which to them represented the exhortation to good works and witnessing. If I study the passage that talks about the difference between the “milk” and the “meat” in the 5th Chapter of Hebrews, I’d argue that it’s just the opposite. A works based religion, of “do this”, and “don’t do that” is the milk, but the meat is the teaching about the grace of God. In the first two verses of Chapter six the writer concludes, “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.”

We don’t become better people or more mature Christians by following a legalistic mindset. We become mature Christians by opening our hearts and lives to the Grace of God and letting that truly transform us from within. Peter closes his 2nd Letter with an exhortation to all believers. He writes in 3:13, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.” Commenting on the distinction in growing through grace versus growing through works, one writer said, “It is performance-based legalism that is the true junk food which should carry a spiritual warning on its slick and attractive packages. The gospel of Jesus Christ is clear—all that we do both evil and good, is worthless, in God’s sight. The only eternal good in us is produced by God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. …Kick your religion to the curb! Repent of thinking you can please God on the basis of your deeds! Surrender to God’s grace, relinquish the mirage of control that you think you have, and trust in God—implicitly, without reservation.”

Notice Peter’s last phrase as He closes his 2nd Letter. He says, “to Him (Jesus) be the glory both now and forever.” Legalistic systems of performance always represent a focus on my effort or my deed, and often results in praise to us, not to Christ. We still fall for the old lie that it’s our performance that pleases God. It’s very easy for me to preach salvation by grace through faith alone and then make a performance based acceptance system typical in the life of the church. When performance is the system practiced in a church family, confusion abounds, legalism flourishes, and the church ceases to be a means of true healing for the lost, hurting and truly hungry in the world. Jesus is the bread of life and the living water!