An Overview of Grace

Several folks asked me on Sunday about John Wesley’s quirky writings on “home remedy” medicine… here is a link to his famous one: Primitive Physik, or An Easy and Natural Method of Curing Most Diseases. Enjoy!

It can be difficult to summarize the entire message of God’s grace in just one sermon, so on the church blog this week, here’s a recap with several bible passages. What makes our Methodist approach to grace unique? The big idea is that we believe God’s grace is revealed to us in three main ways.

Prevenient Grace

Theologically speaking, prevenient grace (or “preventing grace” as John Wesley wrote of it) is God’s grace enabling us to make a decision for Christ. We humans are sinful and broken, and when faced with the choice between right and wrong, we will inevitably choose wrong. Fortunately, God’s grace works in our life and we are able to come to the knowledge of Christ. This might sound somewhat complex, but it really is quite simple: God works in our life even before we realize it! This idea of grace is supported by many bible verses:

  • Jeremiah 1:5- “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.”
  • Luke 19:10- “For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
  • John 12:32- “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to myself.”
  • Romans 2:4- “[Do you realize] that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”
  • 1 John 4:19- “We love him, because he first loved us.”

Justifying Grace

This is possibly the most common understanding of grace among Christians. When we accept Christ, we are granted new life in God’s kingdom. Something wonderful happens during this moment. We are justified and freed from our life of sin. We no longer face condemnation, but experience the love and redemption of God. As with the previous grace, there are many verses supporting this conception of grace:

  • Romans 3:28- “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.”
  • Romans 1:17- “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous person shall live by faith.”
  • Galatians 3:24- “Therefore the Law has become our teacher to lead us to Christ, so that we might be justified by faith.”

Sanctifying Grace

This kind of grace might be the most commonly forgotten one in our world today. When we accept Jesus, God’s grace ought to work in our lives and make a tangible difference in who we are. If we continue on in unrighteousness and disobedience, without feeling conviction, then chances are we haven’t experienced that grace in the first place! Following Jesus each and every day will inevitably lead you closer to Godly character. Consider these verses from the New Testament about sanctification:

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:23- “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
  • Galatians 2:20- “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17- “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
  • 1 John 1:9- “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Here is a way to remember how all these kinds of graces connect with one another. God’s grace is like our interaction with a house. God’s prevenient grace is like the house we have not entered yet. Even before we go inside, God already created it for us to hopefully use. Justifying grace is when we walk through the doorway. Upon that process of entering, we get to initially encounter the benefits of the house. And finally, sanctifying grace is the ability to enjoy all the house has to offer us–dwelling inside of it, having shelter, and finding a place to belong. We continue to experience God’s grace or “house” even after the initial construction and our entering it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s