Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

2015 A-Z April Challenge - G is for Grace

I am a Christian....and a pastor....but I am also a Methodist and Methodism recognizes 3 types of grace: prevenient (prior to conversion), justifying (saving), and sanctifying (post conversion).  For Wesley, the spiritual life has no hope of a beginning without God’s prior action on behalf of the sinner. Prevenient grace is a collective term for all the ways in which God’s grace comes into our lives prior to conversion. Prevenient grace literally means, “the grace that comes before” and captures well what the early church called the preparation for the good news. The Methodists believe that God has universally acted on behalf of Adam’s fallen, depraved race. We believe that Christ, as the Second Adam, rescued the human race with an act of grace which grants them the capacity to accept or reject the good news of the Gospel when it is proclaimed. Wesleyans believe that if the doctrine of human depravity is not linked to God’s action in prevenient grace, then it creates an untenable theological conflict which, at least potentially, makes God either unjust or the author of evil, neither of which fits with a biblical view of God. For, if a spiritually dead person is incapable of responding to God’s call, then upon what basis is he or she held accountable for sin? Prevenient grace demonstrates how we can be totally depraved, yet given grace to respond and, if we do not respond, can be held fully accountable for our disbelief.  For Methodists, prevenient grace is the bridge between human depravity and the free exercise of human will. Prevenient grace lifts the human race out of its depravity and grants us the capacity to respond further to God’s grace. Jesus declared that “no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).   Justifying Grace takes the story one step further. It is the message of how you and I come to accept the relationship God offers. Justifying Graces moves us to accept in our hearts the gift of a living relationship with God as the number one priority in our lives. Justifying Grace “puts us right with God.” To be justified means to “be put right with God by grace through faith.” Throughout the Old testament God invites us into a covenant relationship with Him, a relationship of mutual love. “By intent or default, we do not respond to the call of God to place our faith in Jesus Christ.” That is, we either intentionally refuse His offer or we keep procrastinating acceptance of His invitation. But God keeps calling us.  Justifying grace calls for you to say, “Yes,” and God will receive you as you come to Him by faith in Jesus Christ.  Say “yes” to God’s offer in Jesus Christ now, and He will Justify you, accepting you “just as if you had never sinned.”.  That is awesome isn’t it?  The last one is Sanctifying Grace - the keep on keepin’ on grace!  The grace that says, “Yeah, I’ve been made right by God.  Now what?”  And the answer is you go on.  You pick up one foot in front of the other and live out your salvation.    In other words, being a Christian does not stop at being born spiritually, just as being a human does not stop at being born physically. You need nourishment and growth.  You need to learn to walk with your Heavenly Father just as you learned to walk with your earthly father and mother.  We call this Sanctifying Grace, a sort of going on to perfection.   John Wesley asserted that the Christian walk does not end with acceptance of new life in Christ.   As you are being sanctified or made more holy, it is as if God is a refining fire and you are molten gold, full of impurities, but on your way to purity.  The more you are refined by God’s fire, the more you will see the impurities.  Ungodly things that you do, words that you say, or thoughts that you have start to stand out in your mind.  You are growing in your faith.  THIS IS COOL!   But then the tough part happens----you have to deal with people.  You are having this great mountaintop experience with God.  “It’s just you and me, God!  And this is great!  You’ve saved me for eternity.  My sins are forgiven. I love to read the Bible and pray.  And I think I could just sit here all day.” And then God says, “That’s nice.  But I need you to go …and the tough part begins….practicing your faith….it is a time when we must cry out…”Jesus, take the wheel.”


1 comment:

Yvonne Ventresca said...

Thanks for explaining the different types of grace.