Why a United Methodist? – Part 2 – Grace

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John Wesley talked about God’s grace in three ways, Prevenient Grace, Justifying Grace, and Sanctifying Grace.

I think my previous faith background probably was most focused on Justifying Grace and that is also an important Wesleyan emphasis.  It is that grace that comes as we appropriate our faith and as we become not only a baptized Christian but a professing Christian as well.  Sanctifying Grace is that work of Christ in us to seek to make us more holy and like him.  It is growing in grace. United Methodists use the term “perfecting.”  Sanctify comes from the Latin “sanctus” or holy.

What I appreciate about Mr. Wesley’s concepts of sanctification is that Christians are supposed to be working to be more like Christ and are in order to be like Christ we must be working for Christ.  We don’t come to know Jesus so that we can just sit and warm a pew!  We come to know Jesus so that we can “make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!”

What is powerful for me about the way that United Methodists explain the grace of God is that it emphasizes God’s actions in our lives each step of the way.  In Prevenient Grace God loves us and draws us, in Justifying Grace God helps us to accept God’s love into our lives and commit our life to following Christ, and in Sanctifying Grace God seek to “perfect” us, that is make us more like him, give us the strength to service him, and have not only a personal piety but seek social holiness as well.

I’ve just touched briefly on the the implications of grace and a United Methodist/Wesleyan understanding of them.  But many sermons and books have been written which explain more fully these concepts.  But suffice it to say that this way of explaining grace has become very powerful for my understanding of how God works in my life and in the lives of others.

The next topic I will post about that drew me to the United Methodist Church are the sacraments.