John Wesley’s Three Graces
In the message on the doctrine of Free Will, I spoke of Wesley’s emphasis of prevenient, or preceding grace.
It’s the grace of God that precedes any acts or changes in our lives
Precedes any awakening of faith in ourselves
It enables us to choose God’s will, and to turn away (repent) from our sins and turn toward God.
Prevenient Grace is that grace of God that comes before salvation
Even before any sense of faith in our lives
It “unlocks” the door that we could not otherwise go through on our own
Prevenient Grace is given to everyone
It remains up to us to take the step toward God that He has enabled us to take by Prevenient Grace.
This is the grace of God that bestows salvation on us.
We don’t earn this, either; we can’t do enough good works to be awarded Justifying Grace
All the work has been done by God in Jesus Christ
We receive Justifying Grace when we truly affirm the Lordship of Jesus Christ for ourselves
And receive Him as our Savior
We need a Savior!
And God provides that Savior for us, and for any who would receive Him.
Our official doctrine puts it this way
From The Confession of Faith of the Evangelical United Brethren Church:
We believe we are never accounted righteous before God through our works or merit, but that penitent sinners are justified or accounted righteous before God only by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
We believe regeneration is the renewal of man in righteousness through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, whereby we are made partakers of the divine nature and experience newness of life. By this new birth the believer becomes reconciled to God and is enabled to serve him with the will and the affections.
We believe, although we have experienced regeneration, it is possible to depart from grace and fall into sin; and we may even then, by the grace of God, be renewed in righteousness.
This last part is a little controversial
As Wesleyans, we believe that it is possible to lose our salvation.
That we can, as it were, put our hands to the plow and then look back (Luke 9:62)
It is part of believing in Free Will
We can freely change our mind and decide to stop following Jesus
And at that point, the grace of God is withdrawn from our lives
Calvinists do not believe we can lose our salvation, but then they don’t believe that we have free will, either!
But if our will is truly free, we are free, once we receive Christ as Lord and Savior, to disavow our faith and thus lose our salvation.
And I’m sure that few things grieve the heart of God more!
Our Christian faith does not stop at Justifying Grace.
Sometimes we act as though it does!
That once we say “the prayer” and “walk down the aisle”, we’ve reached the goal!
But Wesley would insist that the Christian faith is about more than salvation.
He would insist, and we believe, that the Christian faith is about salvation AND sanctification.
This third grace is what this life is about.
Becoming like Jesus
Becoming righteous with His righteousness
Becoming holy is what sanctification means
And holy means being different, set apart from the ordinary, normal
Sanctification is becoming peculiar!
And taking a look at what is “normal” in our world today, I think I want to be peculiar!
Sanctifying Grace is God’s power, God’s gift, working in us to make us holy, righteous.
So that we become what He already sees in us: Jesus
Sanctifying Grace moves us toward the goal, in steps that are unique to each of us.
Ridding our lives of sin
Cleansing us of the imperfections that plague followers of Jesus
What the writer of the Book of Hebrews is talking about…