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To understand what Methodists believe, we read what John Wesley wrote. When we read Wesley’s writings, we see that Methodism is characterized by grace. Grace is a gift from God, not something we earn, but it is even more than that. “Grace, for Wesley, is not merely God’s favor, nor is it some kind of spiritual substance mediated to us through the Church. Grace is the Triune God active on our behalf in the Gospel.”

The specific understanding of God’s grace that Wesley clarified is about how salvation works, and in what order certain things happen. In this series, we will look at what Wesley meant by Prevenient Grace, Justifying Grace, and Sanctifying Grace, and how each of them are a work of God in which we are invited to participate. Not only will we know better who we are as United Methodists, but also who God is, what we are saved from, and what we are saved to. In the process, we will experience more fully who God is and how God is active on our behalf to lead us to abundant life.

SERMON SERIES TOPICS

  • Psalm 139:1-18 - Grace Begins

    Prevenient grace is grace that goes before. Humanity was created in the image of God, so God has been at work in your life since the dawn of creation, long before you were aware of God’s work. God knows you inside out and loves you. While our lives no longer match the ideal in which God created us, God has never stopped guiding us and working behind the scenes to bring us back to the fullness of life, love, and health for which we were created. We begin the series by establishing the miracle that our habitat and our own existence are. Everything we have and everything we are is a gift of God and any choice we make toward God is in response to what God has already done.

  • Romans 1:18-23 - Grace Revealed

    God did more than just set the whole of creation in motion, drop humanity into it, and hope for the best. Prevenient Grace means that God has been showing us who God is, even in nature, as long as there have been humans. “General revelation,” as it is known, is available to anyone, but people often admire the creation without seeing the One to whom creation points. Wesley wrote, “…no man sins because he has not grace, but because he does not use the grace which he hath.” By the grace of God, we have a choice.

  • Ephesians 2:4-10 - Grace Renewed

    As we become aware of our conscience and the reality of God around us in nature, it will become clear that we will not become perfectly moral people on our own; we cannot justify ourselves. We become aware that we need forgiveness to be right with God, and that we are unable to earn this forgiveness. People in Wesley’s time—and in our own—thought good works earned your way onto God’s good side. Our first step in growing into the likeness of Christ is to receive the gift of God’s Justifying Grace in Jesus. This is the beginning of Christian salvation.

  • 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13- Grace Growing

    Once we are justified, we immediately begin to participate in Sanctifying Grace. Jesus said the commandments that matter are to love God and to love neighbor. God’s grace provides the power, but our cooperation with the Holy Spirit in growing in love for our neighbor is also necessary for our growth. Our journeys to Malawi—and the mutual encouragement they provide—illustrate the gift it is to grow in love for our neighbors, the grace of being reunited, and how our choices to be available to one another cooperate with God’s grace.

  • 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 - Grace Glorified

    This week is about growing in love for God and just how far we can grow into that love. Sanctifying Grace—including the grace to love our neighbor better—allows us to have greater participation in the Trinitarian dynamic of love. Sinning less is a by-product of greater intimacy, greater union, with God. Holiness is being wholly in relationship with God. Christian perfection is being perfectly united to God. Perfection does not mean the end of mistakes but means a full and unbroken connection to God. Wesley wrote, “Constant communion with God the Father and Son fills their hearts with humble love. Now this is what I always did, and do now mean by perfection.” This communion with God and this filling with love is the destination of Sanctifying Grace and is the vision of heaven itself.