Grace can be defined as the love and mercy given to us by God
done to earn it. We read in the Letter to the Ephesians: “For by
grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own
doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one
may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Our United Methodist heritage is rooted in a deep and profound
understanding of God’s grace. This incredible grace flows from
God’s great love for us.
Prevenient Grace -- Wesley understood grace as God’s active presence in our
lives. This presence is not dependent on human actions or human response.
It is a gift—a gift that is always available, but that can be refused.
Justifying Grace -- In his letter to the Roman Christians, Paul wrote: “But God
proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us”
(Romans 5:8). This verse demonstrates the justifying grace of God. They point to
reconciliation, pardon, and restoration. Through the work of God in Christ our
sins are forgiven, and our relationship with God is restored. According to John
Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, the image of God—which has been
distorted by sin—is renewed within us through Christ’s death.
Sanctifying Grace -- Salvation is not a static, one-time event in our lives. It is
the ongoing experience of God’s gracious presence transforming us into whom
God intends us to be. John Wesley described this dimension of God’s grace as
sanctification, or holiness. We’re to press on, with God’s help, in the path of
sanctification toward perfection. By perfection, Wesley did not mean that we
would not make mistakes or have weaknesses. Rather, he understood it to be a
continual process of being made perfect in our love of God and each other and
of removing our desire to sin.