by Mary Stout
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV)
Grace is one of the primary basics of our faith. John Wesley, founder of Methodism explained grace as being threefold:
1. Prevenient grace is the grace God gives us before we become Christian.
2. Justifying grace is the grace we receive when we decide to accept Christ.
3. Sanctifying grace is the grace that stays with us as we grow in Christ and become more like Jesus.
For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.” (Titus 2:11, NLT)
Prevenient grace is what God the Father freely gives to anyone. It’s the grace that calls you to the Lord. God doesn’t force belief on anyone. He puts the gift of grace out for all first. This is the first grace one experiences when you feel curious and drawn to the faith. He offered it to all. While prevenient grace calls us to Christ, it is the second grace we receive when we make the decision to follow Jesus. This is justifying grace. To understand justifying grace, we need to know what justification means.
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” (Romans 5:1, NLT)
Justification is God’s action of removal of the guilt and sin of our lives when we believe in Christ’s death on the cross for our atonement. When we allow Jesus to enter our life, we become clean in the Father’s eyes. Through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, we are made whole again. The moment we receive Christ as our Savior, justifying grace happens. The result of our decision is we are hidden in Christ and God sees us as whole.
“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, NLT)
After becoming a Christian, we begin learning how to become more like Jesus. This is called sanctifying grace. It is the grace we receive as we grow in knowing Christ Jesus. It is with us every step in our walk. God’s sanctifying grace helps us as we strive towards Christian perfection. I will talk about Christian perfection tomorrow– what it is and the ways and means we use to reach toward becoming more like Jesus.
Prayer: Father thank you for your love and grace. Help us as we draw closer to you each day. May our walk become a light to others that they may experience your love and grace too. In Jesus name Amen.