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 everyone. It’s the grace that pursues and woos 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 offers it to all.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee who had seen the many miracles of Jesus. He was skeptical but curious. Nicodemus was drawn to Jesus by his miracles, and he tells Jesus that he knew God was with him but he didn’t understand the deeper meaning of this. Now the Bible doesn’t say if Nicodemus understood Jesus’ answer right away. I suppose there were other times they talked we don’t know about. Salvation is God’s gift to us and sometimes it takes a while to come to it. Still, Nicodemus is an example of God’s prevenient grace at work
While prevenient grace calls us to Christ, it is the second understanding of grace we receive when we make the decision to follow Jesus. This is called Justifying grace, which we will talk about tomorrow.
Prayer: Father we thank you for drawing us to you. For it is by your grace we are saved and live. Thank you for loving us so much you sent your son to atone for our sins. In Jesus name, Amen.