For John Wesley, good works are a response to God's grace received. This is the journey of sanctification. It is through the process of receiving God's grace and responding in good works, throughout the course of normal daily living, that God makes Christians holy.
John Wesley certainly placed an emphasis on small groups, accountability and growth within those small groups. He felt it was important for people to share their soul struggles, growth, temptations, and successes. He understood that this sharing amongst a trusted group of friends would allow us to grow deeper in our faith. But Wesley was also concerned with our doing, our works of mercy and service to others.
John Wesley was smart, academic, what we might call a “nerd” today. He spent much of his time in his head, reading, learning, studying. This made him a great theologian. But had he been a great theologian in the academic sense alone, Methodism might not have spread in the same way it did.
John Wesley’s theology was one of grace and love, with the goal of transformed hearts and lives. Wesley believed that salvation is by grace alone, only God can provide the opportunity for salvation through grace. In our part, we must have faith in God’s grace, accept it, and turn away from sin. But Wesley did not believe our journey of faith ended there.
Last week we looked closely at grace as a distinctive teaching of John Wesley and the Methodist movement. And while grace is always calling us toward God, Wesley believed we are to respond to that grace whenever we can, in all the ways that we can. He taught that the "means of grace” are the ordinary channels by which God’s grace is conveyed to each of us.
The United Methodist Book of Discipline affirms, "While the grace of God is undivided, it precedes salvation as ‘prevenient grace,' continues in ‘justifying grace,' and is brought to fruition in ‘sanctifying grace.'" God's unmerited favor is before us, is present with us, and is ever working to restore the divine image and transform the entire cosmos into God's reign in Jesus Christ.
This week we’ve been looking at John Wesley’s understanding of grace. His nuanced interpretation of grace changed Christianity and helped shaped the group call Methodists. Wesley described three movements or expressions of grace: prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying.
This week we are contemplating our Wesleyan understanding of grace. Today we continue with the expression of grace that is sanctifying in nature. God seeks the complete restoration of the divine image in humanity. Sanctifying grace is the presence of God in our lives as we move toward this complete restoration.
At the heart of our Methodist theology is a consequential understanding of grace. John and Charles Wesley provided a new and distinctive emphasis on grace which shaped the trajectory of Christianity. John Wesley described three movements or expressions of grace: prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying.
At the heart of our Methodist theology is a consequential understanding of grace. John and Charles Wesley provided a new and distinctive emphasis on grace, which shaped the trajectory of Christianity.
One of the most significant contributions John Wesley made to Christianity is our understanding of grace. The concept of grace is Biblical, of course, and it had been written about and discussed in the world of Christianity for hundreds of years before the Methodist movement.
We were created for community; hard-wired for connection. We are not meant to live isolated or exclusive lives, but connected, group-oriented, inclusive, people-loving lives. God created us this way. Dr. Brené Brown, a research professor who studies vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame tells us,
Mother Teresa once referred to America as the most socially impoverished country in the world. She understood that our pursuit of individualism and independence has come at the cost of our sense of community. In the typical American worldview, the individual is the epicenter of everything.
John Wesley’s passion was for the renewal of the church. He and his brother Charles did not set out to start a new church or denomination. They simply wanted the people of the church to wake up to their spiritual vitality. In the letter to the church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul shared a similar sentiment.
To be a Wesleyan or a Methodist requires commitment to discipleship and accountability. It requires that we have a deep commitment to growing in our faith and to doing so with a group of fellow believers. In June 1779, John Wesley wrote in his journal