“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:8-10
Question for the day: “What does it mean to have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ?”
We are looking at John Wesley’s view on the 3 stages of grace in a person’s life. Last time, we looked at prevenient grace, or God’s activities in our lives before we know Him. Today we will examine the other 2 stages: Justifying grace and Sanctifying grace.
Justifying grace is that grace afforded to us once we make the decision to accept the gift of salvation. We are justified in the eyes of God, not because of anything we have done, but because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Once we acknowledge our need for salvation, God graciously gives it. That is why Jesus died. So that all who ask may be saved for life eternal.
But this is not the end of our journey. This is the core reason I love being a Methodist. You see, our eternal salvation is not our only objective. There is also this concept of Sanctifying grace that Methodists hold very strongly to. This is the idea that, once we are “saved” then the real journey begins.
This real journey is walking daily with God. This real journey is allowing the Holy Spirit to continue God’s work in us, helping us to become more and more like Christ everyday. It is this idea of Sanctifying grace that gives me hope. I have a hope that God can help me to be a better person each day that I engage with Him on this journey. And for me, that is why this journey of faith means so much.
I want to be a better person. I want to be more loving, more giving, and more forgiving. And I know that I cannot do by myself. I want to be a better wife, mother, friend and daughter – and only God’s sanctifying grace will get me there. You see, if I were focused on “being saved” alone, then I would miss out on the amazing gifts that God has for me in the here and now. He has promised to be with me and to never leave me. He has promised me guidance and discernment for life’s decisions. He has promised me rest when I am weary and a burden that is very light.
I admit, I have a difficult time wrapping my head around eternity. I have some vague idea of what I think heaven will be. But to be honest, that distant promise isn’t enough to keep me engaged the way I need to be on a daily basis. Life gets in the way. The things going on today take all my attention. But as a United Methodist, I believe God is here with me, in these daily challenges and trials. Because of Sanctifying grace, I believe that the Holy Spirit is willing to lead me through my issues, and bring me out on the backside looking more like the Christian I claim to be.
This promise holds so much power for our daily lives. It is something that I can commit my life to wholeheartedly, because it takes me where I want to be. But it is not always an easy road. Allowing God to have His way with me is a constant struggle. That is why I am thankful for the teachings of John Wesley. He not only teaches me about what is possible, he also taught me how to take hold of it. He shows me the way to take the “possible,” and make it a reality.
Next week will be our last few days of studying the teachings of Wesley. We will be looking at the “Means of Grace” one of Wesley’s most famous sermons that teaches us how to live into His sanctifying grace. What “methods” or activities can we participate in to avail ourselves to this grace and thus, be transformed as children of God.
Lord God Almighty,
You are my Creator, my Sustainer, my Rock, and my Salvation. You are the center of my being. Lord, you offer me a life lived in deep communion with You. You offer me a life filled with grace, mercy, purpose and abundance. Help me to place my own desires aside and to embrace the journey that You have for me. It is so much better than anything that I could dream up. I trust Your plans for me. Help me to know what they are, and to chase after them with all my heart.
In the name of my Savior, Jesus, I pray,