8 You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith. This salvation is God’s gift. It’s not something you possessed. 9 It’s not something you did that you can be proud of.
At the beginning of this sermon series on “What Makes a Methodist”, when we began our deep dive into Methodism by talking about grace, I mentioned how it was going to be the core of all the rest of the themes. There’s an aspect to the Methodist perspective on grace, though, that wasn’t mentioned in our sermon series – and that was John Wesley’s idea that Methodism could be broken down into three types of grace: prevenient, justifying and sanctifying. The most common analogy for these types of grace he used was picturing a house:
Prevenient grace is standing outside of the house, maybe you don’t even see any house there, but it exists before we know anything about it. The emphasis is on “pre” meaning “before”. It is the grace that existed before all else.
Justifying grace is that “heart strangely warmed” moment we talked about with Wesley. It’s when we realized that we are unconditionally loved by God, it is us opening the door to the house.
Sanctifying grace is living in the house, living a life in response to recognizing God’s grace.
The kind of grace that frees us from having to earn salvation, which is talked about in today’s Ephesians text, is rooted in prevenient grace, the grace that existed before we did anything – good or bad. My best imagery for these three types of these types of grace is my older sister’s baptism. My sister, Sam, was about 2 months old, so she was being baptized through prevenient grace, through the love that existed for her in the beginning of creation. My mother, who was not baptized, asked to be baptized with her as a believer’s baptism – that is justifying grace. And these baptisms were performed by my father living out his faith in sanctifying grace. All in one moment, all three types of grace were being represented in this sacrament.
When we read this text from Ephesians, we can focus on the word “gift” No matter what the type of grace – it is always and forever a gift from God.
by Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
Which of the three types of grace named speaks to you in this season of your life?
Can you think of an example from your own life for each of the three types?
Prayer: God of grace, thank you for this gift. Amen.