John Wesley the founder of the Methodist movement, grace was the powerful process by which believes came to experience God and know God’s salvation. Wesley believed grace was ever present and influential in believers coming to repentance. He believed grace could lead believers to love God with all their being and to love neighbors and the world as they loved themselves. Mr. Wesley understood God’s grace as a unified piece, but teaching he defined grace as having three aspects; prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying. Prevenient Grace: Is the grace that comes to us even before we know God. God showers it upon all people whether they are aware of it or not. Through prevenient grace, God takes the initiative in beginning a relationship with us. Prevenient grace is God’s way of showing us that no matter who we are or where we are, God is already there ahead of us, waiting for us. God’s prevenient grace precedes us wherever we go.
Justifying Grace: Brings a big change to the relationship we have with God. Through justifying grace we begin to realize and trust (have faith) that we are restored to relationship with God. We come to acknowledge our sinfulness and trust that we are forgiven by God’s grace. Just as justifying text in a document aligns it a certain way, (right or left-justified) justifying grace aligns us with God through Jesus Christ. This is when “God reaches out to a person with accepting and pardoning love.” This change includes feelings of peace, hope, and joy. Such as experience “may be sudden and dramatic, or gradual and cumulative. It marks a new beginning, yet it is part of an ongoing process.”
Sanctifying Grace: Prevenient grace is God meeting you at every corner. Justifying grace is God reaching out to you with love. When you say yes to the invitation of justifying grace, you turn a corner in your faith journey. One of the most controversial teachings of the early Methodist movement was that it is possible for us to realize Christian perfection in this life, perfect love, loving perfectly. Wesley called this process “going on to Christian perfection,” or sanctifying grace. This part of grace challengers believers to go deeper in faith, to love the world more energetically, and to keep growing in the knowledge and love of God. For Wesley, God’s sanctifying grace led believers to have their hearts “habitually filled with the love of God and neighbor. For you, this might mean coming to understand your life as more and more focused on living by faith. Faith becomes the center out of which you live. Little by little, God’s sanctifying grace uncovers more and more of God’s image in you. As one who has been forgiven, you become more forgiving. As one who is loved, you become more loving. Wesley emphasized that we are continually filled with God’s love, we are led more fully to acts of mercy and works of justice.