Finally, I want to very quickly talk about something that I alluded to in my sermon a couple of weeks ago – PREVENIENT GRACE.
Professor and writer Steve Harper shared these profound words in his book, “The Way to Heaven.” He said, “GRACE is GRACE.” The point that he was making is that there aren’t three or four different kinds of grace floating around – each occurring at different and distinct points in our lives. Instead, the Wesleyan emphases of PREVENIENT, JUSTIFYING, and SANCTIFYING grace are just ways to help us think about how God works his grace in our lives.
PREVENIENT GRACE describes God’s work in our lives before we’re even aware that God exists – or before we realize that we need a right relationship with God.
For example, when we baptize a baby, we’re recognizing that God’s grace is already at work in that child. God’s grace is working in the life of that child before he or she even knows that God exists – even before the baby recognizes that he or she needs a relationship with God. God is already at work, through his Holy Spirit, drawing that child to himself. The same is true for all of us.
God’s love is previous to anything we do on our part. Remember the words from 1 John 4:19…
We love because he first loved us.
Jesus put it this way in John 6:44…
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…
You see, just as we would expect from a gracious God, God takes the initiative. God acts first. I love how Kenneth Kinghorn puts it…
God cultivates our hearts long before we have any inclination to turn to him. The Holy Spirit creates within us a desire for God, and this gracious activity takes place well ahead of our consciousness of his working in our lives. (Kinghorn, p. 68)
God’s grace really is amazing. So how could it be possible to hear how much you’re loved by God… and not be stunned with humility? Not be overwhelmed with gratitude? When we think of that… we can begin to really understand the words of the hymn, Amazing Grace.
Beloved, I want to encourage you to respond to this message. I’m not going to ask you to walk the aisle, raise your hand, or sign a card. But I do want to ask you a few things.
Have you recognized that God has been working in your life? Has God been drawing you closer to himself? Have you ever had the “aha moment” where you realized that God loves you and that you did nothing at all to deserve it or earn it?
If you’re not sure, then I would encourage you to pray for God to draw you to his Son Jesus Christ… so that you might place your trust in him and enter into that relationship that he desires with you. If you are a Christian, then I encourage you to spend some time praying to God – offering your thanks for what he’s done in your life.
Grace and Truth,