Today, I did something that is quite vulnerable for anyone including a pastor.
I told my story of faith during the sermon time at both churches. It was an emotional time, as I walked my journey of faith through the lens of God’s prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying grace. After being at Mackville and Antioch for four months, this Sunday seemed like the right time to tell my story. I’m glad that I shared it.
I am truly blessed by God’s love and the journey my faith has taken, both the ups and the downs. I wouldn’t be who I am today without God’s love.
Today might have been the most rewarding and humbling day in my short pastorate life.
Typically, I will post the text to my sermon on Sunday or Monday. This week, I do not really have a text for the sermon. That is because of the nature of this week’s sermon. Instead, here are some talking points of what we talked about, along with my story.
Those talking points are:
- Grace is a word that gets tossed around easily in the church. We say that grace is love, forgiveness, hope, peace, and mercy. It is all of those things and more. Grace is the unmerited free gift of God’s love given to us.
- Grace is one of the central themes of the Methodist movement and Wesleyan theology. Our understanding of God’s grace helps us to understand God’s love for us, and to see how God desires us to live in response to the free gift of grace.
- In Wesleyan theology, we believe that God’s grace can be seen in three ways. The first is God’s prevenient grace. The second is God’s justifying grace. The third is God’s sanctifying grace. In our relationships with Christ, we have been touched by these three graces.
- God’s prevenient grace is the grace that goes before us. This is especially true before we come to know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. God’s grace goes before us and prepares the way for us to come to know who Jesus is, and what he did for us on the cross. One way we see this grace is in the lives that impacted us before we came to faith.
- God’s prevenient grace, through the Holy Spirit, opens our heart to the sin that exists in our lives. We believe that sin is the voluntary disobedience of a known law of God. It is by the Holy Spirit’s work in our heart that we come to seek repentance, and recognize our need of Jesus Christ.
- God’s justifying grace was evident on the cross when Jesus Christ died the death our sin deserved. On the cross, Jesus became the atonement sacrifice for our sin. When we accept this grace, and believe that Christ died for us, we are called cleaned and justified by God. We become the redeemed children of God.
- This free gift of grace is available to all. It is not for a select few. It is also possible for someone to reject God’s grace. We do it when we decide to live for ourselves, and our own agendas, instead of God’s will.
- We are called to grow in faith in Christ, by the Holy Spirit working in us. The Holy Spirit guides us on the path of holiness or sanctification. God’s sanctifying grace is the grace that goes with us on the journey of faith as we grow in our relationship with Christ.
- God’s sanctifying grace, through the Holy Spirit, helps us to grow in what it means to love God and love our neighbor.