Lent has begun, and we’re going to talk about grace. Prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying grace. But first, let’s turn our attention to the reading and understanding of scripture:

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2: 11-14).

Grace is the unmerited, undeserved love and favor of God, that is freely given for all people. Now, let’s talk Wesley. As many of you know, John Wesley is looked to by Methodists around the world as the founder of the Methodist movement that lead to the existence of Methodism as a denomination. He was one of the great theologians and intellectuals of his time in the second half of the 18th century in England.

It came to be on John Wesley’s heart that the faith of many Christian people was a dead faith. Meaning that many Christians were simply going through the motions of going to church on Sundays, but they weren’t really living out the faith we as Christians are called to. So, along with his brother, Charles Wesley, and a few friends at Oxford, they developed a “method” to living the Christian life. And central to this way of living the Christian life was John Wesley’s understanding of grace.

John Wesley put it this way: “It was free grace that ‘formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into him a living soul, and stamped on that soul the image of God, and put all things under his feet. For there is nothing we are, or have, or do, which can deserve the least thing at God’s hand.’”

In other words, it was not because the gift of life is something we deserve, but rather that it is a gift given out of God’s grace, God’s unmerited favor for us. It’s the Methodist understanding that it’s by grace we have life because God didn’t have to create us. It’s by grace we are made in God’s own image, by grace we have what we need in life. All that we are, and have, and do begins and ends with God’s grace.

Andrew Devereaux is the pastor of St. John’s United Methodist Church in Kingman, AZ.