NOTE: My writing on prevenient grace this week has NOTHING to do with what I am sharing on this weekend’s Men’s Emmaus Walk… Okay, that’s a lie. Still, you can’t blame me for birthing two outlines in one sitting…!
John Wesley used the language of Grace (Greek: charis – gift) to explain the supernatural gifting that transforms lost sinners into loving saints. Justifying Grace is the supernatural declaration that we have been born-again/saved—and the ongoing power to “work out our salvation” on a day-by-day basis. Sanctifying Grace is the gift/power to grow up to spiritual maturity. In fact, Wesley taught much on Entire Sanctification, understanding (as the early Church Father’s did) the difference between Image and Likeness (Genesis 1:26), teaching that the Holy Spirit baptizes the willing (subsequent to or simultaneously with being born-again in the Image of God) with everything necessary to grow into the Likeness of God—and then empowers us to grow likewise daily—until we literally love Like Jesus…
So Justifying (saving) grace and Sanctifying (maturing/perfecting) grace are both initial and ongoing gifts of supernatural love that transform us from glory to glory—until will become mirror-likenesses of Jesus—by the Spirit.
But what about Prevenient Grace? Prevenient Grace is the supernatural gifting that woos and beckons us to be reborn in His Image in the first place. It is also the power that keeps wooing us to seek the deeper things of Grace—Prevenient, Justifying, Sanctifying, Glorifying, and every other nuance of Grace! Prevenient Grace is the drawing, wooing, beckoning Gift that Jesus was talking about in John 6:44-47.
Please understand this profound truth: It is often at the most miserable times in our life that we encounter the gift of Prevenient Grace…!
I was miserable. It was 1981, and I had spent much of the previous few years partying and living out a rather raunchy college-boy lifestyle. I will never forget the day I went on a four-mile jog to think—even pray— and made some critical decisions to get off the party merry-go-round. I remember it because there was something at work in me bigger than me. I had no words for it then, but I now know that God was wooing me to Himself. I had no idea then what Grace would accomplish over the next three years—culminating in an overwhelming experience of salvation and Holy Spirit baptism three years later…
I was miserable. It was 2016, June 18th to be exact, and I had just received a diagnosis of stage-4 colon cancer. Still, I felt a grace in me beckoning me to trust the Lord in ways I could never have understood in 1981—or even in May of 2016. I felt a peace that truly defied understanding. I felt the Lord wooing me to trust Him in a new season of life that is less predictable and comfortable than any I have known to this point—yet one in which He has promised greater fruit and joy than I have ever known… In the midst of it all, I feel a strangely wonderful Gift drawing me to mirror Jesus in ways more perfect than ever!
The Gift of Prevenient Grace is still at work in me—and you—meeting us (often in our misery!) to lead us to the ecstasy of a new—and ever deepening—walk with Jesus that will be finished only when we look just like HIM! Now THAT is Amazing Grace…!