Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! I am so excited to be writing again to you about our Wesleyan Distinctives. Last week was about Prevenient Grace and how its kinda like chips and salsa. If you missed that post click here to catch up. This week we will continue on to how we can teach effectively about Justification and Assurance. The following is the distinctive in regards to Justification and Assurance from the Book of Discipline, Paragraph 101, page 46.
We believe God reaches out to the repentant believer in justifying grace with accepting and pardoning love. Wesleyan theology stresses that a decisive change in the human heart can and does occur under the prompting of grace and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
In justification we are, through faith, forgiven our sin and restored to God’s favor. This righting of relationships by God through Christ calls forth our faith and trust as we experience regeneration, by which we are made new creatures in Christ.
This process of justification and new birth is often referred to as conversion. Such a change may be sudden and dramatic, or gradual and cumulative. It marks a new beginning, yet it is part of an ongoing process. Christian experience as personal transformation always expresses itself as faith working by love.
Our Wesleyan theology also embraces the scriptural promise that we can expect to receive assurance of our present salvation as the Spirit “bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”
God’s desire is for all of children to return home and engage in a vibrant relationship with him. We believe that desire is clearly stated in his death on the cross through his Son, Jesus Christ. I think we can all agree on that, but there is a theology or thought really that I have heard in Methodist churches that we don’t have to be saved. To enter into a right relationship with God means that we are repenting of the ways that we lived and committing to live by the standards of Christ.
Don’t misunderstand me. God’s grace is prevenient and does meet you immediately as you took your first breath in this world, but if that was all that needed to happen to be in right relationship with God then that is where it would end. Grace is prevenient and when you are ready to live with God then you are justified and assured of your salvation.
Let me say again that God’s desire is for all of his children to come back home, but God being all knowing knows that all of children just won’t come home. Even more important is that God won’t force them either. God will love you no matter what you do with your life, no matter what, especially if you don’t love him and desire to live for him.
His love is not contingent on you living for him.
So, what is the most effective way to teach that our youth?
Just like anything in this series this is a great confirmation piece to use as they are coming closer and closer to being confirmed and taking that step in their faith. This comes down to a discussion about Grace. There are many ways to talk about Grace, as in the three types of Grace. My favorite ways is by using a house as an illustration.
Prevenient Grace is like a porch up to the house, it welcomes you to the property and maybe encouraging you to sit on the porch and experience that Grace and sometimes you just want to stay there, but when the time comes and you are ready for the next step you may approach the door.
Justifying Grace is like the door of a house. It there for you when you are ready to open it, and when you do accept that this is the next step you want to take you open the door and you are justified and assured that you are forgiven through the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. I will save the final part of this illustration for next week when we talk about Sanctifying Grace.
This is also a great time to say that some people have dramatic conversion experiences and at times those can be intimidating. I personally did not have a dramatic conversion experience, it was a gradual journey. Some people do have dramatic salvation experiences and some have gradual ones, but they are both from God and the love is from God. An added note just like the faith walk is a continuous journey so is teaching about grace. It is a topic that we need to continually teach to form in our students faith throughout their experience in youth ministry from 6th-12th grade.
As always my prayers are always with you and your ministry. If you have any prayer requests I would love to pray for you and help you in any way I can. Us youth workers and disciples need to stick together in the love and grace of Christ. Please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can pray for you and help you in anyway I can.
Thanks for all you do for the Kingdom of God!
Grace and Peace be with you always!
Bradley W. Alexander