Monday, November 3, 2014

Things Every Methodist Should know- 5

What are some Methodist Distinctives? We United Methodists are in agreement with the whole church on the basics of Christian faith and doctrine. But what are some different ways that we work and live. Here is a list that I got from Dr. Thomas Langford’s book, God Made Known: -prevenient grace -justification and sanctification -sanctification and perfection -faith and good works -mission and service -nature and mission of the church For John Wesley, all of life is graced, because grace is God present and God is present everywhere and to everyone. Grace is the central theme of Wesley’s theology. The word prevenient is archaic, the closest contemporary use we have is “preventive” medicine- that medicine that prevents serious disease, that which goes before, that which happens first. God acts first. It is God’s character as grace to always take the initiative. God’s beginning comes before our beginning; God’s future goes before our goals. God stands on both ends of life. Before we seek God, God has been seeking us. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). God also is ahead of us; God awaits us around every corner. Life begins, continues, and ends in God. Prevenient Grace can best been seen by looking back over your life. From the very first moment of life, God was loving you into a relationship with himself. That’s why we can baptize babies- because God is there at the beginning. Baptism acknowledges that God’s has the prior claim on that life. We mark that child forever as God’s child. Before that child can profess faith for him or herself, we claim that God is holding him/her near. There is never a time when we are before grace. When we accept Christ for ourselves, God has brought us to that point. My friend has his tonsils removed a long time ago. His father was a physician. So, the night before his surgery, his mother had a dream that her son had surgery and started bleeding and they could not find a suction machine in the hospital. So, he had the surgery and his mother refused to leave him in the hospital alone, remembering her dream. In the middle of the night, he started bleeding. He mother, frantic, ran down the hall of the hospital and called the nurses to bring a suction machine. His life was saved. He tells this story as if God has something to do with him from the first moment of his birth. This is prevenient grace. Several times I have rushed to the hospital to visit with parents. The mother had just given birth and the baby was in trouble or already gone. Where is grace in that? Things do not always work out as we expect, but God is always present. God claims every child as his from the first moment of their life. So, if you’re out looking for God, prevenient grace tells us that God was long ago out looking for you, claiming you as his own. I am here not just because I chose to be in Christ, but because much earlier, God’s Spirit was working on me to bring me to Christ. Blessings! Dave Nichols


Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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About Me

A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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