A Wesley Catechism on Grace


Rev. John Wesley on Grace and "Means of Grace"

What is Grace?
"By 'the grace of God' is sometimes to be understood that free love, that unmerited mercy by which I a sinner, through the merits of Christ, am now reconciled to God. But in this place (2 Corinthians 1:12) it rather means that power of the Holy Ghost, which 'worketh in us both to will and to do His good pleasure.' (Phil. 2:13) As soon as ever the grace of God in the former sense, His pardoning love, is manifested to our souls, the grace of God in the latter sense, the power of his Spirit, takes place therein."

   -John Wesley, Sermon XI, "The Witness of our own spirit," 15

How does God ordinarily give Grace to us?
"By 'means of grace,' I understand outward signs, words, or actions, ordained of God, and appointed for this end, to be the ordinary channels whereby He might convey to men, preventing, justifying, or sanctifying grace.
I use this expression, 'means of grace,' because I know none better; and because it has been generally used in the Christian Church for many ages - in particular by our own (Anglican) Church, which directs us to bless God both 'for the means of grace, and hope of glory;'* and teaches us, that a sacrament is 'an outward sign of inward grace, and a means whereby we recieve the same.'**
The chief of these means are prayer, whether in secret or with the great congregation; searching the Scriptures (which implies reading, hearing, and meditating thereon); and recieving the Lord's Supper, eating bread and drinking wine in remembrance of Him; and these we believe to be ordained of God, as the ordinary channels of conveying His grace to the souls of men."

   -John Wesley, Sermon XII, "The Means of Grace," II.1

What is the Grace that God gives us through Holy Communion?
A Second reason why every Christian should do this (receive Holy Communion) as often as he can, is, because the benefits of doing it are so great to all that do it in obedience to him; viz., the forgiveness of our past sins, the present strengthening of refreshment of our souls...
The grace of God given herin confirms to us the pardon of our sins, and enables us to leave them. As our bodies are strengthened by bread and wine, so are our souls by these tokens of the body and blood of Christ. This is the food of our souls: This gives strength to perform our duty, and leads us on to perfection. If therefore, we have any regard for the plain command of Christ, if we desire the pardon of our sins, if we wish for strength to believe, to love and obey God, then we should neglect no opportunity of receiving the Lord's Supper...
In order to understand the nature of the Lord's Supper, it would be useful to carefully read over those passages in the Gospel, and in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, which speak of the institution of it. Hence we learn that the design of this sacrament is, the continual remembrance of the death of Christ, by eating bread and drinking wine, which are the outward signs of the inward grace, the body and blood of Christ.

   -John Wesley, Sermon CI, The Duty of Constant Communion, I.2, 3 & 5

How do we embrace, apprehend, and receive the Grace that God thus gives?
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. - Romans 5:2 (ESV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. - Ephesians 2:8 (ESV)

"Grace, without any respect to human worthiness, confers the glorious gift.  Faith, with an empty hand, and without any pretence to personal desert, receives the heavenly blessing."
   - John Wesley, "Notes on the New Testament," Note on Ephesians 2:8

*Quoting from the "General Thanksgiving" prayer which is part of the Morning Prayer service in The Book of Common Prayer; it is also found in The United Methodist Book of Worship, 550

**Quoting from the Catechism in The Book of Common Prayer (1662)

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home