P.O. Box 206 302 South Main Street Gainesboro, Tennessee 38562 (931) 268-4771 Office
Gainesboro First UMC
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
"A Caring Community of Faith"

Pastor's Desk

   

Pastor Tim Dunavant, Josh, Staci, and Mikayla

 

 

 

 

            Last month I utilized this space to talk to you about why I love the Methodist Church. I shared two reasons with you. First, it is a global church. Secondly, I get a voice in that global church. But there are more reasons. I’d like to share a little bit more this month. While there are a lot of distinctive characteristics that help define different denominations, the most central is their theology. The same is true for the UMC. We believe and practice a Wesleyan theology. That does not mean that we value the words and thoughts of our founder, John Wesley, more than that of Scripture. It simply means that we most closely relate to the theology and interpretation of Scripture that was taught by John and Charles Wesley. 

 

            John and Charles founded a movement within the Anglican church in the mid-1700s known as the Methodist movement. But in the 1780s this move of God had grown so large, and their needs were not being met by the Anglican church, that the Wesley‘s and other early leaders decided to form the official denominational structure that we now know as the UMC. Having grown up attending different faith streams, I have been acutely aware of the differences in Methodist theology from other churches. Perhaps the most distinctive is Wesley‘s understanding of grace. Pretty much all Protestant churches believe in what Wesley called justifying grace. That refers to the grace of God that is present in your life at the time that you receive the gift of salvation and become aware of it. It is the grace of God that saves you, the grace that justifies you. Justified, just-as-if I had never sinned. Whether we call it born again, saved, or justified, we’re all referring to the same thing. Different denominations use different terminology to  express this. They have different understandings about how this is manifested in the life of a believer. But we pretty much all agree that it is the grace of God that justifies you or saves you during this experience. 

 

            What is uniquely Wesleyan is the belief that God‘s grace has been active in your life long before that day. Wesley taught an understanding of prevenient grace. This means the grace that goes before. That refers to the grace of God that is active in your life long before you ask for it or want it. It is a constant reminder that God is at work in your life from the day you were conceived, wooing you into a relationship with himself. Perhaps you can look back upon your life and see different times and various ways in which you are confident the hand of God was upon you long before you accepted his invitation. I can remember a time in my life when I was actively speaking out against God but yet God still loved me, and desired a relationship with me. And as I look back, I can see his active pursuit of me. 

 

            While I was still a sinner, Christ died for me. It’s quite humbling to think about. We love him because he first loved us. In fact, Wesley even taught that it was only the power of this grace in our life that enabled us to respond to God justifying grace at all. Perhaps you are just like me and you can easily recognize, and have always known, that God was at work in your life long before your day of salvation. Perhaps you have believed this your entire life. I have too! I never even realized that most churches that I have attended do not agree with me on this point. And those that do, do so because of the influence of John Wesley who introduced this in the mid 1700s as a Methodist idea. I for one am very proud to stand and proclaim this biblical doctrine, something only Wesleyans can do.