MEANS OF GRACE IN OUR SPIRITUAL JOURNEY
Christian Methodist is reminded by John Wesley to grow to maturity by living the means of grace in his/her spiritual journey.
Spiritual Disciplines: Works of Piety
John Wesley believed that the “means of grace” included both “works of piety” (instituted means of grace) and “works of mercy” (prudential means of grace). Works of piety included:
prayer, whether in secret or with the great congregation;
searching the Scriptures; (which implies reading, hearing, and meditating thereon;) and
receiving 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.
- considered prayer an essential part of Christian living. He called it, in many of his writings, the most important means of grace.
- read the Bible every day, usually early in the day or late in the evening. A scholar, his Explanatory Notes on the New Testament and his sermons are a part of the Doctrinal Standards of The United Methodist Church.
- emphasized the importance of fasting and participating in Christian community. He fasted two days a week, Wednesdays and Fridays, in his younger days, and Fridays when he was older.
Mission: The Works of Mercy
Most simply defined, “works of mercy” are “doing good.” John Wesley believed that “means of grace,” included both “works of piety” (instituted means of grace) and “works of mercy” (prudential means of grace).
He preached that Christians must do both works of piety and works of mercy in order to move on toward Christian perfection.
Wesley taught that people must be Christians in both word and deed, which were to express the love of God. He believed that Christians must grow in God’s grace, which first prepares us for belief, then accepts us when we respond to God in faith, and sustains us as we do good works and participate in God’s mission. John Wesley not only preached about works of mercy, he “practiced” what he preached. He:
- lived modestly and gave all he could to help people who were poor
- visited people in prison and provided spiritual guidance, food, and clothing to them
- spoke out against slavery and forbade it in Methodism
- founded schools at the Foundery in London, Bristol, and Newcastle
- published books, pamphlets, and magazines for the education and spiritual edification of people
- taught and wrote about good health practices and even dispensed medicine from his chapels
Wesley believed that Christians could not have authentic personal holiness without social holiness.