Summary: This is a clergy talk I give for Men’s Walks to Emmaus but with slight modification a sermon I preach on Prevenient Grace from a Wesleyan-Armenian perspective.
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in.”
“I should have called it
Something you somehow haven’t to deserve,”
[--Robert Frost, “The Death of the Hired Man,”
This conversation between husband Warren and wife Mary in Robert Frost’s “The Death of the Hired Man” has haunted me since I first read it as a junior at Marion High School. It reminds me of something else I don’t deserve—a personal relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Good Morning. My name is David Reynolds, and this talk is entitled “Prevenient Grace!” My calling today is to share the Good News that God loves us and offers us a personal relationship with Him.
As a Christian my top priority is that relationship in my life. The greatest news is the fact that this priority does not originate with me, but in the heart of God Himself. Grace is “God’s unhesitating, unmerited love and favor towards humankind, which He reveals to us in the life, death, and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.” I deserve God’s wrath and judgment, but He offers me His love and mercy.
There is only one grace—God’s grace, His love; but he has chosen to progressively reveal that grace to us at different stages in our lives. When I my wife Liz, our pastor shared these words: “Such a sacred relationship as this is assumed for a life-time and must, therefore, be entered upon reverently, discreetly, and in the fear of God.” Our relationship for over thirty years can be divided into three stages: 1.) Our courtship; 2.) Our wedding; and 3.) the maturing of our marriage into a lifetime relationship. God’s grace is also revealed to us through a courtship, a wedding, and the maturing of the marriage into a lifetime relationship. Today I come to share with you the message of God’s courtship with us.
God offers us a personal relationship with Him. God’s plan for humanity since creation has been that each of us enjoys personal fellowship and companionship with Him. Before they sinned, Adam and Eve enjoyed intimate fellowship with God. They knew the joy of “walking in the Garden with Him in the cool of the day” [--Genesis 2:8}. Six generations later another man knew the joy of such an intimate relationship with God and went to heaven without experiencing death: “Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took Him away” [--Genesis 5:24].
God loves us and desires that each of us know the joy of such an intimate, personal relationship with Him. St. Augustine reminds us this was the very reason we were created. He gives his Testimony:
“Thou hast made us for Thyself,
And our hearts are restless ‘till they find their rest in Thee.”
[--Confessions, I, i.]
Throughout history God has been seeking to restore this lost relationship with humankind. We find Him continually reaching out to us offering us a covenant relationship similar to a marriage. A covenant is God’s promise to us in which He says, “I will!” God entered into covenant relationships with: Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. In Jeremiah 31:31-34 he promises Israel a New Covenant:
“‘This is the covenant I will make with the House of Israel
After that time,’ declares the Lord.
‘I will put My Law in their minds
And write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
And they will be My people.’”
This will be a personal relationship between God and His people, one in which their sins will be forgiven, a relationship from the heart.
Jesus identified His death as the beginning of this New Covenant in Matthew 26:26-29:
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread,
gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to His disciples,
saying, ‘Take and eat; this is My body.’ Then He took
the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying,
‘Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the
covenant, which is poured out for many for the
forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of
this fruit of the vine from now on until that day
when I drink it anew with you in My Father’s
This relationship God offers us is one of grace and love, and everlasting and
A seeking love. God says again in Jeremiah 31:3,
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”
Religions are people seeking a relationship with God; Christianity is God seeking a relationship with us. God began by seeking Adam in the Garden when He called out, “Adam, where are you?” Ezekiel 34:11, 16 witnesses more about God’s seeking love:
“For this is what the sovereign Lord says;