The heart of understanding our beliefs and doctrines is found in remembering that we began as the Methodist Movement. The goal of “Methodist Movement”, founded by John Wesley, was to have people’s hearts and lives profoundly changed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Wesley wanted every Methodist to have their “heart right with God” through a relationship nurtured in prayer, Bible study and worship, and to have their lives changed as they reached out in service to the world.
United Methodist have four main guidelines for belief. These guidelines help us understand and shape our faith:
- We believe in the Triune God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit).
- We believe that Scripture is the authoritative Word of God in matters of faith.
- We believe that New Birth (Salvation) comes through faith in and through Jesus Christ alone.
- We believe that every person is created in God’s image, and in need of God’s grace.
United Methodist, from the time of John Wesley, have understood that Grace as key to our relationship with God. We understand that Grace is experienced in three different ways:
- Prevenient Grace – the Divine love of God that surrounds humanity. It is God’s grace that is reaching out to us and seeking to bring us to faith. It is the grace that is touching our lives before we know that grace exists.
- Justifying Grace – this is the grace that touches our lives at the moment that we realize our need for God and express that we want to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Justifying Grace restores our relationship with God.
- Sanctifying Grace – the continual working of God’s grace in our life from the moment we are justified through Jesus Christ. God’s grace is constantly leading, teaching, calling, challenging, engaging, and confronting us as little by little we are reshaped into the image of God.
As Methodists, we do not believe we are totally depraved but recognize that we are born in bondage to original sin. We are wooed by the Holy Spirit to accept our deliverance from original sin, a deliverance purchased on the cross by our Savior Jesus Christ. (Prevenient Grace)
When we accept Christ and are freed from the power of sin and death, this is the point we refer to as New Birth or Salvation. (Justifying Grace)
From the moment we receive Justifying Grace, as Methodists, we believe that our journey has just begun. In our personal relationship with God, through prayer, the study of Scripture, worship, and service, the Holy Spirit leads us on the journey of sanctification. (Sanctifying Grace)
The process of sanctification moves us from sinfulness to holiness. We strive to become the person God created and called us to be. As United Methodists, we earnestly strive inwardly and outwardly to experience the grace, compassion, and love of God through word and deed.