*These are just a few (seemingly) random reflections on God as I continue classes at Nazarene Theological Seminary, and as I read through Wesley’s writings, Arminius’ works, and Wynkoop’s “A Theology of Love.” Feel free to address them with conversation if you’d like.*
Above anything else, love is the driving force of God. It is a holy love, which can only be truly understood in the scope of the narrative of the entire canon of Scripture with Christ at the center.
Holiness and love can never be thought of apart from one another. They are different, but are directly related; when we think of one, we must think of the other.
Holiness is a quality of both the personal life and the life in relation to others. It is both, and not just one or the other.
Out of love, God has given people free will. But God has placed a call on all of our lives; it is a call that God exercises through prevenient grace when were apart from God and a call that God invites us into more deeply through salvation. This is a call to know Him and to live in a way worthy of Christ.
In many’s people’s lives, he calls them to certain things. Sometimes it is painfully obvious and many more times it takes discernment. God asks us to respond to His call not by force, not by some magical fate of an already prescribed predestination, but by love. And God asks that through love and obedience, we respond.
God’s prevenient grace works incredibly in all of this; God moves in the entire world, working continuously to draw all people toward Him, and eventually redeeming all of creation in creating a new kingdom.
In attempting to understand God, we must learn to be content in understanding that there is a tension with the mysteries of God. We must always make room for God’s mystery; there will always be that which we do not understand regarding God. We cannot put God in a box; in doing that we are saying that we’ve somehow figured out God in totality. If we say that, than we’ve attempted to make ourselves bigger than God in addition to saying that we’re smarter than God (pride and arrogance) as well as making God a possession that we own (idolatry). God cannot be reduced to a math equation. This is one of the dangers of Christianity in a western culture where society for some reason always needs to know the answer. This is especially a danger in fundamentalist circles. And this is one of the dangers of an American Christianity that is already much too influenced by Calvinist theology. The most we can do is solely begin to understand God, primarily through Christ, Scripture, and the Church.
God could potentially use anything as a means of grace; however, there are known and recognized means of grace; these are the sacraments recognized by the Church.
Sanctification is the process of God’s Holy Spirit working in us that begins at justification, the point when we, through faith, are justified before God by Christ through his atoning sacrifice for all of humanity. During sanctification, there are crisis moments, such as realizations of God, realizations of obligation and consecration to God. Sanctification is a process by which God works in conjunction with the person who is justified, through the Holy Spirit to continually transform someone into a person that is more like Christ. Sanctification is a continual and dynamic state. “Entire sanctification” refers to sanctification working in the entire person, not just part of the person; by a Hebraic and Christian definition, we are holistic beings (we are not the Greek definition of a person in the dualist, platonist, Gnostic sense). “Entire sanctification” does not mean that we have reached a completed or finished state of sanctification; because of this temptation, we should probably think of sanctification and Christian Perfection as continually being sanctified. It directly relates to responding to God’s grace and growing in God’s love through obedience. It also demands responsibility that we live in a way worthy of Christ; God’s holy love is the bridge between our faith in Christ and the works we do in response to God’s grace and the Holy Spirit continually working in us. (For a further understanding of God’s work in a person, see Wynkoop’s “A Theology of Love.”)
Today the world is searching desperately for a Christianity that lives up to the example of Christ. This must be a Christianity that is always looking for ways to apply God’s message of love. In the face of competing ideas, John Wesley’s practical and theological lens of the Church and the Christian life is perhaps more critical now more than ever.