United Methodists understand grace as a gift from God, “the undeserved, unmerited, and loving action of God in human existence through the ever-present Holy Spirit.”

Bishop Will Willimon describes grace as "the power of God working in you to give you a transformed life."

We experience three kinds of grace in our life with God — prevenient, justifying and sanctifying.

Prevenient grace literally means "the grace that comes before." Prevenient grace calls us into a relationship with God before we are even aware of God. It prepares us for the dawning awareness that God loves us so much that God seeks us out first.

Justifying grace happens when Christians abandon all those vain attempts to justify themselves before God, to be seen as “just” in God’s eyes through religious and moral practices. When God’s “justifying grace” is experienced and accepted, it’s a time of pardon and forgiveness, of new peace, joy and love.

Sanctifying grace enables us to grow into the image of Christ and leads to inward and outward holiness.

This content was produced by Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications.