Baptists don’t talk much about Prevenient Grace. I think most of us believe in it... we just don’t know what it is, or maybe we just don’t use the terminology.
Prevenient Grace is the enabling grace of God that allows a person to experience saving grace. It is preceding grace... the grace that precedes salvation. Prevenient Grace is the grace of God the woos us to repentance and Gospel transformation.
“Saul! Saul!” (Acts 9:4). The poor guy was as lost as a goose in a snowstorm! He was religious! But he was lost!
He wrote of his anger, his darkness and depravity. “You have heard about my former way of life in Judaism: I intensely persecuted God’s church and tried to destroy it. I advanced in Judaism beyond many contemporaries among my people, because I was extremely zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. But when God, who from my mother’s womb set me apart and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me, so that I could preach him among the Gentiles ...” (Galatians 1:13-16, CSB).
Before God met Saul on the road, he was a pharisaical zealot, an honest-to-goodness religious fanatic. He wrote, “If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised the eighth day; of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; regarding the law, a Pharisee; regarding zeal, persecuting the church; regarding the righteousness that is in the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:4-6, CSB).
The pursuing grace of God is most beautifully illustrated on an ancient dusty road. “Now Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. He went to the high priest and requested letters from him to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he traveled and was nearing Damascus, a light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. Falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul said. ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting,’ he replied” (Acts 9:1-9, CSB). Paul’s enduring testimony was in gratitude for God’s Prevenient Grace, a grace that pursued him, wooed him, drew him, until finally, a lost man was eternally found! “I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord who has strengthened me, because he considered me faithful, appointing me to the ministry — even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an arrogant man. But I received mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ — and I am the worst of them. But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:12-17, CSB).
The grace of God is clearly evident in His dogged, determined pursuit of a loving relationship with His creatures. It is the story of the Gospel, from Genesis to Revelation. God loves us. He is gracious toward us. He “came to seek and save” us (Luke 19:10). He’s calling... Abraham... Jacob... Moses... Samuel... Martha... Simon... Saul... and George... Sally... Tim... Gayle...
... and Happy Independence Day, Americans!