In God’s sovereignty is housed His love toward humanity and it is because of His great love, God has created humanity to be in a relationship with Him. Shortly, we will look at the preventive grace that God exercised on behalf of man out of his sovereign choice. However, for now it is sufficient to say, “God voluntarily limits divine power over people so that their decisions are not effectually determined. At minimum, people must believe or resist God’s overtures for salvation. Because God eternally knows the decisions of people, God responds to them accordingly, working through the Holy Spirit to redeem everyone.”
There are those who contend that God limits Himself when He places freely upon Himself limits concerning His sovereignty. However, the truth is quite the opposite for Wesley. Thorsen asserts, “Divine self-limitation is not thought to represent an actual limitation in the sovereignty, power, and majesty of God. If God voluntarily chooses to permit people some genuine measure of freedom, that permission does not represent a diminution of God.”
Earlier, I alluded, because of the fall of man, mercy and prevenient grace would be needed for humanity to be restored to the point of being able to choose or reject God. Wesley believed heavily in the mercy of God as it was connected to free will. John Wesley believed that humanity had no hope apart from God. Wesley would not have backed theologies that embraced human beings having an inherent freedom of will. Therefore, Wesley concluded that God performed a previous working of grace on behalf of the sinner. The communal term most used by Wesley was prevenient grace that comes to work in the life of the non-believer prior to conversion. In other words, prevenient grace defined is, “the grace that comes before.”
Wesley was often accused of Pelagianism and used a short answer when confronted with the accusation, “How, then, did Wesley avoid claiming that the first movement of faith, the initium fidei, is on the human side? Such a claim he indeed had to avoid, for otherwise he would have been rightly accused of Pelagianism, and of making the grace of God unnecessary or the result of human merit. His response to this question was simply that there is a universal prevenient grace. As this grace is given to all, all are capable-not in themselves, but through the working of grace in them-of accepting the further grace of belief, which will lead them to justifying faith and –eventually-to the assurance of their salvation.
In spite of the fall of man, Wesley preached and believed that God would not forsake His creation. In his 1730 sermon, The Image of God, Wesley contends, “God created man upright; in the image of God created he him; but man found out to himself many inventions.’ Abusing the liberty wherewith he was endowed, he rebelled against his Creator, and willfully changed the image of the incorruptible God into sin, misery, and corruption. Yet his merciful, though rejected, Creator would not forsake even the depraved work of His own hands, but provided for him, and offered to him a means of being ‘renewed after the image of him that created him’”.