Wesley and the early Methodists were particularly concerned about inviting people to experience God's grace and to grow in their knowledge and love of God through disciplined Christian living. They placed primary emphasis on Christian living and putting faith and love into action. This emphasis on what Wesley referred to as "practical divinity" has continued to be a beacon of United Methodism today.
The distinctive ideas of our theological heritage can be seen not only in this emphasis on Christian living, but also in Wesley's distinctive understanding of God's saving grace. Although Wesley shared with many other Christians a belief in salvation by grace, he also believed that grace is central to our understanding of the Christian faith and life.
Wesley defined grace as the love and mercy given to us by God because God wants us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it. In Ephesians it says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not the result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Our United Methodist heritage is rooted in God's grace. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, described God's grace as threefold: