Over a relatively compressed span of time, John Wesley, empowered by God to formulate and expound a distinctive brand of Christian faith, developed quite fully his understanding of God's grace in salvation, freely meted out to all who would simply believe, as it related to justification, regeneration, and sanctification. In his ordo salutis, that is, order of salvation, he may have originally held to the belief that justification, regeneration, and sanctification were instantly simultaneous and equivalent. However, in his ultimate, yet unsystematized, theology, Wesley is found to have completely separated sanctification (holiness)--entire or otherwise--from justification and regeneration.
In Wesley's view, the Christian faith is fully reliant upon the blood of Christ, as a demonstration of trust in the worthiness of his life, death, and resurrection. It is an admission of a need to rest upon his breast as the sole means of atonement for sin. Sin manifests itself in the lives of individuals through guilt and the inability to overcome the power of that guilt. There is no mechanical means by which one can effect his or her own salvation apart from the saving grace of Christ.
Justification according to Wesley is God's free act of pardoning from sin, and from the guilt which is thereby acquired, in the past life of the believer, and the deliverance from the consequence (punishment) of sin, which is eternal damnation. Conditioned upon a profession of faith in the atoning life and death of Jesus, it is an immediate act of God's predestined grace toward mankind exhibited in redemption. It is at once equivalent with, although it necessarily precedes, regeneration--the new birth--of the whole soul, and is thus a precondition of one's newly granted ability to freely love God and neighbor as one's self.
This last concept, sanctification, is perhaps the most contentious of all Wesleyan theology. Sanctification, accordin...