In three parts, I have presented three prerequisites to understanding grace that are of particular concern to me as I minister in Appalachia. I have observed that many Christians in Appalachia are at war with these three things, and this hinders their knowledge of God and his grace.
Part 1--Total Depravity
Part 3--The Glory of God
There are many other topics that could be considered, but I have chosen these three based upon Ephesians 1 and 2. Paul prays there (for Christians no less!) that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened so that they could know God better. The implication is that they do not know God as well as they could or should. Paul also implies that this "knowing God better" requires a supernatural work--A spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God.
This is not a gnostic knowledge (a privileged knowledge of God that only certain people can have). This is simply an acknowledgement that depravity operates through remaining corruption even in the minds of believers. As believers, we are tempted to sin and frequently give in to sin. What makes us think that our minds are any less susceptible to sinful thinking about God? Just as we need a supernatural work of grace to overcome temptation, we need a work of grace to think rightly about God. If we coddle our rebellious thinking, we will no doubt fail to know God as well as we could or should.
Paul has in fact laid out precisely what he wants people to understand in order to know God better. He begins Ephesians 1:15 with the words "For this reason...." This means that he has just explained the things that motivate his prayer for the Ephesians in vv. 3-14. And he also implies that without a work of Spirit, a Christian's rebellious nature will reject the things that he has just clearly stated and will continue to explicate through the book.
Many Christians in Appalachia are at war with these three things (in the name of free will). Therefore they do not know God or his grace as well as they should. This failure to know and accept God as he reveals himself is one of the reasons that Reforming West Virginia is so important.