Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. (Jerome)
John Wesley - Founder of Methodism
Quote: "I felt I did trust in Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me, that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death."
By the time of his death, John Wesley (1703 - 1791) was recognized for his contribution both to England's religious atmosphere and to the social and economic milieu. For Wesley, social involvement was intrinsically tied to evangelistic outreach; thus prison reform, employment assistance, poverty relief, and antislavery were natural aspects of early Methodism.
In his early twenties, he decided to enter the ministry, but was shocked that those preparing for holy orders lived a frivolous and degraded lifestyle. Out of Oxford's worldly atmosphere, John, his brother Charles, and their friend George Whitefield established the "Holy Club," an accountability group committed to spiritual disciplines and good works.
Wesley later journeyed to Georgia to minister to the colonists and Indians, but neither were interested in the words of an Anglican priest. He thought the Indians were "implacable" and "unmerciful," and the settlers thought he was self-righteous, aloof, and authoritarian.
In the midst of these problems, he found himself consumed by "an unholy desire" for Sophy Hopkey. Sophy agreed to marry another man, leaving Wesley was dumbstruck. Because couple eloped without the customary publishing of banns, he denied her communion. When she and her husband sued him, Wesley defended himself but decided to leave town.
Back home in London, he was thirty-five, single, and not in a good mood. He would have rather stayed home from the church meeting that spring evening in 1738. "I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther's preface to the Romans," he later confessed. "While he was describing the change God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me, that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death."
Wesley's seeking after holiness was offset by struggles in his personal life. In 1749, he again contemplated marriage—this time to Grace Murray. John Bennett, however, was also interested in Grace, and Charles Wesley—fearing his brother would be distracted from the ministry—met privately with the couple and convinced them to marry. John was devastated. His relationship with Charles might have been permanently severed had it not been for the intervention of George Whitefield, weeping in great distress and pleading they not let this matter ruin the ministry.
Just a year after this ordeal, Wesley hastily married Molly Vazeille before giving proper notice. But the marriage did not last. They lived together "only occasionally," and when Molly moved away after twenty years, Wesley was indifferent.
In light of the strife he encountered on a personal level, Wesley's doctrinal focus on "entire sanctification" may seem unusual. He strongly objected to Whitefield's claim that a truly converted person was eternally secure. Such a position, Wesley believed, was license to sin. Insisting that justification was not a blanket forgiveness of sins, Wesley believed that believers could reach a state of sinless perfection.
The doctrine of perfection created conflict throughout his ministry. In fact, this controversy virtually tore the whole movement apart. Either it was neglected or it was carried too far, but rarely was it preached to his satisfaction. Perfection simply did not work on a practical level. Even after he had published The Plain Account of Christian Perfection (1766), he frequently confronted preachers who refused to preach the doctrine.
Regarding himself, Wesley never publicly claimed entire sanctification, and in private correspondence he was vague at best. In 1763, he wrote to Charles, "I often cry out 'Give me back my former life!' Let me be again an Oxford Methodist! I am often in doubt whether it would not be best for me to resume all my Oxford rules, great and small. I did then walk closely with God and redeemed the time."
In 1788, on day after his eight-fifth birthday, he held to his preaching schedule of three sermons at three different locations: "At eight I preached at Misterton, as usual; about one to a numerous congregation at Newby, near Haxey; and about four at my old stand in Epworth market place." This is how he had carried out his ministry for almost a half century.
[The demon Screwtape writes:] Even of his sins the Enemy does not want him to think too much: once they are repented, the sooner the man turns his attention outward, the better the Enemy is pleased.
From The Screwtape Letters
Compiled in Words to Live By
The Screwtape Letters. Copyright © 1942, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright restored © 1996 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
1 Corinthians 6:20
We have a lot on our minds. Our sphere of concern stretches from the people we love to the state of the world and everything in between. Mix this with all the chatter in the media and it’s easy to become confused about what is important. As our mind is filled with cynicism and fear, God’s truth is marginalized and pushed out. When our fear begins to define us, we cannot help but pass it on to those around us. Instead of living confident and free, we are caged and held back by the lies our mind is hoarding.
Consistently meditating on God’s redemption and our secure future in heaven has the power to set us free. We are His children and we will live forever in His presence, healed of our brokenness: physical, mental, and emotional. When we view today through the grid of eternity, our fears are extinguished by His power and love. We are no longer lost orphans, but adopted sons and daughters. We belong to Him, and He delights in using us for His glory.
Let heaven fill your thoughts instead. Because when you do, everything on earth gets placed in its proper perspective.
Proverbs 1 – 3
"I say—where’s Edmund?” There was a dreadful pause, and then everyone began asking “Who saw him last? How long has he been missing? Is he outside?” and then all rushed to the door and looked out. The snow was falling thickly and steadily, the green ice of the pool had vanished under a thick white blanket, and from where the little house stood in the center of the dam you could hardly see either bank. Out they went, plunging well over their ankles into the soft new snow, and went round the house in every direction. “Edmund! Edmund!” they called till they were hoarse. But the silently falling snow seemed to muffle their voices and there was not even an echo in answer. . . .
“What on earth are we to do, Mr. Beaver?” said Peter.
“Do?” said Mr. Beaver, who was already putting on his snow-boots, “do? We must be off at once. We haven’t a moment to spare!”
“We’d better divide into four search parties,” said Peter, “and all go in different directions. . . .”
“Search parties, Son of Adam?” said Mr. Beaver; “what for?”
“Why, to look for Edmund, of course!”
“There’s no point in looking for him,” said Mr. Beaver.
“What do you mean?” said Susan. “He can’t be far away yet. And we’ve got to find him. . . .”
“The reason there’s no use looking,” said Mr. Beaver, “is that we know already where he’s gone!” Everyone stared in amazement.
“Don’t you understand?” said Mr. Beaver. “He’s gone to her, to the White Witch. He has betrayed us all.”
“Oh, surely—oh, really!” said Susan; “he can’t have done that.”
“Can’t he?” said Mr. Beaver, looking very hard at the three children, and everything they wanted to say died on their lips, for each felt suddenly quite certain inside that this was exactly what Edmund had done.
From The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Compiled in A Year with Aslan
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Copyright © 1950 by C. S. Lewis Pte., Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1978 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With Aslan: Daily Reflections from The Chronicles of Narnia. Copyright © 2010 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Extracts taken from The Chronicles of Narnia. Copyright © C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. 1950-1956. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. (1 John 3:14)
So, love is the evidence that we are born again — that we are Christians, that we are saved.
Sometimes the Bible makes our holiness and our love for people the condition of our final salvation. In other words, if we are not holy and not loving, we will not be saved at the judgment day (e.g., Hebrews 12:14; Galatians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 6:10). This doesn’t mean that acts of love are how we get right with God. No, the Bible is clear again and again as Ephesians 2:8–9 says, “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one may boast.” No, when the Bible says that we are saved by faith but that we must love people in order to finally be saved, it means that faith in God’s promises must be so real that the love it produces proves the reality of the faith.
So, love for others is a condition of future grace in the sense that it confirms that the primary condition, faith, is genuine. We could call love for others a secondary condition, which confirms the authenticity of the primary and essential condition of faith which alone unites us to Christ, and receives his power.
Faith perceives the glory of God in the promises of future grace and embraces all that the promises reveal of what God is for us in Jesus. That spiritual sight of God’s glory, and our delight in it, is the self-authenticating evidence that God has called us to be a beneficiary of his grace. This evidence frees us to bank on God’s promise as our own. And this banking on the promise empowers us to love. Which in turn confirms that our faith is real.
The world is desperate for a faith that combines two things: awestruck sight of unshakable divine Truth, and utterly practical, round-the-clock power to make a liberating difference in life. That’s what I want too. Which is why I am a Christian.
There is a great God of grace who magnifies his own infinite beauty and self-sufficiency by fulfilling promises to helpless people who trust him. And there is a power that comes from prizing this God that leaves no nook or cranny of life untouched. It empowers us to love in the most practical ways.
The Heart of the Andes
For our citizenship is in heaven….
In the mid-1850s, the Christian painter Frederic Church traveled to remote areas of South America where few North Americans ventured before that time. He took sketches all along the way, and when he returned home he painted a masterpiece--The Heart of the Andes.Church’s painting included a simple wooden cross in the foreground. The response to this massive landscape was immediate.
Mr. Church erected his painting in a giant canvas tent in New York City and charged 25 cents to see it. By looking at that painting, viewers felt they were getting a glimpse of a faraway land that excited their imaginations. Today it hangs in New York’s famed Metropolitan Museum of Art.
When we study the subject of heaven in the Bible, we’re looking at the pictures God has painted for us of the land to which we’re going. The more we study that land, the more we’ll begin behaving now like its citizens. Those who focus their gaze on heaven become more zealous, more loving, more industrious, and more evangelistic. The air of that place begins to get into our spiritual lungs, and we become tough-minded optimists.
Let’s live like citizens of heaven!
We are pilgrims passing through, on our way to another country, another land, another city. And we behave ourselves on earth as citizens of that future, glorious, eternal city.
Psalms 141 – 150