“John Wesley’s Forty-Four Sermons” (published by the Epworth Press in 1944: reprinted in 1977) – These sermons were first published, as four volumes, in 1746, 1748, 1750 and 1760. The language will seem, to the modern reader, to be very old-fashioned. There is, however, a great deal, in what Wesley says, that we need to hear today. My basic observations in reading theses sermons is this: Here is preaching which is centred on Jesus Christ, who is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). When Wesley speaks of our sin, he speaks with great directness. When he speaks of God’s grace, he speaks with great warmth. This is preaching which is centred on our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Wesley shows us that we are sinners who need the Saviour. He shows us that the Saviour is always ready to receive sinners.
John Wesley on “The Righteousness of Faith”
Righteousness of Faith, The
This sermon is based on Romans 10:5-8. It is found in John Wesley’s Forty-Four Sermons, (Epworth Press, 1977 edition).
Commenting on the words, “The word is nigh thee”, Wesley writes, “the first covenant required what is now afar off from all the children of men; namely, unsinning obedience, which is far from those who are ‘conceived and born in sin.’ Whereas, the second requires what is nigh at hand; as though it should say, Thou art sin! God is love! Thou by sin art fallen short of the glory of God, yet there is mercy with Him. Bring then all thy sins to the pardoning God, and they shall vanish away as a cloud” (p. 67).
Concerning ourselves, there is bad news – We cannot save ourselves.
From Christ, our Saviour, there is Good News – “He is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God through Him” (Hebrews 7:25).
Sin takes us far from God. Grace brings us near to God.
To those who are far from God, Wesley says this, “Do not say, ‘But I am not contrite enough; I am not sensible enough of my sins.’ I know it. I would to God thou wert more sensible of them, more contrite a thousand fold than thou art. But do not stay for this. It may be, God will make thee so, not before thou believest, but by believing. It may be, thou wilt not weep much, till thou lovest much because thou hast had much forgiven. In the meantime look unto Jesus. Behold, how much He loveth thee!” (p. 72).
Sin holds us captive. Grace sets us free.
Wesley continues, “And to what end wouldest thou wait for more sincerity before thy sins are blotted out? To make thee more worthy of the grace of God? Alas, thou art still ‘establishing thy own righteousness.’ He will have mercy, not because thou art worthy of it, but because His compassions fail not; not because thou art righteous, but because Jesus Christ hath atoned for thy sins” (pp. 72-73).
* The way of salvation does not begin with “I”: This is what I have done – my religion, my morality.
* Salvation comes from God:- “God so loved the world …”
This is the Gospel: What we could never do for ourselves, God has done for us – “He gave His only Son”, Jesus Christ, “the atoning sacrifice … for the sins of the whole world”, “the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin” (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2; 1:7).
John Wesley on “The Witness of the Spirit”
“The manner how the divine testimony is manifested to the heart, I do not take upon me to explain. Such knowledge is too wonderful and excellent for me: I cannot attain unto it. The wind bloweth, and I hear the sound thereof; but I cannot tell how it cometh, or whither it goeth. as no one knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of a man that is in him; so the manner of the things of God knoweth no one, save the Spirit of God. But the fact we know; namely, that the Spirit of God does give a believer such a testimony of his adoption” (p. 117).
Here, we have a fine combination of the humility and boldness of faith.
* With boldness, Wesley speaks of the reality of the Spirit’s working in the heart of the believer – “the Spirit of God does give a believer such a testimony of his adoption”.
* With humility, he speaks of the manner of the Spirit’s working in our hearts.
This combination of humility and boldness is well expressed in the words of the hymn:
“I know not how the Spirit moves, convincing men of sin; revealing Jesus through the Word, creating faith in Him. But I know whom I have believed; and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.”
We dare not claim to understand more than we really do. We must not, however, hesitate to affirm our faith in the reality of the Spirit’s working in us. The Word of God has come to us “with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:4). Through faith in Christ, “we have received the Spirit who is from God” (1 Corinthians 2:12).
In 1 Corinthians 2:10, we see that our faith in Christ includes both boldness and humility.
* With the boldness of faith, we join, with Paul, in affirming the reality of the Spirit’s working in us: “Through His Spirit, God has revealed Himself to us.”
* With the humility of faith, we join, with Paul, in affirming that we can never claim to have gained a full understanding of “the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10).
3 thoughts on “The Preaching Of John Wesley”
As a Methodist myself I have preach on John Wesley and shared some of his messages, as well as his brother Charles wrote a lot of our hymns. John Wesley preach on prevenient grace, justifying grace, and sanctifying grace.
Thanks, Eileen, for your comment. God bless you.
Thanks, Donald, Beholding Him Ministries, Eileen, Mrs Holliman, Saania, Child of God and Ryan, for liking this post. God bless each of you.