I have recently started to slowly read through the Journals of John Wesley. After being born again sometime in March 1983, the first church I attended and joined was the Pinelands Methodist Church. I was confirmed and wholeheartedly entered into the good Wesleyan covenant and dedication at my confirmation. From the pulpit I remembered stories of the great founder of the movement and of how his 'heart was strangely warmed' and how his head was strangely cool. Listening to the stories of John Wesley's travels around England and his ardent love for Christ put a holy ambition into my heart of a desire to be used for the Lord in the same way as he was. Though I moved on to Living Hope Baptist Church in 1986, I still carry in me a great love for the Wesley's. To this day I treasure the hymns of Charles Wesley and frequently worship the Lord in terms of the words of his hymn-poems. I don't think that two brothers have given so much to the church of Jesus Christ as John and Charles Wesley.
In a superlative degree John Wesley was a holy man who loved and trusted Jesus Christ with all his heart, soul, mind and strength. I think he personified for us the words of the apostle Peter in his second letter, chapter 1:3-11 in a way rarely found in the church of Jesus Christ. There Peter states that since the Lord has given us everything necessary to lead a holy and godly life, we need to add to our faith virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love. "For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive.... and you will never stumble" (1:8, 10). He certainly proved the truth of this Scripture. Historians have surmised that due to the pervasive and trans-formative influence of the Methodist revival in 18th century England, that country was spared a revolution similar to what happened in France in 1789. His influence was out of all proportion to his sphere, and truly, the world was his parish. What did John Wesley put this influence down to? He himself said that 'God had raised the Methodists up to spread Scriptural holiness throughout the land'.
Today, as always, what we need is a church that is characterized by holiness: a manifestation of the character of God in the lives of God's people. As Peter says in verse 1:4, we have the 'very great and precious promises of God so that through them we may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires" . The wonderful promises of forgiveness through the blood and of the Holy Spirit connecting us directly to God is given so that we can be free from sinful corruption and share the moral character of God. We must not receive the grace of God in vain. Purity of life is now possible (no, mandatory) through all the promises that are given to the believers.
Dear friends, let us not squander the grace of God. We must know what has been given to us by grace and also know what is required of us by grace! We must keep our lives free from all hurtful and poisonous behavior. We must keep on walking in love and self-control and righteousness. Don't let the reigns of your life rest on the neck of your flesh. Take hold of the reigns! - and, in the provision and power of all that is given by God, press on into godly lifestyle in all areas. "For if you do these things, says Peter, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (vss 10-11).
Let us remember John Wesley!