Wesleyan Theology II - Lesson 1

John Wesley's Practical Theology

John Wesley did theology in service to the church in mission. Brunner and Tillich are theologians that lived recently that developed a systematic approach. Wesley refers to his study of theology as practical divinity. He views it as participatory so that the truths of Scripture are actualized in practice and in community, not just an individual intellectual exercise. Wesley emphasized the doctrines of sin and salvation in his study and preaching by addressing how you become a Christian and how you remain a Christian. Wesley is described as being a, “conjunctive” theologian, which means he has a, “both-and” approach  as compared to an, “either-or” approach to theological ideas. He is looking for balance. Free grace is the work of God alone. Wesley describes cooperant grace as, “God works, therefore you can work; God works, therefore you must work.” Grace is the normative context of the moral law of God. Wesley teaches that we relate to God by both free grace and cooperant grace.

Kenneth J. Collins
Wesleyan Theology II
Lesson 1
Watching Now
John Wesley's Practical Theology

I. Was John Wesley a Systematic Theologian?

A. John Wesley did theology in service to the church in mission

B. John Wesley's theology is not characterized by a grand systematic principle

1. Participatory

2. Context of Christian community

3. Doctrines of sin and salvation

C. Style of Wesley's theology

1. Conjunctive theologian

2. Examples of Wesley's conjunctions

3. Axial theme of Wesley's theology is holiness and grace

II. Holiness as Holy Love

A. Love is not equal to self-will or sentimentality

B. The gospel is the love of God in the context of the moral law of God

III. Grace is the Second Part of Holy Love

A. Conjunctions of free grace and cooperant grace

B. Grace as the work of God alone

C. Grace as the undeserved favor of God and empowerment of the Holy Spirit

D. Receiving grace and responding to grace

IV. Questions and Answer

  • John Wesley did theology in service to the church in mission. Brunner and Tillich are theologians that lived recently that developed a systematic approach. Wesley refers to his study of theology as practical divinity. He views it as participatory so that the truths of Scripture are actualized in practice and in community, not just an individual intellectual exercise. Wesley emphasized the doctrines of sin and salvation in his study and preaching by addressing how you become a Christian and how you remain a Christian. Wesley is described as being a, “conjunctive” theologian, which means he has a, “both-and” approach  as compared to an, “either-or” approach to theological ideas. He is looking for balance. Free grace is the work of God alone. Wesley describes cooperant grace as, “God works, therefore you can work; God works, therefore you must work.” Grace is the normative context of the moral law of God. Wesley teaches that we relate to God by both free grace and cooperant grace.

  • Repentance before justification. Because of who God is, he wills the salvation of all humanity. Grace is free for all. In his sermon, “Free Grace,” Wesley argues against limited atonement but affirms election and God’s foreknowledge. To Wesley, “Awakening” refers to a person receiving grace so they begin to discern the things of God. This is the transition from the natural state where people where a person is dead to things of God, to being awakened to God and fearing him. Moving from a state of “sleep” to being “awakened” to an awareness of God. Wesley makes a distinction between the, “natural person,” a “person under the law,” and a “person under grace.” Wesley describes conviction the holy spirit and the moral law working together, resulting in convincing grace. Sovereignty is a relational attribute because it’s how he relates to nature. Love is an essential attribute of God. Humans still have freedom as part of the way they are created in the image of God. Wesley teaches that all the elect are born of God but not all who are born of God are elect. Some who are born of God, fall away. If we live a life of Christian discipleship, it will change us.

  • The Holy Spirit begins to give the awakened conscience an inward “check” using the moral law. God uses the word and the Spirit to shed increasing light on the conscience to reveal shafts of the righteousness and justice of God. Repentance means a change of mind or change of direction. Wesley described repentance as the “porch” of religion. Wesley said that the only requirement to be part of a Methodist society was a desire to flee the wrath to come. He would then encourage you to leave off evil, do good and use the means of grace, which he equated with repentance. The three principal aspects of repentance are conviction, poverty of spirit and rejection of self-righteousness and self-justification. Repentance occurs prior to justification. Repentance will result in outward expressions of inward contrition and grace. The general means of grace are prayer, searching the Scripture, communicating, the Lord’s Supper and fasting. Prudential means of grace are practices that foster the love of God. They may differ from one person to another. It requires reason, reflection and honesty.

  • Focus on the insights of John Wesley on practical theology. Wesley teaches that people are justified by faith alone and that conviction of sin and repentance comes before justification. Conviction and repentance are important in the salvation process but not in the same sense or the same degree as faith. Wesley refers to the grace from which salvation comes as being, “free in all,” meaning that it does not depend on human power or merit. A person can be redeemed if he will, but not when he will. Wesley views the process of salvation as the conjunction of cooperant and free grace. The faith that justifies goes beyond believing that God exists and the knowledge of God’s character. It is also more than the faith of a devil. It is more than the faith of the apostles while Jesus was on earth. The nature of faith is a spiritual sense by which we understand spiritual things. Faith requires both, “belief that” and “belief in”

  • Justification is the work God does for us, sanctification is the work God does in us. Justification makes us children of God, and sanctification is the process of becoming saints. Justification is based on the atoning work of Christ and entails the forgiveness of sin and freedom from guilt. Wesley teaches that when you are justified, you are forgiven of past sins. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to believers because of what Jesus did. He applied imputation to justification only, not sanctification because he was concerned about people taking this as a license to sin. Sola Fide is the teaching that faith is not only the necessary condition of justification, but it is also a sufficient condition. Wesley teaches that justification and regeneration occur simultaneously, never one without the other. Wesley held not one but two aspects of his doctrine of salvation in tension: both process and instantaneousness, divine and human cooperation as well as the work of God alone.

  • Wesley teaches that justifying grace is imputed by God and regenerating grace is imparted by God. When Wesley refers to, “divine empowerment,” he means that the Holy Spirit gives believers the power to live in obedience to God. Wesley describes regeneration as the great work which God does in us, in renewing our fallen nature and the beginning of sanctification. Regeneration itself is a result of free grace. Only God can make a soul holy and fill it with the Holy Spirit. He also emphasizes the importance of holy living. “Faith alone, working by love, aimed at holy living.” Wesley linked regeneration with the doctrine of original sin. Since we were born in sin, we must be born again. Wesley describes the new birth as a vast change from darkness to light. Orthodoxy is important, but it’s crucial that regeneration also leads to life transformation.

  • Regeneration is an instantaneous supernatural change that begins the process of sanctification. It is God alone who forgives sin and makes a person holy. The first “liberty” of the gospel is freedom from the guilt of sin. The second “liberty” of the gospel is the deliverance from the power and dominion of sin. The marks of the new birth are faith, hope and love. Wesley defines sin as a willful transgression of a known law of God. Wesley is not saying that one who is regenerated will never sin again, but open, willful sin and rejecting God should be the exception rather than the rule. Obedience of faith refers to the power of someone who is regenerated to obey the commandments of God. The greatest freedom of all is the freedom to love God and love our neighbor.

  • Assurance is an essential part of the conversion experience. Our sins are forgiven and we are children of God. Biblical texts that teach assurance are Romans 8:15-16, Galatians 4:5-8 and 1 John 2:12-14. According to Roman Catholic theology articulated at the council of Trent, assurance is not a normative component of God’s promise of salvation. The Roman Catholic church teaches that assurance is corporate and focuses on apostolic succession and the sacraments. Wesley describes the direct witness of assurance as an inward impression on the soul of believers by the Holy Spirit, who testifies to the spirit of the person that they are a child of God. The realization of the direct witness of the spirit will be different for each individual and will be memorable but may not be dramatic. Wesley considers conscience as a supernatural faculty that God has restored.

  • Indirect witnesses to our new birth are the keeping of the commandments of God and fruit of the Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit are diverse but they are all given by the Holy Spirit. Wesley emphasizes the importance of both direct and indirect witness.

  • Wesley describes salvation and sanctification by writing, “God worketh in you; therefore you can work…God worketh in you, therefore you must work.” In the process of sanctification, we are becoming increasingly holy. The process of sanctification involves changes in degree. The process begins when we are justified. The believer is gradually dying to the carnal nature. The Christian life is a journey of holiness. The goal is holy love. As believers experience the love of God, they will love God and show love to their neighbor. Wesley teaches that when you believe in God, you have a disposition toward God, which is a sure trust and confidence in God which causes changes in your life. Dispositions are more consistent than emotions. Practicing sin makes you less free. Holiness leads to freedom and happiness.

  • Self-denial involves being willing to follow grace, to follow God’s will rather than yours, recognizing that your nature is corrupt and to deny ourselves is to deny our will where it contradicts God’s will. Taking up your cross includes being willing to endure suffering. Wesley teaches that repentance is important in terms of individual sins at salvation and also of the sin nature. Evangelical repentance is repentance of the sin nature. Wesley urged people to minister to both peoples’ bodies and souls.

  • In this lesson, John Wesley's theology on entire sanctification emphasizes the distinction between gradual sanctification as a process and instantaneous entire sanctification, with a focus on the idea that entire sanctification is an utter gift of God received by faith alone, demonstrating a balanced view of cooperative and free grace.
  • In this lesson, Dr. Collins reviews John Wesley's doctrine on entire sanctification. He explains that it is not sinless perfection but a state of love where believers are free from the power and being of sin, emphasizing the need for continual growth in grace.
  • Wesley wanted to reform the church of England, not begin a new denomination. The fundamental nature of the Church is a community of people-centered on Christ. The Greek word in the New Testament that refers to the Church is ekklesia. The Church was born at Pentecost. The relation of the church to Israel and the inclusion of Gentiles in the church were two foundational questions in the early Church. The Church is composed of all believers throughout the world as well as believers meeting in local communities. There is one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father of all. The importance of unity in the Church is stressed in the Gospel of John and in other writings in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit animates individuals and also the body of Christ corporately.

  • It’s not possible to for people to be holy without the Holy Spirit. The Church should live in an attitude of humility and be open to repentance and reform when there is sin and evil discovered. There institutional church should have disciplinary mechanisms to deal with sin and evil. Ecclesiastical synonyms for catholic are universal, global, ecumenical and extensive. The apostolic testimony is passed down through the centuries. Apostolic succession divides the Church because of the view of the sacraments, especially the Lord’s Supper. The creeds in the reformation era articulated Protestant theology. The church is where the pure Word of God is preached and the sacraments are duly administered. Methodism is a reforming movement with the theme of real Christianity vs. people who lived by displaying the form of Christianity but lacked the power. Methodist bands and select societies were modeled after Moravian small groups. The soul and the body make a man, the spirit and discipline make a Christian. The general rules of the United Societies were agree to avoid evil, do good to your neighbor and employ the means of grace. The goal was to foster a spirit of repentance. They emphasized Scriptural Christianity. Wesley’s purpose was that Methodism become a reforming order within the church, not a separate denomination.

  • Worship is a response to God because God has already acted. Gathering together is important for the faith community to fellowship together. The minister welcomes everyone to invite them to worship God. In worship, we encounter the Word of God as it is read and declared, by response in prayer and in the creeds and confessions. In communion, we are responding to the gift that God has given us. When we go out from a worship service, we are salt and light to the world. Worship is essentially responding in acknowledgment of what God has done. A sacrament is an outward expression of an inward grace that is received by faith. Luther described a sacrament as containing the three elements of a sign, signification, and promise. For baptism, the sign is the water, the signification is dying and rising with Christ and the promise is forgiveness of sin and renewal of your nature. Wesley considered baptism to be associated but distinct from the new birth. Baptism is an outward sign of the inward work of the new birth.

  • Wesley’s view of baptism is both sacramental and “evangelical.” Wesley considers the Lord’s Supper as a means of grace because it is, “food for the journey. In the early church, believers were required to be baptized before they could receive the Lord’s Supper. The sign is the bread and wine, the signification is the body and blood of Jesus and the promise is the forgiveness of sins and renewal of our nature. Luther describe’s the Lord’s Supper as a testament. Wesley says that there is a spiritual presence of Jesus in the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is not a sacrifice, but it does bring the meanings of the death of Jesus into the community of faith in a tangible way. Wesley thought that each person should receive the Lord’s Supper as often as possible.

  • Eschatology comes from a Greek word meaning, “last things.” Aristotle describes physical death is when the body is separated from the soul. Spiritual death is when the soul is separated from the sanctifying presence of God. Eternal death is the eternal separation of the soul from God. Some people teach that the term “sleep” in Scripture to describe death, means cessation of consciousness and is not used metaphorically of the dead body. A belief in the unending existence of the soul raises the question of its habitat and activities in the state between death and the resurrection, generally referred to as the intermediate state. It seems then that there is a particular judgment at death that will be consummated later on in a general judgment. Jesus promised that he would come again to earth and it will be personal, visible, physical and literal.

  • The second coming of Christ will take some people by surprise, but the faithful will be prepared. It will be visible and obvious to everyone. Believers will be raised from the dead to be with Christ. Postmillennialism teaches that things keep getting better and the second coming of Christ will come after the millennium. Premillennialism teaches that things get worse and Christ comes before the millennium. Amillennialism sees the thousand-year reign as a symbol and not a reality. There will be a final judgment that will display the attributes of God, where Jesus will be seen as the king of kings. The final judgment will bring justice and reveal the character of each person. Heaven is where the glory of God is expressed. There will be a new heaven and a new earth.

Holy Love is an overarching theme of John Wesley's preaching and theology. Join Dr. Kenneth Collins as he explores topics ranging from grace, repentance, justification, regeneration, assurance, sanctification, the church and sacraments, and eschatology, by using Scripture, historical context, and the writings and the sermons of John Wesley. 

Wesleyan Theology II

Dr. Ken Collins


John Wesley's Practical Theology

Lesson Transcript


Okay. Yes. As was presented earlier, we are going to focus on Westley today. Earlier in preceding lectures, we have given and we are in the process of giving an introduction of Wesleyan theology. And we have been very broad. We've been very global in terms of our scope. Wesley's voice was among several voices, and some contemporary voices were mentioned earlier. But here today, certainly this morning, we're simply going to focus on John Wesley's theology, because in the area of so Terry ology, in other words, the doctrine of salvation, Wesley is without match, but really in so many different ways. And that's why we're going to use him as an exemplary Methodist or Wesley and theologian. In the earlier part of the course, we considered, of course, such important topics as the doctrine of God, Christology, the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit. We had discussions on the Trinity, etc., and now we and we also focused on humanity, the doctrine of humanity as well. And the last time we were considering the doctrine of sin also. And now we're going to take a very focused view on how redemption plays out in a person's life. So we're moving a bit, I suppose, from systematic theology to practical theology of Wesley in a real sense was a practical theologian. We're going to see that very clearly in a few moments. And so that's the kind of shift we're making today. I also want to draw to your attention what is up on the screen. This is the major theology. This is the textbook for the course. And from now on out as a lecture, we will be following this textbook in lots of ways, sometimes very closely. And so I did want you to see what we're using as a textbook for this course and for those who are audio learners rather than visual learners.


This book actually is an audio book as well, because I know some people learn differently. I did want to mention that. But the theology of John Wesley, Holy Love and the Shape of Grace. Now, I want to begin with the question with the question was Wesley a systematic theologian? Because after all, this is an introduction to Wesley in theology. We have been thinking systematically all throughout the course, and Albert Outlaw, who is one of the you know, he has he certainly was one of the great Wesleyan theologians of the 20th century, the late Albert out there in terms of Wesley and theology out there, indicated that Wesley was no theological titan, he was no theological titan, He was no system builder, no theologians, theologian of how Outlaw describes Wesley's work by design and intent. He was a folk theologian. A folk theologian. What does that mean? I think we can express that very helpful phrase in another way by saying that John Wesley did theology in service of the church in mission. And so you can see a very practical orientation here. John Wesley did theology. He was a theologian. He engaged in the discipline of theology, but always in service to the church and not just to the church, but the church in mission. So there's that emphasis of activity, engagement, theology, folk theology is a very engaged, active sort of thing. It serves the church in her mission now outside the Methodist tradition. And I'm always amazed by this. Worsley largely goes unnoticed by historical theologians and some systematic theologians. So Outlier again points out, because once again, Wesley was not a quote, quote, theologians, theologian, partly because, as Outlaw continues, he belonged to no single school and founded none. So he did not find any particular theological movement.


Now, if we were to compare John Wesley's theology to, let's say, some 20th century theologians, I always I always think it's better to get at least 50 years from a theologians work so you can get a good picture, a good grasp of their contribution. And so that's what we'll do here. The theology of John Wesley. Oh, he was not trying to forge a conversation between the genius of the Christian faith on the one hand and the best of human knowledge on the other, as some reform theologians, for example, would do, they would try to forge a conversation between the genius of the Christian faith, what the Christian faith teaches, and then the very best of human knowledge at the time. And Roman Catholic theologians do that as well. That scope was beyond Wesley. He never entertained that kind of enterprise. And so his theology is not systematic in that sense. Nor did Wesley develop a grand, systematic principle. For example, if you read the theology of Emil Bruner, Emil Bruner is was a systematic theologian and he worked with the basic pivot of divine human correspondence. We'll talk about that more in a moment. And whether you're talking about the doctrine of God, Christology, humanity, ecclesiology, or any step along the way. Bruner is basically fleshing out that grand, systematic principle. And John Wesley is not doing that either. He's not doing that either. If we were to compare John Wesley theology, the theology of Paul Tillich, again, we'll see a contrast. Paul Tillich I suppose America can claim Paul Tillich as a theologian, though he was trained in Germany. He eventually made his way to the United States during the time of Hitler and Tillich, talked about a method of correlation, a method of correlation, which I've found to be quite intriguing as I read Tillich theology.


What he argues in this method of correlation, it's a question answer structure. And he argues, and you can see some existential philosophy and even some Heidegger streaming into Tilak's thought that life, human life itself raises the question. Human life itself raises the question in terms of issues of guilt, meaninglessness, the question of meaning or meaninglessness. What is our life? What's the meaning of our life? And then also death. So human existence itself. And this of course, is universal. This has to do with all people who are confronted with guilt and meaninglessness and death. That life itself raises the question. And for Tillich, the Christian faith is the answer to that question that is raised by the human condition. That's what we mean by the method of correlation. It's a question answer model of human existence, raising the question, the Christian faith providing the answer. And in that Tillich is thinking quite broadly in terms of the very best of human knowledge of his time, of his time period. Once again, that's going to be a contrast to what Wesley's doing, because he's going to be far more focused. He is going to be far more focused than that. Okay. And Bernard does the same thing with a systematic principle in terms of divine human correspondence, in other words. And we talked a little bit about this earlier, so I don't have to spend too much time with that. The distinction between the eye of the eye thou relationship and the eye of the eye IT relationship, those are two very different eyes. The. Eye of the eyes now the eye of the eye it and Bruner is going to work that understanding of eye thou. And you can see some of the influence of Martin Buber.


He's going to work that through his entire theology, his entire theology from the doctrine of God all the way to eschatology. So it will be a systematic theology with a strong, systematic principle. Once again, that is a larger enterprise than Wesley took up. Now, Wesley was a practical theologian. His focus was a bit more narrow than either telco. Bruner and Wesley emphasized various types of divinity. As a matter of fact, our word theology. He did not even use the word theology in the 18th century. That's our word. We use that today. But in the 18th century in England, they talked about various kinds of divinity, such as practical divinity, speculative divinity, controversial divinity, positive, comparative, mystic, and even the phrase plain old Bible divinity to articulate the full range of theological, the full range of theological reflection. Okay. And so there is a shift in terms of language here. At times, Wesley would even use the words experimental and practical divinity, and he'd use those words interchangeably. Interchangeably. Okay. So let's focus then on the question of practical divinity for Wesley. Practical Divinity, as you might imagine, is participatory. It's engaging. It entails nothing less than the actualization and verification of the truths of Scripture with respect to inward religion within the context of the Christian community. And so that would be a good definition of what practical divinity is. I'll break it up a bit for you. As I said, it's participatory and engaging. It's not simply an intellectual exercise. It involves the mind, to be sure, because we worship God with our hearts and our minds. Okay. But it is more. It entails more than the mind. And it entails the heart as well. The tempers and dispositions of the heart, even the will.


And so practical divinity will be then the realization and verification of the truths of Scripture that they will be lived out in the person's life. With respect to and I think we can say here, I know I said earlier, inward yes, inward religion, but also outward religion as well. And this will happen within the context of the Christian community. That's very important for Wesley, because theology plays out in the context of the church, always a communal context. And so Wesley is very hard on individualistic religion. He really rejects it, and he severely criticizes it because we cannot be a Christian alone. We can only be a Christian as a part of a community, as a part of the body of Christ. Okay. And so with this understanding of practical divinity, Christians test the truth of Scripture for themselves within the context of the church, within the context of the community of faith. Okay. So now Westley had in reality become a specialist in the doctrines of sin and salvation. And, you know, as I indicated earlier, there are few theologians present or past who have focused on what we're calling here, the order of salvation, the order of salvation, the order of salutes. Sometimes in Wesley, in circles, they use the language via solutes. That's fine as well. But Wesley had become a specialist in this area. In other words, addressing the two principal questions How do I become a Christian? What does that look like? Given who God is and given what human sin is? We've talked about that already. How then, do I become a Christian? And then for Wesley Wesley, they are many. And there's going to be a second question. Not only how do I become a Christian, and lots of people stop after that.


And I think of, for example, contemporary North American evangelicals who are great in terms of bringing people into the church. But then once they're there, they don't know what to do with them. They're not realizing that there is a life to be lived and that the world, the flesh and the devil are out there today, every day. And there is a life to be lived through time. And as we go through the life sequence, there is a life to be lived and the Christian faith is going to look different in each one of those areas. And so Wesley takes this very seriously. So his second question, his second question beyond how do I become a Christian? Is how do I remain a Christian? How do I remain a Christian? Of course, for Wesley, they are many, and there is the possibility of having become a Christian. One could later on, fall away, fall away. And unfortunately, Wesley saw that to be the case with some of those who had responded favorably to his preaching during the great revival of the 18th century. And I recall one comment in his journal. Wesley was speculating, say, why did not God take this person ten years earlier when he was in the flush of grace, but now dies, you know, an abandoned sinner? And so, you know, Wesley raised that sort of issue in his in his journal. Now, Wesley's practical divinity is it's not a grand systematic theology like a maltman today or a BART in the 20th century. But it is a viable way of doing theology in terms of its orientation to the mission of the church. The church is a verb. The church is always active. And then secondly, in terms of its attentiveness to the realization of scriptural truth.


And then thirdly, we'll see this in Wesley's practical theology in terms of its orientation to and service of the poor. So Wesley's theology is oriented towards the poor in a very, very careful way. A very careful way. Okay, Let me say something about the style of Wesley's theology before I give you that Birdseye helicopter view promised earlier something about the style of Wesley's theology. And my approach to Wesley's writings has basically been one of it looks very much like literary criticism. In other words, I read Wesley's writings and I'm attentive to his use of language, rhetoric, motifs, themes, contextualization, word choice, all of that. That's very important to my approach to reading. Wesley. There are other approaches to reading, Wesley to be sure, and I engage in those. But my principal focus has been something that's akin to literary criticism that we examine Wesley's words, his theology in terms of their thoughts, in context, in time, in terms of the kinds of themes, motifs. It's rhetorics that he employs and in paying attention to that. And there's lots of things to be found there. Wesley had a particular style. He had a style to his theology. And this becomes apparent if you read and continue to read in Wesley's writings, it will emerge. And Albert Ayler has identified this by saying that Wesley was a conjunctive theologian. What does that mean, a conjunctive theologian? Well, it means both end that Wesley's a both and sort of think or not Either or. There's. There is a lot of either or theology out there, and some of it is unbalanced. Wesley is always looking for balance. And so he will, for example, in terms of heart and mind, affirm not only worshiping God. As we've indicated earlier with our mind, but also see desire not only but also but also with our heart as well.


And so that would be an example of a conjunction. I think it's also, you know, if we were to engage in a little historical criticism here, there are actually a number of different earlier theologies that feed into John Wesley's theology. He read broadly. He read very broadly. He read The Reformers. Luther Calvin. He read medieval saints, Roman Catholic Saints. He read The Early Church Fathers, the Greek Fathers. He read Augustine extensively. And so Wesley was very well read. And if you look at his writings, he privileges No. One theological tradition, with the possible exception. Of course, no surprise here. Anglicanism being the good Anglican priest that that he was. And so when we look at Wesley's doctrine of salvation, what we're going to see is that it is marked by a number of careful balances or conjunctions. And lots of times people who are outside the tradition. You know, looking in and trying to assess Wesley's theology miss the conjunctions. They see one piece of the conjunction and they run with that, or they see the other half of the conjunction and they run with that. But that's not Wesley theology. That's someone else's theology, a modern interpretation. And there's a lot of that out there as well. They simply haven't read the entire corpus. And that's that's a problem, indeed. Now, what would be some examples of Wesley's theology in terms of conjunctions? Well, it would include such things as faith alone and holy living. Faith alone and holy living. Law and gospel, in other words, not simply law, but also gospel. Faith alone. What what theological tradition had stressed faith alone? Well, the Lutheran tradition, to be sure, in the 16th century, what tradition had stressed the importance of holy living Roman Catholicism, Eastern orthodoxy.


Okay, so Wesley's theology, just looking at this first conjunction, which will emerge from a consideration of his language, is going to be both Protestant and Catholic. Yes, Wesley's theology, on one hand, will resonate with the Protestant reformers. Wesley's theology, on the other hand, will resonate with the broader Catholic Church, with Roman Catholicism and with Eastern Orthodoxy, in some respects. In some respects. Other examples of conjunctions, grace and works grace as both favor and empowerment, justification and sanctification. In other words, not only are we justified by faith, but we are also sanctified by faith. We'll see that in Wesley's theology. Then there's also a conjunction in terms of the temporal dimensions of salvation. Wesley will stress the instantaneous ness of receiving faith. But he'll also stress process leading up to it and following after. Once again, it's both. And not either or. He also underscored the universality of grace. We talked about prevention grace earlier. Prevention. Grace is given to all people. But then Wesley also wrote about the limited actualization of grace. In other words. Saving grace is far more limited. All people have prevention grace, but not all people have saving grace. Saving grace is more rare. It is more rare. So once again, it's both. And Wesley will stress divine initiative. God is always ahead of us. God always acts first. Divine initiative. But then also human response. Human response. That now that God has acted. Human beings respond. And then Wesley also underscored initial and final justification. All right. Now, within this more narrow focus, because we're we've already confessed that Wesley is not a systematic theologian, but within his theology, his practical theology, we put practical theology on the table. We're going to see that Wesley is very orderly and that there is a pivot that pertains to this more narrow focus centered on the order of saluting, centered on practical theology.


Now, we have some examples here. The axial theme the axial theme, according to Outlaw, is Grace. The the axial theme is Grace. That's the axial theme of Wesley's theology, according to Albert Outlaw. You should already realize, from what I just said, why I would differ from that, why I would disagree with that, because it doesn't match the style of Wesley's theology. What's the style of Wesley's theology? So you're learning. It's conjunctive, so it can't simply be grace. And for Wesley, it won't simply be grace, okay? It will be holiness and grace. And we'll talk about that in a moment. And then, according to Randy Maddox, responsible Grace is Wesley's chief orienting concern. The same sort of things I said in terms of Outlaw would apply to Maddox as well. It doesn't bespeak of Wesley's conjunctive style that for Wesley we see here, it's the conjunction of holiness and grace. Never grace apart from holiness. Never holiness apart from grace. They go together in a tight conjunction. Now you have the basic pivot, the orienting concern of Wesley's theology. Now you're starting to think deeply about Wesley's theology. Because you. I understand what it's all about. It's about that pivot of holiness, holiness and grace. So we'll put up a chart here and you can see this more clearly. So you see in the left hand column holiness and then in the right hand column, grace. But notice that the style of Wesley's theology is so extensive, so pervasive, that holiness itself can be broken up into a feeding conjunction. What is that conjunction? Holy love. Holy love. Holy love itself is a conjunction. Holiness, what does what does holy mean, according to Wesley? Well, it means purity and separation. Purity and separation. Well, if we simply stress the holiness of God or if we simply stress the holiness of the church, what will happen? The church will separate herself from the world and be a part alone by itself.


Yes, it will. And there are examples of that throughout the history of the church when the church has done that. However, holiness represents the tension of holy love. What is love? Love, love. Seeks communion. Love is outreaching it folgen transcending itself, going beyond itself to embrace the other. Okay. And so you have that that tension as well. And so love seeks communion. Holiness seeks the purity and separation. It's those two things simultaneously in tension. Now you understand what holiness means, according to John Wesley. It's not a flat footed understanding. It is a dynamic understanding and understanding. That's intention. Intention. Again, look at it this way. If we stress simply holiness in terms of being holy, once again we have the problem of separation. However, if we stress love, apart from holiness, what would be the problem there? If we stress love ever seeking communion apart from holiness, purity and separation? What would be the problem? The problem is being co-opted, being undermined, having one's narrative message or gospel co-opted and undermined by those beyond the church. And we see examples of that as well in the church throughout her history. And so this holiness, broken down into Holy Love, is not only a dynamic in Wesley's theology, it's not only an important conjunction, but it's a challenge. It's a challenge to be the church in a dynamic way, in the face of a hurting world, going out, embracing the other without being co-opted by culture. Now, if we look at the right hand part of this screen here, we see we see Grace, Grace. And once again representing the style of Wesley's theology. We should find a conjunction here. And that's exactly what we find. When we look at Wesley's primary writings. It emerges very clearly out of the literature that What kind of grace are we talking about here? Not simply responsible grace or co-option.


Grace. Those those could be used interchangeably. Because even with Cooper and Grace, the initiative is always with God. And that is an important part of Wesley's theology, to be sure. No one's denying that. I mean, Wesley wrote an important sermon on working out our own salvation, on working out our own salvation, which we've mentioned earlier. God works. Therefore, you can work. God works. Therefore you must work. However, that's not the entirety of Wesley's understanding of grace. And if this is all you're going to bring forward in your estimation of Wesley's practical theology, then this will be a modern interpretation, which presents Wesley's theology under a Catholic conception of grace, if you will, a quote unquote, Catholic conception of grace. But Wesley had another understanding of grace. Where did he get it from? It came from the continental reformers. It came from people like Luther and Calvin. That Wesley had a rich and. Also crammed there. I should mention from his own Anglican Reformation that Wesley had a rich appreciation which he learned from the Moravian who were mediating principally Lutheran theology to him. He had a rich appreciation of what is called free grace. Free grace. What is free? Grace, Free. Grace represents the work of God alone. The work of God alone. Here, there is not the divine human cooperation that we talk about, that we've talked about earlier in terms of co-opting grace or responsible grace here. It is the sovereign action of God, the work of God alone, whereby something is offered as a sheer, utter gift, a sheer, utter gift, and therefore would not be speaking of any sort of divine and human cooperation. I believe when we were talking about creation, I had mentioned in Wesley's sermon an early sermon, Salvation by Faith, that Wesley talked about creation itself as a species of free grace, that God, out of God's sovereign freedom creates, brings into being.


That's the work of God alone. You know, starting it, creating. That's a good example. And Wesley names it as such. He names it specifically as a species of free grace in his sermon. Salvation by faith. But there are other examples as well. We can speak about free grace in terms of the faculties of prevention. Grace When we talked about the faculties of preventing grace, things like conscience, knowledge of the moral law that's given sovereignly by God even before we're aware that's not a species of co-op and grace that's free. Grace we're going to see very clearly in terms of. Wesley Justification. Justification is by grace through faith alone. Therefore, it is a species of free grace. And then watch this. We'll see this later on that Wesley will and will apply the insights from the Reformation, especially in terms of Luther, Calvin Cranmer, not simply in terms of justification, but also in terms of the new birth and entire sanctification by grace through faith alone. Okay, we'll see that play out. So we. Wesley does have an axial theme. And that axial theme, the pivot that plays out in his very practical theology, the more tied focus here is holiness and grace. And holiness and grace themselves can be broken out into the conjunctions which feed into them in terms of holy love for holiness and free and co-op and grace in terms of grace. This what's up on the screen right now is represents the helicopter view, if you will, of Wesley's theology. It is a way of summarizing all of Wesley's theology, using as few words as possible, using as few words as possible. I remember when an administrator at Asbury Theological Seminary, Dr. Joel Green, he was provost or dean at the time, whatever they called him at that time.


And he asked me, How would you summarize Wesley's theology in as few of words as possible? And I said, I can I can do it in two. And I said, Holiness and grace. But having those two, I'd like to break it out into Holy Love and then free and cooperate. Grace. And there you have it. Really. This is what Wesley's theology is about. And you're going to see that in the days ahead. When we talk about the outworking of salvation in a person's life, we're going to see how holiness and grace is going to play out in that person's life. And so though Wesley wasn't a systematic theologian like a maltman because he was a practical theologian or a folk theologian, as out called him, but nevertheless within that. Compass. He is very orderly in terms of how he thinks about salvation and redemption. And so there is an axial theme, or we can use the language orienting concern, and it would be best expressed in terms of holiness and grace. Wesley, in a letter to John Smith in 1745, observes, God would first, by his inspiration of his spirit, have wrought in our hearts that holy love, without which none can enter into glory. And so we see here holiness as Holy love. Wesley uses this specific language. I have identified more than a dozen instances where, in Wesley's writings, he uses the specific language of Holy Love, and that is his meaning. Whenever he's talking about love, I think he means holy love. And then also, we need to point out that some maintain that holiness equals love. In other words, that it doesn't need the qualifier that we can just talk about love. We don't need to talk about Holy Love. But I would argue in contrast to that, that holiness describes something about love that we might otherwise miss.


We might miss it if we don't put the adjective in front of it. Holy Love. And as I indicated earlier, when we're talking about holiness for Wesley, he is referring to simplicity, to be simple. And he's also talking about purity to be pure. Now, when we think about simplicity, we should understand this properly, because simplicity is intimately connected with holiness. And when we hear simple, we oftentimes think of unintelligent or basic. That's not what's intended here. By being simple means that one is not compounded. Let me let me give an example to flesh this out. Liars are very complicated people. They're not simple. If you're going to be a liar, you're going to live not a simple life, but a complicated life. And you better have a good memory. Better have a good memory, because you have to remember what lies you've told and then who to whom you've told those lies. Very complicated life. If you live a life of insincerity. Again, this is. This is not a simple life. Because you cannot say, like Jesus said of Nathaniel, what you see is what you get. You know, a man without guile. Rather, there's a difference between what you see and then what actually is real, what that person genuinely is. There is the image, and then there is what the person actually is. There is a lack of since there's a lack of simplicity, sincerity and. Holiness, on the other hand, is simple in that sense. Zoran Kuku Gore, the great 19th century Danish writer. Theologian, philosopher. He gets a number of accolades. Wrote a wonderful little book. Whichever read entitled Purity of Heart is to Will one thing. It's that simplicity of willing. One thing that in all of our doing, in everything that we're doing, we're loving God.


You know, whether we're lecturing, whether we're listening to lecture, whether we are cooking a meal, whether we're mowing the lawn, we're doing all to the glory of God. Everything we do, we do to the glory of God or we don't do it or we don't do it. Yes, that's to live a simple life. Simplicity in that sense. Okay, so we need that adjective holiness for love, because the world will fill in the content with love. It will. It'll fill it in. And it won't be good news, by the way. It won't. You know, it might look like good news. It might be a bright and shiny package. But when you pull off the wrapping, you open it up and you play with the toy, you realize, Whoa! False advertising. And so we want to stress the importance of holy love, because the love that is at the heart of the Christian faith, the love that we're all talking about, has been revealed to us at Calvary and Golgotha. And that's not just any love, okay? That's not just any love. So holiness is holy love. It avoids the era of theological liberalism in which love is equated oftentimes with self-will or with the will of preferred political groups or sometimes simply with sentimentality. How is love defined? It's basically a mirror of group or self-will, because if we don't have that adjective holy, it easily goes awry. English is is really behind the ball here. It's behind the eight ball here because other languages like Greek have many words for love. We're stuck with the one word. We're stuck with the one word. And lots of times when people are using the word love, they mean lust or they mean desire or they mean something else.


But they don't mean what the Christian faith is talking about in the process of sanctification, whereby we will be ennobled and we will be conformed to the image and likeness of God. And so we have to be very clear here. Okay. Now, if we understand, holiness, on the other hand, apart from love, that too is a problem because our theology may end up in self-righteousness, it may end up in legalism, it may be unloving, it may be dower, a dower kind of theology. And so we cannot talk about holiness alone. We have to talk about it always in terms of always in terms of love. The Holiness. Of the church now Wesley criticized. What we're called in his age, The gospel preachers who were the gospel preachers, Well, they proclaim the grace of God basically in a very unbalanced way that is apart from the illuminating and guiding power of the moral law. Okay. And so under Wesley's theology of holiness and grace, we can look at the conjunction, the conjunction of law and grace, and consider its wisdom, its insight that it has to bring to the Christian journey. And Wesley is criticizing the gospel preachers because all they wanted to do was talk about, in their words, gospel, but they didn't want to talk about the moral law of God. And Wesley found that to be very troubling indeed, because what is the moral law of God represent, whether it be the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament or the Sermon on the Mount, in the New Testament, it represents the express will of God. And so for Wesley now watch this for Wesley Gray's Grace is never alone. It's never alone because that would be a very on conjunctive reading of grace.


Grace is always known to grace, Norm's grace. In other words, there is a normative context of the moral law in which it is to be understood, in which it is to be understood, and without that normative context. Grace can easily go wrong. Just as love can go wrong because it can descend into what? Bonhoeffer in the 20th century called cheap grace. Cheap grace, which is indulgent. It's self-indulgence. Okay. And in order to counter that error, Grace is always in a normative context. Grace is always to be understood in light of the expressed will of God in terms of the moral law, which Paul calls, you know, just right and good. Okay. Because if we don't have that normative context in grace, it can descend even into sentimentality. Oh, God is gracious to me. Oh, what do you mean by that? Oh, God allows me to do what I want to do. Well, that's not what Grace is. You know, you're. You're misunderstanding grace there as indulgence. But Grace is the favor of God which points and leads to one's ultimate good. One's ultimate good, which God ever wills unerringly, continuously in our lives. So. A nice balance here of Lawn Grace and Wesley's got this will avoid presumption it will avoid and to know meanness and lawlessness. I think it will avoid lawlessness and keep things in proper focus. Grace, of course, is the other half of the axial theme of Wesley's theology. And so just as holiness was unpacked in terms of the conjunction of Holy Love, so too is Grace, the summary of a number of key conjunctions. There are going to be a lot of key conjunctions here that are going to break out in terms of grace. So I'm going to put up a chart so that you can see them all right here.


Here it is. I told you, Grace itself represents a conjunction. Here is the conjunction free grace. On the one hand, here's the Protestant Wesley co-opting grace. On the other hand, here's the Koko Catholic. Wesley. Wesley. He's got them both. He's got them both. And he's holding them in tension, which is so very well balanced. Look at the left hand column, Free Grace. What does it stress? The work of God alone. Look at the new birth, for example. Is the new birth a species of free grace, according to John Wesley? Yes. It's a sheer gift. Could we make ourselves born again? It's an impossibility. We can't do it. We can't make ourselves holy. We can't regenerate ourselves. If there is any regeneration, it will be a free gift. A gift. And therefore a species of free grace. Then on the left, the right hand side is co-opting grace. There we have divine human cooperation. Remember, we talked about proving your grace earlier, and then we talked about convincing grace. Let's say the sinner now being convicted by the Holy Spirit, that they fall short of the glory of God. Okay, Well, there we see some divine and human cooperation. The Holy Spirit is convicting the soul. The Spirit. The person is responding, perhaps in repentance, perhaps by going to church, reading the Bible and hankering, desiring to enter into salvation. That would be a good example of cooperation. Grace. Then again, under free grace, it highlights the favor and power of God. Highlights the favor of power of God. Cooperate. Grace principally highlights the power of God. This enabling God works. Therefore, you can work and then obligation. God works. Therefore you must work. Now notice this other difference here in the chart are between free grace and cooperative grace, because this is actually important and lots of people miss this.


They just, you know, they just don't see it. And if you don't see it, you're not going to bring it into your theology. And when you don't bring it into your theology, you don't have Wesley's theology anymore. You have your theology, but not Wesley's, because it's more balanced, because there is a receiving before there is any responding. See people who are utterly in the Catholic paradigm of reading Wesley's theology. In other words, they everything is co-opting grace or everything is responsible grace. In other words, God works. Therefore we can work. God works. Therefore we must work. Okay. They don't realize that there is a receiving before there is any responding, that there must be a receiving almost in a passive sense. Now, this is when Wesley's theology comes very close to Calvinism, and he says that, you know, he's within a hair's breadth of it, in that there is a receiving almost in a passive sense. If it were utterly passive, then it would be Calvinism. But for Wesley, it is not utterly passive because though it is a receiving, there is freedom here. And that freedom bespeaks of the integrity of personhood because not even a sovereign God will run roughshod over, so to speak. Maybe that's not the best language in terms of the person involved. And so there is a genuine receiving Wesley using the image of a beggar, extending the hand, extending the hand to receive what is a sheer, utter gift. There is a receiving. And then having received, let's say, the graces of justification and regeneration, then there is a response. Then there is a response. If you simply have the work of God and then respond and you you're missing, you're missing all that's entailed in terms of free grace.


You're missing it because you're yours. Understanding the entirety of Wesley's theology as if it were simply under the paradigm of co-opting grace. It is not. That's a part of Wesley's theology, but it's not the whole. And when we think of free grace, whether in terms of justification or the new birth or entire sanctification, there is a receiving of what is a sheer, utter gift before there is ever any responding. Okay. And so this is actually very important here in the chart. Receiving. Responding. Again, free grace, instantaneous. The free, graceful stress, the instantaneous dimension of redemption. Whereas co-opting grace will stress the process of or salvation as a process. Okay. Let me just say something here briefly on the temporal dimensions here, because the temporal dimensions bespeak of free grace. They bespeak of the giftedness of salvation. They bespeak of the divine sovereign role. Watch this. Wesley, in his sermon, The Scripture Way of Salvation, which he wrote in 1765 towards the end. Of that sermon towards the very end of that sermon, actually, Wesley writes this and he writes this in terms of a person on the way, on the way to entire sanctification. But we can use it by way of analogy of the person on the way to justification and the new birth. Okay. And I want you to see the temporal elements here and how they underscore free grace and the divine sovereign role. Here's what Wesley writes. If you think you must be or do something else first. Then you are expecting it by works even on to this day. But if it is by the grace of God expected as you are and expect it now. The now is the now. Language here indicates that God is the principal actor here, not us, and that salvation is a sheer, utter gift and can be received now.


Why? Because it's by grace through faith. You don't have to be or do something else first, Wesley says. Okay. In order to receive this gift. And so what I want you to see is that this whole dimension of chronology, of the instantaneous ness is actually a window on the divine role. The divine sovereign role in salvation, that God offers the forgiveness of sins as the sheer, utter gift that it is to be received by grace through faith alone. Okay. We don't have to be your do something else first. See, Wesley has that in his writings. Okay. So what we're suggesting here, then, that Wesley's theology is going to be a conjunctive balance of free grace. Of free grace, which in this context will stress the instantaneous, but then also stress process, co-opting grace, both before the reception of these gifts of justification and regeneration and following these gifts of justification and regeneration. Okay. So Wesley's got a nice balance, a nice tension here. Okay. So when I see people outside the tradition refer to John Wesley as Palladian. Oh, yeah. One time I was interviewing at a school. I'll leave the school out. And at breakfast of the day of the interview, I was chatting with faculty and they used the word. They used the words John Wesley, and just in the same sentence. And I thought to myself, Well, I think it's time to go home. It's time to go home. Because they obviously don't understand Wesley's theology, which they didn't. They really made a mishmash of it. Because Wesley is as far removed as Pelagius as could possibly be. His theology is richly informed by the Reformation, especially by the insights of Martin Luther. Mediated to him through them or avians. We see that very clearly here in terms of the whole matter of free grace, the giftedness of salvation, how good and gracious God is, what gifts God offers to be received, and how so that by grace, through faith, by grace, through faith, the instantaneous language is also important here, I should add.


Oh, it's a window on that tension between possibility slash actuality. Okay, See? One could say many graces are possible in my life, but what grace is have been actualized in my life. Okay. And if. Process will put a focus on what graces are possible in one's life. But the instantaneous will put a focus on what graces have actually been realized in your life. Do you see that? And so the instantaneous process is a window on the tension of actuality possibility. Because a grace is possible, but if it has been actualized, it has been instantiated at some point or else it hasn't been realized. You see, you see the issue. So what I'm suggesting at this point and we can we can open this up later, is that this instantaneous process conjunction and Wesley's theology has to be understood on a number of levels. A number of levels. It's rich. In other words, what I face sometimes, especially in contemporary assessments of Wesley's theology, is a kind of caricature of Wesley's theology or interpretations of Wesley's theology, where they they think of the jump in stir of 19th century revivals, come to the altar now, be saved now. And they trot out this image and they present it in such a stereotype and caricature and they say, Oh, we can't have that. And then they remove the instantaneous from any consideration at all. Well, if you do that, you remove the sovereign role of God in justification. You eliminate free grace and you have eliminated from your theology the importance of not simply the possibility of grace, but the actualization of grace as well. So this is in other words, this temporal dimension is not only chronologically significant, it is so terribly logically significant because it bespeaks of the divine role.


It bespeaks of the divine role, especially in Wesley's theology. And then lastly here, in terms of our chart, we've been talking about the conjunctions, the conjunctions of grace. We have a Protestant emphasis, a Protestant emphasis, obviously, in terms of free grace. We have a Catholic emphasis. And when I say Catholic here, I don't mean specifically Roman Catholicism. I mean Catholic in the sense of the broader Catholic Church, in terms of Roman Catholicism, Eastern orthodoxy, perhaps even Anglicanism as well. That's what I'm referring to here. Okay. And so we see these conjunctions of grace. Okay. So. Not only did Wesley view Grace as cooperate, as reflected, for example, in that sermon on working out our own salvation, but he also considered grace in a very balanced and conjunctive way as indicative of divine favor, and therefore, in a real sense of the work of God alone. And he did this, especially in his sermon on Free Grace. Grace does not in any wise Wesley rites depend either on the good works or righteousness of the receiver, not on anything he has done or anything he has. Okay. So there's the doing and the being that the grace is not dependent upon that because it is a sheer, utter gift. There are still so many people out there who think they are not good enough to be redeemed. They think they're that they must be or do something else first before they can receive the forgiveness of sins that somehow or other they've got to clean themselves up first before they can be forgiven. Wesley rejects all of that thought. Today is the day of salvation. Why? Because it is a sheer, utter gift. And we're we're so baffled or even on some levels offended. By the giftedness of salvation.


We've got to have our hand in it. We've got to manipulate it, manage it, micromanage it, whatever. And that's exactly what it's not, okay. It is a gift. And to be received by grace through faith alone. Wesley, therefore forthrightly exclaimed. Quote we allow it is the work of God alone. See, this is Wesley, the work of God alone to justify, to sanctify, to glorify. Which three comprehend the whole of salvation. That's a direct quote from John Wesley. This is Wesley's writings here. Now, Wesley, first of all, consider grace as the undeserved favor of God. All the blessings which God have bestowed upon man, he writes, are of his mere grace, bounty or favor, his free, undeserved favor. And so we see favor in terms of justification. We see it also in terms of sanctification, in terms of receiving and responding. This important tension we noted earlier with the conjunction of both a Catholic synergistic paradigm and a Protestant, one that will be expressed in free grace. Wesley was not only able to affirm the importance of responding to divine initiatives in the process of redemption, but he could also stress the value of waiting, waiting upon the Lord and receiving what are the gifts of God alone. Okay. And so, as I was suggesting earlier, believers must receive first before they can respond. They will receive first before they can respond. This receiving, as I noted earlier, extending the hand to receive the gift is hardly a human work at all. But is an openness almost in a passive sense that preserves the integrity of personhood. God will never coerce us in its measure of freedom in order to receive what gifts are given, not on the basis of prior cooperation. But on the basis of the merits of Christ alone.


Okay. And so. All right. Here. I should just say maybe a few more words about the instantaneous, and then we'll take some questions. The temporal dimensions, as I've indicated earlier, must be understood both in a chronological way and in a sociological way. In other words, the temporal dimensions indicate sociological roles, principally the work of God in the process of salvation or the work of God alone. Okay. And then again, in terms of this tension of instantaneous and process, broadly understood, sanctification is characterized by both process that is a Catholic paradigm and instantaneous ness. That's the Protestant paradigm for the new birth, as well as for entire sanctification. And both of those works, the new birth and entire sanctification, if they have been actualized, if they have been realized in a person's life. Now, watch this. They will have a first moment. They will have a first moment of their actualization and realization. That's unavoidable. That's unavoidable. Okay. Let me stop there and entertain what questions or comments that you have. Seems like. Thinking Conjunctive Lee is of biblical principle too, and that when you have two types of ideas that seem. To be exclusive or contradict one another like enrollments when it says that Abraham's justified by faith and in James, where it says Abraham's justified by works. But when we start thinking exclusively. I think that's our temptation sometimes because we don't want to diminish one or the other. But actually, when you think conjunctival, it enhances both because they work together and you're not. Minimizing one by. By emphasizing both together instead of each separately. Does that make sense? Yes. I think your example of Abraham is actually a very good one, because Abraham and James because when Wesley comments on that in his notes upon the New Testament and then in his also is notes from the Old Testament, bringing those two together, he indicates that they're not talking about the same works.


Because when Paul is talking about being justified by grace through faith, he's thinking of the works prior to justification. Okay. And no one is made righteous by their own works. No one is justified by their own works. And so what Paul is saying can be richly affirmed. However, Paul is not contradicting James, and James is not contradicting Paul because James is talking about a different set of works, not those works that are prior to justification and the new birth, but rather those works that flow out of the redeemed life. In other words, the life that's already justified and born of God. And and so, yes, we can affirm James as well, such that if there were not works of good works flowing out of this justified and redeemed life, we'd have good reason to doubt that that person had been justified or redeemed in the first place. Because faith, living faith should ever be active in love and will be productive of all manner of good works. And so those works, the way I like to express it, is those works give evidence of a redemption that has already taken place, a redemption that's already occurred by grace through faith. And so I think you've actually lifted up one of the more important conjunctions in the Bible in terms of this issue of works. And if someone ran with the first one and simply stressed that that would be a mistake, or if somewhat someone else ran with the other one and simply ran with that, that too would be a mistake, that everything in its proper place there has to be a proper balance. Yes. Well, it's important to have both. Yes. Yes. And they enhance each other. They don't it doesn't diminish contradictory.


That's correct. They're not contradictory. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, look at the end of Matthew, the gospel of Matthew. You know, at the end there, it looks like we're judged by our works. But if we understand that context properly, we're before the throne of Christ. And those works are evidences in that sense, kind of proof that we've lived out a redeemed life in our journey. Yeah. The other thing you mentioned was the importance of community. And it seems like we put a lot of emphasis on personal faith and personal holiness. But sometimes people see the church as optional, especially in our society. And. It seems like Wesley would say that that's just as an important part of, ah, living out our faith is how we live that out in community as well as what we do individually. Is that correct? Wesley actually wrote in one place, Christianity is a social religion, and to turn it into a solitary one is to destroy it, destroy it. And so he was quite emphatic there. Wesley was also he also wrote Holy solitary is holy. Solitary is is a contradiction. And so he's critical. Watch this. He's critical of a kind of monasticism that grew up in the ancient church. We have hermetic or anchorite monasticism. In other words, the monk who by him or herself goes off into the desert. Wesley's critical of that. He's arguing You can't be a Christian that way because you need the community to be a Christian. You cannot be a Christian apart from the body of Christ, you cannot be a Christian apart from fellowship of other Christians. And we need the body, because I think Wesley is very a very good spiritual counselor here. There's the ongoing danger of self-deception. Yes.


That if we are not in the context of an accountable, responsible group where we're engaged, there is the ongoing danger of self-deception. And so for Wesley, he's emphatic Christianity is a social religion, and to turn it into a solitary one is to destroy it. I know there's some Christianity out there, just me and my Bible. You know, I can be in my apartment, my house, and I'm reading the Bible by myself. I go to work. I'm not participating in the life of church. I'm not worshiping God publicly, corporately, that. That's terribly problematic. Terribly problematic in all sorts of ways. I mean, and I don't think in thinking it through, I don't think that person will continue on the journey very long without encountering serious sin. I mean, that I mean that I just don't think they're going to be able to do it because the world, the flesh, the devil are out there. They're subtle, they're cunning. And without the community, it's not a fair fight, so to speak. Well, it seems like even within the church, it's important to be purposeful about the reasons for meeting together and what the aim of the church is. Because if it's just a social organization, then we miss the point. Also, if it's not really engaging in not only training people, but in engaging the community, then we miss the point too. I think that's right. We should always keep before us the end or goal of religion, which Wesley taught, is holiness, the holy love of God, meaning what are we aiming at constantly? We're aiming at the renewal of our minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord, having the mind of Christ being transformed in being being more greatly renewed in that image in which we have been created in order to glorify God.


And so, yes, that needs to be held before the community, and that's what it is to love a person. In other words, to will that good, the realization of that good in their lives, that that is what love is. In other words, you're willing for that person the very same thing you will for yourself, and that is that you might be known in God and be known of God. Um, so yes, the danger of the church is to focus on penultimate concerns, intermediary concerns and get lost in that and not see the larger purpose for which the church exists in the world. That's right. So that that's very, very good observation. Early on in the lecture. Just want to make sure I understood this. John Wesley Then believe that you could lose your salvation if you. Did not actively participate in the sanctification process. Yes, Wesley here is going to be a little different than reform theologies. Theology is going to be different here, and I'll try to unpack this very carefully so you can see the difference. I understand that in a contextual way. Wesley believe that a person could be genuinely born of God. In other words, they have received the forgiveness of sins, the renewal of nature justified and born of God, receiving the forgiveness of sins, renewal of nature, and then perhaps later on in life, fall away. In other words, to reject God's offer of forgiveness, to be once again ensnared under the power and dominion of sin, to be a slave once more, and to live and die as slave. You know, that. That sort of thing. Yeah. Wesley believes that could happen. The difference in these ideologies. Wesley does not. He distinguishes election from regeneration. And sometimes those doctrines are confused.


To be born of God does not mean you are the elect. Okay. Some other theologies immediately assume that Wesley has a rich doctrine of regeneration. You can be justified in born of God, but that doesn't mean that you are the elect to be the elect. First of all, that's divine knowledge, not human knowledge. In other words, God knows who the elect are. Wesley doesn't deny that there are an elect. He doesn't deny that at all. It's just that we as human beings, we don't know who those are. God knows who that who those are, but we don't. We have, in the course of living our Christian life, greater and greater assurance not only that we are the child of God. But when you get at the highest reaches of Wesley's theology of assurance, it's starting to look like Calvinist selection because Wesley talks about the full assurance of hope. What is the full assurance of hope? It's of a believer who knows not only that they are the beloved, that they are a child of God, that they're in the grace of God, but that they will not fall away. It's a very high measure of grace. A very high measure of grace. And interestingly enough, Wesley argues that can be lost. It can be lost. There is no grace from which one cannot fall this side of eternity, according to John Wesley. And I think the major differences between the tradition is that Wesley distinguishes election from the new birth, because in some other theologies, let's say you did have a person who responded there justified, born of God. Then they fell away. What they do is then they go back and say, well, the justification and the new birth wasn't real. It wasn't real because, you know, if it were, they wouldn't have fallen away, you know? That's Wesley rejects that view because he sees it as a confusion of regeneration and election.


Election is divine knowledge. It's not human knowledge. Only God knows who the elect are. We don't know who the elect are, not even in terms of ourselves. We have deeper and deeper degrees of assurance whereby we can, you know, assume that we are the elect. But yeah, so it's it's going to be different theological traditions here. Yeah. It's interesting, though, because it seems like that would diminish God's free grace of eternal salvation and his sovereignty because we still have to do something. Is that what? I just want to make sure I understand that. So we still. It seems like we could live our lives and. Fearful that if we don't stay on track, we could. Lose the salvation. I mean, I don't know how you get away from works. Well, see, the question would be, how are you defining salvation? What is salvation? So it gets to very basic issues here. And for Wesley is going to be very clear what he means by salvation. Salvation is the reception of the forgiveness of sins. And it is the transformation, the transformation of nature which makes the believer holy so that they are genuinely holy. So someone who is born of God, they are initially holy. So they are living a life with God in holy love. They have been transformed in being. They are free from the guilt of sin in terms of justification. They are free from its power and dominion. In terms of the new birth. Okay, So let's go back to your question. Let's say we have a person, you know, let's say they've been justified and born of God. They have been set free from the power and dominion of sin. They rejoice in God. They know that wherever the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.


And then later on in life, through a slow, very gradual process, they wake up one day and they know their bondage is once more and they know they are trapped. They know they're a slave. They're under the power and dominion of sin. They now have the specter of guilt playing out in their conscience. They have remorse. They have grief. And this is how they're living. Okay. Leslie argued, That's a possibility. And to call that life that is ongoing, we living that way, in other words, rejecting the transforming grace of God, living under the power and dominion of sin, to call that a redeemed life. Wesley is not going to do that. He's not going to do that. That that person has fallen away and needs to be exalted to receive the first gifts afresh. Because the very substance and this I don't know if this is going to mark the difference of the traditions, the very substance of redemption is to be holy. It's the very heart of what redemption means. Okay. And to talk about a person redeemed who is ongoing, the unholy is a nonstarter. It's what Wesley is going to call and to no mean ism or lawlessness, because the grace of God is efficacious enough to transform us, our being whereby the Holy Spirit tabernacles in our hearts and we are walking in grace and in the holiness of God. You see what I'm suggesting here? Yeah. So is this what Paul would be talking about when he talks about perseverance, that those who persevere will be saved? Right. Not everyone who starts the race. You know, you have to finish the race. It's one thing to become a Christian. It's another thing to remain a Christian. How many people in the church today are falling away? The church is being co-opted by culture.


They're listening to a siren song of another gospel, and they're persecuting those in the church who want to remain in the forgiveness and in the holiness of God. I mean, this is happening today on a grand scale that that the church is being co-opted by a narrative out there, that it's opposed to the gospel, it's really opposed to God. So we see this we we see this happening on a broad scale, not simply on a personal scale. This is happening to entire churches. And they and Wesley Wesley were alive today, he would say. They need to repent. Repent would be the word on Wesley's lips.