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Wesleyan Theology II - Lesson 11

Serious Christian Discipleship

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.

Kenneth J. Collins
Wesleyan Theology II
Lesson 11
Watching Now
Serious Christian Discipleship

I. SERIOUS CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP

A. The importance of self-denial

B. Taking up the cross

II. THE REPENTANCE OF BELIEVERS

A. Evangelical repentance

B. Works suitable for repentance

III. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS


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  • 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
th511-11
Serious Christian Discipleship
Lesson Transcript

 

So, yes, the last time we were talking about growing from one degree of grace to another, being transformed in the tempers and dispositions of our heart by the ongoing grace of God. And now I want to look at a couple of disciplines that are important along the way. We mentioned these earlier in terms of the general means of grace. But now I want to focus on them more, particularly because they're very helpful in a life of serious Christian discipleship. And indeed, so important was the issue of self-denial to John Wesley that he wrote a separate sermon on this topic. And so what do we mean then by self-denial? How do we live out our Christian life in this way? Well, the first thing Wesley writes here is that those who take nature, not grace, as their guide, they abhor denying themselves meaning, you know, they are reluctant to do so. But the son or daughter of God who is walking in Grace wants to take this up, take up self-denial in order to follow Jesus Christ faithfully. Okay. And so, secondly, self-denial is the denial or refusal to follow our own will, to follow our own will. Rather, we will follow the will of God. And we see the perfect example of this in terms of the life of Christ himself, because as he was in the Garden of Gethsemane, he as he was agonizing over what was to come, he prayed to the father of not my will, but thy will be done. And so there we see exemplified in the life of Christ a perfect example of what is meant by self-denial. The submitting our will under the will of God and self-denial, of course, becomes very important when the thing that. We should deny is actually getting in the way of being faithful to Jesus Christ.

 

And at that point, we must deny ourselves. If we are to continue along the path of discipleship. Another thing that Wesley mentions in this sermon under this head is that there is the recognition, even among Christian believers, that the carnal nature remains. Our nature is corrupt. We have that inward corruption within and that will be ongoing. So that therefore makes the counsel of self-denial that much more important. Fourthly, Wesley points out in this sermon that God's will is a path that leads to God and therefore leads to bliss and to happiness, just as holiness and happiness are strongly joined together. Our will would be contrary to that. And so we need the discipline of self-denial again in this sermon. Fifthly, Wesley points out, by following our own will, we would only strengthen its power, we would strengthen its pervasiveness. Wesley writes. And so this entails the importance of laying aside our own will to take up the will of God. Indeed, the last thing that Wesley mentions here is that to deny ourselves is to deny our will, especially where it contradicts God's will. In that case, we must deny our will if we are to remain faithful. When we see a conflict between what we well, what we desire, what we want, and then what is the will of God. Now, part of the difference between Wesley and those who rejected self-denial in the name of grace consists in their different understandings of the phrase itself the and to no means. For example, those who were lawless may have immediately conjured up images of self neglect or extreme mortification, or perhaps even a morbid delight in suffering. All of which have had a history in the life of the church. For Wesley, however, the denial of self does not embrace those ascetic practices that are artificially contrived, that are self inflicted, and which bear no necessary relation to living the Christian life, such as wearing a hair cloth or iron girdles or anything else that would impair our bodily health.

 

And so self-denial in this context is quite simply the denying or refusing to follow our own will from a conviction that the will of God should be the only rule of action for us. And so, in fact, so important was this theme of self-denial to John Wesley that at one point he called it the grand doctrine of Christianity. And this, by the way, is also an area where Wesley maintained that Christians, those who are living the Christian life, can eventually go wrong if they don't take up self-denial, if they refuse to deny themselves that, they can begin to slowly, perhaps incrementally, back away. Now, beyond beyond self-denial, there is the further counsel of taking up our cross and so closely associated with the discipline of self-denial is that of taking up one's cross. And these spiritual counsels are not equivalent in Wesley's mind, although he affirms the one should necessarily lead to the other. Taking up one's cross, for example, is something higher. It's something more demanding than simply self-denial for a cross entails what is actually contrary and displeasing to our nature. In short, the former unavoidably involves suffering. The latter does not. And so Wesley will explain, quote, so that taking up our cross goes a little farther than denying ourselves. It rises a little higher and is a more difficult task to flesh and blood, it being more easy to forgo pleasure than to endure pain. Okay. So Wesley is saying that self-denial basically is the forgoing of pleasure, a pleasure that is desired and wanted, whereas taking up our cross goes beyond that, in that there is the willing embrace of pain, the willingness to endure pain and suffering. And both of these ingredients, however, that is self-denial on the one hand, and taking up our cross on the other, are integral to serious Christian discipleship.

 

Both are necessary for the imitation of Christ. If we really want to be disciples of Christ and be conformed into his image. Moreover, Wesley cautions his readers that one that when one fails to follow Christ fully, it is always going to want either of self-denial or of taking up the cross, taking up one's cross. And so Wesley saw, even in his own ministry, people who had started out well in terms of responding to the gospel. They are going along, living the Christian life, and some of them fell away for want of both self-denial and taking up one's cross. Okay, this is something important for us to recognize even today, that to live the Christian life is going to entail suffering. It will be unavoidable at some point along the way if we continue to follow Jesus Christ. The suffering will be unavoidable. The only way to avoid the suffering would be to depart from the path of discipleship. Okay, so we have our person who is a child of God. He and she are growing and graces the tempers, the dispositions of their heart, of being transformed. They fully recognize what they have bought into, that they will have to deny themselves that they will have to take up their cross in the Christian journey. And so at this point, Wesley introduces such folk into the need for a second repentance. And you might say to yourself, Well, you know, why are we talking about repentance again? I thought we talked about repentance earlier on the way to justification and the new birth. Well, we did. But the reason there is a second repentance and this goes back to the our twofold understanding of sin. We talked about actual sins, plural, the kinds of sins we commit both inwardly and outwardly, both sins of omission and commission.

 

There's that whole understanding of sin. But we're not done. Sin is also understood in a singular fashion. Sin singular. In other words, inbred sin, the carnal nature. And so the sinner has a two fold problem of sin, not simply actual sins, plural, but also inbred sin singular. That is that corrupt nature which continues even in a child of God, even in someone who is justified, born of God, taking up their cross, denying themselves that carnal nature remains. And so, yes, there is the call for repentance once more not to repent of actual sins because the child of God is free from the guilt, power and dominion of such. But to repent of inbred sin, to repent of the carnal. Nature that yet remains so that one's heart may be cleansed. And so Wesley wrote a sermon specifically on this topic. Notice the title, The Repentance of Believers. And the way Wesley explains this, a little pithy phrase. Sin does not reign, but it does remain. Sin does not reign, but it does remain. And so maybe I'll put this up on the board here. When we think of justification. We think of. Freedom from the guilt of sin. Okay. When we think of regeneration, we think of freedom from the power or the dominion of sin. Okay. And then over here, where we think of entire sanctification. Okay. We think of freedom from the very being of sin. Okay. And so we have here sin. Understood in terms of guilt power and being guilt power and being justification and regeneration. Deal with the issue of actual sins, plural, in terms of the guilt that is associated with the committing of such regeneration, is concerned with freedom from the power and dominion of actual sins. But notice that entire sanctification is concerned with the being of sin, which is sometimes referred to as inbred sin.

 

Or we might say the carnal nature. So repentance therefore, is of two. Forms repentance in terms of this and then repentance in terms of that. And so that's why we're speaking of another repentance, a second repentance. It pertains to the corruption that yet remains even in a child of God. And so Wesley writes in this sermon, The repentance of believers. Not long after we imagine all sin is gone, we feel pride in our hearts. We feel pride in our hearts. Wesley writes. Nor is it long before we begin to feel self-will in our hearts. It remains that corruption's within. We sense it. But it doesn't reign self-will as well as pride. That's a species of idolatry. Wesley writes. We must keep ourselves every moment. And how hard is it to conquer the desire of of the love of praise? Wesley writes. And do we ever feel within a propensity to depart from the living God? Do we feel an inclination to jealousy, to resentment, or to revenge? Do we feel unholy passions of pride or of lust, for instance, that they remain in our heart, that inward corruption is sensed, but it does not reign? And so a conviction of this sin, this kind of sin remaining, is the repentance of the justified. In other words, it is the repentance of those who are already the children of God. And so it is a second repentance. Wesley called the first repentance. Watch this. He called the first repentance legal repentance. He calls this second repentance evangelical repentance. Okay. And we're going to see some parallelism in Wesley's theology of parallelism in terms of the one focus of attention in the order of solutes. That is justification and regeneration as one theological complex. And then a second point of attention whereby we see entire sanctification as another focus, another theological complex.

 

And so the kind of sin Wesley's talking about in this context is inbred sin, And sin is defined not as sins, plural, but as sin singular. In other words, sin as a principle, a principle of corruption. And so what is happening then in serious Christian discipleship, after justification, after the new birth, has already taken place? What's happening? Well, this is actually an amazing journey. Believers are now confronting their own carnal nature in a very realistic and in a very honest way. And they are looking to receive the grace of God whereby they might become purified within. And so here we have not legal repentance, a repenting of actual sins, plural, but we have evangelical repentance that is repenting of the carnal nature, repenting of inbred sin. All right. Well, what does evangelical repentance look like? Well, for those believers who have realized that justifying and regenerating, who have realized, justifying and regenerating graces in their lives, they understand that a further work of grace and a further repentance awaits. And so this second evangelical repentance entails a deep conviction. Not only that we are not yet whole, but also of the demerit and the utter helplessness to retain anything apart from the grace of God. And so. In this repentance, there will be a further role for the moral law in terms of its convicting power on the way to entire sanctification. And this will be evident in Wesley's further observation. Here's what Wesley writes He's thinking of the role of the moral law now in this context. In other words, on the way to entire sanctification. Earlier, he had considered a role of the moral law in its convicting power on the way to justification and regeneration. Now he's considering it on the way to entire sanctification.

 

Here's what he writes. We have not done with this law. What law is this? Of course, it's the moral law, for it is still of unspeakable use. Wesley Wrights first in convincing us of all the sin that yet remains both in our hearts and our lives. Secondly, in deriving strength from our head into his living members, whereby he empower, excuse me, empowers them to do what his law commands. And then thirdly, in confirming our hope of whatsoever it commands and we have not attained. Put another way, believers are convicted. Through word and spirit of the carnal nature that remains even in a child of God. Of all the unholy tempers and affections and dispositions that still pollute the heart. Wesley puts it this way. Quote He is saved from sin, yet not entirely. It remains, though it does not rain. Illustrating this truth more clearly, Wesley points out that, quote, One may have anger or pride or lust for that matter, in him. Yay! And a strong propensity to furious anger without giving way to it. Okay, so here, in other words, having sin within and yielding to it are two very different things. Christ indeed cannot reign where sin reigns. Neither will he dwell where any sin is allowed. Wesley cautions, But he is and dwells in every heart, in the heart of every believer, I should say, who is fighting against all sin. Although it be not yet purified. And so what Wesley is suggesting here is that the carnal nature inbred sin remains even in a child of God. And it is precisely this that one is addressing in evangelical Jellicoe repentance. One wants to be free of this impurity, this impurity within. And so that means then, given the twofold problem of the sinner, both in terms of act of sins, plural and sin, principle, singular, that redemption is not accomplished in one grand stroke.

 

Nor is it an uninterrupted process of gradual, barely indistinguishable changes. Instead, a second distinct work of grace is needed. It's required. Sometimes people in the Western Communion, communion of faith say they have a conversation about this topic. They sometimes the conversation can get heated. Some, for example, would deny that Wesley used the language of a second work of grace, but he did, as a matter of fact, in our textbook for the course The Theology of John Wesley. Holy Love in the Shape of Grace. I list several examples where Wesley uses the very language of sickness. Okay. Because and then watch this. If you consider the Wesley an order salutes the very notion of second ness is built into the structure of the order salutes because there are two, not one points of attention. On the one hand, the first focus is what pertains to legal repentance. That is justification and regeneration. On the other hand, there is a second focus that pertains to evangelical repentance and that is entire sanctification. And so this issue of a second work of grace arises out of the twofold need of the sinner in terms of actual sins and inbred said. It's embedded in the very structure of the Wesley in order of salvation, in terms of the two foci of justification of regeneration on the one hand, and entire sanctification and on the other. And besides all this, it's in Wesley's writings very clearly. So, as a matter of fact. Wesley wrote, quote, But if there be no second change, if there be no instantaneous deliverance after justification, if there be none but a gradual work of God, then we must be content as long as we can to remain full of sin till death. Okay. So you see here, Wesley does use this language of second ness, second change.

 

It's very much a part of his theological vocabulary. Okay, Now we're going to see lots of parallelism between this one focus of attention in terms of justification and regeneration and this second focus of attention in terms of entire sanctification. And there will be lots of parallelism along the way. As we talked about repentance in terms of this. We speak also of repentance in terms of that. And so if we speak of a repentance on the way to becoming a child of God, we speak of repentance on the way to be entirely sanctified. Earlier we spoke of fruits suitable for repentance. Remember, we talked about fruits suitable to repentance on the way to justification regeneration. That means in a parallel way. See, there's lots of structure to Wesley's theology. We are going to see works suitable for repentance on the way to entire sanctification. So for example, in 1766, in his plain account of Christian perfection, Wesley posed the question, quote, How are we to wait for this change? That is the change of entire sanctification. To which he replied, quote, Not in careless indifference or indolent inactivity, but in vigorous universal obedience, in a zealous keeping of all the commandments, in watchfulness, in pain and painful ness, in denying ourselves and taking up our cross. And so we see here Wesley, talking about the importance of repentance, but also works suitable for our panties. And in this earlier context, if we could talk about the appropriateness of this in the. Light of the preceding proving and grace of God. In this context, what is the grace out of which we are? We are performing work suitable for repentance, its regenerating grace. It's that grace which makes holy and so so much more. Should these works be done because they are being informed by the regenerating grace of God and we are operating out of that, so to speak.

 

And so Wesley urged Christian believers who were on the way to Christian perfection to undertake both works of mercy and works of piety. Quote, It is by patient continuance and well doing. Wesley observed in using all the grace which is already given you that you are to seek the whole gift of God, the entire renewal of your soul, the full deliverance from sin. In terms of works of mercy. In particular, believers should serve the poor with vigor and painstaking sacrifice by ministering both to their material needs as well as to their spiritual needs. Indeed, in 1748, Wesley wrote concerning those engaged in ministry to the downtrodden that quote, He does good to the utmost of his power, even to the bodies of men. But then, he added, indicating his preference for a full order ministry. How much more does he rejoice? If he can do any good to the soul of any man. And then, two years later, Wesley continued this theme in his sermon upon our Lord Sermon on the Mount Discourse the 13th. And this is what he wrote. Listen to the various judgments Wesley's making in terms of kinds of ministry quote over and above all this. Are you zealous for good works? Do you, as you have time, do good to all men? Do you feed the hungry and clothe the naked and visit the fatherless and widow in their affliction? Do you visit those that are sick? Relieve them, that are in prison? Is any a stranger? And you take him in, friend. Come up higher. Does he enable you to bring sinners from darkness to light. From the power of Satan. On to God. Wow. That's an amazing excerpt from Wesley's writings, the Sermon on the Mount here, because he's talking about doing ministry.

 

He's talking about doing ministry here. And the context is one of works suitable for repentance. That's how we can understand this. But notice what he's doing here. He is ministering to the poor. He is ministering to those that are sick and is ministering to their bodies. But he's not simply ministering to their bodies. He's ministering to their souls as well. But there's even more here than that. Wesley not only talks about the importance of ministering to body and soul, he makes a value judgment in terms of what's more important, because he writes and I'll repeat this language after you have done all these things, in other words, ministered to their bodies. He writes, Friend, come up higher. Does he enable you to bring sinners from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to the power of God? And, you know, I think this is one of the important parts of Wesley's practical ministry and something that we can learn from today. And that's why when I and Jason Vickers put together the addition of Wesley sermons, the sermons of John Wesley, a collection for the Christian journey, I made sure that we included in that collection the Sermon on Visiting the Sick. Why? Because in that sermon. On visiting the sick and visiting the sick, that's another way of saying the poor. Wesley lays out there the contours of his practical ministry, and it's a balanced and full of ministry, unlike some of us today. Wesley Ministers to both body and soul. There's a kind of chronological priority in that. The first things that we do when we're among the poor, we ask, Have you sufficient food, sufficient clothing? Do you have a place to sleep tonight? Those are our very first questions that we ask.

 

But we don't stop there. Having ministered to their bodies, we also ministered to their souls as well. And so those kinds of value judgments are expressed very clearly in this sermon on visiting the sick. And therefore, I think it is very valuable today, especially when some forms of ministry are neglecting such important aspects of care. Okay. Late in Wesley's career, Wesley repeated these same judgments, no doubt for emphasis in his sermon, the reward of righteousness. And this is what he wrote. Quote, He, our Lord, undoubtedly designed that we should be equally abundant in works of spiritual mercy. He died to purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of all good works, zealous above all, to save souls from death, and thereby hide a multitude of sins. So two points are noteworthy here in light of the preceding evidence. First, as we see once again, Wesley, at least that at this point a part of what it means to love our neighbor as ourself always involves the exercise of both material gifts and spiritual talents. It entails the employment of all those gifts and graces that will enhance the physical well-being of the poor and their spiritual character. Second, and perhaps more important, though, the material needs of the poor have chronological priority, meaning that they are the very first things that we do. They clearly do not have valuation or priority in Wesley's thought for their fulfillment, prepares the way to use Wesley's own terminology for things of greater importance. Listen to Wesley in his sermon on visiting the sick quote. And if your delicacy will not permit you to imitate these honorable ladies by basing yourselves in the manner which they do, by performing the lowly as the lowliest officers for the sick. You may, however, without humbling yourselves so far.

 

Supply them with whatever they want. And you may administer help of a more excellent kind by supplying their spiritual wants, instructing them in the first principles of religion. And so we see here once more, Wesley has a full orb ministry to minister to the bodily needs of persons. But. To go beyond that and also to minister to their spiritual needs as well. Another way that Wesley explored the necessity of work suitable for repentance prior to entire sanctification was, of course, also in terms of works of piety. A phrase which is used most often as an equivalent for the means of grace. Thus, in answer to the question, what good works are to be done, the practice of which you would affirm to be necessary in some sense to sanctification. Wesley writes First, All works of piety such as public prayer, family prayer, praying in your closet. Receiving the Lord's Supper. Searching the Scriptures by hearing. By reading. By meditating therein. And using such a measure of fasting or abstinence as our bodily health allows. Observe in the works just enumerated that these channels of grace have both a personal context as well as a broader, more corporate one. Believers then, are not only to do such things as pray in their closets and thereby develop a deeper level of sanctity and attentiveness to God's spirit. But they are also obliged to participate in the public life of the church, most notably in receiving the sacrament of the Lord's Supper and in hearing the Word of God, both read and proclaimed. And so these outward signs, these outward words and actions are ordained. Notice this language here as the ordinary channels, as the ordinary channels by which God may convey entirely sanctifying grace to believers. Put this in another way.

 

These works are indeed suitable for evangelical repentance. It is thus that we should wait for entire sanctification for a full salvation from our sins. And so what is being suggested here? As Wesley talks about works of mercy and works of piety, that these make up in a sense works suitable for repentance on the way to entire sanctification. They will not be the basis upon which we are entirely sanctified, but they will. They may very well be the means through which God communicates entirely sanctifying grace. And so we see then in Wesley's sermon, the Scripture way of salvation, his summary sermon. This was a summary sermon that he wrote in 1765. Wesley maintains that, though it be allowed. That both this repentance and his thinking of evangelical repentance, this repentance and its fruits are necessary to full salvation. Yet they are not necessary either in the same sense with faith or in the same degree. And so as we saw earlier with the doctrine of justification, remember, we encountered those distinctions not in the same sense, not in the same degree. Remember, we talked about work suitable for repentance on the way to justification that they were not necessary in the same sense as faith, not necessary in the same degree as faith. Remember that discussion? Well, that discussion happens here as well. In other words, once again, there's parallelism. And so when we talk about works suitable for repentance on the way to entire sanctification. And if we express that in form, in the form of works of mercy, works, of piety, being in the means of grace, etc., those are necessary in some sense, but they are not necessary in the same sense as faith, and they are not necessary in the same degree as faith.

 

Because what we're going to see in terms of Wesley, how is one entirely sanctified by grace through faith? Alone? Yes. Well, we're going to see Wesley do. He will employ he will apply the insights from the Reformation. Luther in particular. But I think Calvin as well, that we are justified by grace through faith alone. Wesley is going to apply that also to entire sanctification. In other words, how is entire sanctification to be received? It's a sheer, utter gift. It's an utter gift. It's given by a sovereign God. We don't have to be or do something else first in order to receive it. If you thought you did, you're expecting it by works, even on to this day. So Wesley has rich parallelism going on between the two points of attention in his theology in terms of the first focus of justification on the one hand and entire sanctification on the other. Here we are focused on repentance and works suitable for repentance. And in our present context, we call this evangelical repentance. And what we are suggesting is that these evangelical works suitable for repentance are in some sense necessary to entire sanctification, but they're not necessary in the same sense as faith, and they're not necessary in the same degree as faith. Okay. And so, Wesley, you know, if you learned your lessons well in terms of on the way to justification and regeneration, it should be easy learning now on the way to entire sanctification. Let me just give a direct quote from Wesley that will show the parallelism here and that Wesley is actually continuing the Reformation by applying sola fee de not simply to justification, that is to forensic themes, but also to the participatory theme of entire sanctification as well.

 

Listen to Wesley exactly as we are justified by faith. So are we sanctified by faith. Faith is the condition and the only condition of sanctification exactly as it is of justification. There's Wesley's theology expressed quite clearly. You see the order of it, the coherence of it. Wesley is taking some of the insights of the Reformation, and he is moving them over to the participatory theme of regeneration on the one hand and entire sanctification on the other. And so to the question, how is one entirely sanctified by grace through faith alone? Yes. Okay. I'll entertain some questions or comments that you have here. When he talks about the importance of self-denial and also the. Taking up the cross. Yes. Yes. And then at the end, you mentioned works of piety such as public prayer, family prayer, receiving the supper of the Lord, searching the Scriptures by hearing, meditating, those kinds of things. And there I'm talking about those under the context of work suitable for repentance. Right? In other words, what repentance looks like? It looks like the doing of those things, the being in those things. Yes. Okay. Yeah. Because it seems like when we start talking about the growth in our spiritual life, yeah, sometimes that's not as visible as other things. And it may be more difficult to quantify because we see the results sometimes we see the results and how we live, different things like that. But. A lot of times we don't really spend the time cultivating those areas. And I'm wondering if partly it's because it's not as visible or we don't see the results immediately. So are you talking about the difference between outward and inward? In other words, when we do work suitable for repentance outwardly in terms of serving our neighbor, those works are quite available to be seen.

 

But there is also an important inward work that should be happening in terms of the process of repentance whereby we should be. Yes. Okay. I see what you're asking now, and I almost think that the internal work is even more important because we are being transformed, you know, from grace to grace. And the Holy Spirit may need to correct us. Let me give you an example of this so that you can see this more clearly. See the problem with the carnal nature and within bred sin that remains even in a child of God. There is the danger that we identify that sin. And by the way, the carnal nature cannot be forgiven. You understand that, right? And you understand why it cannot be forgiven. It must die. It must die. So the carnal nature, this heart bent towards backsliding, this inward corruption, it cannot be forgiven. It must die because it is in utter, unending opposition and rebellion against the God of holy love. That's what the carnal nature is. Okay. This. This inheritance we have received. Okay. Now, the danger here, as people are living their Christian life, they have identified who they are as a person with the carnal nature, thinking that this is just sickness. This is jaundice. This is who I am as a person. And then over time, the Holy Spirit reveals to that soul. Ah, excuse me. This is not you. This is not how you were created to be. This is sin. And it needs to be laid aside. This is not your identity. Okay. Now on a more practical scale, I had a student one time in class say he was talking and illustrating something and he just gave the example. Well, you know, every now and then I just blow up at my wife, you know, that's me.

 

That's Phil, you know, And, you know, he was identifying, you know, that that's just who I am as a person. I didn't say a word. The students in the class, however, led this person to see. That. That that's not you. That's that's something that has been an accretion on your personality. You're identifying it as yourself, but it's actually seen. And God wants you to be free of it. And in the same way. And this is why growth in grace is so important. We were talking about holiness earlier, but, you know, part of the work of the church, especially when we're dealing with the sons and daughters of God, this journey of of confronting our own carnal nature, this own principle of sin within this is an important journey. And so many people identify the essence of who they are with this corrupted nature. And it's not so. And so this inward work that you're referring to in your question is going to be very important. Now. Watch this. Watch this. What bars? The way. What bars? The way to loving God with all our heart, all our mind, all our soul, all our strength. You know what passed away. Fear. Fear because, you know, think about it now. Think about it. Think about the tempers and dispositions of your heart. Think about loving God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, all your strength. The question then is asked, Where am I? I look like a zero because God is. All in all, I'm loving God with all my heart. My. Where is Ken? Where is Jessica? Where is Mary? Where? It looks like a void. It looks like an absence. It looks like it looks like death. It does. It does.

 

And therefore it may be frightening to some when they when they are being led to the deeper levels of grace. Because it looks almost at times like annihilation. If God is all and all. I'm loving God with all my heart. Where am I? What's left of me. You see, I think obviously the inward work is incredibly important. The external work is easy to say. It's easy to say, we serve our neighbor, we do this, we do that. We see the evidences of it. But I think this inward work in terms of our souls is so very, very important. And that's where God wants to transform and change.