Summary: A Brief Biography of Wesley and His Teaching about God’s Grace and a discussion of his importance for today’s church.
Welcome, attendance pad, prayer
I am continuing this series today on Christianity and world religions. But today I am taking a different twist. I am going to talk about John Wesley. If it were not for this man I doubt that we would be meeting here in this place or form today. This church is celebrating 50 years of mission and ministry this year. We are United Methodists and our spiritual forefather is John Wesley.
But before I talk about Wesley I do want to give you a pop quiz on the world religions I’ve been discussing the past few Sundays. So I have this question for you:
Q: Why is a vacuum cleaner a bad gift for a Buddhist?
A: Because it comes with attachments.
Remember I said that Buddhists try to rid themselves of all attachments in life?
OK, back to Wesley. First I want to consider:
I. THE MAN
Why is this man important to us?
A. John Wesley is important to us because he started the Methodist movement
Now our anniversary celebrations this year will be meaningless if all we do is look back to our accomplishments of the past. The challenge for us is to serve the present age, this 21st Century we find ourselves living in. Likewise a pure autobiography of Wesley is meaningless without understanding his importance to us in the 21st Century
John Wesley was an Anglican clergyman who became one of the most influential people of eighteenth century England. He lived from 1703-1791. Last year was the 300th anniversary of his birth.
His parents were remarkable. His father Samuel, was an Anglican clergymen and his mother Susanna, a woman of spiritual depth. They had nineteen babies, ten surviving.
His childhood was marked with the mother’s strong influence and a traumatic boyhood experience. He was saved from their burning house in Epworth when aged six, in a way that gave him the belief he was "a brand plucked from the burning" for a reason.
After school at Charterhouse he completed his Master of Arts at Oxford. For 13 years he tried hard to serve God through brief ministries helping his father, and in two years of overseas missionary service in the colony of Georgia in America..
His missionary service was frustrated by failure. On his way home from USA, he wrote in His Journal: "I went to America to convert the Indians, but Oh, who shall convert me?"
B. In his younger years, John thought the way of salvation was through human effort.
C. That changed on May 24, 1738 when he felt his “heart strangely warmed” at Aldersgate St . I visited this location several years while in London and there is a plaque there commemorating his experience.
As a result of his failed missionary effort, it is commonly believed that in December of 1737 and throughout that winter, John Wesley suffered from severe depression which brought him to the brink of death.
Even though he had been a priest in the Anglican church for a decade,
Even though he thought himself to be a learned and scholarly person,
Even though he should have been the person with all the answers….