Summary: This sermon leading up to Communion remembers John Wesley’s Aldersgate experience and defines what "salvation by faith" is and isn’t. It also introduces justification, sanctification, and glorification, as the way for standing in the salvation by faith. T
“Salvation By Faith”
John Wesley Sermon Series
(taken from John Wesley on Christian Beliefs, The Standard Sermons in Modern English, Vol. 1, Abingdon Press:2002)
July 6, 2003
I. Introduction – Freedom is a result of salvation!
We have freedom today, because many fought and died for it.
We have freedom today, because our nation was founded on Spiritual rather than totalitarian doctrines.
We have freedom today, because God has blessed America.
And, in response, we who claim God in America, seek to bless Him.
Welsey’s Aldersgate “freedom-searching” experience…
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….
He found himself struggling with even the basic beliefs of his faith…including his salvation…
That is, until May 24, 1738 -
5 a.m. – Devotions – where he read the words of 2 Peter 1:4 – “…These are give unto us
exceeding great and precious promises, even that ye should be partakers of the divine nature.”
As he went out for the day, he opened the Bible again on the words of Mark 12:34 “Thou
art not far from the kingdom of God.”
In the afternoon, he went to St. Paul’s Cathedral to hear the choir sing “Out of the deep
have I called unto thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice. O let thine ears consider the voice of my complaint…”
Then, that evening, something happened… hear these words from Wesley’s personal journal….
“In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for my salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death…I was now thoroughly convinced; and, by the grace of God, I resolved to seek it unto the end…”
(John Wesley’s JOURNAL, May 24, 1738 (13) The Works of John Wesley Bicentennial Edition, Vol.18, Journals & Diaries, I, p. 249-250, Copyright 1988.)
John Wesley, for the first time, came to a true understanding of the freedom his faith offered. And 18 days after his experience, he found himself preaching again at Oxford. This time with a new zeal for being saved by grace through faith.
II. What this saving faith is not…
- This saving faith is not the same as other faith.
While it includes practicing virtue, justice, mercy, and truth toward our fellow human beings, it is expected that those completely outside the knowledge of God have this minimum level of faith as well. This saving faith is more.
- Saving faith is not merely the intellectual knowledge held even by the demons.
They know that God “was revealed in the flesh” that he will “put his enemies under his feet,” and that “all Scripture is inspired by God.” Even the demons believe these things and they tremble in the presence of Jesus Christ. This saving faith is more.
- This saving faith is not the faith that the apostles had prior to Christ’s resurrection.
Even though Peter was quick to say, “We have left everything to follow you!” the disciples sense of saving faith was clouded by Christ’s presence. No, this saving faith is more.
II. What this saving faith is
- Saving faith is putting your full trust in Christ.
Wesley said that “Saving faith is not merely a speculative, rational thing, a cold, lifeless assent, or a train of ideas in the head. It is primarily a disposition of the heart. Scripture declares, “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Putting our full trust in Christ is this saving faith.
- Saving faith understands the necessity of Christ’s death and resurrection. Our passage in Ephesians says “But God who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loves us, even where we were dead in sin, made us alive together with Christ…” why? “…so that in the ages to come, God might show the exceeding riches of his grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Understanding that cross, and what was done there for us, is this saving faith.
- Here these words from Wesley, “Thus, Christian faith is more than an intellectual assent to the entire gospel of Christ. It also means a complete reliance on the blood of Christ; it is full trust in the merits of his life, death, and Resurrection. Saving faith is a resting upon Christ as our atonement and our life – a savior who gave himself for us and lives in us…In a word, Christ is our saving faith. Christ is our salvation.”