Thursday 21 May 2020

Sunday is the day each year the Church remembers the two outstanding brothers who led the greatest revival in the history of this country, Charles and John Wesley.

(On a personal note, it was the first date I engaged in Ministry at a small Methodist Chapel in Cheshire.)

Charles and John Wesley, who are in our minds at this time, experienced the Holy Spirit in special ways.  Both were ordained into the Church and ministered as such for some years, yet both had deep spiritual experiences which changed their lives in May 1738, and went on to do greater things as a result.  Charles wrote his most loved and famous hymns afterwards.

Charles had been converted three days earlier than John, on Pentecost Sunday,21 May when he experienced a ‘strange palpitation of the heart and wrote three hymns; O for a thousand tongues to sing, my great Redeemer’s praise; And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Saviour’s blood; where shall my wandering soul begin. 

Aldersgate Sunday, as it is named, is celebrated on May 24 (or the Sunday closest) to commemorate the day in 1738 when John Wesley experienced assurance of his salvation. John was fully converted after hearing a sermon on Martin Luther’s discourse Romans, in a Chapel in Aldersgate, London

From that time on, the Wesleys were used powerfully by God, to spread the news of salvation.  Whilst John was (and is) recognised for his preaching, we are still nearly 400 years later, singing and appreciating Charles’ most wonderful hymns.

The once great Methodist Church was built on a strong Biblical foundation. It was first started when Charles went to Oxford, and with some friends started a Holy club, in which they met to join in worship and visit the sick. Because of their methodical actions, they became known as Methodists.  The group was started by Charles so earning him the right to be called the first Methodist, which is contrary to general thinking, which attributes John to be the founder. He did become the leader and developed it.

Many will remember the great evangelical preaching of yesteryear for which Methodism was known, but alas there is not much of that today.

I led a service recently in a well-recognised Methodist Church, and later received an email from someone named as a retired Methodist Minister, accusing me of being a bigot, (despite the fact he had walked out of the Church, something I would never consider doing in the name of tolerance) because I didn’t give an alternative explanation of the resurrection, gender and marriage, to how the Bible defines those subjects.

Let me quote to you some declarations.
(Jesus) I must preach the Kingdom of God for that is why I was sent.
(Apostles) It is not right that we should give up preaching the Word of God.
(Jesus to his Apostles) Jesus said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’
(Paul to Timothy), preach the Word.

Why then is the Church not preaching the Word of God, and all Jesus commanded?

Why do so many object to quoting the Bible? The reason is, they don’t truly believe, and are even ashamed of it.  I have suggested many times, there has to be faithful bible preaching. God is just not going to bless anywhere if there is wandering away from that Word

There is a statement which should be proclaimed from every Church pulpit, ‘the true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God’.  Any other issue must be considered secondary, the gospel is central and anything which threatens to challenge the gospel, must be ignored.

The gospel is the story of Jesus Christ, who gave Himself to be crucified for our sins, in order to reconcile us to God;  that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried;  that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures.  This, which was an early Christian confession, gives us the heart of the gospel and show that the resurrection is an integral part of the gospel. The reality can be verified by the Scriptures and historical evidence as the empty tomb and the eye witnesses.

We have to tell our faith is not something someone made up. There is testimony from people alive at the time of Jesus’ life on earth, and not only from His followers, but from literary men of the time, and it has been recorded.  The Bible has many prophecies in the Old Testament made many years earlier which most have come true.  There are so many interlinked stories none of which have been contradicted, and not even the most sophisticated computer could excel.  

Only Christianity has a Cross at the centre of its faith. Only Jesus suffered an horrific death on the Cross, a death made for criminals who were made to parade through the streets with a crown on his head beaten 39 times with a leather belt fitted with metal studs to cut the skin, stripped of clothes and nailed through His hands and feet on the cross, and all for the sake of paying the penalty for the sins you and I commit.

He could have refused to go there, but went willingly so we could be forgiven and put back in to a relationship with God and made us fit for heaven, where we will live on day with Him.  God said this is what man has shown and done to my Son; this is what I have done and showed by raising Him to life again.

Why should there be such reluctance on the part of preachers to tell this story; why resistance to telling the full story of the Bible.   The simple reason is they don’t have true faith. Jesus said not everyone does the will of my Father. There will come a time when I will say to them, I never knew you

Why should anyone be ashamed to tell that story? We all no doubt are ashamed of thiwe have done in our lives, and the things we have said but wished we hadn’t, and that is understandable. But we allow ourselves to become ashamed of something for which there is no need to be ashamed of.

For it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.  This power is for everyone who believes. This means more than just believing there is a God; the devil accepts that; believing means making a commitment. Too many say they believe but do nothing, which is why regular preaching of the gospel is important so that people may come to live by the Scripture.

The greatest revival in the history of this country took place under the ministry of Charles and John Wesley. The once great Methodist Church was built on a strong Biblical foundation. If they were alive today they would have much to say at the way the Church has failed to proclaim the message they left, that salvation was through Christ alone, the value of a person’s life was measured by their faith; by the manner in which they lived their lives, and the doctrine of heaven and hell.

The Wesley’s’ legacy has been passed down through the ages to the Church they founded. This should not be betrayed. Charles was one who wrote as he thought and he saw the importance of conversion and a personal relationship to Jesus Christ. He became vividly convinced of the message of salvation, and saw clearer than ever before how faith in Jesus Christ could change a person’s life. This was the message he would take to as many people as he could, particularly to the poorer classes.

Recently I was asked what I thought they would say if they were able to come back to see the Church today. I replied, ‘they would be broken hearted.’ If they were alive today they would have much to say at the way the Church has failed to proclaim the message they left.

I was shocked to read last year of a service held in Wesley’s special chapel in Bristol, a most sacred Place in world Methodism, to celebrate ‘gay pride’. John Wesley’s reaction would be plain to anyone who has read his sermon on Romans 1.

But in fairness, such is the situation in the Churches generally, except perhaps the Pentecostal and Independent Evangelical ones.   We have Archbishops, Bishops, and senior clergy commending anti-Christian living, and calling for Biblical teaching on morality to be abandoned.

One of the foremost preachers in the world, Franklin Graham, son of the greatest preacher in Christian history, was due to come to the United Kingdom to preach the Kingdom of God, (as Jesus you will remember called for).  Bishops here were actually calling on clergy not to support or attend his meetings. This can be verified on the internet.

I think this is shameful. Even the Archbishop of Canterbury failed to support him. Mr Graham was accused of ‘hate speech’, putting that into clear words, he was quoting the Bible. I challenge anyone to state anything Mr Graham has said, which is not authenticated in Scripture.

To preach fundamental truth will inevitably cause some upset. But let us take heart from Paul, who faced all that could be put against him, and so caused Christianity to spread throughout the ancient world. The Bible states, ‘preach the Word’ and those whose responsibility is to do so will one day have to account before the Lord for betrayal. Preachers should remember they are called to preach the gospel and abandon sin, not preach sin and abandon the gospel.

The Bible states everyone is on one of two roads to eternity, either the narrow road, which fewer choose, is the one which leads to heaven by faith in Jesus Christ; or the broad one, which is always overcrowded, and leads to hell.

Unless there is a return to the Bible the Church is going to be just a small group, for the Church was built on the Bible; it was a guide to this nation, before it was so widely discarded.
There are many who would like to see us removed from the public arena because of the guilt it pours on their lives, without realising what would replace Christianity.  Islam has a much stricter moral and social code, which is more strictly enforced. The lack of interest in the Christian faith is a matter for great concern.

The responsibility for teaching falls principally on the clergy, and the Bible states a preacher is given a solemn task to preach in the name of God and Jesus Christ, and will one day have to answer as to how faithfully he carried out that privilege. God demonstrated how He responds to faithful preaching by the blessing he gave in the life of Billy Graham, who preached to 220 millions of people in 185 countries, with gatherings of between 30-80 thousands a time and constantly quoted what the Bible stated.

Paul knew it would never be an easy task; that opposition would be met, but said we do not have a spirit of timidity, be strong. We should show no fear or favour and never ever be ashamed of our faith. But that is exactly what is happening in some of our Churches, especially in the Church of England. 
Furthermore, we should never suggest the Bible has got things wrong; we are talking about that which God directly wanted to be known.  We may not understand all that is written in the Bible, I personally don’t, but as Billy Graham once said, I must accept it in faith.

When we hear their teaching on a regular basis, not only does our faith grow, but also our ability to defend and help others to understand, especially those most closest and dearest to us who are not yet followers of our Lord.  We may not remember all we hear, but will be inspired by the power of what has been preached.  We will learn to be guided by the Scriptures and will come to know more about God and His Son and how we should live according to His commands.
Paul knew it would never be an easy task; that opposition would be met, but said we do not have a spirit of timidity, be strong. We should show no fear or favour and never ever be ashamed of our faith. But that is exactly what is happening in some of our Churches, especially in the Church of England.  We are bound to preach what people need to hear rather than what some might prefer.
Let me close with the words of John Wesley,

I want to know one thing, the way to heaven: how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this very end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book! O give me that book! At any price, give me the Book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me.
To the many friends I have in the United States and who read these sermons, may I ask if anyone should know of Edward Marsell Bass, who served in the United States Air Force during the last War, or any relative of his, please ask them to email me at He was known to have lived at one time in North Carolina, but died in Leavenworth, Kansas.

No comments:

Post a Comment