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Methodist Religion: Amazing love, faith, and truth 4 the world

Methodist Religion: Amazing love, faith, and truth 4 the world
Methodist Religion: We are all, by nature, "dead in sin". Justified by faith alone in Jesus Christ. Faith produces inward and outward holiness.

Methodist Religion: Amazing love, faith, and truth 4 the world

Holiness unto the Lord

In 1729, three college students started a “holy club” at Oxford University based on Bible reading, prayer, and living holy lives. Their approach to worship was so simple and their discipline so regular that they were mocked by the other students as “Methodists.”

The name stuck, and today there are 80 million of them. Their method and message were clear, unambiguous, and simple. “Jesus loves you and died on the cross so you can have everlasting life.”

The three students who started it all were John Wesley, George Whitefield, and Charles Wesley, John’s younger brother. They were all ordained ministers of the Church of England and praying for revival. All three gave their lives to Christian service, John and Charles to missionary work in Georgia, George Whitefield to evangelistic preaching in the colleges and churches of the American colonies,

God blessed their faithfulness by touching them all with His Spirit so that they were born-again and filled with love for others. While their efforts began in the state church and university among the socially prominent educated upper classes, their ministry soon matured into a wide net of fishing for men among the farmers and working people.

John and George ministered in fields and villages throughout England riding, John riding on horseback 250,000 miles preaching and visiting the poor and those in prison. Their message was

  • People are all, by nature, "dead in sin".

  • They are justified by faith alone.

  • Faith produces inward and outward holiness.

Most of their converts were not Church of England people and favored informal worship. Whitefield practiced extemporaneous prayer, frowned upon by the Anglicans as "entusiam," but loved by the common people. Charles worked much of this theology and informal worship into 4,000 hymns which transformed the worship service and the hearts and minds of millions.

Their ministry prospered but was opposed by the Church of England. The Wesleys and Whitefield were ordained as priests but other ordained ministers were few and so they appointed lay ministers who organized the converts into Methodist societies. Women too were allowed to minister.

Wesley and these lay ministers demonstrated their love of Jesus by loving their neighbors as themselves. They ministered to social needs as well as spiritual ones, feeding the poor, caring for the sick, visiting those in prison and about to be executed (there were 200 capital offenses in England in the 18th century!).

Some scholars credit the fact that Britain escaped the terror of the French Revolution because of Methodism. The message and ministry were enthusiastically received by the people.

They often responded emotionally with tears and loud rejoicing, something hated by the Anglicans and damned as “enthusiasm.”

But it was not to be stopped. It grew and spread throughout England and Wales and later to America.

John Wesley saw this growth of Methodism “not as no mere human endeavor but the work of God. As such it would be preserved by God so long as history remained." He taught that teaching the doctrine of “entire sanctification” was the reason God blessed the Methodist faith and encouraged the use of “Holiness unto the Lord" from Zechariah 14:21 as a motto.

John Wesley was the prime mover in Methodism’s success. Indefatigable, he rode 250,000 miles on horseback in his lifetime and often preached 3 or 4 times a day. In addition to visiting the poor, he helped the needy. He had enormous income from his writings, more than anyone else but the king.

One year his income was a little over 1400 pounds. He lived on 30 pounds and gave away nearly 1400 pounds. Because he had no family to care for, he had no need for savings. He was afraid of laying up treasures on earth, so the money went out in charity as quickly as it came in. He reports that he never had 100 pounds at any one time.

Methodism spread rapidly in America after the American Revolution when most of the Anglican clergy returned to England. Wesley sent two of his associates (Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury) who founded the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1784.

Fueled by the Great Awakenings, Methodism became the largest denomination in America in the 19th century. This growth came via camp meetings and missionary efforts by circuit riders and men of God like Peter Cartwright (1785-1872) who personally baptized 12,000 converts.

Concurrent with this, Methodist evangelist Phoebe Palmer (1807 –1874) preached and wrote about Christian perfection, what Wesley called “entire sanctification.”

Wikipedia defines this as:

Christian perfection is the name given to a process of achieving spiritual maturity or perfection; theological concepts within many sects of Christianity. The goal of this process is union with God characterized by pure love of God and other people as well as personal holiness or sanctification. Other terms used are entire sanctification, perfect love, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, baptism by fire, the second blessing, and the second work of grace.

Methodism was the source of this doctrine for the Holiness movement that began in the 19th century and grew in the 20th and 21st. Other denominations arose affirming this doctrine. Among the first were the Free Methodist Church, the Wesleyan Methodist Church, the Salvation Army, and the Church of the Nazarene.

The evidence of such sanctification appears in lifestyle. “Holiness churches have been distinguished from other churches by their more careful lifestyle. Many churches and denominations in the Holiness movement prohibit smoking, drinking, dancing, listening to inappropriate worldly music, or wearing makeup or flashy clothes."

The songs of Fanny Crosby provided background for the growth of the Holiness movement. along with the evangelism of D.L. Moody and Billy Sunday.

The greatest growth took place at the beginning of the 20th century with the Pentecostal outpouring in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Pentecostal pioneers were William Seymour in the US and Smith Wigglesworth in the UK. Its highest prominence came in the life and ministry of Aimee Semple Macpherson.

Wesley’s vision of holiness continues today in many places and is still alive in most Methodist Churches. Sadly, the largest Methodist Church is the United States has been split because liberal Methodists have abandoned the holiness doctrine and the standards of the Bible by ordaining practicing homosexuals to the ministry.

But those who have remained faithful and holy continue to uphold Methodism as preached by those three young men from the Holy Club.

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