Friday, November 14, 2014

Wesley Sermon #24

“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 4:31)

The earliest church consisted of people who were filled with the Holy Spirit. They were radically changed at the heart level. They were passionate to spread the Gospel. They were turning the world right-side-up.

To be a member of the earliest church meant a dramatic change of heart had taken place. You now recognized Jesus as Lord and were filled with the fruit of the Spirit. Your life was marked by love for God and people. You daily grew in grace. You abstained from evil and did good.

To be a member of the earliest church meant being passionate to reach the world. You possessed the best of news. The world was full of bad news. How could you sit idly by? You became a witness. You faced persecution, but witnessed all the more. You shook the gates of hell.

To be a member of the earliest church meant bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth. As a church, you were fulfilling outstanding prophecies. You were on a trajectory toward a planet filled with holiness and love.

Where does this Christianity now exist? Are we, in any sense, a Christian nation? Do we have Christian leaders? Christian Pastors? Christian Scholars? Christian Students? Or do we merely trifle with God? Scriptural Christianity and contemporary Christianity seem to be at odds.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Wesley Sermon #22

“Paul, thou art beside thyself!”

True Christians, filled with the love of God, are often said to be beside themselves… out of their minds… crazy… insane… mad. But I will tell you what true madness is like. True madness, in a religious sense, is falsely imagining the influence or inspiration of God where there is none.
I shall address three sorts of madness within Christianity.

First, there is the madness of those who imagine they have the saving grace of God when they do not. It is clear that they do not because they are unholy and unloving. But they imagine that they do because they take on the label, were baptized as infants, hold the right opinions on doctrine, attend church, receive communion, do good, etc. And since this type of madness is so common, they imagine they are sane and others crazy!

Second, there is the madness of those who imagine they have the gifting of God when they do not. They feel God will work miracles through them, speak through their every word, direct them in every particular choice of life through supernatural means… delusions of grandeur.

Third, and closely related, there is the madness of those who imagine they can attain the end (holiness) without the means of grace. All three sorts of madness lead to pride. And pride makes one stuck… stuck in madness… stuck in un-holiness. Be careful not to fall into the many-headed monster of madness.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Wesley Sermon #21

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit,
that we are children of God (Romans 8:16)

The Methodist movement has a great role to play in proclaiming the balance between mere formalism and wild enthusiasm on the topic of the witness of the Spirit (that inward impression that we are now a child of God).

Yes, the fruit of the Spirit confirm within our own spirit that we are children of God. But, here, we are referring to the direct witness of the Spirit of God. The fruit of the Spirit spring from this initial witness of the Spirit.

One cannot object that this doctrine is not Scriptural, for what else does Romans 8:16 mean by distinguishing the witness of the Spirit from the witness of our own spirit?
Nor can one reject the doctrine due to the fact that it has sometimes been abused. Nor is it unnecessary, for the truth of something is established by multiple witnesses.

We believe, then, that is vital to recognize the reality of a direct witness by the Spirit of God on a child of God in addition to any awareness within their own spirit via a consciousness of the fruit of the Spirit.

Neither of the witnesses is to be neglected in our doctrine or practice. None should rest in a witness of the Spirit that does not produce the fruit… and none should rest in apparent fruit without the direct witness of the Spirit.