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theopenlife
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Joined: 2007/1/30
Posts: 926


 Someone know about Wesley?

I've read some of his writing and I get the idea that he expected almost no one saved, even seemingly fervent Christians, unless they demonstrated total mastery over their every unperfect action.

Am I mistaken? One of his papers ("a short account of Christian Perfection") seems to imply that the only source of assurance of salvation is continued victory over every sin.

Anyways, confused.

Love you all.
Mike:.

 2007/2/19 14:44Profile
KingJimmy
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Joined: 2003/5/8
Posts: 4419
Charlotte, NC

 Re: Someone know about Wesley?

In seminary I wrote a paper on Wesley's theology, especially in regard to his view of "Christian Perfection." I'd encourage you to check out the following paper. I think you will find it very beneficial if you are really interested in understanding his theology:



[url=http://www.iamadisciple.com/articles/papers/TheologyOfWesley.pdf]The Theology of John Wesley[/url] (Link is a PDF file)


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Jimmy H

 2007/2/19 15:24Profile
athanasius86
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Joined: 2007/2/14
Posts: 5
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 Re: Someone know about Wesley?

[size=xx-small][color=660000]I've read some of his writing and I get the idea that he expected almost no one saved, even seemingly fervent Christians, unless they demonstrated total mastery over their every unperfect action.[/color][/size]

Mike,
Good question. I am from a Wesleyan background, attending a College that is focused on Wesleyan teaching, and it seems that a lot of people view John Wesley's teaching this way.
Wesley did teach victory over sin, but not anymore than Paul did - particularly in Romans 6 (vss. 2, 6, 7, 11, etc.). The problem though, is that people in general do not make the same distinctions about different types of sin that Scripture does.
Lev. 4:13 talks about sinning ignorantly but still being guilty (cf. vss. 4, 22, 27). Num. 15:30 talks about sinning presumptuously and the judgement that follows. We see from these two passages that there was a sacrifice available for the sin through ignorance, but none for the presumptuous (or wilful) sin (Heb. 10:26-29).
From I Jn. 1:7 we learn that we are continually being cleansed from our sin. This takes care of our ignorant sin. We do not sin presumptuously though as Christians, for Christ has saved us from our sin (Matt. 1:21). There are many other verses in Scripture that talk about having victory over sin.
I have also read Wesley's "A Plain Account of Christian Perfection". If I remember correctly, Wesley does not lump all sin together, but makes the distinctions above. He taught that you can have victory over all wilful sin.
Also, I do not see where you thought that Wesley expected very, very few to be saved. He knew quite a few people that He thought were genuine Christians. He had great respect for some Calvinists as well.
Hope that helps clarify some of that.

Athanasius


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Jordan

 2007/2/19 15:59Profile
theopenlife
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Joined: 2007/1/30
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 Re:

Thanks for both of you being willing to help me understand Wesley's perspective. I'm still somewhat confused.

Quote:
We do not sin presumptuously though as Christians, for Christ has saved us from our sin



Does this mean Christians do "not ever" sin presumptuously or just not "habitually"? For instance, if a pastor of 25 years confessed that he has willfully chosen to lust in his heart even once since accepting Christ does this imply that his original confession was false and there is no sacrifice for that willful sin? Or did he lose his salvation until he freshly confesses that sin, a la Armenianism? I suppose it is a bizarre doctrine to me only because it is hard to draw a distinct line at what is "habitual" sin, and yet I've never met anyone who can say, "since coming to Christ I have never willfully sinned." You know?

 2007/2/19 18:16Profile
theopenlife
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Joined: 2007/1/30
Posts: 926


 Re: King Jimmy, I read the paper...

King Jimmy, I read your paper regarding Wesley's theology... these two points stood out...

Quote:
Wesley believed that "most did not experience Christian perfection until just shortly before their death"




Quote:
"The evidence suggests that Wesley himself, never arrived at the experience he so deeply was convinced was true (though he knew others that did). Wesley is never known to have experienced Christian perfection."



So did he consider this perfection as necessary to final salvation, or not? It seems almost silly to be so resolute about the literality of "be perfect as your Father is perfect", when we know scriptures such as "anything you ask in My name will be given"... after all, John Wesley was asking, and certainly in Christ's name, but he didn't seem to receive what he was asking for. It seems a scriptural context was lacking in his interpretation. Am I wrong?

How could he know that others had reached this point, as you said, when he was yet unable to view their hearts?

Hmmm... It seems like such a complication of what I understand to be the plain gospel:

*Man deserves hell because of original sin.
*Repent and believe on Christ to save you, and you will be saved.
*Spend the rest of your life seeking to serve God out of thankfulness and gratitude. Continue to mortify the flesh by the Spirit out of hatred for its offense to God.

It was apparently that easy for the house of Cornelius and the Jews of Pentecost, and the legitimacy of their conversion was evidenced as they "continued in the apostles doctrine and in breaking of bread, and prayer and fellowship," if I recall the verse correctly.

More views are appreciated.
Thanks brothers, with much love,
Mike:.

 2007/2/19 18:58Profile
KingJimmy
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Charlotte, NC

 Re:

Quote:

So did he consider this perfection as necessary to final salvation, or not?



I'm a little rusty on the exact points of his doctrine, but so far as I understand what he believed Christian perfection to be, I don't think he believed you had to attain "Christian perfection" in order to go to heaven. But he did believe that those who did attain Christian perfection usually didn't do so until shortly before they died. Remember, Wesley never himself confesses to having experienced this very doctrine that he taught so widely.

Quote:

It seems a scriptural context was lacking in his interpretation. Am I wrong?



So far as I understand Wesley's doctrine of Christian perfection, I believe he got it wrong. But that is not to say those of the Reformed persuasion got it right. I believe that we as believers are fully sanctified and attain Christian perfection the moment we get saved. That is, as Peter said, we have been given all that we need to live a life of godliness, and as Colossians says, we are complete in Him. That doesn't mean we never mess up from time to time, and that doesn't mean we don't have room to grow. Far from it, we have nothing to do but grow, even as Christ continued to grow in wisdom.

Though commonly taught throughout the history of the Church, I don't believe sanctification to be a progressive act that begins when we get saved and continues until we die. For to be sanctified is to be "set apart." And as brother Ron Bailey has pointed out before, when God created the world He didn't gradually sanctify the Sabbath day. Rather, He did it in a single moment. So I believe it is with us. We don't go from sanctification to sanctification, rather, we go from glory to glory. The object of the Christian life is not to sin less and less. Rather, the object of the Christian life is to be more and more like Jesus. Instead of trying to sin less and less, we are to seek to abound in more and more fruit.

The problem with the typical Reformed view of sanctification, and Wesley's view of sanctification, lies, imo, with a defective view of what was done in justification. The Reformed view is that when we were justified, it was merely a forensic justification that erased our guilt, though we are stained with sin. Wesley takes it another step and agrees with the forensic notion of justification, but views the justification as not only erasing our sin debt, but actually making us righteous. However, Wesley doesn't see this inner imparted righteousness as fully happening at the moment of conversion.

I would take it another step further than Wesley and say that when my sins were washed away when I was forgiven, they were entirely washed away and that I was entirely imparted with the very righteousness of Jesus Christ. I can't get any cleaner than I was made at the new birth, for the blood of Jesus made me entirely clean. My life as a Christian after that is simply a matter of me walking according to what Christ did in my heart years ago. I might stumble from time to time, but such is not because I somehow lacked the grace necessary to walk as Christ would have had me to walk.

Quote:

How could he know that others had reached this point, as you said, when he was yet unable to view their hearts?



Wesley taught that one could know they were sanctified through the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. He said you could know another was entirely sanctified only because you accepted what they said, and saw them live accordingly.

Quote:

Hmmm... It seems like such a complication of what I understand to be the plain gospel:



Wesley's view of sanctification is a bit difficult to understand. I had to read several works he wrote on it, and then digest a few commentaries by various theologians that attempted to summarize his view, and finally talk a few things over with my pastor before I finally came to grasp what Wesley was talking about. Part of the difficulty lies in that he had a constantly evolving vocabulary in his life that he used to preach this doctrine. And even he claims to have come to understand it only in part and gradually. But the essence of his doctrine of Christian perfection is this: That one comes to a place in their Christian walk whereby they love the Lord with ALL their heart ALL the time.

I'd highly recommend if you want to fully understand his view to pickup his book "A Plain Account of Christian Perfection," and read it through about 2 times. It's altogether about 100 pages or so. Also consider reading some other sermons of his such as "The Almost Christian," and "The Privilege of those Born Again" to give you a greater understanding of his take on things. I don't agree with everything he says, but, I think he is still a helpful read that will help refine one's own thinking.


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Jimmy H

 2007/2/19 22:07Profile
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 Re:

Quote:
I've read some of his writing and I get the idea that he expected almost no one saved, even seemingly fervent Christians, unless they demonstrated total mastery over their every unperfect action.



Wesley believed in second work of grace (entire sanctification) wich he distinquished from convertion experience, he preached christian perfection but never claimed he had achieved it....i think his views on perfection are somehow confusing but they came from an honest and fervent desire to live a holy life....some of the greatest saints have always aimed for perfection.....


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Redi

 2007/2/19 22:16Profile
theopenlife
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Posts: 926


 Re:

Well, if it can be had, let's have it.

God bless you each as we press for perfection to the glory of the grace of God in Christ.

Mike:.

 2007/2/20 0:57Profile
athanasius86
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Joined: 2007/2/14
Posts: 5
Cincinnati, OH

 Re:

[size=xx-small][color=660000]Does this mean Christians do "not ever" sin presumptuously or just not "habitually"? For instance, if a pastor of 25 years confessed that he has willfully chosen to lust in his heart even once since accepting Christ does this imply that his original confession was false and there is no sacrifice for that willful sin? Or did he lose his salvation until he freshly confesses that sin, a la Armenianism? I suppose it is a bizarre doctrine to me only because it is hard to draw a distinct line at what is "habitual" sin, and yet I've never met anyone who can say, "since coming to Christ I have never willfully sinned." You know?[/color][/size]

Good point. Christians should not sin at all presumptuously, but it is only when they continue in their wilful sin without repenting that they lose their relationship with God. God is like a father to us, He does not cast us off immediately. This is Arminianism, not what you said above.
Now for the scenario of the pastor. If you are a five-point Calvinist, then you would be correct in believing that his profession of faith was false. This is because true five-point Calvinists believe that not only are we predestined to be saved, but we are predestined to live a holy life. This would exclude presumptuous sin, albeit not ignorant sin. Such Calvinists do not buy into the idea that you can live how you want and still be saved. They believe that if you are really saved, then you will live a holy life.
King David sinned presumptuously when he committed adultery and had Uriah murdered. By OT Law, he should have been killed, because there was no sacrifice for his sin. God forgave him, not because a sacrifice was offered, but because David had a true spirit of repentance from the heart. If he would have ever sinned in this way again, it would have been questionable as to whether his repentance was genuine. Thankfully though, his repentance was real and deep.
Hope this clarifies it a little more.

Athanasius


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Jordan

 2007/2/20 7:46Profile
theopenlife
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 Amen.

Until we know the answer, the answer remains "Be holy is the grace of the Lord." I am pleased to live with that.

 2007/2/20 11:30Profile





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