My church not having a service this evening I thought I would take time to read from Wesley’s sermons. Indeed almost every sermon contains within it a powerful message. This sermon titled the righteousness of faith it’s a very famous sermon. John Wesley’s father Samuel was the rector of the Anglican church in Epworth which is in North Lincolnshire on the Isle of Axholme.
John Wesley who was born in Epworth knew the parish well and returned to preach the word of God from his late fathers church the year was 1746. The door of the church was slammed in Wesley’s face, indeed it was canon law that you could not preach another man’s parish. So Wesley quick thinking as he was stood on his father’s tomb and preach the word of God, no one could stop him from doing that. It is reported that during the proclamation of the word several people dropped down dead. Wesley preached about the distinction between a “covenant of works” and a “covenant of grace”. The biblical text that he chose was from Paul’s letter to the Romans chapter 10 verses 5 to 8.
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit[e] set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit[g] is life and peace. 7 For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God”.
This sermon by Wesley is extremely powerful and one can understand why it caused several people to drop down dead. Obviously I won’t read it all to you perhaps I leave that for you to do for yourself but it is the conclusion which I want to share with you.
Wesley concluded his sermon by seeing this, Whosoever thou art, O man, who hast the sentence of death in thyself, who feelest thyself a condemned sinner, and hast the wrath of God abiding on thee, unto thee said the Lord, not ‘ Do this; perfectly obey all my commands and live’ but, ‘believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved’. ‘The word of faith is nigh unto thee’ ‘Now at this instant, in the present moment and in thy present state, sinner as thou art, just as thou art, believe the gospel, and ‘ I will be merciful unto thy righteousness and thy iniquities will I remember no more’
John Wesley preached many sermons and some may not consider this one as important as the sermon that he preached in Oxford in 1738 on Salvation by Faith and some may not consider this as important as the sermon he preached in 1746 on Justification by Faith. Justification by faith was at the heart of Wesley’s doctrine of salvation. There were eight sermons that Wesley considered to be ‘articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiae’ ( the church stands or falls with it)
If you have never read the sermons of John Wesley and I suspect many of you haven’t some of you may not have heard of him I would challenge you to read his sermon on the righteousness of faith, on salvation by faith and justification by faith and have your Bible to hand so that you can cross reference. I promise you that if you do with them they will not leave you untouched and if you really feel challenged buy the book and read all of them.
And may God bless you this evening