Faith Once Delivered: A Wesleyan Witness Part 6

Recently, 50 plus scholars, theologians, and pastors from varied Methodist/Wesleyan backgrounds gathered for an event called the Next Methodism. There they produced a document called the Faith Once Delivered: A Wesleyan Witness. In the coming weeks, we will cover parts of their work in this blog. 

 

Paragraphs 56-63…Creation 

 

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.~ Mark 16:15

 

We are blessed to live in a beautiful world.  Walks through the woods, sunsets painted upon the sky, serendipity in the journey – all of it begun with the Word spoken…’let there be,’ all of it the work of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  We take it for granted as we take the air we breathe for granted for it has always been there throughout our whole existence.  As we pause, and pay attention – we notice a few things.

 

Our God has ordered creation in a way which engulfs our curiosity and is recorded as the sciences.  The blessings therein and life gained through struggle give us a window into the benevolence and justice of our God.  By making creation good, God has shown us his glory.  By sustaining creation we see our God to be truly a fountain and foundation of life.  By giving us beauty through ongoing processes, we can see God’s grace.  Living in God’s creation, we see potential and purpose, promise and presence.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.” Psalm 19:1

 

Challenge – Go beyond the paved paths of civilization and enter again upon the wild woods, walk along the bubbling brook, or gaze across the glassy lake – and ponder the wonders of our God.


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Faith Once Delivered: A Wesleyan Witness Part 5

Recently, 50 plus scholars, theologians, and pastors from varied Methodist/Wesleyan backgrounds gathered for an event called the Next Methodism. There they produced a document called the Faith Once Delivered: A Wesleyan Witness. In the coming weeks, we will cover parts of their work in this blog.  

Paragraphs 50-55…The Holy Spirit 

The Holy Spirit is not a passive actor to be discussed from a distance, but rather an active agent throughout all of Scripture and into our very lives.  The Third person of the Trinity draws us into God’s work as the Spirit restores the image of God in us. 

The Holy Spirit empowers our church and gives xaris or gifts for the church to be built up.  By this work Truth is revealed and power is made manifest.  Life in the Spirit, most clearly seen in the life of Jesus, brings us peace, joy, and mighty deeds. 

May the Holy Spirit reveal the fullness of God in your life this week.  Let us part now with the words of Charles Wesley:

Spirit of faith, come down,reveal the things of God,and make to us the Godhead known,and witness with the blood.‘Tis thine the blood to applyand give us eyes to see,who did for every sinner diehath surely died for me.

No one can truly saythat Jesus is the Lord,unless thou take the veil awayand breathe the living Word.Then, only then, we feelour interest in his blood,and cry with joy unspeakable,“Thou art my Lord, my God!”

“Spirit of Faith Come Down”


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John Wesley’s thoughts on Scripture

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In anticipation of Central hosting the True^North Bible conference this evening and tomorrow (come at 5:30 to register if you have not already), here are some of John Wesley’s thoughts on Scripture.

The following is an excerpt  -from the “Preface” to Explanatory Notes Upon the Old Testament:

This is the way to understand the things of God; Meditate thereon day and night; So shall you attain the best knowledge; even to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. And this knowledge will lead you, to love Him, because he hath first loved us: yea, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. Will there not then be all that mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus? And in consequence of this, while you joyfully experience all the holy tempers described in this book, you will likewise be outwardly holy as He that hath called you is holy, in all manner of conversation.“If you desire to read the scripture in such a manner as may most effectually answer this end, would it not be advisable,

• To set apart a little time, if you can, every morning and evening for that purpose?

• At each time if you have leisure, to read a chapter out of the Old, and one out of the New Testament: is you cannot do this, to take a single chapter, or a part of one?

• To read this with a single eye, to know the whole will of God, and a fixt resolution to do it? In order to know his will, you should,

• Have a constant eye to the analogy of faith; the connection and harmony there is between those grand, fundamental doctrines, Original Sin, Justification by Faith, the New Birth, Inward and Outward Holiness.

• Serious and earnest prayer should be constantly used, before we consult the oracles of God, seeing “scripture can only be understood thro’ the same Spirit whereby “it was given.” Our reading should likewise be closed with prayer, that what we read may be written on our hearts.

• It might also be of use, if while we read, we were frequently to pause, and examine ourselves by what we read, both with regard to our hearts, and lives. This would furnish us with matter of praise, where we found God had enabled us to conform to his blessed will, and matter of humiliation and prayer, where we were conscious of having fallen short. And whatever light you then receive, should be used to the uttermost, and that immediately. Let there be no delay. Whatever you resolve, begin to execute the first moment you can. So shall you find this word to be indeed the power of God unto present and eternal salvation.”

~John Wesley


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Faith Once Delivered: A Wesleyan Witness Part 4

Recently, 50 plus scholars, theologians, and pastors from varied Methodist/Wesleyan backgrounds gathered for an event called the Next Methodism. There they produced a document called the Faith Once Delivered: A Wesleyan Witness. In the coming weeks, we will cover parts of their work in this blog. 

Paragraphs 41-49…JESUS!

Jesus loves you.  Jesus loves me.  The stories we tell about him, the words he offers through Scripture – they have become the fabric of our lives as Christians.  Yet, how often do we back up and try to synthesize all that we know about our Lord and Savior.  How does Scripture come together in a unified portrait of the second person of the Trinity.  This is what we discover in these paragraphs.

Jesus is the Word, first born from the dead,  Prophet, Priest, and King. His incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension have fundamentally altered the universe and has ratified a new way of being with God.  Jesus, the Son, establishes peace, justice, joy, and love and gives us new community as we accept His Lordship in our lives.

Jesus has shown us the good way.  May our minds be conformed to it and our feet eager to follow it.  May our love be His.

This section ends with the Covenant Renewal Prayer.  May that prayer be our prayer in this season:

I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thou art mine and I am thine. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

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Faith Once Delivered: A Wesleyan Witness Part 3

Recently, 50 plus scholars, theologians, and pastors from varied Methodist/Wesleyan backgrounds gathered for an event called the Next Methodism. There they produced a document called the Faith Once Delivered: A Wesleyan Witness. In the coming weeks, we will cover parts of their work in this blog.

In this section, the authors work on sharing about God and about how Christians have spoken of God throughout history. God is unified and one.  God is personal and infinite.  God is relational.  Yet God is not contained by our definitions and is much more than many of the labels we have given Him.  God is more than the limited gods we have created in our own time.

Reading this section reminds me of the importance for followers of Jesus to not just read their Bibles, but to be curious about how others around the world and throughout history have articulated their faith.  Not all who worship a god or who go to church have a desire to worship the True God.  The God of the Trinity has an identity which stands out for us to adore.

Here is an excerpt from the section on God the Father:

38. The term “Father” is inherently relational. One cannot understand or speak of the Father without reference to the Son. God is eternally Father, and the Son is eternally begotten, just as the Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son. Wesley notes that Christ shares a unity of essence with the Father, being altogether “supreme, eternal, independent” and that Christ is “distinct from God the Father,” “the Word whom the Father begot or spoke from eternity” (Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament, John 1:1). Something similar can be said of the Holy Spirit, who is distinct and yet, like the Father and the Son, is Lord.

 

Father God, draw near to us once more.  We give you praise for your creation.  We give thanks for your ongoing works.  We relish your unending love.  We thank you for the Spirit of Adoption Christ gave us in Baptism for us to know you as Father.  May your will become ours.  In Jesus name. Amen.


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The Faith Once Delivered: Attributes

Recently, 50 plus scholars, theologians, and pastors from varied Methodist/Wesleyan backgrounds gathered for an event called the Next Methodism. There they produced a document called the Faith Once Delivered: A Wesleyan Witness. In the coming weeks, we will cover parts of their work in this blog.

The vast majority of people you meet believe in God.  However, we do not all believe in the same God.  Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Pagans, and others recognize the power of the supernatural in the world.  The description of the various gods differ radically.

This is why this Wesleyan document begins with the Attributes of God.  The attributes are but our attempts at comprehending God.  God as revealed in the Bible is more than we can imagine yet allows us to gaze at the beautiful mystery. To sum up the attributes, God is eternal, immutable, perfect, simple, good, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, holy, spirit, and triune. The language in the document has some theological density, but it is clear and direct on these points.

35. There is an expansiveness to God’s love for humanity that, through the Incarnation and the gift of the Spirit, invites humankind into the life of the Trinity and makes us partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). A particular emphasis in the Wesleyan/Methodist tradition is the communal nature of this invitation. Human participation is not a private but a corporate experience through the communion of the Church. The historic classes, bands, and societies of Methodism are examples of how this communion is maintained and, thus, how the community of the Church is a fellowship that mirrors the loving unity of the Trinity.

 

Lord, our Creator and Triune God, we thank You for the ways in which You have revealed Yourself to us.  Give us eyes to see You afresh this day and wonder.  May our hearts begin to comprehend your goodness and reflect it to others.  May our community be formed to be more like the holy community of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.


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Faith Once Delivered: A Wesleyan Witness

Recently, 50 plus scholars, theologians, and pastors from varied Methodist/Wesleyan backgrounds gathered for an event called the Next Methodism. There they produced a document called the Faith Once Delivered: A Wesleyan Witness. In the coming weeks, we will cover parts of their work in this blog.
 
You are invited to read it and join in the discussion as we go. Here is an excerpt from the introduction:
 
4. Methodism is no stranger to division. The history of Methodism in the U.S., for example, is one of both division and growth. Some forms of Methodism have now entered a season of decline. Others are growing. The hope underlying this document is that a vital and growing Methodism will be founded on the truth of the Christian faith as it has been received. We believe that Methodism was intended to find its secure footing in “the faith once delivered” (Jude 3) and only on this foundation can the experiential emphasis of the tradition be justified. The historic faith and the experience of the believer are not at odds with one another when experience is guided by the wisdom of divine revelation and communal accountability. Or put differently, the Spirit who inspired the Scripture will not guide the believer away from a scriptural faith.
 
Dear Heavenly Father, grant us your Word, wisdom, and way for this day. Strengthen us to follow your call.  May we who follow Jesus as Methodists find unity in our love and discipleship. Thank you for your many blessings poured out to us and to our neighbors. Give us eyes to see your love abounding and holy work spreading until they close in weary slumber. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

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George Whitefield

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George Whitefield was considered one of the greatest preachers who ever lived. He was with John Wesley in the beginning of the Methodist Movement as part of the original Holy Club at Oxford. Here is one of his recorded prayers:

BLESSED JESUS, thou hast told us in thy gospel, that unless a man be born again of the Spirit, and his righteousness exceed the outward righteousness of the scribes and pharisees, he cannot in anywise enter into the kingdom of GOD. Grant me therefore, I beseech thee, this true circumcision of the heart; and send down thy blessed Spirit to work in me that inward holiness, which alone can make me meet to partake of the heavenly inheritance with the saints in light.

Create in me, I beseech thee, a new heart, and renew a right spirit within me. For of whom shall I seek for succour but of thee, O LORD, with whom alone this is possible? LORD, if thou wilt, thou canst make me whole! O say unto my soul, as thou didst once unto the poor leper, I will, be thou renewed. Have compassion on me, O LORD, as thou once hadst on blind Bartimeus, who sat by the way-side begging.

LORD, thou knowest all things, thou knowest what I would have thee to do. Grant, LORD, that I may receive my sight; for I am conceived and born in Sin; my whole head is sick, my whole heart is faint; from the crown of my head to the sole of my feet, I am full of wounds and bruises, and putrefying sores; and yet I see it not. O awaken me, though it be with thunder, to a sensible feeling of the corruptions of my fallen nature, and for thy mercies’ sake, suffer me no longer to sit in darkness, and the shadow of death.

O prick me, prick me to the heart! Dart down a ray of that all-quickening light, which struck thy servant Saul to the ground; and make me cry out with the trembling jailer, “What shall I do to be saved?” Lord, behold I pray, and blush, and am confounded that I never prayed on this wise before. But I have looked upon myself as rich, not considering that I was poor, and blind, and naked. I have trusted to my own righteousness. I flattered myself I was whole, and therefore blindly thought I had no need of thee, O great physician of souls, to heal my sickness.

But being now convinced by thy free mercy; that my own righteousness is as filthy rags; and that he is only a true Christian who is one inwardly; behold with strong cryings and tears, and groanings that cannot be uttered, I beseech thee to visit me with thy free Spirit, and say unto these dry bones, Live.

I confess, O LORD, that thy grace is thy own, and that thy Spirit bloweth where he listeth. And wast thou to deal with me after my deserts, and reward me according to my wickednesses, I had long since been given over to a reprobate mind, and had my conscience seared as with a red-hot iron. But, O LORD, since, by sparing me so long, thou hast shown that thou wouldst not the death of a sinner; and since thou hast promised, that thou wilt give thy holy Spirit to those that ask, I hope thy goodness and long-suffering is intended to lead me to repentance, and that thou wilt not turn away thy face from me.

Thou seest, O LORD, thou seest, that with the utmost earnestness and humility of soul, I ask thy holy Spirit of thee, and am resolved in confidence of thy promise, who canst not lie, to seek and knock, till I find a door of mercy opened unto me.

LORD, have me, or I perish; visit, O visit me with thy salvation. Lighten mine eyes that I sleep not in death. O let me no longer continue a stranger to myself, but quicken me, quicken me with thy free Spirit, that I may know myself, even as I am known.

Behold, here I am. Let me do or suffer what seemeth good in thy sight, only renew me by thy Spirit in my mind, and make me a partaker of the divine nature. So shall I praise thee all the days of my life, and give thee thanks for ever in the glories of thy kingdom. O most adorable Redeemer; to whom, with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, be ascribed all honour and praise, now and for evermore. Amen.


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