Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wesley on the New Birth

By some accounts, John Wesley preached one of his more powerful and theologically distinct sermons in May of 1743. He preached on the subject of the New Birth, the born from above experience of the saint in Christ. I believe it is essential reading for all saints who wish to understand and be equipped to articulate why it is that we are to be born from above, to experience the New Birth, to be regenerated. As I read through this sermon earlier, the first paragraph stuck in my mind, particularly Wesley's note that justification precedes being born again in the manner of thinking. His logic is convincing and while I haven't questioned it, I ask only how it could be otherwise, God's wrath being turned away before the Spirit of God can work upon our hearts. The following is Wesley's opening to the sermon found here.

… If any doctrines within the whole compass of Christianity may be properly termed fundamental, they are doubtless these two, -- the doctrine of justification, and that of the new birth: The former relating to that great work which God does for us, in forgiving our sins; the latter, to the great work which God does in us, in renewing our fallen nature. In order of time, neither of these is before the other: in the moment we are justified by the grace of God, through the redemption that is in Jesus, we are also "born of the Spirit;" but in order of thinking, as it is termed, justification precedes the new birth. We first conceive his wrath to be turned away, and then his Spirit to work in our hearts….