Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Our Life of Holiness

Read Malachi 3:7.

In 1746, John Wesley based his sermon, “The Means of Grace,” on this passage about the ordinances of God. He taught that such ordinances were not intended to create cold, lifeless religion, but instead, had inward and outward impact upon a soul renewed in the image of God. The ultimate aim is “love out of a pure heart with faith unfeigned.”

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, believed that the "means of grace," included both "works of piety" and "works of mercy." He preached that Christians must do both works of piety and works of mercy in order to move on toward Christian perfection. Note that this isn’t a justification built on work, but a way of following the life of Christ which takes seriously that “faith without works is dead.” Works of piety include prayer, “searching the Scriptures; (which implies reading, hearing, and meditating thereon;) and receiving the Lord's Supper, eating bread and drinking wine in remembrance of Him.”

“Wesley taught that people must be Christians in both word and deed, which were to express the love of God. He believed that Christians must grow in God's grace, which first prepares us for belief, then accepts us when we respond to God in faith, and sustains us as we do good works and participate in God's mission. John Wesley not only preached about works of mercy, he "practiced" what he preached. Wesley:

• lived modestly and gave all he could to help people who were poor

• visited people in prison and provided spiritual guidance, food, and clothing to them

• spoke out against slavery and forbade it in Methodism

• founded schools at the Foundery in London, Bristol, and Newcastle

• published books, pamphlets, and magazines for the education and spiritual edification of people

• taught and wrote about good health practices and even dispensed medicine from his chapels

Wesley believed that Christians could not have authentic personal holiness without social holiness.” (I found this at Wesley on mission. To learn more read Part II of the Book of Discipline or read John Wesley’s sermons or a history on the founder of Methodism.)

"If a commission by an earthly king is considered a honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?" — David Livingstone, 19th Century medical missionary in Africa

Ask yourself: How should I grow in piety and mercy this year as I grow in following Christ? What practical steps might I take to establish habits of mercy?

Pray for the Choctaw Methodist Mission in Philadelphia, MS and General Board of Global Ministries church and community development workers Robin and Steve Claris.

Learn more: Choctaw Methodists

No comments: