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Wesleyan Theology


Wesleyan Theology Part Four: Means of Grace and Doctrine of Church Christ as the Only Source of Grace There can be no merit in the works of humankind. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Wesleyan Theology

Wesleyan Theology
  • Part Four Means of Grace and Doctrine of Church

Christ as the Only Source of Grace
  • There can be no merit in the works of humankind.
    Only Christ can serve as the sufficient means of
    Grace within Protestant traditions.
  • So what did Wesley understand by the term Means
    of Grace?

Means of Grace
  • By means of grace I understand outward
    signs, words or actions ordained by God, and
    appointed to this end, to be the ordinary or
    historical channels whereby He sic might
    convey to men sic preventing, justifying or
    sanctifying grace.
  • - John Wesley, Means of Grace Sermon 16, 1872

Two Categories of Means of Grace
  • Instituted (those means established by Jesus
    hence, non-changing)
  • Prudential (variable or conditional means)

Instituted Means of Grace
  • Prayer
  • Searching the Scriptures
  • The Lords Supper
  • Fasting
  • Christian Conference

Instituted Means of Grace Prayer
  • Prayer considered key to Christian life
  • Understood as our Spiritual Breath
  • Through prayer the believer maintains their
    relationship with the Divine One
  • Failure to pray manifests the Wilderness
    experience of the believer.
  • Prayers must express the full dimension of life.

Instituted Means of Grace Prayer
  • Prayers of Deprecation (awareness of sin)
  • Prayers of Petition
  • Prayers of Intercession
  • Prayers of Thanksgiving
  • Prayers of Invocation
  • Prayers of Adoration

Instituted Means of Grace Prayer
  • Prayers should be both private, communal
    (family) and public (congregational)
  • Prayers much originate from a purity of intent or
  • One must pray without ceasing. Prayer
    maintains the constant company of Christ.

Instituted Means of Grace Scripture
  • Read Scripture with regularity
  • Believer must know the entire Revelation
  • Believer must apply Scripture to life
  • One must avoid proof-texting knowledge of
    historical and theological context must be taught
    and practiced.
  • Jesus demonstrated extensive knowledge of Hebrew

Instituted Means of Grace Fasting
  • Since Jesus practiced fasting, so should the
    People Called Methodists.
  • Friday considered by Wesley the day of fasting.
  • Purpose of fasting to wean the soul from earthly
    things and remain mindful of our spiritual

Instituted Means of Grace Christian Conference
  • Based on his reading of the New Testament and
    knowledge of Patristic Literature, Wesley
    believed it imperative that believers gather on a
    regular basisin small groupsfor fellowship,
    nurture and accountability.

Instituted Means of Grace Christian Conference
  • For this reason, Wesley understood his Class
    Meetings as an essential means of Grace (a means
    he thought missing among the Anglican Communion)
  • Christians also called to witness their faith to
    others. The ability to order your conversation
    right the second dimension of Christian

Prudential Means of Grace
  • While small groups served as Instituted Means of
    Grace, their structure and organization would
    vary or change over time. For this reason,
    Wesley spoke of Prudential Means of Grace.

Prudential Means of Grace
  • The Methodist Societies are a company of men
    sic having the form and seeking the power of
    godliness, united in order to pray together, to
    receive the word of exhortation, and to watch one
    another in love, that they may help each other
    work out their salvation.

Prudential Means of Grace
  • Disciplines of Members
  • Doing no harm (abstaining from swearing,
    drunkenness, smuggling, extravagant dress,
    useless diversions, self-indulgence and
  • Doing good (care from ones own body and the body
    of others, caring for the sick and distressed,
    providing exhortation and reproof

Prudential Means of Grace
  • Disciplines of Members
  • Attending to all ordinance of God (liturgy,
    sacraments, study, appropriate ministry of the
    Word, prayers and mutual encouragement)
  • Regular attendance to morning and evening prayer
  • Attendance to particular BANDS Married men,
    married women, single men, single women

Prudential Means of Grace
  • Disciplines of Members
  • Reading Christian books and Scripture
  • Clear moral standard
  • Definite structuring of ones time

Prudential Means of Grace
  • But remember, Discipline does not merit grace.
    The Means of Grace only serve as historically
    recognized ways in which the Holy Spirit performs
    its work in the world.
  • Only God can initiate the relationship with the
    human works cannot serve to establish a
    relationship with the Divine One.

Doctrine of the Church
  • The visible Church is a congregation of faithful
    men sic in which the pure Word of God is
    preached and the sacraments be duly administered
    according to Christs ordinance in all those
    things that of necessity are requisite to the
  • Article XIII

Essence of the Visible Church
  • Living Faith
  • Preaching
  • Due Administration of Sacraments and Liturgy

Essence of the Visible Church
  • But what priority should be given to these
  • Classical Protestants place emphasis on the
    second item while Catholics stress the third
  • Like other Reformers, Wesley places great
    emphasis on the preaching and hearing of the Word.

Essence of the Visible Church
  • Yet, Wesley also affirmed in importance of Living
  • a congregation of faithful men sic
    recognizes Living Faith as a necessary element of

Essence of the Visible Church
  • Wesley also maintained a strong emphasis on the
    administration of the sacraments and the Liturgy
  • Could overcome the unfaithfulness of the pastor
  • Could serve as a means of grace
  • Recognized the Sovereignty and freedom of Christ
    to work through more than preaching
  • Emphasized that holiness of Church can be
    mediated through the sacraments rather than

Essence of the Visible Church
  • By granting weight to all three essentials of
    the Visible Church, Wesley attempted to suggest
    the unity of Church as a vital aspect of the
    Churchs mission.
  • Maintained the vertical relationship of
    believer to God and horizontal relationship
    of believer to the world tension.

Essence of the Visible Church
  • The holiness of the Church seen by Wesley in two
  • Subjective Holiness (the relationship of the
    Believer to God that emerges from Objective
  • Objective Holiness (maintained through the
    sacraments, Word and liturgy)

Essence of the Visible Church
  • Small Group fellowship necessary for maintaining
    the balance between Subjective and Objective
  • The form for small groups emerges as Prudential
    Means of Grace although Wesley understood the
    need for such a gathering as the Instituted Means
    of Grace known as Christian Conference.

Essence of the Visible Church
  • Such small groups should be fashioned as
    eclesiolae gathered in ecclesia multitudinous
    sacred assemblies within the larger
    congregation of the baptized.
  • Eclesiolae provides mutual encouragement,
    examination, service, prayer, growth and

Essence of the Visible Church
  • Wesley attempted to highlight three critical
    dimensions of the Church
  • Unity of Purpose (through the Three Essentials)
  • Mission (through Subjective and Objective
  • Renewal (through small groups)

Essence of the Visible Church
  • Doctrine that must be preached to all
  • Original Sin
  • Justification by Faith
  • Sanctification
  • Trinity
  • Atonement

Essence of the Visible Church
  • These essential doctrine would bind most
    Classical Protestants to one another while
    allowing for disagreement between specific
    traditions on several matters (i.e.
  • One should maintain a Catholic Spirit regarding
    those doctrinal issues that divide traditions
    (while never surrendering their own doctrinal
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