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Wesleyan Theology


Wesleyan Theology Part Three: New Birth and Assurance The Holy Spirit The Doctrine of Holy Spirit of the Church Fathers accepted by Wesley. Holy Spirit proceeds from ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Wesleyan Theology

Wesleyan Theology
  • Part Three New Birth and Assurance

The Holy Spirit
  • The Doctrine of Holy Spirit of the Church Fathers
    accepted by Wesley.
  • Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.
  • Hence, the Spirit is of the same substance as the
    Father and Son.

The Holy Spirit
  • As the dynamic, ongoing Divine presence in the
    world, the Holy Spirit is that which conveys
    Prevenient Grace to the sinner.

The Holy Spirit
  • Holy Spirit may act within the world through
    miracles and preaching to manifest an awareness
    of the condition of sin.
  • This dimension of the Holy Spirit, however not a
    major emphasis of Wesley.

The Holy Spirit
  • Wesley more concerned with the work of the Holy
    Spirit in believers.
  • The Holy Spirit works to help the believer
    receive Christ as one would receive a loved
    family member into their lives.

The Holy Spirit
  • All claims of knowledge of God through the Holy
    Spirit, however, must be tested against Scripture
    and Tradition, according to Wesley.
  • Wesley tended to distrust persons who laid claim
    to direct guidance by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit
  • I have declared again and again that I make the
    Word of God the rule of my actions, and that I no
    more follow any secret or invisible impulse
    instead thereof that I follow Mahomet Mohammad
    or Confucius.
  • Letters, II, p. 205

The Holy Spirit
  • How many have mistaken the voice of their own
    imagination for this witness of the Spirit of
    God, and thence idly presumed they were children
    of God, while they were doing the work of the
    devil! These are truly and properly
  • The Witness of the Spirit (I), based on Romans
    816, (1872 edition)

Justification and New Birth
  • At the point of Justification, the believer
    experiences New Birth.
  • Justification considered a change in the
    believer's relationship with Godan external
    change from Faith of a Servant for a Master to
    Faith of an Offspring for a Parent
  • New Birth (Conversion) considered an internal
    transformation from sinner to saint. One is
    restored to the Image of God.

Justification and New Birth
  • In this sense, Wesley considered Justification
    the objective work of the Holy Spirit, since it
    brought about a change in relationship between
    God and the believer.

Justification and New Birth
  • New Birth (Conversion), however, was considered
    the first fruits of Justification.
  • This internal change from sinner to saint
    marks the beginning of Sanctification (being
    transformed into the total likeness of Christ)

New Birth (Conversion)
  • Wesley maintained that conversion could be either
    instantaneous (as believed by the Moravian Peter
    Bohler) or gradual.
  • Like the actual birth of an infant, conversion
    brings about real change within the believer.

New Birth (Conversion)
  • The eyes of understanding open
  • The ears hear the voice of God say, Be of good
    cheer thy sins are forgiven. Go and sin no
  • The heart feels the presence of the Holy Spirit.
  • One takes their first breath of God upon the
    soul and returns the breath to God (spiritual
  • One takes their first step toward becoming the
    mind that was in Christ Jesus

Doctrine of Assurance
  • Assurance, from a Wesleyan perspective, refers to
    the doubtless knowledge that God has forgiven
    ones sins and reconciliation (justification) has,
    indeed, occurred.

Doctrine of Assurance
  • . . . I want that faith which none can have
    without knowing that he sic hath it (though
    many may imagine they have it who have not). . .
    . He is freed from doubt. . .
  • Journal, I, p. 424

Doctrine of Assurance
  • Indeed it is the same Spirit who works in them
    that clear and cheerful confidence that their
    heart is upright toward God that good assurance,
    that they now do, through his grace, the things
    which are acceptable in his sight that they are
    now in the path which leadeth to life, and shall,
    by the mercy of God, endure therein to the end.

Doctrine of Assurance
  • It is He who giveth them a lively expectation of
    receiving all good things at God's hand a joyous
    prospect of that crown of glory, which is
    reserved in heaven for them. By this anchor a
    Christian is kept steady in the midst of the
    waves of this troublesome world, and preserved
    from striking upon either of those fatal rocks,
    -- presumption or despair.
  • Circumcision of the Heart, pt. 9 (1872 edition)

Doctrine of Assurance
  • Wesley understood assurance as a gift given by
    the Holy Spirit on the sole basis of the
    believers truth in the merits of Christ.

Doctrine of Assurance
  • But assurance is more than mere emotional
  • Wesley assumed assurance emerged as a conviction
    that God works through the Holy Spirit to forgive
    the believer.
  • There may not always be the feeling of divine
    forgiveness but the conviction that one is
    forgiven is mandatory.

Doctrine of Assurance
  • Neither right feelings nor right actions can
    be seen as necessary for Justification.
  • One does not earn salvation because one either
    feels right with God or performs moral works in
    the world.

Doctrine of Assurance
  • While the new relationship (Justification) can
    bring about good works and holiness, these are
    simply fruits and not the source of ones

Doctrine of Assurance
  • Wesley also insisted that the testimony of Gods
    Spirit be antecedent (that is, occur before)
    individual feelings.
  • Feelings cannot be the test for Assurance.

Doctrine of Assurance
  • Further, Wesley thought objective (visible)
    marks of true assurance
  • Repentance of sin
  • Awareness of a mighty change
  • Fruits of the Spirit (lowliness, meekness,
    patience, gentleness, long-suffering)
  • Newness of outward life (as a new lover of God)
    the joy in obeyingat all pointsthe commands of
    the loving Divine Parent

Doctrine of Assurance
  • But problems could easily emerge with such an
    objective test
  • A willingness to judge others by such measures
    while unwilling to judge oneself
  • Emerging despair in those sinners who did not
    feel they ever measure up to the rigors of the

Doctrine of Assurance
  • In latter years, Wesley decides that Assurance is
    NOT necessary for salvation. Instead, assurance
    should be understood as a great gift to the
    believer (since it gives the believer the
    freedom of a child.)

New Birth Sin or No Sin?
  • Early in Wesleys theological development, he
    maintained that new birth (conversion) brought
    freedom from all sin.
  • Later understood, however, that sin continues in

Baptism as New Birth
  • Based on Wesleys sermons, it is obvious that he
    believed baptism to be a form of new birth
    (conversion) by which God begins the work of
  • Through baptism God can enter the life of the
    believer and bring about newness of life.
  • Yet, baptism not necessary for salvation (lest
    all Quakers be damned). Only Trust in Christ
    necessary for salvation.

Wesley and Baptism
  • While Wesley believed in the freedom of God to
    work in unlimited ways, he also believed that God
    operated through established, historical means
    (such as baptism).

Wesley and Baptism
  • Supported infant baptism as scriptural
  • Supported three modes of baptism (immersion,
    sprinkling and pouring) as scriptural.
  • Baptism begins the process by which God can
    regenerate the heart of the beleiver.

Wesley and Baptism
  • Yet one must consciously accept the regenerative
    effect of new birth through baptism for God to
    work through this means.
  • In this sense, only one baptism necessary for the
    remission of sins.
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