The Goodness and Severity of God

The Goodness and Severity of God
Robert Wurtz II

Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. (Romans 11:22 NKJV)

Paul turns our attention to the state of the unbelieving Jews of which He had elected to His purposes, but they refused to admit the need of confession of sin on their part and so set aside the baptism of John. They annulled God’s purposes of grace so far as they applied to them (A.T. Robertson on Luke 7:30). As a consequence of this, instead of continuing in God’s goodness they became objects of the severity of God. The severity of God is then defined as being “cut off” as one would cut a branch off of a tree. It ceases to enjoy the precious resources of its former source, immediately dies and begins the process of drying up. 

Our passage brings the two ways in which man experiences God into view: goodness and severity. Our Greek word for goodness could just as well be translated kindness. We have this rendering of Romans 2:4 from the ESV, “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” The kindly quality of God, manifested in the various graces that He provides, is intended to cause everyone to change their mind and turn to Him from sin. Nevertheless, the people presume upon God’s goodness and as an immutable consequence are treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath when God will judge the human race. (see Romans 2:5)

If everyone on earth were moving in the goodness of God there would be no need for reminders such as Romans 2:4-5 and Romans 11:22. Nevertheless, the world and even many churches are loaded with people who are under the severity of God. That reality forces the hand of any loving Christian or minister to warn the people about their condition. The problem is that people want a God who is devoid of the severity quality and there is no such God. To present God without both His kindly and severity qualities is to misrepresent God and fashion an idol that fits our own desires. 

Moreover, this is why a growing number of theologies are designed to render God’s severity quality obsolete or impotent. People want to live without the threat of God’s severity looming over their heads. This is understandable. Right? I mean, who wants to live in fear all the time? In fact, this is why modern versions of Calvinism are becoming popular. They offer the promise of eternal security in spite of how sinful the person lives. In this way Calvinism is more like a soul-insurance policy that will cover me even if I backslide and renounce Christ. I don’t have to take seriously the religion of my fathers, but can scorn the standards of many generations under the soul’s shield of shelter. It becomes a modern rendition of Anne Hutchinson’s antinomian free grace theology that was condemned as heresy in the early 1600s. 

Paul tells us to consider the goodness and severity of God (emphasis on and). We do ourselves no favors by ignoring one or the other. Our Greek word for consider means to see and perceive. The KJV renders the word behold. God’s goodness (kindness) is a wonderful thing if we continue in it. If we do not then in time it will no longer apply to us — for we, as did the unbelieving Jews, will experience the severity of God. This is the simplicity of it. If we want to recreate God as a kindly God only, then we have put ourselves in danger of misunderstanding God and His expectations of us. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. (Romans 11:22 NKJV) 

Prayerlessness (Lessons From Hannah and Eli)

Prayerlessness (Lessons From Hannah and Eli)
Robert Wurtz II

So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the LORD. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish. Then she made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.” 

And it happened, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli watched her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!” 

But Hannah answered and said, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.” Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.” (1 Samuel 1:9–17 NKJV)

It is hard to read this passage and not be riled by the complete lack of discernment that Eli showed when Hannah wept before the Lord. Here was a man ready to accuse a praying woman for being drunk, while his two playing sons Hophni and Phinehas were living like devils in the ministry unthwarted.  

Hannah wept because she had no son. Her husband tried to comfort her by giving her extra food to eat, but his other wife Peninnah, in her diabolic cruelty tormented Hannah until she couldn’t even eat. Then Hannah goes to the house of the Lord to pray about the situation and is met with Eli’s recklessness. the devil will use anything or anyone to discourage us from praying. In modern times, we might characterize Eli’s actions as criminal negligence. Nevertheless, while he was watching Hannah’s lips, God was hearkening to her prayer. In fact, he wist not that Hannah was praying in his replacement. 

Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. (1 Corinthians 10:11 ESV)

It is folly to pretend to have faculties of spiritual discernment and yet be void of basic common sense. Paul once told the Corinthians, who were keen on moving on the Spiritual gifts, “…does not even nature teach you?” (
1 Cor. 11:14a) Any person who had even the faintest understanding of Jehovah would have known how evil these boys were in His sight. For starters, they were having sexual relations with women in the Temple. To make matters worse Phinehas had a pregnant wife at home. Moreover, in their gluttony they would take the largest portions of the offering for themselves causing the offering of the Lord to be despised. It is sobering to think that a sinner could probably been called in to bring correction to such high-handed disregard for the things of God. That’s how bad they were. 

Why did Eli allow this to happen? God said it was because he honored his sons more than he honored YHWH (Jehovah God). Loyalty is when you will stand by a person even when they are in the wrong; faithfulness is when we will stand for truth no matter who it effects. Eli’s loyalty to his sons trumped his faithfulness to God. Absolutely nothing moved Eli to correct His sons. He was receiving undeniable and direct threats from God (not that God makes any idle threat). God spoke to him in the strongest of ways warning him of what would happen if he did not stop them. Nevertheless, he carried on into the 40th year as if God was not talking. 

Prayers and Players

Our times are little different than the day Hannah prayed as Eli’s sons played. There are people today who are vexed by the high-handedness of our times and pray that God will send revival. All the while the reports come in each year of another minister or worship leader who duped the people for years while living to a greater or lesser degree like Hophni and Phinehas. Men and women who were lauded as being “anointed” and how you could “feel the presence of God” while they preached and sang — turn out to be in adulterous affairs or worse. There is a blindness today that is the direct result of prayerlessness. Some hear these things and are disillusioned while others line up in their defense. 

While a chorus of articles will go on to press on the topic of “not judging” I think we need to ask a more pointed question; why do we seem to have so much sin in the camp and yet we laud the presence of God being among us? A cursory read of the Old Testament reveals that God does not dwell among people when sin is rife. I suggest that what people call the presence of God is not the presence of God at all. It’s the same goosebumps they would feel if they attended a secular concert. Modern technology moves people. In the old days people needed to pray so that God would honor the meetings. Today the musicians just play and the people think they are feeling God. Men can falsify the presence of God by creating an atmosphere with sound and lights. But the environment is often one of prayerlessness. Not prayer as in listen to your favorite worship singer and sing along… prayer as in getting away and praying with a pure conscience until you truly touch God. 

When a person is right with God they don’t need modern technology to prop them up. the presence of God in the Old Testament was akin to our concept of “face to face” or “eye to eye.” When our conscience is clear we can know the presence of God. However, a person can be playing around in sin, switch the power button on to the sound system and fool themselves and other people into thinking it’s the presence of God. This is how these scandals go on for years and people still think God is with the person

What happens? Prayerlessness is compensated for with music that generates a false presence of God. These are the cold facts. In the old days when someone was off of their game everyone could tell because they struggled to minister. They had no unction. Not today. Technology serves as a kind of life-support to keep things feeling and seeming to be spiritual. A preacher can crank up his microphone and many people will think he‘s anointed and “powerful.” Switch the power off and see what happens.

The same lack of discernment that characterized Eli’s life, and the same style playing around in the house of God is here today. Carnal professors of Christianity would rather rebuke the person who is trying to touch God than rebuke the people who are causing God’s presence to leave. The consolation that we have is that God will answer the Hannah’s of the world in due time. It took decades for things to turn around in Israel… but turn around it did.       

Maintaining a Good Conscience

The Answer of a Good Conscience

Robert Wurtz II

Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned (1 Timothy 1:5)

Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck (1 Timothy 1:19)

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:21).

The CONSCIENCE is that unaffiliated member of our being that God has placed within us to speak on His behalf. It measures our behavior and attitude against what we believe to be right and wrong, absolutely. It judges exactly as it sees without any prejudice. Whatever we sincerely believe is true will be the standard the conscience applies.

The conscience is the mechanism of moral judgment that men and women pass on the morality of his/her own actions. It also passes judgment on the purity of our motives. It is the secret testimony of the soul, whereby it approves things that are good, and condemns those that are evil without partiality. Ideally, the will of God is the only rule that should immediately bind the conscience. People can sear their conscience, but they cannot make it call evil good and good evil; nor can they calm it down when it has risen to pass judgment on our behavior and/or attitude.

The Guilty Conscience

The guilty conscience is one that believes the person has acted in disharmony with what the person believes is right or wrong. A guilty conscience is a primary obstacle to people coming to the throne of grace or to do His service (Hebrews 9:9). It shouts guilty! Which tends to cause man to want to run or hide from God. This is what Adam and Eve experienced when God came looking for them. In this way man cannot act contrary to what they believe is God’s will without suffering the pain of conscience. A guilty conscience can seize a person like a claw upon the mind. Many criminals have confessed under duress from their conscience.

The Purging of the Conscience

God designed the conscience within human beings to silence the sense of alarm when the right condition is met. For example, the blood of bulls and of goats could not take away sins- nor did that blood have the power to purge the conscience of its sense of guilt. For ages, people have felt “vexed” when they have done wrong and have struggled to find relief. However, we read in Hebrews 9:14, How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God, and again, Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water (Hebrews 10:22). When the blood of Jesus Christ is applied to us by the Holy Spirit, the conditions are met to silence the sense of alarm coming from within the conscience.

The Evil Conscience

Of an evil conscience there are several kinds. When our conscience has lost its sense of right and wrong (to some degree or another) it could be called a polluted or defiled conscience. The conscience is ‘evil’ when it gives either none or a false testimony as to past or present actions.

When reflecting upon ones own sin and wickedness, if the conscience feels no pain, it is bad (evil), and said to be seared or hardened (1 Timothy 4:2). This is caused by people deliberate ignoring what the conscience is communicating. Couple this with quenching the Holy Spirit and a person is in danger of being hardened beyond hope. Moreover, we may develop a “dull spot” in an area of the conscience that is continually quenched or seared. It is also evil when, during the commission of sin(s), it does not prick us inwardly (in the heart). 

A Good Conscience

A good conscience is one that has been purged by the blood of Christ and is utilizing the laws of God written upon our hearts by the Holy Spirit as a reference point for its moral decisions. Everyone is born with certain ‘default’ laws of righteousness upon our hearts. As we grow in the knowledge of God our conscience is trained with right information and becomes increasingly effective as a guide.

The Weak Conscience

A weak conscience is one in which there are residual rules and regulations of people that have nothing to do with God, but yet are present in the heart and are used by the conscience to make rulings for good or evil. This is seen in great detail in Romans 14. As it is written, accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand (NIV).

This is true in all sorts of disputable matters. The issue is, does the person have a pure biblical justification in their conscience for what they are doing? If so then they are acting in faith. If a person believes that what they are about to do is sin — it is sin unto them (Romans 14:23). Why, because they cannot do it in a pure conscience. They cannot act in faith and whatsoever is not of faith is sin. 

Dealing With a Weak Conscience

This is not to say that God has a different set of rules for everyone because He does not. The issue has to do with our growth and having been built up in the knowledge of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). It takes time for God to erase things like ‘old wives fables’ and ‘legalistic laws’ and add His laws in their place. 

There are times when we are vulnerable to certain sins and the Holy Spirit will convict us to stay away from things that make us fall. We must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and our conscience. When counseling sinners, one must not be advised to transgress their conscience, nor allowed to feel like it’s OK to do so. If a person thinks something they are about to do is a sin — they should not do it.

Evidence of a Seared Conscience

Something worse than an overly-sensitive conscience is a seared conscience. When a person can compromise or sin and feel no pain of conscience (whether in whole or in a particular area), repentance is in order. Once repentance is secured God must reestablish sensitivity in the conscience. To transgress the area again is to re-sear what God has healed. 

The great enemy of our conscience is the ever increasingly wicked world system that is dumbing down the conscience of society. God has placed the Church (true Christians) in society to be a light. When believers conform to this world they have a diminishing light and conscience. Soon they side with evil with no pain of conscience. They can subject themselves to the presence of evil with no problem. This is the great challenge of our times. We must reject this tendency, maintain a good conscience, lest we be as some (who) having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck (1 Timothy 1:19)

The Spirit of Ahimaaz

The Spirit of Ahimaaz
Robert Wurtz II

And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom. And all the people heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom. (2 Samuel 18:5 KJV)

Then Joab said, “I cannot linger with you.” And he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through Absalom’s heart, while he was still alive in the midst of the terebinth tree. And ten young men who bore Joab’s armor surrounded Absalom, and struck and killed him. So Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing Israel. For Joab held back the people. And they took Absalom and cast him into a large pit in the woods, and laid a very large heap of stones over him. Then all Israel fled, everyone to his tent.” (2 Samuel 18:14–17 NKJV)

The king said, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king’s servant and me your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I did not know what it was about. (2 Samuel 18:29 NKJV)

Our times are similar to a story found during king David’s reign over Israel. When David’s rebellious son Absalom was killed, there were two messengers who went to bring the news. The man who left first was a Cushite and he went with both the good news and the bad news. The second man was Ahimaaz, a friend of David’s who begged Joab to allow him to run as well. Joab’s words are insightful, “Why do you want to run, my son, since that you will have no reward for the news?” Ahimaaz said, “Come what may, I want to run.” So Joab said, “Run!” Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain and outran the Cushite (2 Samuel 18:22b, 23). 

As we read on in the text, we see that Ahimaaz out ran the Cushite in order to be the first to bring good news. In fact, when he reached ear-shot of David he shouted out, “All is well!” (2 Samuel 18:28 NKJV) This is the Hebrew “Shalom!” He then went on to tell David that the battle had been won. The trouble was, David was most concerned about the fate of his beloved son, Absalom. In other words, he was concerned with with all the news not just the good news. His son had been killed, but Ahimaaz did not have the heart to share that bad news with his friend. He left the job half finished and the king with the impression that “All is well!” Nevertheless, the Cushite was more direct and told the whole story – bad news and all.

Matthew Henry comments saying,  “Ahimaaz soon discerned, what Joab intimated to him, that the death of the king’s son would make the tidings of the day very unwelcome, and therefore in his report left that matter doubtful; and, though he gave occasion to suspect how it was, yet, that the thunderclap might not come too suddenly upon the poor perplexed king, he refers him to the next messenger, whom they saw coming, for a more particular account of it.” Amihaaz thought he would win a reward for the news, but he soon found out that once the bad news is told along with the good news… it would not be well received. I think it more reasonable to say that Ahimaaz message, void of the vital truth the king needed to hear, was in fact a lie. 

Sadly, the mentality of Ahimaaz seems to dominate our times. It is akin to the days of Jeremiah when he twice wrote these words, “For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, Saying, “Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14, 8:11 NKJV) Today there is an unwillingness to tell people that they are sinners and separated from God. There is an unwillingness to make the people know the extent of their “wound” so that the good news of the Gospel will make sense to them. Rather than tell the bad news many ministers and Christians proclaim with a shout as soon as they can… “Shalom! Shalom!” when there is no shalom. The people are in a carnal state that is at enmity with God. Many are ushered into the churches and the enmity remains. 

 Here in the United States we are in an election year. Just a few days ago Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly. Many Christians are thinking in terms of getting a God-fearing man into the Presidency and the Supreme Court. However, this will not save America. We will continue down this downhill slide until Christians, who preach in the “spirit” of Ahimaaz, repent and proclaim the Gospel — bad news and all. We need a Bible-based Gospel that will fully heal the peoples’ sin problem. Until that happens, the churches will continue to fill up with canal minded people who are in a heart state of enmity with God; and America will go on without the true Spiritual leadership that it desperately needs.  We need God to raise up some real preachers who will proclaim His message if we are ever to have a hope in this land. 

"In Church" or "In Christ"? (

In Church or In Christ? (Lessons from John Wesley’s Aldersgate experience)
Robert Wurtz II

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. (2 Corinthians 13:5 NKJV)

The renowned Evangelical theologian J.I. Packer, in his book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, reminds us that “Aspiration, resolution, and religiosity are no substitutes for faith. Martin Luther and John Wesley had all these long before they had faith.” This is a sobering consideration, but a true one.  

One of the primary strategies of evangelists in the era leading up to the 20th century was to call into question the hearer’s assurance of salvation. We do not hear preaching like this in the main stream, so it is necessary to experience it for ourselves in order to understand the effect it would have on the hearer. George Whitefield (1714-1770) began his soul-searching sermon with this standard type of enquiry:

And, I think, if I know anything of mine own heart, my heart’s desire, as well as my prayer to God, for you all, is, that I may see you sitting down in the kingdom of our heavenly Father. But then, though we all hope to go to heaven when we die, yet, if we may judge by people’s lives, and our Lord says, “that by their fruits we may know them,” I am afraid it will be found, that thousands, and ten thousands, who hope to go to this blessed place after death, are not now in the way to it while they live. Though we call ourselves Christians, and would consider it as an affront put upon us for anyone to doubt whether we were Christians or not; yet there are a great many, who bear the name of Christ, that yet do not so much as know what real Christianity is. Hence it is, that if you ask a great many, upon what their hopes of heaven are founded, they will tell you that they belong to this, or that, or the other denomination, and part of Christians, into which Christendom is now unhappily divided. If you ask others, upon what foundation they have built their hope of heaven, they will tell you, that they have been baptized, that their fathers and mothers, presented them to the Lord Jesus Christ in their infancy; and though, instead of fighting under Christ’s banner, they have been fighting against Him, almost ever since they were baptized, yet because they have been admitted to church, and their names are in the register book of the parish, therefore they will make us believe, that their names are also written in the book of life. But a great many, who will not build their hopes of salvation upon such a sorry rotten foundation as this, yet if they are, what we generally call, negatively good people; if they live so as their neighbors cannot say that they do anybody harm, they do not doubt but they shall be happy when they die; nay, I have found many such die, as the Scripture speaks, “without any hands in their death.” And if a person is what the world calls an honest moral man, if he does justly, and, what the world calls, love a little mercy, is now and then good-natured, reaches out his hand to the poor, receives the sacrament once or twice a year, and is outwardly sober and honest; the world looks upon such an one as a Christian indeed, and doubtless we are to judge charitably of every such person. There are many likewise, who go on in a round of duties, a model of performances, that think they shall go to heaven; but if you examine them, though they have a Christ in their heads, they have no Christ in their hearts.

This opening statement was designed to call to question whether or not one was truly converted. It asks the question, “On what is your hope built?” This was akin to John the Baptist saying, “God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now the axe is laid to the root of the tree; every tree that does not bring forth good fruit will be hewn down and cast into the fire.” It matters not your affiliation or pedigree, but whether or not you have truly repented and trusted Christ. Have you begun in the Spirit? Does your life yield the fruit of the Holy Spirit? This is the true evidence that one has passed from death unto life.[1]

John Wesley

            George Whitefield had a dear friend named John Wesley (1703-1791). As a child Wesley had been saved from a fiery building and true to form he was indeed a man “plucked from the burning.” He became an Anglican priest in England that had studied at Christ Church, Oxford. There he helped found the “Holy Club” along with his brother Charles and George Whitefield. This was the beginning of the Methodists. He traveled to the Colonies to do a work for God, only to realize on the ship and in a raging storm that he was not truly converted himself. As shocking as that may seem, this man at the age of 35, that was raised to know the Word of God at his mother’s knee, had all his life trusted in his own righteousness for salvation. He wrote in his journal:

All the time I was at Savannah, Georgia I was thus beating the air. Being ignorant of the righteousness of Christ, which by a living faith in him brings salvation “to everyone that believeth,” I sought to establish my own righteousness, and so labored in the fire all my days. I was now, properly under the Law; I knew that the Law of God was spiritual; I consented to it, that it was good. Yea, I delighted in it, after the inner man. Yet was I carnal, sold under sin. Every day was I constrained to cry out, “What I do, I allow not; for what I would, I do not; but what I hate, that I do. To will is indeed present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not. For the good which I would, I do not, but the evil which I would not, that I do.[2]

He admitted that he was neither freed from sin, nor did he have the witness of the Holy Spirit. His own diagnosis was that he had sought these things by the works of the Law and not the hearing of faith. All the while, the ministry went on. He wrote, “And I continued preaching and following after and trusting in that righteousness, whereby no flesh can be justified.” Returning home, he diligently sought the Lord. He renounced his own righteousness. He added:

During this whole struggle between nature and grace, (which had now continued above ten years,) I had many remarkable returns to prayer; especially when I was in trouble. I had many sensible comforts, which are indeed no other than short anticipations of the life of faith. But I was still under the law, not under grace: (the state most who are called Christians are content to live and die in).[3]

Wesley struggled for a while coming to a place of complete trust in the finished work of Christ. Herein is the Reformers position of man’s estate before God validated—in that man is helpless in his own strength to reform himself sufficiently to become a child of God. Repentance? Wesley had much of it. Sorrow for sin? Wesley had it in superabundance. A desire to do what was right in the sight of the Lord? Indeed, Wesley burned with a desire for righteousness but he was going about it his own way. God had to arrest his attention and bring a great light upon the subject. It was on that ship somewhere in the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean that God brought him into reality. As the Roman soldiers and prisoners in Acts 27, Wesley experienced the fear of imminent death by drowning in darkness. The whole experience must have been a foretaste of hell. He didn’t want to die like this—in fear rather than faith. As the Moravians prayed and sang peacefully in the ship Wesley’s nerves were frayed like no other time. All of his life he had done as the shipmaster in Acts 27, doing everything he could to get rid of things that offend. He bolstered his “ship” with all kinds of earthly disciplines, but in the midst of the sea, the chords that held his soul secure were melted before this flame. When it seemed that all of his life was destined for one massive shipwreck, he arrived in the place where God could really save him. John Wesley continues his testimony:

God prepared Peter Border for me as soon as I came to London, affirmed of true faith in Christ, (which is but one,) that it had those two fruits inseparably attending it, “Do minion over sin, and constant peace from a sense of forgiveness.” I was quite amazed and looked upon it as a new Gospel. If this was so, it was clear, I did not have faith. But I was not willing to be convinced of this. Therefore I disputed with all my might and labored to prove that faith might be where these were not; especially where the sense of forgiveness was not: for all the Scriptures relating to this I had been long since taught to construe away and to call all “Presbyterians” who spoke otherwise. Besides, I well saw, no one could (in the nature of things) have such a sense of forgiveness, and not feel it. But I felt it not. If then there was no faith without this, all my pretensions to faith dropped at once.[4](emphasis added)

One morning Wesley woke up and opened his Bible to the passage, There are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, even that you should be partakers of the divine nature(2 Peter 1:4). Returning later he opened to another verse, you are not far from the Kingdom of God. In the evening, he went to hear a message. The experience he describes would mark a radical change in his life:

In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change that God works in the heart through faith in Christ, 1 felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me, that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death. I began to pray with all my might for those who had in a more especial manner despitefully used me and persecuted me. I then testified openly to all there what I now first felt in my heart.[5]

This marked John Wesley’s conversion. It is commonly referred to as his Aldersgate experience. He was 35 years old. It is instructional for those who may have been involved in Christianity all of their lives and yet have not truly been born of the Spirit. Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. (2 Corinthians 13:5 NKJV)

[1]The Apostle John deals with this subject in 1 John 3. Here we have a list of qualities that we may “know” if we are passed from death to life or not. The means by which we pass from death to live are given in John 5:24. The question becomes, have you believed in such a way that you have passed from death unto life? This is not a mental assent to doctrinal points but the placing of ones faith in trust completely in Christ in such a way that He can believe us.  
[2]John Wesley, The Journal of the Rev. John Wesley Volume I, January, 1738, 1827, P. 94-96 See also Romans 7. 
[3]Ibid, Wesley.
[4]Ibid, Wesley.
[5]Ibid, Wesley, P.98

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