Read: Ephesians 2:4-10
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
John Wesley had a passion for personal faith. He wanted people to know that they could have a new life through faith in Christ, and be free from the weight of sin through grace. Many people would call that “the Gospel”, and certainly that is the heart of the Gospel, but there is more, two more BIG STEPS.
Second step: when Wesley studied Luther and Calvin, and the reformation movements they had led more than a century earlier, he concluded that they were “silly saints”. Why? because they led people to salvation, and then stopped. Wesley realized that Christians, especially new ones, need support and they need to grow stronger in their faith. God’s plan wasn’t to provide personal salvation and then stop; faith was supposed to continue as active discipleship, and the work of the Holy Spirit that Wesley called, “sanctification”. The Holy Spirit is given to help us become stronger and holier Christians. Luther and Calvin didn’t emphasis this next step, and many fell away from the faith they had once embraced. Wesley organized Christians into covenant groups to help them continue to grow in their faith and discipleship.
The third big step has been called the “social gospel”. Simply put, our Christian faith should make a difference in the world. The gospel isn’t just about the saving of our souls, it is about “the transformation of the world”. The Methodist revival in England had that kind of impact on their culture, and non-believers saw that the Christian faith was bearing fruit for the benefit of all. Wesley was passionate for the whole gospel.
One of John Wesley’s best known quotes captures this passion:
“Do all the good you can…”
“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.” – John Wesley
Pastor Rob Nystrom