Read: Acts 2:1-21
The experience that had the greatest impact on John Wesley’s life and ministry happened May 24th, 1738, 281 years ago this week. This is known as Wesley’s Aldersgate experience. Wesley begrudgingly went to a Bible study and there was surprised by an anointing of the Holy Spirit that transformed his life.
This is John Wesley’s journal entry for that date:
“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 the leader was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in 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.”
Many don’t realize that John Wesley had been a pastor for 10 years before his Aldersgate experience! That’s important. At Aldersgate John Wesley’s “head knowledge” became “heart knowledge”. We have many Christians who are in that exact place. They are “believers” cognitively, but it hasn’t sunk in to their hearts. They live plagued by doubts, wondering if Christ’s saving grace really will work for them, or even that God truly does loves them. That is so unfortunate.
I don’t think that John Wesley was “saved” at Aldersgate. I believe he experienced a powerful, life-changing anointing of the Holy Spirit. That’s an insight to all of us long-term believers. We may think that we’ve reached the point of spiritual maturity, but the Spirit is dynamic, not complacent. God can and will stir in the one who is open to the work of the Holy Spirit, to bring passion, purpose, and renewal with an anointing (a blessing of the Holy Spirit empowering a person to fulfill a calling from God).
John Wesley “went very unwillingly” to a Bible study. He wasn’t expecting to receive such a wonderful gift from God that evening. Sometimes God can bless us beyond our wildest hopes, despite our bad attitudes and our “going through the motions”. Aldersgate strangely warmed Wesley’s heart; it changed his life, and transformed his ministry. He was ready for God to use him for a great revival in the world.
Pastor Rob Nystrom