Monday, August 22, 2016

Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit - Sermon 3

The third in our series is Wesley’s sermon “The Circumcision of the Heart” which was originally preached in 1733. 

In 1732, a derogatory letter appeared in a weekly London publication that spoke about the "Sect called Methodists."  While it was a work designed to defame the group, Wesley utilized the aroused curiosity of the public to offer this sermon that focuses on the doctrine of holiness.

Knowing people might be hearing him for the first time because of the curiosity stemming from the article, Wesley spent over forty hours crafting and refining this sermon.

The sermon, preached in January of 1733, contains one of Wesley's most distinctive doctrines: Christian perfection understood as perfect love of God and neighbor, rooted in a radical faith in Christ's revelation of that love and power.

Wesley's basic understanding of salvation can be heard here: original sin, the redemptive act of God in Christ, and justification by faith which leads to a fundamental change of heart as well as participation in the renewal of self through the power of the Holy Spirit.

It is important to note that while Wesley emphasizes our sin, his emphasis is not to draw attention to our "utter depravity in sin," but rather he wishes to emphasize the grace and mercy of God that overcomes our sin.  As Rev. Kim Goddard once said, the emphasis in Wesley's theology is "not man, oh so bad, but God, oh so good."

- Pastor Charles

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