Before John Wesley became the famous outdoor preacher who turned Britain upside down, he was a missionary to the newly discovered America. It wasn’t exactly his finest hour; Wesley would ultimately fail in his missional endeavors, and he would face serious doubts that had plagued him his whole life.
Shortly after he arrived in Georgia in February of 1726, Wesley sought advice regarding his moral and spiritual conduct from August Spangenberg, a Moravian pastor. Before Spangenberg would answer Wesley, he posed two questions. First, “Have you the witness within yourself?” Second, “Does the Spirit of God bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God?”
Wesley was surprised by such probing questions and didn’t know quite how to answer. Spangenberg nevertheless continued his queries, “Do you know Jesus Christ?”
Wesley paused and said, “I know He is the Saviour of the world.”
“True,” Spangenberg replied, “but do you know He has saved you?”
Wesley’s response was once again both weak and indecisive. “I hope He has died to save me.” The kindly Moravian leader then brought matters to a head in a very pastoral way, asking “Do you know, yourself?”
Wesley responded, “I do.” But he later noted in his journal that he feared those were “vain words.”
Everybody has doubts, including the great John Wesley. Everybody.
But the lesson we should learn from the great evangelist is to be genuine with ourselves about our doubts and then confront them. After Wesley faced his doubts, he had his heart set on fire for God, and he changed the island nation of England forever!
A Real Christian: The Life of John Wesley by Kenneth J. Collins. Abingdon Press, 1999, Page 42.
Topics Illustrated Include:
(Resource catalogued by David R Smith)