John Wesley grew up in the home of an Anglican priest. He studied theology at Oxford. He even went to the newly discovered America on a mission trip. In spite of these realities, Wesley had never truly bowed his life to Christ.
The true conversion of John Wesley shows that God can reach anyone at anytime…no matter what.
To say that Wesley was “methodical” in his journaling would be an understatement (and an unnecessary pun). But because he was so meticulous about recording and reflecting upon his life, we know many details about what he believed and what he did.
In the “narrative insert” regarding his experience at Aldersgate in May of 1738, he described the turmoil and breakthrough that he underwent that month.
In the days immediately prior to May 24, his spirit was marked by a “strange indifference, dullness, and coldness, and unusually frequent relapses into sin.” But that would soon change, forever.
Following this frank confession, Wesley quickly contrasts that state of existence with what happened to him on May 24, 1738:
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 which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I 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.
There are several interesting elements to this recorded testimony of Wesley’s conversion. For starters, Wesley knew exactly where he was when he embraced Christ alone for salvation. He even new the hour down to the minute!
Second – and most important for the struggling young man – Wesley gained assurance that Christ had saved him from his life of sin. Also, he knew exactly what this meant for him: he was “saved…from the law of sin and death.”
Finally, his testimony shows that God can even reach those with impure motives. He confessed he “went very unwillingly” to the faith gathering that night. He – along with the thousands he would reach across the remainder of his lifetime – would be glad he did!
Wesley’s story is proof that God can reach anyone at anytime…no matter what.
A Real Christian: The Life of John Wesley by Kenneth J. Collins. Abingdon, 1999, Page 62.
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