The purpose of this worship service is to celebrate the life and ministry of John Wesley and so reappropriate the distinctiveness of his way for our lives in the twenty-first century. We do this through reading Scripture and Wesley's writings and by singing hymns that reinforce the message of salvation by grace through faith in Christ. This service is built around excerpts from one of Wesley's most important and influential sermons, The Scripture Way to Salvation.
+ indicates the people stand as able
UMH = The United Methodist Hymnal
TFWS = The Faith We Sing
Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
And blessed be his kingdom, now and forever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
And also with you.
+ OPENING PRAYER — John Wesley, from A Collection of Forms of Prayer
Holy God whose nature and name is Love:
Seeing there is in Christ Jesus an infinite fullness
of all that we can want or wish
O that we may all receive of his fullness,
grace upon grace;
Grace to pardon our sins and subdue our iniquities;
Grace to justify our persons and to sanctify our souls;
Grace to complete that holy change,
that renewal of our hearts,
whereby we may be transformed
into that blessed image wherein you did create us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.
+ HYMN — "Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast" (UMH 339)
SCRIPTURE — Ephesians 2:1-10
For by grace you have been saved through faith ...
FIRST READING — What is salvation?
"The Scripture Way of Salvation," I.1
SECOND READING — Prevenient Grace
And first let us inquire, What is salvation? The salvation which is here spoken of is not what is frequently understood by that word, the going to heaven, eternal happiness. It is not the soul's going to paradise, termed by our Lord, 'Abraham's bosom.' It is not a blessing which lies on the other side death, or (as we usually speak) in the other world. The very words of the text itself put this beyond all question. 'Ye are saved.' It is not something at a distance: it is a present thing, a blessing which, through the free mercy of God, ye are now in possession of. Nay, the words may be rendered, and that with equal propriety, 'Ye have been saved.' So that the salvation which is here spoken of might be extended to the entire work of God, from the first dawning of grace in the soul till it is consummated in glory.
"The Scripture Way of Salvation," I.2
If we take this in its utmost extent it will include all that is wrought in the soul by what is frequently termed 'natural conscience,' but more properly, 'preventing grace'; all the 'drawings' of 'the Father,' the desires after God, which, if we yield to them, increase more and more; all that 'light' wherewith the Son of God 'enlighteneth every one that cometh into the world,' showing every man 'to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with his God'; all the convictions which his Spirit from time to time works in every child of man. Although it is true the generality of men stifle them as soon as possible, and after a while forget, or at least deny, that ever they had them at all.
HYMN — "Sinners, Turn: Why Will You Die" (UMH 346, stanzas 1-4)
THIRD READING — Justifying Grace
"The Scripture Way of Salvation," I.3
But we are at present concerned only with that salvation which the Apostle is directly speaking of. And this consists of two general parts, justification and sanctification.
Justification is another word for pardon. It is the forgiveness of all our sins, and (what is necessarily implied therein) our acceptance with God. The price whereby this hath been procured for us (commonly termed the 'meritorious cause' of our justification) is the blood and righteousness of Christ. or (to express it a little more clearly) all that Christ hath done and suffered for us, till 'he poured out his soul for the transgressors.' The immediate effects of justification are, the peace of God, a 'peace that passeth all understanding,' and a 'rejoicing in hope of the glory of God,' 'with joy unspeakable and full of glory.'
HYMN — "And Can It Be that I Should Gain" (UMH 363)
SCRIPTURE — Philippians 2:5-11
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus ...
FOURTH READING — Sanctifying Grace
"The Scripture Way of Salvation," I.4
And at the same time that we are justified, yea, in that very moment, sanctification begins. In that instant we are 'born again,' 'born from above,' 'born of the Spirit.' There is a real as well as a relative change. We are inwardly renewed by the power of God. We feel the 'love of God shed abroad in our heart by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us,' producing love to all mankind, and more especially to the children of God; expelling the love of the world, the love of pleasure, of ease, of honour, of money; together with pride, anger, self-will, and every other evil temper—in a word, changing the 'earthly, sensual, devilish' mind, into 'the mind which was in Christ Jesus.'
HYMN — "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" (UMH 384)
FIFTH READING — What is that faith whereby we are saved?
"The Scripture Way of Salvation," II.2
Taking the word in a more particular sense, faith is a divine evidence and conviction, not only that 'God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself,' but also that Christ 'loved me, and gave himself for me.' It is by this faith (whether we term it the essence, or rather a property thereof) that we 'receive Christ'; that we receive him in all his offices, as our Prophet, Priest, and King. It is by this that he 'is made of God unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.'
HYMN — "Without Seeing You" (TFWS 2206)
SIXTH READING — Why good works are necessary to keep salvation
"The Scripture Way of Salvation," III.4
It is incumbent on all that are justified to be zealous of good works. And these are so necessary that if a man willingly neglect them, he cannot reasonably expect that he shall ever be sanctified. He cannot 'grow in grace,' in the image of God, the mind which was in Christ Jesus; nay, he cannot retain the grace he has received, he cannot continue in faith, or in the favour of God.
HYMN — "I'm Gonna Live So God Can Use Me" (TFWS 2153)
SEVENTH READING — The works of piety
"The Scripture Way of Salvation," III.9
'But what good works are those, the practice of which you affirm to be necessary to sanctification?' First, all works of piety, such as public prayer, family prayer, and praying in our closet; receiving the Supper of the Lord; searching the Scriptures by hearing, reading, meditating; and using such a measure of fasting or abstinence as our bodily health allows.
HYMN — "Love the Lord Your God" (TFWS 2168)
EIGHTH READING — The works of mercy
"The Scripture Way of Salvation," III.10
Secondly, all works of mercy, whether they relate to the bodies or souls of men; such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, entertaining the stranger, visiting those that are in prison, or sick, or variously afflicted... or contribute in any manner to the saving of souls from death. This is the repentance, and these the fruits meet for repentance, which are necessary to full sanctification. This is the way wherein God hath appointed his children to wait for complete salvation.
HYMN — "Together We Serve" (TFWS 2175)
NINTH READING — Conclusion
"The Scripture Way of Salvation," III.18
'But does God work this great work in the soul gradually or instantaneously?' Perhaps it may be gradually wrought in some. I mean in this sense—they do not observe the particular moment wherein sin ceases to be. But it is infinitely desirable, were it the will of God, that it should be done instantaneously; that the Lord should destroy sin 'by the breath of his mouth' in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. And so he generally does, a plain fact of which there is evidence enough to satisfy any unprejudiced person. Thou therefore look for it every moment. ... Look for it then every day, every hour, every moment. Why not this hour, this moment? Certainly you may look for it now, if you believe it is by faith. And by this token may you surely know whether you seek it by faith or by works. If by works, you want something to be done first, before you are sanctified. You think, 'I must first be or do thus or thus.' Then you are seeking it by works unto this day. If you seek it by faith, you may expect it as you are: and if as you are, then expect it now. It is of importance to observe that there is an inseparable connection between these three points—expect it by faith, expect it as you are, and expect it now! To deny one of them is to deny them all: to allow one is to allow them all. Do you believe we are sanctified by faith? Be true then to your principle, and look for this blessing just as you are, neither better, nor worse; as a poor sinner that has still nothing to pay, nothing to plead but 'Christ died.' And if you look for it as you are, then expect it now. ... Christ is ready. And He is all you want. He is waiting for you. He is at the door! Let your inmost soul cry out,
Come in, come in, thou heavenly Guest!
Nor hence again remove:
But sup with me, and let the feast
Be everlasting love.
+ HYMN — "O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing" (UMH 57)
+ DISMISSAL WITH BLESSING
May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all.
And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. (1 Thess. 3:12-13)