From the Manse

The Transforming power and grace of God

The journey to being recognised as a Methodist Local Preacher requires study of at least some of John Wesley's written sermons. Indeed, each prospective preacher will be questioned by the Local Preacher's meeting on at least one of Wesley's sermons. Personally speaking I can't remember looking forward to that experience because in my opinion written 18th century John Wesley sermons are not the most moving of reads! However, I am not alone, in being amazed of the effect those sermons subsequently had on the population of 18th century Britain.

It is an amazement that Wesley himself shared. He, for example, was personally stunned by the effect his open air preaching had on the people of Bristol - when thousands of them were transformed into faithful followers of Christ after hearing Wesley preach. Of course, this was later repeated in many other areas of Britain.

The story of John Wesley and the early Methodists is an utterly remarkable one. Yet, to many people's surprise it was not a story that this Methodist minister was overly familiar with as I entered the ordained ministry. The unusual manner of my ministerial training meant that one of the gaps in my knowledge was in the area of early Methodist history. It was a gap I sort to address during a time of sabbatical in 2009. And how rewarded I was by that effort.

Because there I not only discovered details of John Wesley's remarkable faith journey but more importantly, I believe, I found there a stunning reminder of the transforming power and grace of God - The God, who used those 18th century sermons of Wesley, to utterly transform the lives of so many. Sadly, too many of us nowadays have lost confidence in this power and grace and of course far too many have never had it to lose./p>

I now attempt to share with others, the remarkable story of John Wesley and God's amazing transforming power and grace, by, for example, loaning those who are being made new members of the church a little book (140 pages) which recalls the wonderful story of what God, to John Wesley's amazement, did with him and the gifts he offered.

And to you, the readers of this article, I make the same offer of the loan of this book (I have two copies). Not primarily, that you may learn of John Wesley's story (although for those belonging to the Methodist tradition that is not unimportant) but that you might regain or discover for the first time, faith and confidence in the transforming power and grace of God - The God who can do remarkable things with all you and I offer in his service.

 

With every blessing to you all

 

John

Rev John Wesley
National Portrait Gallery, London