Theologian Thursday | John Wesley

Theologian Thursday - John Wesley

Many clamor to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook on Thursday to reveal nostalgic old pictures of themselves and their friends. Being the reminiscent type, we at CBD would like to introduce you to some of our old friends. On Thursdays, we’ll introduce you to a theologian. These throwback posts are meant to help Christians experience the legacy that has been left to us to learn from and build upon. If you like this or learned something, let us know!

John Wesley hardly needs any introduction considering the far reaching affects of his influence, in particular in America today. Wesley was from the small town of Epworth across the pond.  John was one of nineteen children born to Samuel and Susanna Wesley in 1703. Wesley had a very humble childhood, if you could imagine having eighteen siblings. When a young John Wesley decided to enter into the ministry After he graduated from Oxford, John became ordained in the Anglican Church. It was at Oxford where they began the Holy Club of Oxford with George Whitefield, who would later become a tremendously influential on John and his younger brother Charles.

In 1735 Wesley set sail to the colony of Georgia to evangelize. It was here that Wesley first had his interest sparked in spirituality. In some ways we can link his later development of the holiness movement from this pivotal experience. After some unfortunate circumstances John went back to England. It was upon his return, while looking into a Moravian church, a layman read to the congregation the preface of Martin Luther’s commentary on Romans. As Wesley reflects back on this moment he said,

About a quarter of nine, while [the speaker who had read the preface] 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 had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.

It was this experience that defined the ministry of John Wesley as we know it. He immediately took to the streets of England with friend George Whitefield to preach and evangelize. John, with his brother Charles, established the United Societies of the People Called Methodists to better train and commission men to preach across England. As we can see John developed a great zeal for preaching quickly upon his conversion. His conversion was the knife to the flint that erupted England and later America into flame. Wesley would travel over 300,000 miles on horseback and sometimes deliver fifteen sermons a week. Thousands would hear the good news of Christ and how to live a holy life. Along with great gospel transformation came great social transformation; new hospitals, schools, and orphanages would arise from Wesley’s ministry.

Wesley once wrote:

“Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing!”

The task of preaching was Wesley’s greatest joy, because Christ was his greatest joy.

We can take the example of zeal and a Christ centered focus from Wesley. He fought for the gospel of Jesus Christ with such great determination. We need not fear the road ahead as Christians, but simply do what we are called to do, and that is preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. John Wesley is a giant in the arena of preaching, so we have large shoes to fill.

Books by John Wesley

  1. A Plain Account of Christian Perfection
  2. How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer
  3. The Sermon on the Mount
  4. The Holy Spirit and Power
  5. The Holy Spirit in the Book of Common Prayer

Books about John Wesley

  1. John Wesley by Ralph Waller
  2. The Theology of John Wesley
  3. Wesley on the Christian Life


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