John Wesley on Prayer Lesson 34

*The ways of salvation

In the night I remember your name, O Lord, and I will keep your law.

Psalm 119:55 NIV

It has been already observed that there is an order in which God is generally pleased to use these means as He brings sinners to Himself. Yet we find no command in holy scripture for any particular order to be observed. Neither do the providence and the Spirit of God adhere to any without variation. The means in which different people are led, and in which they find the blessing of God, are varied, transposed, and combined together a thousand different ways.

Yet still our wisdom is to follow the leadings of His providence and His Spirit, more especially as to the means wherein we ourselves seek the grace of God. For he guides us partly by His outward providence, giving us the opportunity of using sometimes one means, sometimes another and partly by our experience whereby His free Spirit is pleased most to work in our hearts.

And in the meantime, the sure and general rule for all who groan for the salvation of God is this: Whenever opportunity serves, use all the means which God has ordained, for who knows in which of them God will meet you with the grace that brings salvation?

*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.

In this thirty-forth lesson on prayer, Wesley breeches a subject that many might misinterpret on just a casual hearing or reading of the title. Wesley is talking here about varied means of grace, not alternate ways of salvation; his point being that we cannot put God in a box when it comes to how He will draw sinners to Himself. Sometimes it is the mysterious. Sometimes it is the ordinary.

Wesley begins with, “It has been already observed that there is an order in which God is generally pleased to use these means as He brings sinners to Himself. Yet we find no command in holy scripture for any particular order to be observed. Neither do the providence and the Spirit of God adhere to any without variation. The means in which different people are led, and in which they find the blessing of God, are varied, transposed, and combined together a thousand different ways.”

Jesus used a variety of ways to make the kingdom of God clear to the people. He preached, He taught, He cast out demons, He healed, He rebuked, and He showed compassion. He showed love to the woman caught in adultery and fed the five thousand. Whether one person or a multitude, Jesus did what the Father showed Him to do.

In looking through the book of Acts, one can see many providential opportunities God used to bring people to Himself. Sometimes it was preaching, as in chapter 2 when Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost. Other times it was healing, as we see in chapter 3 when John and Peter prayed for the lame man. In chapter 8, an angel directs Phillip to the Ethiopian eunuch to help him interpret the scriptures.  In chapter 9 we see God knocking Saul to the ground and temporarily blinding him! Also in chapter 9, Peter raised a young maiden from the dead and many in Joppa believed. Chapter 10 tells the story of Peter, having had a vision, going from Joppa to Caesarea to meet Cornelius, a gentile Roman centurion, and seeing his whole household saved. In chapters 13 and forward, we see the missionary activities of Paul, which included preaching and planting churches, performing many miracles by the Holy Spirit.

Wesley says in this lesson, “Yet still our wisdom is to follow the leadings of His providence and His Spirit, more especially as to the means wherein we ourselves seek the grace of God. For he guides us partly by His outward providence, giving us the opportunity of using sometimes one means, sometimes another and partly by our experience whereby His free Spirit is pleased most to work in our hearts.” Of course, as we have seen in other lessons, Wesley considered the primary means of grace prayer, the reading and study of the Word, and the Lord’s Supper.

But he also opens up his thinking to whatever ways or means of salvation God is happy to use. He says, “…the sure and general rule for all who groan for the salvation of God is this: Whenever opportunity serves, use all the means which God has ordained, for who knows in which of them God will meet you with the grace that brings salvation.”

Published by doctorpaddy

An ordained minister, Christian communicator, and educator.

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