From our Minister

From our Minister

Aldersgate Day, May 24th is a significant anniversary in Methodism; John Wesley wrote in his journal of 24th May 1738 ‘In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society [then meeting in Trinity Hall] 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.’

John Wesley was a Priest in the Church of England. He had travelled to America preaching, teaching and fulfilling the role of a Vicar and whilst hard-working and conscientious it was not a successful time. He believed in God and had a thorough grounding in the scriptures, he was able to translate the scriptures from the original Hebrew and Greek text, he had studied theology at Oxford University where he later became a college tutor: his CV was very impressive. His ministry wasn’t.

Putting it crudely, before that meeting in Aldersgate Street Wesley had an intellectual awareness of God and was working for God almost as an employee might for some mighty businessman. After that evening he served a risen Lord out of love for God, Christ and people. His ministry exploded on Britain with such an impact that thousands came to faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. Historians have said the reason Britain didn’t have a revolution as happened in France in 1789 was the changes wrought on British society by Wesley’s teaching.

His brother Charles had a similar experience around the same time and his many hymns proclaim the wonder and joy of knowing Jesus Christ. ‘My chains fell off, my heart was free,’ John Newton, not such an impressive CV, was a slave trader whose life was by his own description one of ‘debauchery and sin’ at a time of utter despair convinced of his own destruction he turned to Jesus Christ. He described the experience in the hymn; ‘Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.’ He too became a vicar and was responsible for causing many to become believers in Jesus Christ.

Both John Wesley and John Newton had Christian parents. Both were brought up with an understanding of the scripture and the prayer book. Each chose a different course in life. Both despaired knowing something was missing and discovered the answer to the emptiness in their lives was a personal encounter with Jesus Christ: nothing else satisfies.

Is this your experience, if so tell someone…