The True Importance of John Wesley
By Curt Wildy
Was John Wesley used of God? For over two centuries, many have vehemently debated this question. Though many rightly despised the religion of this man, many more loved both him and the theology that he proclaimed. Despite these mixed feelings and the length of time that has transpired, the question nonetheless remains: was John Wesley used of God? Or to put it as others have over the years, was John Wesley used “mightily” of God? I believe the answer is “yes, John Wesley was and is used of God — even used mightily of God.” Unto the salvation of souls? Not hardly, but he still has a great usefulness and purpose even unto this day.
The number of men who claim to hold to grace but who readily defend the likes of Mr. Wesley are too numerous to count. O what an important role he plays then in making such manifest. More so than most any other man, John Wesley and his “but dung” religion (Philippians 3:8), like perishable rubbish left to linger and rot, continues to attract the most vile of religious vermin, bringing them out of their hiding places and making them manifest before the eyes of men. Mr. Wesley can be likened to the light that shines forth from strange, ungodly fire, attracting all manner of gnats and biting insects, making them easier to spot and avoid. It can be said that he is like a magnet, attracting many of the iron-workers of the law who are so craftily disguised as champions of free and sovereign grace. Amongst those who appear to be sound in truth, the very mentioning of the name of John Wesley (and especially the questioning of his spiritual state before God) is often enough to flush out all manner of hidden wolves, dogs, asps, and swine. Thus, Mr. Wesley is to false brethren what flypaper is to flies — a most useful and effective snare. I think that makes him both very important and mightily used of God indeed.
I know that the above is strong language, but the threat posed is even stronger. Though I would much rather focus on the wonder and sovereignty of God, the beauty and victory of Christ, the power and workings of the Spirit, and the shared needs, hopes, and experiences of the saints, from time to time, warnings like these are necessary. When men are promoted within the walls of godly assemblies, I think it right and good to sound the trumpet as watchmen should. We do not want to unduly focus on the negative — and yet we do not want to unwisely ignore the wolves who enter into the midst disguised as sheep.
Thus, it behooves us to ask some important questions, questions like: what type of person is represented by the spiritual vermin, pests, and iron law-workers mentioned above? Who are they? What harm do they cause? How should we treat them once they are identified?
Firstly, concerning the types of persons represented; they include men like:
The one called the “Prince of Preachers” who though preaching grace (often quite soundly), nevertheless embraced as brethren in the Lord, John Wesley and others who would deny and denigrate the Truth; or
The one called the “Great Itinerant” who, knowing the rank blasphemy of John Wesley (a man who thought that election and predestination made God “worse than the devil”), defends such a one and counts him as a spiritual brother nonetheless; or
The one called the “Reverend and Right Honorable Doctor” who, in high public office abroad, fights against sexual perversion, leads the charge against the “profaning” of the so-called “Sunday Sabbath,” calls the Pope of Rome the anti-christ religiously, avidly defends the cause of “Protestantism,” but who (along with his denomination) openly embraces Wesley and other will-worshippers as fellow saints in the Lord — even having taught at one of the most prominent theological “cemeteries” for such here in the United States; or
The one known for writing great biographies about godly men, who intermingles amongst many a faithful saint, but who, himself, believes that he was saved (regenerated and converted) for years while remaining an Arminian and who likewise deems John Wesley, other Methodists, and other Arminians in general as being true Christians even as he argues that “one can speak with a Methodist about anything but the grace which saved him;” or
The numerous Independents, Reformed Baptists, Primitive Baptists, Predestinarians, Calvinists, Orthodox Presbyterians, Reformed churchmen, Reformed Bible churchmen, Theonomists, Reconstructionists, etc. who, though claiming to uphold grace, embrace those as brethren who utterly reject it.
Secondly, concerning the question of who is in view specifically, I will let the above suffice. Three out of my five “Top Rated” posts name individual men. Although I stand by these posts, deeming them necessary and true, I would rather have posts on the beauty of Christ or the path of the Christian rated higher than the posts against specific men — even though such posts are warranted and such votes are welcome. I simply do not want to turn this resource into a “heretics list;” I leave that to the Formalists and Letter-men to do. Therefore, in trying to strike a balance, as imperfect as my decision may be — I choose to let the words above stand. Besides, if the actual names are deemed important by anyone, they need only look up the quoted text to determine who is in view.
Thirdly, concerning the harm caused by these compromisers; I think the danger is apparent: such men seek to undermine the True Gospel altogether (despite their words to the contrary). Many of them are, or were, staunch critics of Arminianism, staunch promoters of the doctrines of grace, decrying the evils of will-worship, and calling it all what it really is — a false gospel. However, when the rubber meets the road, they crash and their hypocrisy is exposed. It is often easy for such to call Arminianism a false gospel — and yet they readily argue that many who hold to such a false gospel are nonetheless saved (including themselves at one time).
Finally, concerning how we should interact with such once they are identified, the Bible is clear. We are to mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple (Romans 16:17-18).
We are commanded to not be “unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (II Corinthians 6:14-18).
I am not saying anything new, I have posted similar posts before. However, periodically, the reminder needs to go out. We need to stand firm in the position that one who bids Godspeed to those who do not abide in the Doctrine of Christ are themselves partakers in the will-worshippers’ evil deeds. Knowing this, what fellowship can a Christian possibly have with such evil, idolatrous partakers? If a man believes himself, or others, to have been saved while they openly professed a mixed (thus false) gospel, what fellowship exists? Is your God the same God as the man who embraces lies, darkness, and falsehood? Is your Lord and Saviour the same as the one who speaks spiritual peace to Arminians? Should not the Christian stand fast against such things and sound the alarm? The Bible speaks of sheep and goats — but it is silent on geeps. Nothing in the written word declares that someone who desires to be in the camp of both the sheep and the goats is nevertheless in the sheepfold of God. Instead, such spiritual chimeras are like those who “art neither cold nor hot,” but are lukewarm and therefore worthy to be spued out (Revelation 3:16).
The point is clear, one cannot faithfully embrace both those who proclaim the Truth and those who proclaim a lie (those who partake of the Holy Spirit and those who partake of the will-worshippers’ evil deeds). Reality dictates that despite there supposed attempts, they will either hate the one, and love the other; or else they will hold to the one, and despise the other. As a result, the Christian must withdraw himself from anyone seeking to cling to both Truth and falsehood, Light and darkness, Grace and works. The Christian must make his allegiance clear, forsaking anyone and anything that would attempt to steal the glory from God, His Christ, and His finished work (or who would embrace those who so attempt). Anyone seeking to have one foot in Christianity and another in Arminian, Semi-Pelagianism, or the like, will surely lose his footing and fall. Beware reader, lest such a one pulls you down with him. Depart from them; simply depart from them.