"Have you the witness within yourself? Does the Spirit of God witness with your spirit that you are a child of God?" February 1736
John Wesley did not know how to answer this question. He had not yet learned the true power of the Gospel. He had not yet learned for himself the Gospel salvation for sinners. Do you?
During this time, men were required to run the race of "Christian holiness with a load of guilt upon their consciences, and with the corruption of their nature unsubdued by renewing grace." John Wesley - Evangelist, Richard Green, Edgbaston, 1905.
Prior to his conversion, John Wesley states (in a document entitled, "Mr. Wesley's Conversion, Nettleton Court, off Aldersgate Street") that he believed that he "had not sinned away" that washing of the Holy Ghost believed to be given to him when he was baptized as an infant. He had been taught that he could only be saved "by universal obedience, by keeping all the commandments of God."
But his spirit was not at peace. He could not reconcile in his mind the words of the Moravian pastors. When he returned to England, January 1738, he "was strongly convinced that the cause of that uneasiness was unbelief, and that the gaining a true, living faith was the on thing needful" for him.
Wesley struggled with the Gospel he heard from Peter Bohler, a man God put in Wesley's way. But finally he determined to consult the Scripture and "set aside the glosses of men, and simply considered the words of God, comparing them together, endeavoring to illustrate the obscure by the plainer passages...." By God's Word and the salvation testimonies of saved men, the Holy Spirit spoke truth to Wesley's heart. He absolutely renounced all dependence upon his own works or righteousness and gave full reliance on the shed blood of Christ to be his sole justification, sanctification, and redemption--his salvation.
In 1748, when John Wesley published one of his earlier sermons, he wrote:
"but likewise the revelation of Christ in our hearts; a divine evidence or conviction of His love, His free, unmerited love to me a sinner; a sure confidence in His pardoning mercy, wrought in us by the Holy Ghost; a confidence whereby every true believer is enabled to hear witness. I know that my redeemer liveth; that I have an Advocate with the Father, and that Jesus Christ the righteous is my Lord, and the propitiation for MY sins. I know He hath loved. He hath reconciled me, even me to God; and I have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins." John Wesley - Evangelist, Richard Green, Edgbaston, 1905.
In a meeting on May 24, 1738 at Nettleton Court, off Aldersgate Street, John Wesley's perception of salvation changed. He finally grasped Christ's atonement. Do you grasp Christ's atonement for you, personally? Or are you relying on the traditions of your church (such as baptism or sacraments) or your family or on various good works?
If someone asked you, "Does the Spirit of God witness with your spirit that you are a child of God?" How would you answer?
About 40 years ago I read a similar question in a Vacation Bible School take-home paper, and like Wesley, I did not know how to answer it. A few years earlier I had sat on my bed and prayed that Jesus would take me to heaven when I died, but I did not know for sure that He would. A sense of urgency filled me. I needed to know the answer.
The next morning I could hardly contain myself while I listened to the Bible story. I was anxiously awaiting the invitation so I could go forward and settle the question. When the invitation came, I spoke to my teacher, telling her that I wanted to be saved.
Using a book with colored pages and no words, and by quoting Scripture, she showed me that I was a sinner in need of salvation, that Jesus paid for my sins and is preparing a place for me in Heaven, should I accept His free gift of eternal life. I didn't need to be baptized to be saved. I didn't need to take communion. I didn't need to join the church. I didn't need to regularly confess to any man. I didn't need to do endless amounts of good works. I simply needed to acknowledge that I was a sinner in need of God's grace and confess with my mouth my faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the payment of my sins.
How about you? Are you saved? Can you share with us the moment that you knew you were a child of God?