THE TESTIMONY OF JOHN WESLEY
1. Was born on June 17, 1703 in Epworth, Lincolnshire England. 15th of the
nineteen children of Reverend Samuel and Susanna Wesley. They were parents of practical piety, which nurtured Wesley’s pietistic and devotional life. Wesley’s remarkable rescue from a rectory fire in 1709 made Susanna to give him special attention and care. According to the New Dictionary of Theologie, Wesley’s mother would have been an exceptional woman in any century.
2- His grandfathers were puritan non-conformist.
3- His father was educated in dissenting academies before deciding to return to the Established Church and attend Exeter College, Oxford.
4- Thus, Wesley was raised in a family with deep religious convictions
5- Along with his brother Charles Wesley, he gave leadership to the 18th
Century Evangelical Revival and particularly to the Methodist Movement.
6- He qualified to BA (1724) and MA (1727).
7- 1725, he had his religious or moral conversion. His evangelical conversion came 13 years later and he was ordained deacon the same year.
8- Through the influence of a religious friend (unnamed), Wesley was guided to the writings of Thomas à Kempis [Imitation of Christ].
9- 1727, he left Oxford and was ordained presbyter in 1728.
10- 1729, he returned to Oxford at the request of Lincoln College and soon became spiritual leader of the small group of students his brother Charles had gathered. Other students called the group the “Holy Club”. Later they were known as “Methodists”. Together they studied the Greek New Testament, abridged numerous theological and devotional works, fasted twice a week, partook of the sacrament and regularly visited those sick or imprisoned. He met with George Whitefield at the Holy Club.
11- Returning from America, he was convinced by German Moravians who stressed the important of justification by faith alone, followed by an inner assurance. In England, he met up with Peter Böhler, a German Moravian. Wesley began to seek and preach justification by faith.
12- On May 24, 1738, at a small Moravian meeting in Aldersgate street in London, Wesley felt his heart strangely warmed. This happened while listening to the reading of Luther preface to Romans. History attests that nothing was left untouched by that evangelical experience.
13- This was united with his brother Charles and friend George Whitefield’s conversion, to produce the flame of the Evangelical Revival and catch attention of London, Bristol and the press.
14- The evangelical stress on a personal experience of salvation by faith was considered ‘new doctrine’ and unnecessary by most leaders of the Church of England (who maintained that a person was sufficiently saved by virtue of infant baptism).
15- Soon, Established Churches were closed to the Methodist preachers, forcing them into open air.
16- April 1739, George Whitefield invited John to Bristol to organise the multitude of new converts among the Kingswood coal miners into small groups for christian nurture and discipleship (one of Wesley’s great talents).
17- The centre of his theology was love : the love of God for all people and the grace of God available to all through faith in Jesus-Christ alone for salvation (Prevenient Grace). Thus, God reaches out to reach people, offering a personal relationship and ensuring each one a valid opportunity to respond.