John Wesley’s Sermon “The Law Established through Faith, I”: A Brief Summary

John Wesley, Justification by Faith

This is the 30th sermon in this series. It is very encouraging to see how many people are reading these posts and clicking through to read the sermon itself. Just joining the growing number of people reading these sermons? Feel free to start at the beginning by reading the first sermon by John Wesley in this series, “Salvation by Faith,” or jump right in with us!


Background:

Did you know that many of John Wesley’s sermons are part of the formal doctrinal teaching of multiple Wesleyan/Methodist denominations? Wesley’s sermons have particular authority because these were the main way he taught Methodist doctrine and belief.

“The Law Established through Faith, I” is the 30th sermon of the Wesleyan Standard Sermons. This sermon outlines ways that Christian leaders nullify or void the moral law of God through the doctrine of justification by faith. Wesley shows the ways this happens and warns against these mistakes. Faith in Christ empowers one to obey the law, rather than making it irrelevant. Faith in Christ enables us to live the kind of life God intends for us to live out of loving response to God’s love for us.

In hopes of sparking interest in Wesley’s sermons and Methodism’s doctrinal heritage, here is my very short summary of “The Law Established through Faith, I.” I hope it will inspire you to read the sermon in its entirety yourself. Links to the sermon and other resources are included at the end of this post.


Key quote: 

This, it must be acknowledged, comes home to the point, and is indeed the main pillar of antinomianism. And yet it needs not a long or labored answer. We allow, (1), that God ‘justifies the ungodly’, him that till that hour is totally ungodly, full of all evil, void of all good; (2), that he justifies ‘the ungodly that worketh not’, that till that moment worketh no good work – neither can he: for an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit; (3), that he justifies him ‘by faith alone’, without any goodness or righteousness preceding; and (4), that ‘faith is’ then ‘counted to him for righteousness’, namely, for preceding righteousness; i.e., God, through the merits of Christ, accepts him that believes as if he had already fulfilled all righteousness. But what is all this to your point? The Apostle does not say either here or elsewhere that this faith is counted to him for subsequent righteousness. He does teach that there is no righteousness before faith; but where does he teach that there is none after it? He does assert holiness cannot precede justification; but not that it need not follow it. St. Paul therefore gives you no color for ‘making void the law’ by teaching that faith supersedes the necessity of holiness. [II.7]


One sentence summary:  

This sermon warns of voiding the law through faith in Christ, when faith actually empowers one to obey the moral law.


Scripture passage for the sermon:

“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid! Yea, we establish the law.”

– Romans 3: 31


Concise outline of “The Law Established through Faith, I”

1. Justification is by faith, without the works of the law.
2. It is easy to anticipate that someone might then ask, does justification by faith abolish the law? Paul replies, “God forbid! Yea, we establish the law.”
3. It is the moral law that is established by faith.
4. But many disagree with this.
5. Have those who disagree that the law is established by faith “observed the connection between the law and faith?”
6. This sermon observes the ways people wrongly void the law through faith. Secondly, the sermon teaches “how we may follow the Apostle, and by faith ‘establish the law.'”

I. The Usual Ways the Law Is (Wrongly) Voided by Faith
1. A preacher can void the law by faith by not preaching the law at all.
2. Not preaching the law “proceeds from the deepest ignorance of the nature, properties, and use of the law; and proves that those who act thus either know not Christ, are utter strangers to the living faith, or at least that they are but babes in Christ.”
3. They argue that preaching the gospel “answers all the ends of the law. But this we utterly deny. It does not answer the very first end of the law, namely, the convincing men of sin, the awakening those who are still asleep on the brink of hell.”
4. Some argue that there are Scriptural precedents for offering Christ to the “careless sinner” but Wesley does not believe there are any.
5. Paul should serve as our example for preaching. And Paul preached Christ crucified.
6. Wesley uses the example of Acts 13:39-45. “He first reminds them that they could not be justified by the law of Moses, but only by faith in Christ; and then severely threatens them with the judgments of God, which is, in the strongest sense, ‘preaching the law’.”
7. Paul then preaches that they should “turn from those vain idols unto the living God.”
8. Wesley gives further evidence from Scripture of Paul preaching in different ways based on the state of his listener.
9. To those who argue that Paul preached Christ differently in the epistles, Wesley responds that the epistles are 1. not preaching at all; 2. directed to Christians in various places, not unbelievers; and 3. every epistle is full of the law.
10. “Doubtless St. Paul judged himself to be preaching Christ both to Felix, and at Antioch, Lystra, and Athens: from whose example every thinking man must infer that not only the declaring the love of Christ to sinners, but also the declaring that he will come from heaven in flaming fire, is, in the Apostle’s sense, ‘preaching Christ.'”
11. “To ‘preach Christ’ is to preach all things that Christ hath spoken: all his promises; all his threatenings and commands; all that is written in his Book.”
12. Preaching the merits and sufferings of Christ can sometimes lead to a great blessing, but so can preaching that cuts to the heart and humbles to the dust.

II. A Second Way of ‘Making Void the Law through Faith’ Is Teaching that Faith Supersedes the Necessity of Holiness
1. There are many who void the law through faith by teaching that faith supersedes the necessity of holiness.
2. Those who make this mistake suppose that 1. holiness is “less necessary now than it was before Christ came; or, 2. that a less degree of it is necessary; or, 3. that it is less necessary to believers than to others.”
3. The first group teaches that “we are now under the covenant of grace, not works.” But only Adam was under the covenant of works.
4. “The case is not therefore, as you suppose, that men were once more obliged to obey God, or to work the works of his law, than they are now.”
5. We are justified by faith, without the works of the ceremonial or moral law.
6. But works of the law “are an immediate fruit of that faith whereby we are justified. So that if good works do not follow our faith, even all inward and outward holiness, it is plain that our faith is nothing worth; we are yet in our sins.”
7. That holiness does not precede justification does not mean that it does not need to come after it.

III. The Most Common Way of “Making Void the Law through Faith” Is Living as if Faith Was Designed to Excuse Us from Holiness.
1. Paul warns us against this in Romans 6:15.
2. Being ‘under the law’ may mean four things: “1. being obliged to observe the ceremonial law; 2. being obliged to conform to the whole Mosaic institution; 3. being obliged to keep the whole moral law as the condition of our acceptance with God; 4. being under the wrath and curse of God, under the sentence of eternal death; under a sense of guilt and condemnation, full of horror and slavish fear.”
3. From the moment someone believes in Jesus, they are not under the law in any of the preceding senses. “He obeys, not from the motive of slavish fear, but on a nobler principle, namely, the grace of God ruling in his heart, and causing all his works to be wrought in love.”
4. Shall we be less obedient to God as accepted and beloved children than as fearful servants?
5. Are you as careful to please God now that you have faith in Christ as you did when you were convicted of your sin and separation from God and seeking forgiveness and pardon?
6. How about in regards to being praised and the risk of pride?
7. “God forbid you should any longer continue thus to ‘turn the grace of god into lasciviousness!”
8. What about sins of omission, not doing what you know you ought to do (such as attending worship services)? Do not be less zealous for God now than you were before you received saving faith.


Resources:

Read “The Law Established through Faith, I” in its entirety.

Check out my brief summaries of the first twenty-nine Standard Sermons:

Salvation by Faith

The Almost Christian

Awake, Thou That Sleepest

Scriptural Christianity

Justification by Faith

The Righteousness of Faith

The Way to the Kingdom

The First-Fruits of the Spirit

The Spirit of Bondage and of Adoption

The Witness of the Spirit, I

The Witness of Our Own Spirit

The Means of Grace

The Circumcision of the Heart

The Marks of the New Birth

The Great Privilege of those that are Born of God

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the First

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Second

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Third

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Fourth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Fifth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Sixth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Seventh

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Eighth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Ninth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Tenth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Eleventh

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Twelfth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Thirteenth

The Original, Nature, Properties, and Use of the Law

I highly recommend the critical edition of Wesley’s sermons, which has excellent references that show his reliance on Scripture throughout his preaching. There are four volumes if you want every known Wesley sermon. The sermon outlined in this post is in volume II. These books aren’t cheap, but this is the most important publication by Abingdon since its release. And they are designed to last. Highly recommended!

There is also a three volume edition of Wesley’s sermons in modern English, which is easier to read if you find the 18th century English frustrating. Here is the first volume.


Kevin M. Watson is a professor at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. He teaches, writes, and preaches to empower community, discipleship, and stewardship of our heritage. Click here to get future posts emailed to you. Affiliate links used in this post.

John Wesley’s Sermon: “The Original, Nature, Properties, and Use of the Law”: A Brief Summary

John Wesley, Justification by Faith

This is the 29th sermon in this series. I hope the break between the 28th and 29th sermon summary is the longest we will have in this series! Thank you for your patience with me. I intend to get back into the routine of publishing one sermon summary each Tuesday morning. It is very encouraging to see how many people are reading these posts and clicking through to read the sermon itself. Thank you to those of you who reached out and told me you were missing these. I appreciate the encouragement!

Just joining the growing number of people reading these sermons? Feel free to start at the beginning by reading the first sermon by John Wesley in this series, “Salvation by Faith,” or jump right in with us!


Background:

Did you know that many of John Wesley’s sermons are part of the formal doctrinal teaching of multiple Wesleyan/Methodist denominations? Wesley’s sermons have particular authority because these were the main way he taught Methodist doctrine and belief.

“The Original, Nature, Properties, and Use of the Law” is the 29th sermon of the Wesleyan Standard Sermons. This sermon addresses the argument that the moral law is unnecessary or unhelpful for Christians. Wesley shows the origin of the law and why it is essential for our salvation. The law is not to be feared. Sin is to be feared. The law is holy, just, and good!

In hopes of sparking interest in Wesley’s sermons and Methodism’s doctrinal heritage, here is my very short summary of “The Original, Nature, Properties, and Use of the Law.” I hope it will inspire you to read the sermon in its entirety yourself. Links to the sermon and other resources are included at the end of this post.


Key quote: 

The law of God… is a copy of the eternal mind, a transcript of the divine nature; yea, it is the fairest offspring of the everlasting Father, the brightest efflux of his essential wisdom, the visible beauty of the Most High. It is the delight and wonder of cherubim and seraphim and all the company of heaven, and the glory and joy of every wise believer, every well instructed child of God upon earth. [II.6]


One sentence summary:  

The law of God is holy, just, and good.


Scripture passage for the sermon:

“Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”

– Romans 7:12


Concise outline of “The Original, Nature, Properties, and Use of the Law”

1. The law is often misunderstood or ignored.
2. Paul is referring to the moral law, as can be seen from the beginning of Romans 7.
3. “The Apostle having gone thus far in proving that the Christian had set aside the Jewish dispensation, and that the moral law itself, though it could never pass away, yet stood on a different foundation from what it did before, now stops to propose and answer an objection. ‘What shall we say then? Is the law sin?’… ‘God forbid!… The law is an irreconcilable enemy to sin, searching it out wherever it is.'”
4. This sermon will I. Show the original of this law. II. The Nature of this law. III. The properties of this law (holy, just, and good). IV. The uses of this law.

I. The Original of the Moral Law
1. The moral law goes back even before creation “even beyond the foundation of the world.”
2. The moral law was given to angelic minds “to make way for a continual increase of their happiness; seeing every instance of obedience to that law would both add to the perfection of their nature and entitle them to an higher reward, which the righteous Judge would give in its season.”
3. When God created humans, he gave them the same law, written “in the inmost spirit both of men and of angels.”
4. When humans broke the moral law “God did not despise the work of his own hands; but being reconciled to man through the Son of his love, he in some measure re-inscribed the law on the heart of his dark, sinful creature.”
5. God then chose a particular people “to whom he gave a more perfect knowledge of the law. And the heads of this, because they were slow of understanding, he wrote on tables of stone.”
6. Today we hear the law of God with our ears, but it must be revealed by the Spirit of God. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel…. I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

II. The Nature of the Law
1. The law and the commandment are sometimes taken to be different things, but they are the same. And neither is the same thing as the ceremonial law.
2. The law mentioned in Romans 7 is not the Mosaic dispensation.
3. “This law is an incorruptible picture of the high and holy One that inhabiteth eternity. It is he whom in his essence no man hath seen or can see, made visible to men and angels.”
4. The law is “divine virtue and wisdom assuming a visible form.”
5. From another vantage point, the law is “supreme, unchangeable reason; it is unalterable rectitude; it is the everlasting fitness of all things that are or ever were created.”
6. “The law of God… is a copy of the eternal mind, a transcript of the divine nature.”

III. The Properties of the Law
1. The law is holy, just, and good.
2. It is holy: “‘pure religion and undefiled’; or the pure, clean, unpolluted worship of God.”
3. Because the law is holy, it is enmity to sin.
4. This is why Paul objects so strongly to the suggestion that the law is sin or causes sin. Rather, the law reveals sin.
5. The law is just, rendering each their due.
6. Wesley acknowledges the question of whether the will of God causes the law and creates right and wrong. “Is a thing therefore right because God wills it? Or does he will it because it is right?” Nevertheless, this question is “more curious than useful.”
7. The difficulty of the question comes from thinking about God’s will as something distinct from God. “But the will of God is God himself.”
8. The point above is reinforced.
9. It may be granted that “in every particular case God wills this or this… because it is right, agreeable to the fitness of things, to the relation wherein they stand.”
10. “The law then is right and just concerning all things. And it is good as well as just.” The law is good because it comes from God.
11. The law is “mild and kind; it is ‘sweeter than honey and the honeycomb.’ It is winning and amiable.”
12. The law is good “in its effects, as well as in its nature.”

IV. The Uses of the Law
1. The first use is to convince the world of sin.
2. The second use of the law is to bring us back to life, through faith in Christ, so that we may live.
3. The third use of the law is to “keep us alive.”
4. The law is “of unspeakable use, first, in convincing us of the sin that yet remains both in our hearts and lives, and thereby keeping us close to Christ, that his blood may cleanse us every moment; secondly, in deriving strength from our Head into his living members, whereby he empowers them to do what his law commands; and thirdly, in confirming our hope of whatsoever it commands and we have not yet attained, of receiving grace upon grace, till we are in actual possession of the fullness of his promises.”
5. The law shows every true believer the truth more and more clearly.
6. Illustrated using “Thou shalt not kill.”
7. “Therefore I cannot spare the law one moment, no more than I can spare Christ; seeing I now want it as much to keep me to Christ as ever I wanted it to bring me to him.”
8. Who are you, then, to judge or speak evil of the law?
9. If you are convinced that the law is holy, just, and good, cling to it all the more.
10. “And if thy Lord hath already fulfilled his word, if he hath already ‘written his law in thy heart’, then ‘stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made thee free.'”


Resources:

Read “The Original, Nature, Properties, and Use of the Law” in its entirety.

Check out my brief summaries of the first twenty-eight Standard Sermons:

Salvation by Faith

The Almost Christian

Awake, Thou That Sleepest

Scriptural Christianity

Justification by Faith

The Righteousness of Faith

The Way to the Kingdom

The First-Fruits of the Spirit

The Spirit of Bondage and of Adoption

The Witness of the Spirit, I

The Witness of Our Own Spirit

The Means of Grace

The Circumcision of the Heart

The Marks of the New Birth

The Great Privilege of those that are Born of God

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the First

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Second

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Third

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Fourth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Fifth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Sixth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Seventh

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Eighth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Ninth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Tenth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Eleventh

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Twelfth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Thirteenth

I highly recommend the critical edition of Wesley’s sermons, which has excellent references that show his reliance on Scripture throughout his preaching. There are four volumes if you want every known Wesley sermon. The sermon outlined in this post is in volume II. These books aren’t cheap, but this is the most important publication by Abingdon since its release. And they are designed to last. Highly recommended!

There is also a three volume edition of Wesley’s sermons in modern English, which is easier to read if you find the 18th century English frustrating. Here is the first volume.


Kevin M. Watson is a professor at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. He teaches, writes, and preaches to empower community, discipleship, and stewardship of our heritage. Click here to get future posts emailed to you. Affiliate links used in this post.

Spirit & Truth Hosts Class Meeting Workshop

I am excited to participate in a workshop hosted by Spirit & Truth on class meetings. The workshop is tomorrow January 14, 2021 from 2:00 – 4:00 pm EST.

I will give a brief introduction to the role class meetings played in early Methodism and why we should retrieve them today. What is most valuable about this workshop is that you will have the chance to hear from John Wayne McMann and Will Leasure. John Wayne and Will are pastors who have both successfully launched class meetings in their churches. You will get to hear their testimonies to how they have seen God use class meetings to change lives in their churches. There will also be practical concrete suggestions on the nuts and bolts of launching new class meetings.

Here is the description of the workshop from Spirit & Truth’s website:

Small group accountable discipleship is the heartbeat of disciple-making. In recent years many churches are discovering the power of reclaiming the class meeting model which served as the fuel for the Wesleyan revival of the 1700s. If you want to get far more intentional with your discipleship strategy as a church, invest in your small groups, or launch a small group ministry from scratch…this workshop is for you. If you’ve been wanting to implement class meeting style small groups, but you’re not sure how to practically get started…this workshop is for you. It’s time to start investing in the Great Commission more than just talking about it. Join us for this online interactive workshop led by two pastors who have been implementing this discipleship system with great success.

Schedule: 2:00-4:00pm ET on Thursday, January 14 via Zoom

Cost: This training is FREE! (But pre-registration is required.)

The workshop will be recorded, so you will also be able to view the recording after the event if you can’t be with us tomorrow.

To register and learn more, go here.

Kevin M. Watson is a professor at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. He teaches, writes, and preaches to empower community, discipleship, and stewardship of our heritage. Click here to get future posts emailed to you.

John Wesley’s “Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Thirteenth”: A Brief Summary

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John Wesley, Justification by Faith

This is the 28th sermon in this series. I have been publishing one sermon each Tuesday. Just joining the growing number of people reading these sermons? Feel free to start at the beginning by reading the first sermon by John Wesley in this series, “Salvation by Faith,” or jump right in with us!


Background:

Did you know that many of John Wesley’s sermons are part of the formal doctrinal teaching of multiple Wesleyan/Methodist denominations? Wesley’s sermons have particular authority because these were the main way he taught Methodist doctrine and belief.

“Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Thirteenth” is the 28th sermon of the Wesleyan Standard Sermons. It is also the 13th of 13 sermons on the Sermon on the Mount. The fact that 13 of the 44 original Standard Sermons focused on the Sermon on the Mount gives an idea of the importance John Wesley placed on Matthew 5-7. Wesley spends so much time on these three chapters of the Bible because he believed they provide essential teaching from Jesus on “the true way to life everlasting, the royal way which leads to the kingdom.”

In hopes of sparking interest in Wesley’s sermons and Methodism’s doctrinal heritage, here is my very short summary of “Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Thirteenth.” I hope it will inspire you to read the sermon in its entirety yourself. Links to the sermon and other resources are included at the end of this post.


Key quote: 

I am, secondly, to show the wisdom of him that doth them, that ‘buildeth his house upon a rock.’ He indeed is wise who ‘doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.’ He is truly wise whose ‘righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.’ He is poor in spirit; knowing himself even as also he is known. He sees and feels all his sin, and all his guilt, till it is washed away by the atoning blood. He is conscious of his lost estate, of the wrath of God abiding on him, and of his utter inability to help himself till he is filled with peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. He is meek and gentle, patient toward all men, never ‘returning evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing’; till he overcomes evil with good. His soul is athirst for nothing on earth, but only for God, the living God. He has bowels of love for all mankind, and is ready to lay down his life for his enemies. He loves the Lord his God with all his heart, and with all his mind and soul and strength. He alone shall enter into the kingdom of heaven who in this spirit doth good unto all men; and who, being for this cause despised and rejected of men, being hated, reproached, and persecuted, ‘rejoices and is exceeding glad,’ knowing in whom he hath believed; and being assured these light, momentary afflictions will ‘work out for him an eternal weight of glory.’ [II.1]


One sentence summary:  

This sermon outlines the difference between building a house on sand or on rock in following Jesus.


Scripture passage for the sermon:

“Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock;

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock.

And everyone that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand;

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”

– Matthew 7:21-27


Concise outline of “Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Thirteenth”

1. Jesus closes the Sermon on the Mount with these words, “setting his seal to his prophecy, and impressing his whole authority on what he had delivered, that it might stand firm to all generations.”
2. There is no other way than the way outlined by Jesus.
3. This sermon will, first, “consider the case of him who builds his house upon the sand; secondly, to show the wisdom of him who builds upon a rock; and thirdly, to conclude with a practical application.”

I.The case of the one who builds a house upon the sand.
1. Wesley emphasizes the serious consequences of building upon sand, regardless of good intentions or good works.
2. Doing no harm also does not guarantee that you will enter the kingdom of heaven.
3. Doing good works does not guarantee that you will enter the kingdom of heaven.
4. “If any man marvels at this, let him acknowledge he is a stranger to the whole religion of Jesus Christ; and in particular to the perfect portraiture thereof which he has set before us in this discourse.”
5. None will enter the kingdom of God unless they have this kingdom within them. Jesus reemphasizes this in this passage.
6. Those who “rest in anything short of that religion” which Jesus describes in the Sermon on the Mount built their house on sand.

II. The wisdom of the one who builds a house upon rock.
1. “He alone shall enter into the kingdom of heaven who in this spirit doth good unto all men; and who, being for this cause despised and rejected of men, being hated, reproached, and persecuted, ‘rejoices and is exceeding glad,’ knowing in whom he hath believed; and being assured these light, momentary afflictions will ‘work out for him an eternal weight of glory.'”
2. The wise person knows her true state before God and she knows the way to the kingdom of heaven: “even now to know, to love, to imitate God, and to believe in Jesus Christ whom he hath sent.”
3. It is wise to build upon the rock, which is Jesus Christ himself.
4. This does not mean the Christian is done with trials or temptation. “It still remains for God to prove the grace he hath given: he shall be tried as gold in the fire.”

III. Practical Application
1. Do not mistake things that help one grow in holiness (such as right doctrine or an excellent church) with holiness itself.
2. Avoiding harm is necessary but not sufficient. “When all this harmlessness flows from a right principles it is the least part of the religion of Christ. But in you it does not flow from a right principle, and therefore is no part at all of religion.”
3. Attending all the ordinances of God is important, but still not sufficient. “Faith, mercy, and love of God; holiness of heart; heaven opened in the soul” are essential.
4. Do not rely on your good works. “Learn to hang naked upon the cross of Christ, counting all thou hast done but dung and dross.”
5. Real faith produces inward and outward holiness. “That faith which hath not works, which doth not produce both inward and outward holiness, which does not stamp the whole image of God on the heart, and purify us as he is pure; that faith which does not produce the whole of the religion described in the foregoing chapters, is not the faith of the gospel, not the Christian faith, not the faith which leads to glory.”
6. “Now, therefore, build thou upon a rock. By the grace of God, know thyself.”
7. “Now weep for your sins, and mourn after God till he turns your heaviness into joy.”
8. “Learn in every state wherein you are, therewith to be content… Be angry at sin, as an affront offered to the majesty of heaven; but love the sinner still.”
9. Hunger and thirst for eternal things, not things that perish.
10. “Now, seeing thou canst do all things through Christ strengthening thee, be merciful as thy Father in heaven is merciful. Love thy neighbour as thyself. Love friends and enemies as thy own soul. And let thy love be long-suffering, and patient towards all men.”
11. “Now be thou ‘pure in heart’; purified through faith from every unholy affection, ‘cleansing thyself from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and perfecting holiness in the fear of God.'”
12. “In a word: let thy religion be the religion of the heart… And as sure as thou now walkest with God on earth, thou shalt also reign with him in glory.”


Resources:

Read “Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Thirteenth” in its entirety.

Check out my brief summaries of the first twenty-seven Standard Sermons:

Salvation by Faith

The Almost Christian

Awake, Thou That Sleepest

Scriptural Christianity

Justification by Faith

The Righteousness of Faith

The Way to the Kingdom

The First-Fruits of the Spirit

The Spirit of Bondage and of Adoption

The Witness of the Spirit, I

The Witness of Our Own Spirit

The Means of Grace

The Circumcision of the Heart

The Marks of the New Birth

The Great Privilege of those that are Born of God

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the First

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Second

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Third

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Fourth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Fifth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Sixth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Seventh

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Eighth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Ninth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Tenth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Eleventh

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Twelfth

I highly recommend the critical edition of Wesley’s sermons, which has excellent references that show his reliance on Scripture throughout his preaching. There are four volumes if you want every known Wesley sermon. They aren’t cheap, but this is the most important publication by Abingdon since its release. Highly recommended!

There is also a three volume edition of Wesley’s sermons in modern English, which is easier to read if you find the 18th century English frustrating. Here is the first volume.


Kevin M. Watson is a professor at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. He teaches, writes, and preaches to empower community, discipleship, and stewardship of our heritage. Click here to get future posts emailed to you. Affiliate links used in this post.

John Wesley’s Sermon “Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Twelfth”: A Brief Summary

John Wesley, Justification by Faith

This is the 27th sermon in this series. I have been publishing one sermon each Tuesday, but missed last week. (We got a puppy, which has been wonderful. But it has also thrown my schedule off quite a bit!) Just joining the growing number of people reading these sermons? Feel free to start at the beginning by reading the first sermon by John Wesley in this series, “Salvation by Faith,” or jump right in with us!


Background:

Did you know that many of John Wesley’s sermons are part of the formal doctrinal teaching of multiple Wesleyan/Methodist denominations? Wesley’s sermons have particular authority because these were the main way he taught Methodist doctrine and belief.

“Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Twelfth” is the 27th sermon of the Wesleyan Standard Sermons. It is also the 12th of 13 sermons on the Sermon on the Mount. The fact that 13 of the 44 original Standard Sermons focused on the Sermon on the Mount gives an idea of the importance John Wesley placed on Matthew 5-7. Wesley spends so much time on these three chapters of the Bible because he believed they provide essential teaching from Jesus on “the true way to life everlasting, the royal way which leads to the kingdom.”

In hopes of sparking interest in Wesley’s sermons and Methodism’s doctrinal heritage, here is my very short summary of “Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Twelfth.” I hope it will inspire you to read the sermon in its entirety yourself. Links to the sermon and other resources are included at the end of this post.


Key quote: 

Upon all occasions you may easily apply this rule. In order to know whether any who speak in the name of God are false or true prophets it is easy to observe, first, What are the fruits of their doctrine as to themselves? What effect has it had upon their lives? Are they holy and unblameable in all things? What effect has it had upon their hearts? Does it appear by the general tenor of their conversation that their tempers are holy, heavenly, divine? That the mind is in them which was in Christ Jesus? That they are meek, lowly, patient lovers of God and man, and zealous of good works? [III.2]


One sentence summary:  

Jesus warns of the dangers of false prophets, who can be recognized by their fruit.


Scripture passage for the sermon:

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

– Matthew 7:15-20


Concise outline of “Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Twelfth”

1. Many people “run on to destruction” because they would not walk in the narrow way.
2. To try and prevent this, the Lord has sent watchmen to warn people of their danger. But what happens when they themselves go astray?
3. Sadly, this is not uncommon. And so Jesus wisely warns us to “Beware of false prophets.”
4. This sermon will: First, inquire who false prophets are. Second, what appearance they put on. Third, How we may know what they really are, regardless of their appearance.

I.1. Who are these false prophets?
2. “By ‘prophets’ here are meant, not those who foretell things to come, but those who speak in the name of God.” False prophets, then, teach a false way to heaven, a way which does not actually lead there.
3. Every broad way is a false one. And those who do not teach us to walk in the narrow way, “to be singular, are false prophets.”
4. “The only true way to heaven is that pointed out in the preceding sermon [the Sermon on the Mount]. Therefore they are false prophets who do not teach men to walk in this way.”
5. It doesn’t matter what any of these other ways are called. If what they teach is different from the Sermon on the Mount, they are false prophets.
6. “How much more do they fall under that condemnation who speak evil of this good way!”
7. False prophets are those “who encourage the proud, the trifler, the passionate, the lover of the world, the man of pleasure, the unjust or unkind, the easy, careless, harmless, useless creature, the man who suffers no reproach for righteousness’ sake, to imagine he is in the way to heaven.”

II. 1. They are not obviously false prophets, or no one would follow them. They come in disguise as those leading to the way to life.
2. They appear harmless, mild mannered, and inoffensive.
3. They seem useful. They have been set apart “to watch over your soul, and to train you up to eternal life.”
4. “They come, thirdly, with an appearance of religion. All they do is for conscience’ sake! They assure you it is out of mere zeal for God that they are making God a liar.”
5. “Above all, they come with an appearance of love. They take all these pains only for your good.”

III. 1. How may we know what they really are? You shall know them by their fruits.
2. “In order to know whether any who speak in the name of God are false or true prophets it is easy to observe, first, What are the fruits of their doctrine as to themselves? What effect has it had upon their lives? Are they holy and unblameable in all things? What effect has it had upon their hearts?
3. Second, what is the fruit of their teaching on those who hear them?
4. A false prophet brings forth evil fruit “always, and of necessity.”
5. Beware of false prophets! They cannot lead you in the way to heaven.
6. Wesley wrestles with whether we should ever hear false prophets. Jesus directs his followers at times to hear those who are known to be false prophets.
7. This applies not only to hearing them read Scripture but to expounding it.
8. False prophets also administer the sacraments. To direct people to not hear them, when they are leading churches would be to cut them off from the sacraments. “This we dare not do, considering the validity of the ordinance [sacrament] doth not depend on the goodness of him that administers [the officiant], but on the faithfulness of him that ordained it [Jesus].”
9. “All, therefore, which I can say is this: in any particular case wait upon God by humble and earnest prayer, and then act according to the best light you have.”
10. Wesley concludes by addressing false prophets directly: “How long will ye lie in the name of God, saying God hath spoken, and God hath not spoken by you? How long will ye pervert the right ways of the Lord, putting darkness for light, and light for darkness? How long will ye teach the way of death, and call it the way of life? How long will ye deliver to Satan the souls whom you profess to bring unto God?”
11. “Woe unto you, ye blind leaders of the blind!”
12. “If the Lord had sent you, the ‘work of the Lord’, would ‘prosper in your hands.’ As the Lord liveth, if ye were messengers of God he would ‘confirm the word of his messengers.’ But the work of the Lord doth not prosper in your hand: you bring no sinners to repentance. The Lord doth not confirm your word, for you save no souls from death.”
13. “Your speaking as from God has only confirmed them that heard you in the tempers, if not works, of the devil. O take warning of him in whose name ye speak, before the sentence he hath pronounced take place. ‘Every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.'”
14. “My dear brethren, harden not your hearts. You have too long shut your eyes against the light. Open them now, before it is too late; before you are cast into outer darkness. Let not any temporal consideration weigh with you; for eternity is at stake.”


Resources:

Read “Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Twelfth” in its entirety.

Check out my brief summaries of the first twenty-six Standard Sermons:

Salvation by Faith

The Almost Christian

Awake, Thou That Sleepest

Scriptural Christianity

Justification by Faith

The Righteousness of Faith

The Way to the Kingdom

The First-Fruits of the Spirit

The Spirit of Bondage and of Adoption

The Witness of the Spirit, I

The Witness of Our Own Spirit

The Means of Grace

The Circumcision of the Heart

The Marks of the New Birth

The Great Privilege of those that are Born of God

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the First

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Second

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Third

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Fourth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Fifth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Sixth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Seventh

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Eighth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Ninth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Tenth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Eleventh

I highly recommend the critical edition of Wesley’s sermons, which has excellent references that show his reliance on Scripture throughout his preaching. There are four volumes if you want every known Wesley sermon. They aren’t cheap, but this is the most important publication by Abingdon since its release. Highly recommended!

There is also a three volume edition of Wesley’s sermons in modern English, which is easier to read if you find the 18th century English frustrating. Here is the first volume.


Kevin M. Watson is a professor at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. He teaches, writes, and preaches to empower community, discipleship, and stewardship of our heritage. Click here to get future posts emailed to you. Affiliate links used in this post.

Thoughts on Theological Education (And Three Practical Suggestions)

There are a handful of books I hear about over and over, intend to read, but for one reason or another have a hard time getting to. When I finally do get to a book like this, it is almost always rewarding.

Desiring the Kingdom, James K. A. Smith

Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation by James K. A. Smith was such a book. It was published more than a decade ago and has been widely read. I finally got around to reading it a few weeks ago. And now I can see why I’ve heard so much about it. This is not intended to be a review of the book, but my initial reflection on theological education that was prompted by it. (I do recommend reading it, if, like me, you haven’t gotten to it yet.)


Here are some key questions towards the beginning that drew me in:

What if education, including higher education, is not primarily about the absorption of ideas and information, but about the formation of hearts and desires?

What if we began by appreciating how education not only gets into our head but also (and more fundamentally) grabs us by the gut – what the New Testament refers to as kardia, “the heart”?

What if education was primarily concerned with shaping our hopes and passions – our visions of ‘the good life’ – and not merely about the dissemination of data and information as inputs to our thinking?….

And what if it had as much to do with our bodies as with our minds?

What if education wasn’t first and foremost about what we know, but about what we love?” (17-18)


These are fascinating and important questions!

My interest was further piqued by his summary of the purpose of the book on the next page:

This book is out to raise the stakes of Christian education, which will also mean raising the stakes of Christian worship. The goal is to get us to appreciate what’s at stake in both – nothing less than the formation of radical disciples who desire the kingdom of God.” (19)

In Desiring the Kingdom, Smith seeks to correct the misunderstanding of people as primarily thinkers or believers that is prevalent in many parts of American Christianity. In this problematic approach, formation is aimed at the head and not at the heart. It  is primarily cognitive, rather than embodied and affective. Smith uses a variety of avenues to try to help the reader see that the culture understands the role of desire. This is why advertising, for example, targets our hearts and not our heads.

And this is why the culture is so much more successful in forming people than the church.


Smith turns to Christian higher education in the final chapter of the book. Let me set the table with two key quotes from the beginning of the chapter:

If Christian education is not merely about acquiring a Christian perspective or a Christian worldview, what is its goal? Its goal, I’m suggesting, is the same as the goal of Christian worship: to form radical disciples of Jesus and citizens of the baptismal city who, communally, take up the creational task of being God’s image bearers, unfolding the cultural possibilities latent in creation – but doing so as empowered by the Spirit, following the example of Jesus’s cruciform cultural labor….

If something like Christian universities are to exist, they should be configured as extensions of the mission of the church – as chapels that extend and amplify what’s happening at the heart of the cathedral, at the altar of Christian worship. In short, the task of Christian education needs to be reconnected to the thick practices of the church.” (220)


As I read Desiring the Kingdom, I found myself trying to apply Smith’s ideas to theological education, particularly the training of clergy for full-time service and leadership within the church.

It seems to me that much of so-called mainline theological education fails to do what Smith envisions, not so much because it continues to be overly concerned with the life of the mind in a way that ignores the heart or the cultivation of desire. Seminaries seem to me increasingly concerned with forming desire. The problem is that it is not always clear what informs values about what we ought to desire. Put differently, Smith’s goal: “the formation of radical disciples who desire the kingdom of God” requires a degree of clarity regarding theological commitments. (This may be a difference between my own context and that of Smith’s. While I agree with him about the ultimate importance of forming radical disciples who desire the kingdom of God, I also see a need for greater clarity and coherence in theological commitments for this to be possible.)

Mainline theological education largely exists to prepare people to be pastors in Christian churches. This is a very specific purpose. And it is unavoidably connected to a host of values, beliefs, and convictions. But this is also not the only reason that mainline seminaries exist. Someone who wants to get a PhD in Religious Studies, for example, will often start by pursuing a Master’s degree. These students may or may not be Christians. As a result, in many mainline seminaries there is something of an ambivalent relationship between Christian commitments that are unabashedly designed to form radical disciples of Jesus and academic work.

One way seminaries address this tension is by creating extracurricular offices and programming that provides spiritual formation for students who elect to participate in it. And this is a logical approach given the dominant assumptions for much of contemporary theological education. My purpose here is not to be dismissive of these efforts. Rather, I want them to be lifted up as essential and centered in the curriculum itself.


It is strange to me that the church would require a specific degree for ordination and also accept so little control over how students are formed while in seminary. This is all the more odd when you remember that these institutions were themselves founded and funded by these churches.


If Christian education is best thought of as Christian formation, and if the task that is most needed is shaping our hearts and teaching us to love rightly, how might this change the way that students are prepared for ministry during their time in seminary?

First, if seminaries put discipleship at the center, there would need to be careful thinking about the places where there is overlap across denominational or confessional lines where fruitful formation within the Body of Christ can happen.

Second, there would need to be clearly demarcated denominational or confessional spaces where overlap would not be fruitful. The key is that there would be distinct space for different denominations or confessional traditions to gather and seek to cultivate desire for this distinctive embodiment of the Christian life. This should be integrated within the curriculum. There are already examples of this happening in many seminaries with denominational “Houses of Study” that are largely led by denominations that require that seminaries allow them more input in how their students’s are formed in seminary.


What would this look like practically speaking?

My sense is that few people would actively resist bringing greater attention to formation of the heart within seminary life. In fact, most seminaries already recognize that this is an area that can be improved and have worked hard to address this deficiency. But, again, my sense is that these are almost always activities that occur on the periphery. They are voluntary and tangential or entirely outside of the curriculum.

To give one example: Generally speaking, learning how to pray is not generally seen as a core competency in order to graduate from seminary.  But surely prayer is something that a pastor needs to be able to do well. Surely prayer is something that one needs to practice in order to become more effective. And to Smith’s point: a person who is becoming a radical disciple of Jesus Christ who desires the kingdom of God will surely be a person who spends significant time praying.

Embodied practices like prayer, searching the Scriptures, worship, receiving the Lord’s Supper, etc. are not at the center of mainline seminary curriculum.

I suspect most committed Christian laity would find this to be surprising. Aren’t these the very places seminary students most need to be proficient if they are to be effective leaders in the church of Jesus Christ? These are not the only areas where pastors need to be capable. But they are surely areas where pastors do need to be capable.


I conclude with three specific ways a seminary curriculum could help students who are preparing for full-time ordained leadership become radical disciples who desire the kingdom of God.

Mark time by practices of corporate worship

The conversation about whether attendance in chapel should or should not be required misses the mark in my view. Rather, the goal should be a seminary experience that would simply be unthinkable without regular corporate worship. I imagine someone saying, “I don’t know what that would be, but if we aren’t regularly gathering together as a community to worship the Triune God, it certainly is not seminary.”

Integrate Scripture reading, prayer, and discernment with instruction

Classes would have rhythms of reading Scripture and praying together. It would not be seen as unusual for a class to pray in the middle of a session. This would not be an irresponsible interruption to the information that needs to be covered, or an unwarranted intrusion into student’s lives. Students would be learning to discern truth and the voice of the Lord, even in the classroom. Space would unashamedly be given to this in the learning environment. Learning to hear the voice of God, for example, with all of its struggles, frustrations, joys, and breakthroughs would be centered in the seminary experience, not pressed to the margins, viewed with skepticism, or ridiculed.

Gather in Class and Band Meetings

For Wesleyan/Methodist students, small group formation in groups like the class meeting and the band meeting would be essential. This was the first practice that came to mind as I read Desiring the Kingdom. (I know, big surprise there.) Classes and bands teach participants to look at their lives through the lens of the gospel. And these groups help students notice and voice the places where they have experienced God’s goodness. And they teach participants the blessing of inviting people into the places where they have struggled to be faithful or have felt distant from God. Wesleyans believe that growth in holiness happens in community. Therefore, it is essential that Wesleyan “social holiness” is integrated into seminary curriculum.


Desiring the Kingdom is an important book. I encourage you to read it if you haven’t. What do you think about the role of theological education in forming desire for the kingdom in students? How is this being done well? How do you think it could be done better?


Kevin M. Watson is a professor at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. He teaches, writes, and preaches to empower community, discipleship, and stewardship of our heritage. Click here to get future posts emailed to you. Affiliate links used in this post.

John Wesley’s Sermon “Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Eleventh”: A Brief Summary

John Wesley, Justification by Faith

This is the 26th sermon in this series. Just joining the growing number of people reading these sermons? Feel free to start at the beginning by reading the first sermon by John Wesley in this series, “Salvation by Faith,” or jump right in with us!


Background:

Did you know that many of John Wesley’s sermons are part of the formal doctrinal teaching of multiple Wesleyan/Methodist denominations? Wesley’s sermons have particular authority because these were the main way he taught Methodist doctrine and belief.

“Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Eleventh” is the 26th sermon of the Wesleyan Standard Sermons. It is also the 11th of 13 sermons on the Sermon on the Mount. The fact that 13 of the 44 original Standard Sermons focused on the Sermon on the Mount gives an idea of the importance John Wesley placed on Matthew 5-7. Wesley spends so much time on these three chapters of the Bible because he believed they provide essential teaching from Jesus on “the true way to life everlasting, the royal way which leads to the kingdom.”

In hopes of sparking interest in Wesley’s sermons and Methodism’s doctrinal heritage, here is my very short summary of “Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Eleventh.” I hope it will inspire you to read the sermon in its entirety yourself. Links to the sermon and other resources are included at the end of this post.


Key quote: 

This is an inseparable property of the way to heaven. So narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, unto life everlasting, so strait the gate, that nothing unclean, nothing unholy, can enter. No sinner can pass through that gate until he is saved from all his sins. Not only from his outward sins, from his evil ‘conversation, received by tradition from his fathers’. It will not suffice that he hath ‘ceased to do evil’ and ‘learned to do well’. He must not only be saved from all sinful actions and from all evil and useless discourse; but inwardy changed, throughly renewed in the spirit of his mind. Otherwise he cannot pass through the gate of life, he cannot enter into glory. [II.2]


One sentence summary:  

The way that leads to destruction is wide, easy to follow, and popular, while the way that leads to life is narrow and unpopular.


Scripture passage for the sermon:

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leaders to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leaders unto life, and few there be that find it.”

– Matthew 7:13-14


Concise outline of “Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Eleventh”

1. Jesus warns us of the dangers of bad examples and bad advice.
2. Wesley cites Matthew 7:13-14
3. The properties of the way to hell: wide, broad, leading to destruction, and largely populated. The properties of the way to heaven: straight, narrow, leading to life, and few find it.

I.1. “The inseparable properties of the way to hell: ‘Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat.'”
2. “Sin is the gate of hell, and wickedness the way to destruction.”
3. Carnality, pride, self-will, and love of the world are sins that “diffuse themselves through all our thoughts, and mingle with all our tempers.”
4. There are countless sins in our midst right now, even in this city.
5. “Even in this which is called a Christian country the generality of every age and sex, of every profession and employment, of every rank and degree, high and low, rich and poor, are walking in the way of destruction.”
6. The higher people rise in wealth and status, “the more sins do they commit; using their honor or riches, their learning or wisdom, not as means of working out their salvation, but rather of excelling in vice, and so ensuring their own destruction.”

II. 1. “Straight is the gate and narrow the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
2. “This is an inseparable property of the way to heaven. So narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, unto life everlasting, so strait the gate, that nothing unclean, nothing unholy, can enter.”
3. The way that leads to life is “universal holiness.”
4. How few there are who fully love God and neighbor!
5. Negative examples have a powerful impact on us, especially when there are so many. “How difficult must it be to stem the tide, and to keep ourselves ‘unspotted in the world’!”
6. This is all the more challenging because bad examples often come from “the polite, the well-bred, the genteel, the wise, the men who understand the world; the men of knowledge, of deep and various learning, the rational, the eloquent!”
7. There are also many “mighty and noble and powerful men, as well as wise, in the road that leadeth to destruction.”
8. “Many rich are likewise in the broad way.”
9. “For how dark, how uncomfortable, how forbidding is the prospect on the opposite side! A strait gate! A narrow way! And few finding that gate!
10. Those on the narrow way are easy to ignore or ridicule because they “are not noble, not honorable men.”

III. 1. Strive to enter in at the strait gate.
2. One reason it seems that some cannot enter in is because the door has been shut.
3. “Probably they did seek before the door was shut; but that did not suffice. And they did strive, after the door was shut; but then it was too late.
4. “Settle it in your heart, and let it be ever uppermost in your thoughts, that if you are in a broad way, you are in the way that leadeth to destruction. If many go with you, as sure as God is true, both they and you are going to hell.”
5. “Now, then, ‘strive to enter in at the strait gate,’ being penetrated with the deepest sense of the inexpressible danger your soul is in so long as you are in a broad way, so long as you are void of poverty of spirit and all that inward religion which the many, the rich, the wise, account madness.”
6. Strive to enter in at the straight gate by ordering your conversation right, by abstaining from all appearance of evil, and doing all possible good to all people. “Be ready to cut off thy right hand, to pluck out they right eye and cast it from thee; to suffer the loss of goods, friends, health, all things on earth, so thou mayst enter into the kingdom of heaven.”


Resources:

Read “Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Eleventh” in its entirety.

Check out my brief summaries of the first twenty-five Standard Sermons:

Salvation by Faith

The Almost Christian

Awake, Thou That Sleepest

Scriptural Christianity

Justification by Faith

The Righteousness of Faith

The Way to the Kingdom

The First-Fruits of the Spirit

The Spirit of Bondage and of Adoption

The Witness of the Spirit, I

The Witness of Our Own Spirit

The Means of Grace

The Circumcision of the Heart

The Marks of the New Birth

The Great Privilege of those that are Born of God

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the First

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Second

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Third

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Fourth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Fifth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Sixth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Seventh

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Eighth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Ninth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Tenth

I highly recommend the critical edition of Wesley’s sermons, which has excellent references that show his reliance on Scripture throughout his preaching. There are four volumes if you want every known Wesley sermon. They aren’t cheap, but this is the most important publication by Abingdon since its release. Highly recommended!

There is also a three volume edition of Wesley’s sermons in modern English, which is easier to read if you find the 18th century English frustrating. Here is the first volume.


Kevin M. Watson is a professor at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. He teaches, writes, and preaches to empower community, discipleship, and stewardship of our heritage. Click here to get future posts emailed to you. Affiliate links used in this post.

John Wesley’s Sermon “Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Tenth”: A Brief Summary

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John Wesley, Justification by Faith

This is the 25th sermon in this series. You can expect to see a new post in this series by 10am EST on Tuesday mornings (sorry I’m a bit late today). Just joining the growing number of people reading these sermons? Feel free to start at the beginning by reading the first sermon by John Wesley in this series, “Salvation by Faith,” or jump right in with us!


Background:

Did you know that many of John Wesley’s sermons are part of the formal doctrinal teaching of multiple Wesleyan/Methodist denominations? Wesley’s sermons have particular authority because these were the main way he taught Methodist doctrine and belief.

“Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Tenth” is the 25th sermon of the Wesleyan Standard Sermons. It is also the 10th of 13 sermons on the Sermon on the Mount. The fact that 13 of the 44 original Standard Sermons focused on the Sermon on the Mount gives an idea of the importance John Wesley placed on Matthew 5-7. Wesley spends so much time on these three chapters of the Bible because he believed they provide essential teaching from Jesus on “the true way to life everlasting, the royal way which leads to the kingdom.”

In hopes of sparking interest in Wesley’s sermons and Methodism’s doctrinal heritage, here is my very short summary of “Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Tenth.” I hope it will inspire you to read the sermon in its entirety yourself. Links to the sermon and other resources are included at the end of this post.


Key quote: 

‘This is the law and the prophets.’ Whatsoever is written in that law which God of old revealed to mankind, and whatsoever precepts God has given by ‘his holy prophets which have been since the world began’, they are all summed up in these few words, they are all contained in this short direction. And this, rightly understood, comprises the whole of that religion which our Lord came to establish upon earth. [23]


One sentence summary:  

Jesus warns against several of the main hindrances of Christianity (such as judging others and casting pearls before swine) and concludes with the Golden Rule.


Scripture passage for the sermon:

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then thou shalt see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Give not that which is holy unto dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine; lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

For everyone that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.

Or what man is there of you, who, if his son ask bread, will give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will give him a serpent?

If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him!

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.

– Matthew 7:1-12


Concise outline of “Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Tenth”

1. In Matthew 7:1-12 Jesus identifies the main hindrances to Christianity and ends with application.
2. In Matthew 5, Jesus described inward religion, “the dispositions of the soul which constitute real Christianity.” In Matthew 6, Jesus shows “how all our actions… may be made holy… by a pure and holy intention.”
3. In the beginnings of Matthew 7, Jesus identifies “the most common and most fatal hindrances of this holiness.”
4. The first hindrance is judging.
5. This caution is needed at every stage of the Christian life.
6. This caution is for non-Christians as well as Christians.
7. Jesus especially cautions non-Christians against judging hypocrisy in Christians.
8. Judging is not only speaking evil of someone, it is also thinking evil of another.
9. “The thinking of another in a manner that is contrary to love is that judging which is here condemned.”
10. “We may not only fall into the sin of judging by condemning the innocent, but also… by condemning the guilty in a higher degree than he deserves.”
11. Judging shows a lack of love “which never draws an unjust or unkind conclusion from any premises.”
12. Another snare to be avoided is condemning a person where there is insufficient evidence.
13. Christians should hesitate to immediately believe a person’s self-accusation.
14. The problem of judging others would be largely solved if we consistently applied Matthew 18:15-17.
15. Once you have addressed the problem of judging others, still be careful you are not too quick to help that you “cast your pearls before swine.”
16. “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs.”
17. Be “very unwilling” to make this determination, but once it is clear someone is proud of their shame and separation from the will of God, do not cast your pearls before them.
18. And yet even if all your attempts to persuade someone fail, there is still prayer.
19. “It is in compassion to the hardness of our hearts, so unready to believe the goodness of God, that our Lord is pleased to enlarge upon this head, and to repeat and confirm what he hath spoken.”
20. God is ready and willing to give good gifts to all who ask.
21. “But that your prayer may have its full weight with God, see that ye be in charity with all men.”
22. The golden rule is recognized well beyond Christianity.
23. This summarizes “the whole of that religion which our Lord came to establish upon earth.”
24. This can be understood positively (do to others what you would want them to do to you) or negatively (do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you).
25. “It is clear to every man’s own conscience, we would not that others should judge us, should causelessly or lightly think evil of us.”
26. “Let us love and honor all men. Let justice, mercy, and truth govern all our minds and actions.”
27. “This is pure and genuine morality.”


Resources:

Read “Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Tenth” in its entirety.

Check out my brief summaries of the first twenty-four Standard Sermons:

Salvation by Faith

The Almost Christian

Awake, Thou That Sleepest

Scriptural Christianity

Justification by Faith

The Righteousness of Faith

The Way to the Kingdom

The First-Fruits of the Spirit

The Spirit of Bondage and of Adoption

The Witness of the Spirit, I

The Witness of Our Own Spirit

The Means of Grace

The Circumcision of the Heart

The Marks of the New Birth

The Great Privilege of those that are Born of God

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the First

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Second

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Third

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Fourth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Fifth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Sixth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Seventh

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Eighth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Ninth

I highly recommend the critical edition of Wesley’s sermons, which has excellent references that show his reliance on Scripture throughout his preaching. There are four volumes if you want every known Wesley sermon. They aren’t cheap, but this is the most important publication by Abingdon since its release. Highly recommended!

There is also a three volume edition of Wesley’s sermons in modern English, which is easier to read if you find the 18th century English frustrating. Here is the first volume.


Kevin M. Watson is a professor at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. He teaches, writes, and preaches to empower community, discipleship, and stewardship of our heritage. Click here to get future posts emailed to you. Affiliate links used in this post.

John Wesley’s Sermon “Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Ninth”: A Brief Summary

John Wesley, Justification by Faith

This is the 24th sermon in this series. You can expect to see a new post in this series by 10am EST on Tuesday mornings. Just joining the growing number of people reading these sermons? Feel free to start at the beginning by reading the first sermon by John Wesley in this series, “Salvation by Faith,” or jump right in with us!


Background:

Did you know that many of John Wesley’s sermons are part of the formal doctrinal teaching of multiple Wesleyan/Methodist denominations? Wesley’s sermons have particular authority because these were the main way he taught Methodist doctrine and belief.

“Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Ninth” is the 24th sermon of the Wesleyan Standard Sermons. It is also the 9th of 13 sermons on the Sermon on the Mount. The fact that 13 of the 44 original Standard Sermons focused on the Sermon on the Mount gives an idea of the importance John Wesley placed on Matthew 5-7. Wesley spends so much time on these three chapters of the Bible because he believed they provide essential teaching from Jesus on “the true way to life everlasting, the royal way which leads to the kingdom.”

In hopes of sparking interest in Wesley’s sermons and Methodism’s doctrinal heritage, here is my very short summary of “Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Ninth.” I hope it will inspire you to read the sermon in its entirety yourself. Links to the sermon and other resources are included at the end of this post.


Key quote: 

To ‘serve mammon’ is, lastly, to obey the world, by outwardly conforming to its maxims and customs; to walk as other men walk, in the common road, in the broad, smooth, beaten path; to be in the fashion; to follow a multitude; to do like the rest of our neighbors; that is, to do the will of the flesh and the mind, to gratify our appetites and inclinations – to sacrifice to ourselves, to aim at our own ease and pleasure in the general course both of our words and actions.

Now what can be more undeniably clear than that we ‘cannot’ thus ‘serve God and mammon’?

Does not every man see that he cannot comfortably serve both? That to trim between God and the world is the sure way to be disappointed in both, and to have no rest either in one or the other? How uncomfortable a condition must he be in, who, having the fear but not the love of God, who, serving him, but not with all his heart, has only the toils and not the joys of religion! He has religion enough to make him miserable, but not enough to make him happy: his religion will not let him enjoy the world, and the world will not let him enjoy God. So that by halting between both he loses both, and has no peace either in God or the world. [11-12]


One sentence summary:  

You cannot serve God and mammon.


Scripture passage for the sermon:

“No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are ye not much better than they?

Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek); for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

But first seek ye the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself: sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

– Matthew 6: 24-34


Concise outline of “Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Ninth”

1. Many Christians fear God and perform outward service to the Lord, but they also serve mammon.
2. You cannot serve two masters.
3. You cannot serve God and mammon.
4. In order to serve God, we must first trust God.
5. In order to serve God, we must second love God, to “desire God alone for his own sake.”
6. In order to serve God, we must third resemble or imitate him.”
7. In order to serve God, we must obey God and keep his outward commandments.
8. Serving mammon means trusting in wealth and the things we buy with it.
9. Serving mammon means, secondly, loving the world, “desiring it for its own sake.”
10. Third, serving mammon means resembling or being conformed to the world.
11. Fourth, serving mammon means “to obey the world, by outwardly conforming to its maxims and customs.”
12. You cannot comfortably serve both God and mammon, “to trim between God and the world is the sure way to be disappointed in both, and to have no rest either in one or the other.”
13. You cannot serve both and be consistent with yourself.
14. You cannot serve both God and mammon because “there is the most absolute contrariety, and the most irreconcilable enmity, between them.”
15. “Therefore, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”
16. This is not to say that God requires that we give no thought whatsoever to the concerns of this life.
17. What is condemned is “the anxious, uneasy care; the care that hath torment; all such care as does hurt, either to the soul or body.”
18. Trust God to provide for your basic needs.
19. God knows your needs and will provide for them if you seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
20. “Let God have the sole dominion over you. Let him reign without a rival. Let him possess all your heart, and rule alone. Let him be your one desire, your joy, your love; so that all that is within you may continually cry out, ‘The Lord God omnipotent reigneth.'”
21. An interpretation of Romans 10 based on this logic.
22. Connection to Philippians 3.
23. God knows everything you need and will not fail to give you what you need.
24. Don’t worry about tomorrow.
25. “Above all, do not make the care of future things a pretense for neglecting present duty.”
26. Do not fail to do what good you can do today because you are worried about what might happen in the distant future.
27. Do not worry about possible temptations you might face tomorrow. “In every situation the grace of God will be sufficient for you.”
28. Think of tomorrow when it comes. Live today.
29. “Gladly suffer today, for his name’s sake, whatsoever he permits this day to come upon thee. But look not at the sufferings of tomorrow.”


Resources:

Read “Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Ninth” in its entirety.

Check out my brief summaries of the first twenty-three Standard Sermons:

Salvation by Faith

The Almost Christian

Awake, Thou That Sleepest

Scriptural Christianity

Justification by Faith

The Righteousness of Faith

The Way to the Kingdom

The First-Fruits of the Spirit

The Spirit of Bondage and of Adoption

The Witness of the Spirit, I

The Witness of Our Own Spirit

The Means of Grace

The Circumcision of the Heart

The Marks of the New Birth

The Great Privilege of those that are Born of God

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the First

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Second

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Third

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Fourth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Fifth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Sixth

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Seventh

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Eighth

I highly recommend the critical edition of Wesley’s sermons, which has excellent references that show his reliance on Scripture throughout his preaching. There are four volumes if you want every known Wesley sermon. They aren’t cheap, but this is the most important publication by Abingdon since its release. Highly recommended!

There is also a three volume edition of Wesley’s sermons in modern English, which is easier to read if you find the 18th century English frustrating. Here is the first volume.


Kevin M. Watson is a professor at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. He teaches, writes, and preaches to empower community, discipleship, and stewardship of our heritage. Click here to get future posts emailed to you. Affiliate links used in this post.

John Wesley’s Sermon “Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Eighth”: A Brief Summary

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This is the 23rd sermon in this series. You can expect to see a new post in this series by 10am EST on Tuesday mornings. Just joining the growing number of people reading these sermons? Feel free to start at the beginning by reading the first sermon by John Wesley in this series, “Salvation by Faith,” or jump right in with us!


Background: 

Did you know that many of John Wesley’s sermons are part of the formal doctrinal teaching of multiple Wesleyan/Methodist denominations? Wesley’s sermons have particular authority because these were the main way he taught Methodist doctrine and belief. 

“Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Eighth” is the 23rd sermon of the Wesleyan Standard Sermons. It is also the 8th of 13 sermons on the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon focuses on works of piety, works of mercy, and the Lord’s Prayer. The fact that 13 of the 44 original Standard Sermons focused on the Sermon on the Mount gives an idea of the importance John Wesley placed on Matthew 5-7. Wesley spends so much time on these three chapters of the Bible because he believed they provide essential teaching from Jesus on “the true way to life everlasting, the royal way which leads to the kingdom.” 

In hopes of sparking interest in Wesley’s sermons and Methodism’s doctrinal heritage, here is my very short summary of “Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Eighth.” I hope it will inspire you to read the sermon in its entirety yourself. Links to the sermon and other resources are included at the end of this post.


Key quote:  

“May not this be another reason why rich men shall so hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven? A vast majority of them are under a curse, under the peculiar curse of God; inasmuch as in the general tenor of their lives they are not only robbing God continually, embezzling and wasting their Lord’s goods, and by that very means corrupting their own souls; but also robbing the poor, the hungry, the naked, wronging the widow and the fatherless, and making themselves accountable for all the want, affliction, and distress which they may but do not remove. Yea, doth not the blood of all those who perish for want of what they either lay up or lay out needlessly, cry against them from the earth? O what account will they give to him who is ready to judge both the quick and the dead!” [25]


One sentence summary:   

Wesley gives an account of stewardship, calls for giving generously to the poor, and warns of the danger of riches for the one who fails to be a faithful steward.


Scripture passage for the sermon: 

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal;For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” 

– Matthew 6:19-23


Concise outline of “Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Eighth”

 
1. The same purity of intention is required in the normal things of life as in giving, fasting, or prayer.
2. “The eye is the intention: what the eye is to the body, the intention is to the soul.”
3. If our eyes are fixed solely on God, our lives will be filled with the light of Christ.
4. If you seek God in all things, with focused intention, you will find the fountain of holiness, constantly filling you with “his own likeness, with justice, mercy, and truth.”
5. “This light which fills him who has a single eye implies, thirdly, happiness as well as holiness.”
6. Your eye either is fixed solely on God, or it is not and then leads to evil.
7. “If thine eye be not single, if thou seek any of the things of earth, thou shalt be full of ungodliness and unrighteousness, thy desires, tempers, affections, being all out of course, being all dark, and vile, and vain.”
8. There is no peace for “them that know not God.”
9. Those who lay up treasures for themselves on earth are not singly fixed on God.
10. Many read this passage regularly without recognizing that “they are themselves condemned” by it.
11. Jesus’s command here does not forbid providing for the basic necessities like food and clothing for ourselves and our household. It also does not forbid saving “what is needful for the carrying on our worldly business so that we are not in debt, can provide for the basics for ourselves and our families, and provide the same for them if we die.
12. Saving beyond this is forbidden by Jesus.
13. “If you aim at ‘laying up treasures on earth’ you are not barely losing your time and spending your strength for that which is not bread… You have murdered your own soul.”
14. It is exceptionally difficult for those having riches to enter the kingdom of God.
15. The warning is particularly for those who desire riches, “those who calmly desire and deliberately seek to attain them.”
16. Who will warn this generation of this danger?
17. Jesus did not tell everyone they must sell all that they have. He gave this as a specific command to a particular person.
18. Do not trust in riches for help or happiness.
19. Everyone will die and when they are near death, riches are of no help.
20. Do not trust in riches for happiness. If you are tempted to, ask yourself: Are the richest people the happiest?
21. Trust in the living God for help and happiness.
22. Do not try to gain more and more wealth.
23. If you have riches do not set them aside for posterity or spend them on yourself on excessive indulgence.
24. “Equally inexcusable are those who lay up what they do not need for any reasonable purposes.”
25. The vast majority of the rich are “under the peculiar curse of God” because “they are not only robbing God continually, embezzling and wasting their Lord’s goods, and by that very means corrupting their own souls; but also robbing the poor, the hungry, the naked, wronging the widow and the fatherless, and making themselves accountable for all the want, affliction, and distress which they may but do not remove.”
26. “Give to the poor with a single eye, with an upright heart.”
27. The rich are to “be merciful as your Father which is in heaven is merciful.”
28. “Be a steward, a faithful and wise steward, of God and of the poor.”


Resources: 

Read “Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Eighth” in its entirety. 

Check out my brief summaries of the first twenty-two Standard Sermons: 

Salvation by Faith” 

The Almost Christian” 

Awake, Thou That Sleepest” 

Scriptural Christianity“ 

Justification by Faith“ 

The Righteousness of Faith“ 

The Way to the Kingdom“ 

The First-Fruits of the Spirit“ 

The Spirit of Bondage and of Adoption“ 

The Witness of the Spirit, I“ 

The Witness of Our Own Spirit“ 

The Means of Grace“ 

The Circumcision of the Heart“ 

The Marks of the New Birth“ 

The Great Privilege of those that are Born of God“ 

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the First“ 

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Second“ 

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Third“ 

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Fourth“ 

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Fifth“ 

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Sixth“ 

Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, Discourse the Seventh“ 

I highly recommend the critical edition of Wesley’s sermons, which has excellent references that show his reliance on Scripture throughout his preaching. There are four volumes if you want every known Wesley sermon. They aren’t cheap, but this is the most important publication by Abingdon since its release. Highly recommended! 

There is also a three volume edition of Wesley’s sermons in modern English, which is easier to read if you find the 18th century English frustrating. Here is the first volume.


Kevin M. Watson is a professor at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. He teaches, writes, and preaches to empower community, discipleship, and stewardship of our heritage. Click here to get future posts emailed to you. Affiliate links used in this post.