Sermon nine The spirit of slavery and the spirit of adoption

john                                       audio clip



In sermon nine Wesley has another three point sermon

  1. The state of “natural man”
  2. The realisation of God’s majesty
  3. The person in a state of grace

Now I am (very briefly) going to go through each point because I suspect I am going to keep coming back to this sermon simply because it outlines my own life and how it moved from one state to the next to the next.

I am not going to use the phrase “natural man” because then it doesn’t apply to half the world instead I am going to use different phrases that all mean the same of similar. Basically though we are talking about a person who is not under the law or grace. A person who does not know there is a God or who knows and chooses to ignore the fact that there is a God. Many people live their whole lives in this state. There is comfort in the surroundings of this person, they have a kind of peace in their dark world. Wesley suggest that educated people who pontificate on life the universe and everything dabble at seeking the truth but without knowing the Truth how can they? The sinners that form this group sin daily in every way and have no guilt about it because the y do not know God. So their conscience is not imbued with the Holy Spirit. They feel nothing. They are happy in a worldly sense and in their darkness are blind to the light of Christ

God can reach the human hearts of these people and one by one they are moved to search, to seek the God of the bible. Somehow God touches the sleeping persons heart and they are awoken to the realisation that they are in danger, condemned to death.

Quoting Wesley – “And thus, in every point, he feels the word of God “quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword.” It “pierces even to the dividing asunder of his soul and spirit, his joints and marrow.” And so much the more, because he is conscious to himself of having neglected so great salvation; of having “trodden under foot the son of God,” who would have saved him from his sins, and “counted the blood of the covenant an unholy,” a common, unsanctifying thing.”

This person is now under the law, a wounded spirit who is in despair, fearing God and judgement and struggling to leave sin behind. But it a work, it is hard toil and there is ever present torment because there is much back sliding, much guilt and they are half way between two worlds, a foot in each. However if we say light and dark or white and black for these two worlds. If you add a bit of white to black it remains black, if you add a bit of black to white it can never get back to white, it will always be grey or off white. A person cannot live, in the Christian sense, live, in this state, this is a state of not living. Awake but not moving.

The torment causes the person to cry out to God, Abba Father, and then the person enters a state of grace. Confession of sins and sins forgive, the guilt gone, over. Past life gone. A new life, transformed heart, mind and soul. A new creation.

Ignorant (natural man) Under the law Under Grace
No fear of God, No love of God Fears God Loves God
Spiritual darkness Sees painful light of hell Joyous light of heaven
Enjoys false peace sleeps in death Awake with no peace Peace of God filling heart
Fancied liberty that is permissiveness Enslaved by the law Glorious freedom as child of God
Sins willingly Sins unwillingly No sin
Neither fights nor conquers Fights with sin but cannot conquer Complete victory through Christ who loves him

He then has a few notes on sincerity…

Day six How would John Wesley take his coffee?

Two years ago or possibly less when I was given the task of reading these forty four sermons I completed the task. I am a monkey see monkey do kind of a girl and so if I am given a task I complete it. There is a whole world of difference between reading something and reading and understanding it.

Now I am discovering there is a whole pile of difference between blandly reading and engaging with the author. So there is what two hundred and fifty years time difference but I want to have a cup of coffee with John Wesley. His mind intrigues me, and as I travel half way across the country for a decent Spirit filled conversation I have no problems imagining travelling back in time.

I wonder what he would make of us now, there are no penny gin houses in London anymore but there are plenty of distractions for a Christian to get caught up in, like finding the best barista in town. Such opulence, such spendthriftly ways in church. Where’s the fire? Where’s the commitment? Let’s have tea instead.

Would we listen to his vitriolic sermons? Would we turn on our heel, well turned out ones at that? What kind of church have we become? What kind of welcome would he receive?

And I want to ask him loads of questions about how his ideas changed? And then I am thinking am I going to do this with all these theologians and preachers from eons ago. And then I am just smiling wryly and thinking of all the times in my life I was supposed to study and wouldn’t and what a transformation to this voluntary immersion.

So a daft small poem to celebrate reaching my favourite sermon (9)

Java with John

I wonder how he takes his coffee?

Or would he go for tea?

This instance of historic holiness

Sitting in our putrid mess


Wesley preached a mighty sermon

Lived a life shrunk from ermine

Forbearance he taught

Universality for naught


But what did he teach us

What can we learn

The heart of his theology

Is his astute pneumatology


To live a life in the Spirit

Collecting gifts and fruit

To love as we are loved

Communion with the unloved


So John will ye have a latte

With you being older than Kawate

I know enough not to offer Rioja

But what about a mocha?