Early in his missionary journey, John Wesley received assurance of his own salvation. After a failed missionary sojourn to Georgia, Wesley returned to England bitter and disillusioned. He told Peter Boehler, a Moravian, of his experience and his inner struggle. On May 24, 1738, Boehler convinced him to go to a meeting. Here is Wesley's description of what happened:
"In the evening, I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death."
Wesley desired that all his fellowmen receive that same salvation and that same assurance of salvation (See Sections 7.14 and 7.15 of Theology Corner).
Consider the thoughts of John Miley on this issue (bullet items):
- The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Rom 8:16).
- And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying ‘Abba! Father!’ (Gal 4:6).
- There are two sources of assurance: the witness of the Holy Spirit, and the witness of our own spirit.
- It was in view of the original word that Mr. Wesley said: “It is manifest, here are two witnesses mentioned, who together testify the same thing: the Spirit of God, and our own spirit.”
- If an officer of government should pardon a criminal the fact would surely be made known to him. How then shall God hide from us the forgiveness of sons?
- The witness of the spirit is given neither through His work of regeneration whereby we become the children of God, nor through the fruits of the new spiritual life, but by an immediate operation within our consciousness in a manner to assure us of the gracious sonship.
- Sonship is a state of peace with God. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 5.1, 8:1). On one side is condemnation, on the other, peace. The difference between these states, as they enter into our religious experience, is very real; so real that we can readily determine which is our own state.
- While assurance is the result of a twofold witnessing, yet as a mental state it is single, not double. There is not one form of assurance from the witness of the Spirit and another from that of our own spirit, but a single, simple state of confidence springing from the joint witnessing of the two.
- Assurance admits of degrees; and there are many reasons for its actual variations…There are wide differences in the intensity of conviction and contrition. All these facts must have a determining influence upon the strength of our assurance of the new birth.
Pray this simple prayer every day and God will give you assurance!
Almighty God, I pray that the Holy Spirit will occupy and purify my heart, make known to me the will of God, help me discern the truth, be Lord of my life and keep me on the path of repentance, faith and obedience continually reaffirmed and renewed.