About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
John Wesley - Entire Sanctification
Like Gerald, I understand
the guilt trips that were placed on us as the appeal went forth to come
to the altar, ether for salvation or entire sanctification.
That's why it took me so long, to February 1970, at the age of
18, to finally find freedom from guilt, which by the way, has never
returned, not even in the least hint.
John Wesley believed in
Christian sinless perfection, otherwise known as entire sanctification.
There are actually two sides to this state of sanctification.
One; freedom from sin, and two, total devotion to Jesus.
He believed that entire sanctification was a process, although,
there is a point where the last sin is taken care of and you cross the
line into being entirely sanctified.
From my understanding to date, I don't see that he taught one got
entirely sanctified by responding to an altar call.
He did believe, and, this might be a weak point in his argument,
that one could lose his sanctification as one could lose his salvation.
He suggested that one might lose his sanctification a number of
times before it really stuck. He
also seemed to believe that for the most part, the believer couldn't
reach this place of entire sanctification until later in like, maybe
even just before death, although, he did concede that it might be
possible for a younger person to reach this state of sinless perfection.
John Wesley continually
warned Christians about enthusiasm, which he believed led people astray
into weird doctrine, fanciful experiences with visions, dreams, and
sensational experiences. He
probably would not have been a fan of Charles Finny, who in the next
generation of Christians, invented the highly confrontational and
emotional altar call.
As I see it, the Wesleyan
Movement, also known as the Holiness Movement, was in response to a
cold, dry, purely intellectual approach to Christian faith as seen in
the Reformed Church. If
Wesley were alive today, and Gerald might know this better than me since
he has been associated with Evangelical Methodism more than me in the
last few decades, he might well think that modern day Free an Wesleyan
Methodist are not much different than the Reformed Church he was opposed
I'm sure that John Wesley
had a heart for the Lord. He
probably was God's man for the hour to promote certain aspects of
Scripture when it comes to the moral state of both the Christian and
non-Christian community in
From my recollection, and
Gerald can confirm or deny this, it seems to me my dad's generation of
Free Methodists believed one could be entirely sanctified as a result of
one altar call. If I am also
correct, my dad's generation believed that they reached a point that
they did not sin. It's my
thinking though, that their definition of sin was very narrow, that is,
disobeying the Ten Commandments. In
that light, maybe some were sinless, but according to Jesus' definition
of sin and the Ten Commandments (example - lust is adultery in the
heart) I doubt if many were sinless.
My definition of sin
stems from Romans 14:23 - "anything that does not come from faith
is sin. For me, that
suggests that sin is more than breaking the Ten Commandments.
I'd thus say that one can preach a good sermon, teach a Sunday
school class, be doctrinally correct, and still sin because these
activities can be done apart from faith, apart from trusting Jesus as
you do these things. I'd
call these things sin.
It seems to me that
Evangelical Methodists over the years might have taken Wesley's teaching
and made it much more legalistic than he would want.
That is to say, not going to a theatre, not drinking wine (by the
way, Wesley used real wine in communion) not doing a number of things,
constitutes sanctification. Such
thinking would base sanctification on human effort, on works, and not on
the power of the Spirit.
When it comes to sin,
Wesley, like many Evangelicals today, believed in voluntary sin and
involuntary sin. Here is the
crux of the matter, or so I think. He
believed that if one was entirely sanctified, he would not willfully
sin. That being said, he
might well unknowingly sin. That
would define the way he viewed the term "sinless perfection".
I think the Evangelical
church today could use a good dose of Wesley's teaching.
That is to say, we need to view the Christian life in terms of
not just believing to get saved, but, being on the road to
sanctification, on the road to being more like Jesus.
I think that is sadly missing in today's church.
We're not just saved to go to heaven.
We're saved to represent Jesus to the world and the more we're
like Jesus the better we can represent Jesus as we should.
As a side note, Wesley
was a dispensationalist, long before Scofield published his Bible.
Wesley also believed in a literal 1000 year rule of Christ, long
before Darby began to popularize modern day Futurism.