(Excerpt from teaching/training classes, used also in pastoral counseling and prison ministry. I used this first at Windsor Village Methodist Campus, then in other places. It is adapted and expanded from Wesley’s Preface to Standard Sermons.)
John Wesley’s love for the Lord and the Spirit-breathed Scriptures is contagious. His zeal for evangelism and for personal and social holiness continues to challenge us. He was a thankful man, cheerful even when he was preparing to die. Much of Wesley’s godliness and impact for Christ can be traced to his love for Christ’s Bible.
John Wesley (1703-1791) was an English pastor and theologian who, with his brother Charles and pastor George Whitefield, founded Methodism. He aimed to hallow Christ’s name, advance Christ’s kingdom, and obey Christ’s revealed will on Earth as the angels do in Heaven. Wesley believed that with the Holy Spirit’s blessing, the Bible is a light to guide us, a counselor to advise us, a comforter to encourage us, a staff to support us, a sword to defend us, and a physician to cure us. He believed that the Bible is a goldmine to enrich us, a robe to clothe us, and a crown to crown us. He treasured the Scriptures. Listen to what Wesley wrote:
I am a short-lived creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I have come from God and am returning to God, hovering over the great gulf. In a few moments, I will be seen no more. I will go into an unchangeable eternity with Jesus!
I want to know one thing—the way to Heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. And how to live for Christ until I reach that home. The Lord Himself came from Heaven to Earth to teach the way. For this very purpose He wrote down His gospel in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it. Here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be a man of one book. I sit down alone, far from the busy ways of others. Only the Lord is here. In His presence, I read His book to find the way to Heaven and the way to live for Christ on Earth.
Is the meaning of what I read unclear? Does anything appear puzzling? I lift up my heart to the Father of Lights: Lord, you say–If I lack wisdom, I should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to me (James 1:5). Then I study parallel passages of Scripture, letting the Bible interpret itself. I meditate on God’s word with all the attention and earnestness my mind is capable of. If doubt remains, I consult faithful, trustworthy people who are experienced in following Jesus, not just talkers. And what I learn, that I teach to others.
The Holy Spirit’s word directed the first patriarchs (in Genesis). In Moses’ time, the first five books were committed to writing. To this were added, in later generations, the Spirit-breathed writings of the other prophets. Afterward, the Son of God preached and the Holy Spirit spoke by the apostles. Apostles and evangelists wrote it down. This is what we now call the Holy Scriptures (the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments).
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever….Truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter or the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Isaiah 40:8; Matt 5:18)
The Scriptures are a most solid and precious system of divine truth. Every part is from the Lord and all together it is one entire body, with no defect or excess. The Bible is the fountain of heavenly wisdom, which they who are able to taste prefer to all human writings, however wise, learned, or holy.
Thank God! The Holy Scriptures are able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that we may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
Thank God! Jesus taught us that the whole Bible points to Him. Christ said: Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad….If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say…Isaiah saw my glory and spoke about me (John 8:56; 5:46-47; 12:41).
Alistair Begg rightly asserts: “We find Jesus Christ in all the Scriptures. In the Old Testament, He is predicted; in the Gospels, He is revealed; in Acts, He is preached; in the Epistles, He is explained; and in Revelation, He is expected.”
Let us treasure the Bible like Wesley did. The Scriptures teach us the best way of living, the noblest way of suffering, and the most comfortable way of dying. Do we believe that? Do we live by every word that comes from the Lord’s mouth (Matt 4:4)? Why not start or re-start a Bible reading plan today. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Thank God! He has given us His Book!
Go in peace, beloved. Walk with King Jesus today and be a blessing to others!