True Christian living requires us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth.
A commentary on John Wesley's A Plain Account of Christian Perfection
By: Frank L. Hoffman
Jesus said, "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
(Wesley's writings are in bold)
As we have been discussing, the person or persons who have posed these questions are constantly stirring the caldron of deception rather than encouraging the pursuit of perfection.
In the previous chapter, John Wesley concluded his answer with: "labor to prevent the unjust or unkind treatment of those in favor of whom there is reasonable proof," a point to which the questioner, in my opinion, responds in an unkind way, doing exactly what Wesley has been encouraging them not to do. And, even to this very day most of the clergy are not listening.
Let's read the exchange that took place at this 1759 conference, as recorded by John Wesley in the nineteenth part of A Plain Account of Christian Perfection.
"Question. What is reasonable proof? How may we certainly know one that is saved from all sin?
"Answer. We cannot infallibly know one that is thus saved (no, nor even one that is justified) unless it should please God to endow us with the miraculous discernment of spirits. But we apprehend those would be sufficient proofs to any reasonable man, and such as would leave little room to doubt either the truth or depth of the work,
(1) if we had clear evidence of his exemplary behavior for some time before this supposed change. This would give us reason to believe he would not 'lie for God,' but speak neither more nor less than he felt;
(2) if he gave a distinct account of the time and manner wherein the change was wrought, with sound speech which could not be reproved, and
(3) if it appeared that all his subsequent words and actions were holy and unblamable.
"The short of the matter is this:
(1) I have abundant reason to believe this person will not lie;
(2) he testifies before God: 'I feel no sin, but all love; I pray, rejoice, and give thanks without ceasing; and I have as clear an inward witness that I am fully renewed as that I am justified.' Now, if I have nothing to oppose to this plain testimony, I ought in reason to believe it.
"It avails nothing to object, 'But I know several things wherein he is quite mistaken,' for it has been allowed that all who are in the body are liable to mistake; and that a mistake in judgment may sometimes occasion a mistake in practice, though great care is to be taken that no ill use be made of this concession. For instance: Even one that is perfected in love may mistake with regard to another person, and may think him, in a particular case, to be more or less faulty than he really is. And hence he may speak to him with more or less severity than the truth requires. And in this sense (though that be not the primary meaning of Saint James) 'in many things we offend all.' This, therefore, is no proof at all that the person so speaking is not perfect.
In other words, if there is no proof to the contrary, and someone speaks of their rebirth and changed life in Christ Jesus our Lord, we are to believe them, in love, just as Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a,
4. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love
does not brag and is not arrogant,
5. does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
6. does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
7. bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8. Love never fails;
True and perfected love always seeks the best in the other person. It even looks beyond the occasional mistake and careless act, unless or until these acts become so blatant that we come to see them as the real nature of the person, such as I believe I'm seeing in the person asking these questions, because he is constantly trying to find fault with everything Wesley is presenting. Wesley is offering his teaching in the way of encouragement, while this questioner is trying to discourage others from following Wesley's teaching by picking at almost every point.
To accept our imperfect behavior is to agree with the devil who corrupted this earth. To seek the restoration of the imperfect into the perfection of God's heavenly will is to follow God.
We need to encourage one another to always seek a higher rung on the ladder to perfection until it becomes second nature to us all and we see God's heavenly will being done on earth as it is in heaven.
Go on to: Chapter 19 I - Does Perfection Eliminate All Fear?
Return to: Christian Perfection Table of Contents
Return to: Christian Living Table of Contents