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)
In this Chapter we will look at another of the Conference questions posed to John Wesley that he discussed in the nineteenth part of A Plain Account of Christian Perfection. The very nature of this question seems to indicate that this person has no concept of our spiritual rebirth. He may be trying to be a “good Christian,” but hasn’t come to that point in his life when, by faith, he is willing to totally submit his will to the Lord’s will.
Before commenting further, let’s look at how Wesley answered the question:
"Question. How are we to wait for this change?
"Answer. Not in careless indifference, or indolent inactivity; but in vigorous, universal obedience, in a zealous keeping of all the commandments, in watchfulness and painfulness, in denying ourselves and taking up our cross daily; as well as in earnest prayer and fasting, and a close attendance on all the ordinances of God. And if any man dream of attaining it any other way (yea, or of keeping it when it is attained, when he has received it even in the largest measure), he deceiveth his own soul. It is true we receive it by simple faith; but God does not, will not, give that faith unless we seek it with all diligence in the way which he hath ordained.
"This consideration may satisfy those who inquire why so few have received the blessing. Inquire how many are seeking it in this way, and you have a sufficient answer.
“Prayer especially is wanting. Who continues instant therein? Who wrestles with God for this very thing? So, 'ye have not, because ye ask not; or because ye ask amiss,' namely, that you may be renewed before you die. Before you die! Will that content you? Nay, but ask that it may be done now, today, while it is called today. Do not call this 'setting God a time.' Certainly today is his time as well as tomorrow. Make haste, man, make haste! Let:
Thy soul break out in strong desire,
Thy perfect bliss to prove;
Thy longing heart be all on fire
To be dissolved in love!
Wesley’s perception of the question is similar to my own, and he answered appropriately. Jesus said the same thing to Nicodemus, as recorded in John 3:1-10:
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews;
2 this man came to Him by night, and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."
3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?"
5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 "Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'
8 "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, "How can these things be?"
10 Jesus answered and said to him, "Are you the teacher of Israel, and do
not understand these things?
The people in attendance at the Conference were leaders of the Methodist movement, and Nicodemus was a leader of the Jews; yet neither one of these two men understood. Even John Wesley struggled with this problem until that “faithful” day at Aldersgate.
And, this is a major problem with many clergy. They enter the ministry as a career, as opposed to having a real spiritual calling. Their hearts have not been fully softened, and perhaps some of them still have a rock hardness in their hearts and souls. This is the reason that we Christians have pastors who hunt for sport, something that no Jewish rabbi would ever consider doing. To take pleasure in the death of any living being requires a hardness of heart. And almost every day people write to us about this hardness they feel in the churches.
Look at what God told Ezekiel to tell the Israelites in 36:24-30:
24 "For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land.
25 "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
26 "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
27 "And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
28 "And you will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.
29 "Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you.
30 "And I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the
field, that you may not receive again the disgrace of famine among the
Being born again is not a new Christian concept; it’s been a long standing Jewish calling going back to more than five hundred years before Jesus was incarnate upon this earth.
And even more important than this fact, is the fact that this spiritual change takes place without a sacrifice, and there are no animals in the blessing of abundant food. God blesses the people with plant foods, only. A true blessing from God never involves suffering and death, because in order for people to kill, they must first harden their hearts to the suffering of the victims and their desire to live, which would totally counter this rebirth and blessing.
Jesus tells us that this rebirth allows us to enter and see into the kingdom of heaven, a place in which there is no pain or death (Revelation 21:4). Furthermore, Jesus tells us to pray for our Father’s heavenly will to be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).
True rebirth ends the hardness of heart, and to pretend that people can be led to Christ through church-sponsored hunting and feasting on death is an abomination before God.
If we truly want to be born again and become one with Christ in the perfect love of God, we let go of our desire for things that cause any living being to suffer and die. We need to remember what Jesus told us in John 14:6.
6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. NASB
We have already discussed that our seeking of Christian perfection does not involve the passive act of waiting; it is an active process. We need to seek the heavenly way of God and the truth of God, and realize that Jesus is the life, a life in which there is no longer any death. In seeking His way and truth we also need to eliminate as much death (human and animal) from our lives as is humanly possible. If we can choose to preserve life, we must seek to do so, for this is a vital part of Christian perfection.
Go on to: Chapter 19R – The Connection Between Peace, Joy, and Perfection
Return to: Christian Perfection Table of Contents
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