Monday, December 18, 2006

Experiential Christianity (Romans № 22)

Do you need a cool drink of the Holy Spirit to quench your thirst for a "real" relationship with God?

"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!' The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Rom 8.14-17 ESV)

This small passage of Scripture is loaded with theological insight. For this sermon I used the history of John Wesley and early Methodism as my chain of thought. Allow me to give you the quick tour of my message:

1. To be "led by the Spirit" is to embrace experiential Christianity. This was one problem that vexed John. He was raised in the Anglican Church, attended Oxford, and was, himself, ordained a priest. However, he lacked a sense of God's pardoning grace. No matter how earnest, devoted to good works and "methodical" he was in his accountability to religion, he couldn't find peace for his soul.

2. Wesley needed to leave a life of slavery to religious law and become a son of God (or, at least, to know that he was), through "the Spirit of adoption". Two things helped bring him to an experiential religion: his relationship with Moravians generally and Peter Bohler specifically (whom I have blogged about in part 1 and part 2) and a book written by Henry Scougal, The Life of God in the Soul of Man.

3. Wesley embraced the importance of the witness of the Holy Spirit; a "Foundational Wesleyanism" that I wrote of here at What is a Wesleyan? Part 3.

4. These things enables us to know that we have an ineritance of/in God with Christ. This is when Christianity seems real. This is experiential Christianity.