In 1771, John Wesley wrote to a woman about the core of his message:
Many years since I saw that “without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” I began following after it, and inciting all with whom I had any intercourse to do the same. Ten years after, God gave me a clearer view than I had before of the way how to attain this; namely, by faith in the Son of God. And immediately I declared to all, “We are saved from sin, and made holy, by faith.”
The more I read Wesley, the more I am convinced that his teaching did follow this pattern throughout his life. He began with the conviction that holiness was required of any who would see the Lord, and he preached justification and sanctification by faith because he discovered these as the means to holiness.
Wesley taught that a person was justified by faith and received pardon through Christ as only a first step toward sanctification, which for him was another word for holiness. From the moment he or she is born anew, the newly born Christian must either grow or die. As Wesley wrote in another letter:
His grace is sufficient for you. But you must continue to grow, if you continue to stand; for no one can stand still. And is this not your Lord’s will concerning you, that you should daily receive a fresh increase of love?
The Christian life, in other words, is the exact opposite of a stagnant and boring routine that continues on and on. It is rather a constant new adventure into greater depths of holiness and happiness in God. Some of these adventures are trials. Crosses must be picked up and carried. But Christianity is a living thing, and therefore it grows or it dies.
Too many Christians settle into a dull rut and call it Christianity. Wesley would have none of this.