Holiness as highway to heaven

In a letter to a Samuel Sparrow, John Wesley wrote:

We set out upon two principles: 1. None go to heaven without holiness of heart and life: 2. Whosoever follows after this (whatever his opinions be) is my “brother, and sister, and mother:” And we have not swerved an hair’s breadth from either one or the other of these to this day.

This letter was written in 1773. We could go back to 1738 and find him writing nearly the same thing about holiness of heart and life. As he writes, he did not waiver a hair’s breadth from these points.

“None go to heaven without holiness” is a bold claim. Notice it does not say “none go to heaven without Jesus.” This is because Jesus is the means to holiness for Wesley. Jesus has an instrumental role. He breaks the power of sin. His Spirit works holiness in us. But without actual holiness, belief in Jesus does not open the way to heaven either now or in eternity.

I don’t think Wesley would put it exactly that way, but this is my interpretation of his writings.


4 thoughts on “Holiness as highway to heaven

  1. My reading of Wesley is the same.

    I asked Dr. Ken Collins today if he knew of any churches that consistently taught this kind of Wesleyan theology AND had the kind of accountability he required in classes and bands. He knew of none and nobody in class piped up to share.

    We have this message for those “in Recovery,” but why not for everyone else?

    1. On the ‘expect it’ side, John, I start from the point-of-view that a person has to agree to the expectation or even ask for it.

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