Wesley: It all comes from God

All the blessings which God hath bestowed upon man are of his mere grace, bounty, or favour; his free, undeserved favour; favour altogether undeserved; man having no claim to the least of his mercies. It was free grace that “formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into him a living soul,” and stamped on that soul the image of God, and “put all things under his feet.” The same free grace continues to us, at this day, life, and breath, and all things. For there is nothing we are, or have, or do, which can deserve the least thing at God’s hand. “All our works, Thou, O God, hast wrought in us.”

The opening words of the first standard sermon of John Wesley are the simple claim that all we are and all we have come not from ourselves, but God. This is not, so far as I know, a controversial Christian claim. It is not unique to Wesley or Methodism.

It does gall us, though. We don’t like the tone of it. We don’t like the implication. We share Lucifer’s desire to get the recognition we believe we deserve. We reduce God to a cosmic butler who exists only to make us happy and serve our needs.

Stanley Hauerwas has written before that one of the great challenges of Christianity is forming people who can hear the truths of Scripture and faith without outrage. I think the doctrine of Creation is one of those cases. We talk a good deal about Creation theology these days, but it is quite often miscast as a warmed over Earth Day celebration. What Creation reminds us of is that we are created. We are recipients of tremendous gifts. Our existence itself is not necessary. It is the choice of God.

We are God’s creation. We are invited to live into that truth, to embrace it with joy. To object when told or convinced to accept less.

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8 thoughts on “Wesley: It all comes from God

  1. “We talk a good deal about Creation theology these days, but it is quite often miscast as a warmed over Earth Day celebration. What Creation reminds us of is that we are created. We are recipients of tremendous gifts. Our existence itself is not necessary. It is the choice of God.” YES!

  2. “Stanley Hauerwas has written before that one of the great challenges of Christianity is forming people who can hear the truths of Scripture and faith without outrage”

    Now that is an interesting goal considering every time Christ preached someone somewhere was outraged. When the apostles preached crowds were outraged. The masses did not stand with Christ and the apostles. The masses watched, shouted and called for their death.

    Wesley says it much better and that is offensive to those that cannot hear.
    The piece you post of Wesley reflects Wesley understands God created. God calls, God changes man and it is God’s work that saves.

    1. Yes, that is the initial reaction, but over time and after we have been touched by the grace of God and grow in maturity we relish the words that used to outrage us.

      1. Amen
        So preach the word show a little kindness and live a life that does not bring dishonor to God.
        God will do the rest
        Hebrews 4:12

  3. You might find Luther a worthy read on this topic also.
    The Bondage of The WIll
    or
    De Servo Arbitrio “On the Enslaved Will” or The Bondage of Will

  4. I have a question for you because you blog regularly, make comment and seem to have been at this a long time. You and Morgan are 2 of the few that respond to comment on a regular basis.This question has nothing to do with the topic.

    What do you hope to accomplish by blogging?
    What is your goal?

    1. I started blogging because I wanted to write about Wesleyan theology as I was trying to learn more about it. I am the kind of person who needs to write to think. As such my goals are to learn through interaction and enter into conversation with other folks who are interested in the same things that I am.

      I don’t have a goal that can be articulated in terms of changing the world or the church.

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