By salvation I mean, not barely, according to the vulgar notion, deliverance from hell, or going to heaven; but a present deliverance from sin, a restoration of the soul to its primitive health, its orginal purity; a recovery of the divine nature; the renewal of our souls after the image of God, in rightouseness and true holiness, in justice, mercy, and truth.
— John Wesley, “A Farther Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion,” 1744
Methodism at its foundation was deeply concerned with the eternal destiny of souls. John Wesley wrote that his great aim in life was to land on the happy shore of heaven when he died. But he had no time for those who thought heaven was a far off country that would remain ever distant from us until our final hour. No, Wesley and his preachers taught with great passion that the best part of the good news of salvation is that we do not have to wait until our death to taste the blessings of heaven.
Our salvation is about today. It not something we tuck away like our life insurance policy to be consulted during funeral arrangements. In Christ, we can experience the restoration of our souls today.
So much of our talk in church denies this.
How often do we say or hear other people say, “I’ll never be perfect” or “I’m always going to be a sinner”?
Yes, we are all sinners.
No, we are not condemned to always sin.
Christ came so that you might know life today.
I know these words do not express all there is to say on this topic, but I am going to stop today with these words because I find that once we open the gates to caveats and exceptions and “yes, but” conversations, we lose sight of the good news.
God desires that you know the sweetness of your original design. Christ has come so it might be possible for you to do so. The Holy Spirit is at hand to refresh and renew your soul.
You need only let go. Seek what you long for. Accept what you most wish to find. It is here. It is waiting. God waits only for your hands to be opened.
Why do we preachers need to talk more about heaven? Because it is close at hand, if only we will seek it.