A Housefire, A Warm Heart, and A Man Ablaze
The last leader that we will examine that can trace his salvation to Paul’s letter to the Romans is John Wesley. By all accounts, John Wesley thought he was a Christian. At the age of five, he almost died when his parent’s house caught fire and burned to the ground. The fact that he did not perish made a deep impression on him. As a young man, Wesley became an Anglican minister. He spent several years helping his father at the church that he pastored.
A few years later, Wesley was given the opportunity to travel to the new British colony of Georgia as a missionary. It was there that things began to come unraveled for John. He was a complete failure as a missionary and had no success at all. On the boat trip back to England, Wesley wrote in his journal, “I went to America to convert the indians, but who will convert me?” It was in his failure that he realized that his faith was not really a faith at all. He had based his salvation on his own good works and accomplishments. Up to that point in his life, he felt that he had been pleasing to God.
The trip back to England was significant for another reason. A terrible storm assailed the tiny wooden ship. The main mast was actually broken off by winds. Wesley was terrified, realizing that he was not prepared to die. At the same time, he noticed a group of Moravian Christians on the ship calmly singing hymns and praying during the storm. John decided that he wanted what they had.
After arriving back in England, Wesley was invited to a Moravian Bible study. He said that he went, “very unwillingly.” The leader of the group was teaching on Romans and was using Martin Luther’s commentary as a guide. As he listened, a change took place in John Wesley. He wrote in his journal, “While he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me…”
For the rest of his life, Wesley had a tremendous impact, especially in England. Many historians credit him with a religious awakening that prevented England from falling into a civil war. He is credited with travelling more than 250,000 miles on horseback, preaching two to three times a day. It is estimated that he preached over 40,000 messages. He left behind the Methodist Church, which is still active in most parts of the world. And let’s not forget, it was Paul’s letter to the Romans that was instrumental in bringing John Wesley to Christ.
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