“My ground is the Bible. Yea, I am a Bible-bigot. I follow it in all things, both great and small” – John Wesley, from the Journal: “June 5, 1766
The Church is called to a renewing mission and evangelism to see lives changed by immersion in the Word of God and by developing right perspective in life. The Bible consistently warns us that this world will not last forever. Jesus said “Heaven and earth will pass away” (Matt 24:35). Jesus never left us without a pointer to the future. Jesus’ statement was not only in the context of end times prophecies, his words provides us the eternal nature of his words: “My words will never pass away.” Nothing is permanent in this world, hence the need for you and I to receive Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, trusting him as powerful and wiser than trusting anything in this temporal world. Jesus’ statement and teaching especially on heaven and earth is designed to equip us for today bearing in mind that Christian belief about the future informs how we live now. We are to live on earth by bringing to bear Christian influence in the world, being salt and light in a dark and divided world.
The world has changed. Unlike the days of Wesleys, Apostle Ayodele Babalola, Billy Graham and many others, thousands stood and listened to the gospel (good news about Jesus) and responded. The problem today is worse than many think. The world under the influence of the godless religion of secular humanism no longer have the foundational information about God, His Word, and our need for salvation. The church too has changed and in decline, largely doing business as usual so as not to offend anyone and to be politically correct. We are becoming less Christian and less Christian nation everyday.
In John Wesley’s view, devotion to the teachings of the Scripture is absolutely essential for the task of keeping and renewing the Christian faith. For Wesley, the Bible, the book of God, points “the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way: For this very end he came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: Here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be homo unius libri (” a man of one book”).
Beloved, God cannot be wrong. The Bible as the unchanging Word of God for this changing World remains the undiluted manual and a helpful instruction and correction for right perspective in life. Knowing that heaven and earth will soon pass away summons us to urgency in seeking right perspective in life. This world is not our home. The truth is that “We are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (2 Pet 3:13). Jesus tells us to have the proper priorities: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth. . . . But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven”(Matt 6:19-20). Treasures on earth are at the the mercy of moth and thieves (political and spiritual). Where we store our treasures determines the state of our hearts.
Jesus’ statement resonates with Peter’s words that reminds us of the temporary nature of this world: “Dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him” (2 Pet 3:14).
In conclusion, let us return again ‘Back to the Bible’ as we follow John Wesley’s advice:
“This is the way to understand the things of God; Meditate thereon day and night; So shall you attain the best knowledge; even to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. And this knowledge will lead you, to love Him, because he hath first loved us: yea, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. Will there not then be all that mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus? And in consequence of this, while you joyfully experience all the holy tempers described in this book, you will likewise be outwardly holy as He that hath called you is holy, in all manner of conversation.
“If you desire to read the scripture in such a manner as may most effectually answer this end, would it not be advisable,
- To set apart a little time, if you can, every morning and evening for that purpose?
- At each time if you have leisure, to read a chapter out of the Old, and one out of the New Testament: is you cannot do this, to take a single chapter, or a part of one?
- To read this with a single eye, to know the whole will of God, and a fixt resolution to do it? In order to know his will, you should,
- Have a constant eye to the analogy of faith; the connection and harmony there is between those grand, fundamental doctrines, Original Sin, Justification by Faith, the New Birth, Inward and Outward Holiness.
- Serious and earnest prayer should be constantly used, before we consult the oracles of God, seeing “scripture can only be understood thro’ the same Spirit whereby “it was given.” Our reading should likewise be closed with prayer, that what we read may be written on our hearts.
- It might also be of use, if while we read, we were frequently to pause, and examine ourselves by what we read, both with regard to our hearts, and lives. This would furnish us with matter of praise, where we found God had enabled us to conform to his blessed will, and matter of humiliation and prayer, where we were conscious of having fallen short. And whatever light you then receive, should be used to the uttermost, and that immediately. Let there be no delay. Whatever you resolve, begin to execute the first moment you can. So shall you find this word to be indeed the power of God unto present and eternal salvation.”