In the morning of May 24th 1738, 280 years ago, John Wesley received the ‘exceeding great and precious promises of God and became a partaker of God’s divine nature (2 Pet 1:4). Based on this Pentecost experience, Wesley articulated the vision of the emerging Methodist as a practice and ‘religion of love and joy and peace, having its seat in the heart, in the inmost soul, but ever showing itself by its fruits, continually springing forth, not only in all innocence… but likewise in every kind of beneficence, in spreading virtue and happiness all around it.’ Towards the end of his earthly ministry, Wesley lamented the challenge to his vision, especially ‘among his own people, let alone in the broader church and society.’ In his writing at age 87 to Alexander Mather, dated August 6, 1777, Wesley expressed the basis of his lamentation. Wesley said, “No, Aleck, no! The danger of ruin to Methodism does not lie here. It springs from quite a different quarter. Our preachers, many of them, are fallen. They are not spiritual. They are not alive to God. They are soft, enervated, fearful of shame, toil, hardship. They have not the spirit which God gave to Thomas Lee at Pateley Bridge or to you at Boston. Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven upon earth.”
Wesley’s description of the spiritual state of his preachers as ‘fallen’ calls for preacher’s personal renewal today on a regular basis because it is too easy to fall into easy peace with our own lack of zeal especially in our post-truth culture of consumerism. The essence of Wesley’s sobering writing to Mather 241 years ago provides for us today a source of reflection about the current state of Methodism and our preachers. John Stott’s description of a Christian preacher as a steward of Jesus Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God to whom have been entrusted the Holy Scriptures requires them to be found holy and trustworthy (1 Cor 4: 1-2). The Christian preacher’s message is ‘revealed and now recorded Word of God, of which he is a privileged steward.’ Wesley’s request for ‘one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God’ points us to the essence of holiness in relation to the preacher’s message and incentive. Preaching is holy proclamation and hard work. Using the words of Apostle Paul, preachers are “… entrusted with a commission … Necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Cor 9:16, 17). The church members are looking to the preachers for provisions of the sacred Words and when there is no provisions of the sacred Word, there will be poverty and famine of the sacred Word hence, lack of conversion. Based on his personal experience, Wesley provides reason why many preachers don’t preach about salvation of souls and how this delayed his great day so long in coming, just as many souls salvation are being delayed today. Wesley groped in spiritual darkness for many years even as a scholar and a trained preacher, ‘… nobody helped him – not even his ministers, including William Law. Wesley, after his salvation wrote to William, “How will you answer to our common Lord,” he asks, “that you, sir, never led me into the light? Why did I scarcely ever hear you name the name of Christ? Why did you never urge me to faith in his blood? Is not Christ the First and the Last? If you say that you thought I had faith already, verily, you know nothing of me. I beseech you, sir, by the mercies of God, to consider whether the true reason of your never pressing this salvation upon me was not this – that you never had it yourself!”
Methodist Pentecost at 280, using the words of Wesley is a bold summon and call for 100 preachers to come forward and shake the gates of Hell and set up the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Wesley is not looking for just eloquent, rich, poor, young, old or religious preachers. The preachers Wesley is looking for are those preachers who sees sin as poison that promotes spiritual and physical sickness and if untreated could kill. Methodist Pentecost at 280 calls for preachers whose single eye desire and their first love is God alone and not money, fame, power or influence.
Methodist Pentecost at 280 invites you and I to join Wesley’s dream for evangelism and mission. Wesley said, “I continue to dream and pray about a revival of holiness in our day that moves forth in mission and creates authentic community in which each person can be unleashed through the empowerment of the Spirit to fulfil God’s creational intentions.” Wesley is looking for preachers that will be true to his warmed heart spirit and his ministry that will create authentic community and not fake community where ‘one affirms itself by denying the other.’ Methodist Pentecost at 280 summons you and I to join together in prayer and ask for the Holy Spirit to bring revival in our church, in our communities, and in our families in a way that is relevant today shaped by the Holy Scripture. Methodist Pentecost at 280 invites you and I to join Wesley as God’s agent through which the Holy Spirit impacts the world with His love and grace.
Michael Marcel in his book, Prepare for Revival, explained that ‘in England, nearly all the revivals are from the Methodists and Primitive Methodists, particularly in England and Wales.’ In Nigeria, it was Methodist open air crusade in 1842 at Badagry that laid the ground for revival in Nigeria and Africa. Methodist Pentecost at 280 is a divine alarm and reminder of God’s prophetic mandate to the Methodist family with the world as our parish. Holiness is a Bible truth. Holiness is biblical and as a biblical truth, it is sure to resurface because the Holy Spirit leads his people into all truth. Methodism is about holiness movement and God has not yet finished with us. Methodism is about the Bible truth and suppressing it is like hiding a cork under water. Methodism is COMING ALIVE. BE A PART OF THE METHODIST PENTECOST. ENLIST TODAY AS ONE OF THE “100 PREACHERS WHO FEAR NOTHING BUT SIN AND DESIRE NOTHING BUT GOD … SUCH ALONE WILL SHAKE THE GATES OF HELL AND SET UP THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN UPON EARTH.”