Wednesday was to be a special day for John Wesley.
It was the 24th May and he woke up feeling so miserable. The year 1738 had been a miserable one throughout and this day was like all previous days. A restless and wakeful night left John tremendously troubled and anxious. The big problem that he continually wrestled with was his need of an assured belief in God. His friends had it, but despite all his desperate efforts he could not get the assurance, that his friends had found.
Reading his Bible at 5:00am that morning a verse stood out, it cheered him up a little for it said, “Thou art not far from the Kingdom of God.”
Later that day he climbed the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London to listen to the service and the singing. John Wesley was seeking the Saviour of men and forgiveness from sin. His heart and mind were locked into this disturbing, personal matter. It was not to be resolved in the world famous Cathedral.
By the evening of that day John Wesley felt tired and lonely. He knew that there was to be a meeting that night in a little room somewhere in Aldersgate Street. He made the effort and went to the meeting. Sitting on the hard wooden bench he listened to every word of the reading of Luther’s Preface to the Epistle of Romans.
Then the Holy Spirit began to move in his heart, in the receiving of this assured belief. God was waiting and wanting to enter into the situation. It did not all depend on what John Wesley was trying to do. Why, that was the very solution of the whole problem! Why ever hadn’t that dawned on him before?
He did believe, that “assured belief,” he now had it. His prayer had been answered; it came in a flash as it did to Paul on the Damascus Road.
Later that night he wrote in his Journal a calm summary of his experience that wonderful day.” About a quarter before nine. I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ … An assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins … I then testified openly to all there what I now felt in my heart.”
Heart warming. Conversion. Getting saved. Born again, call it what you will, no man can become an effective preacher of the Gospel without the personal experience of sins forgiven in, through, and by the Lord Jesus Christ.
John Wesley became one of the greatest of all the Gospel preachers this country has known. For the next fifty years he preached over 40,000 sermons, an average of fifteen a week, and he covered at least a quarter of a million miles on foot, on horseback and in later years in a post-chaise (horse and carriage) kindly given to him by one of his friends.
He attracted vast crowds to hear him preach the Gospel, his messages from the Bible the Living Word of God, touched hearts and minds, the truth he proclaimed set the people free from the bondage of sin. He moved up and down the land, in doing so John Wesley paid more turnpike tolls than any man that rode the roads of England. He was certainly better known throughout the length and breadth of the land than anyone in his century. How he gathered those huge crowds that hung breathless on his life giving words and gathered them so quickly is in the fact that God was blessing the Preaching His Word.
It has been said that he knew the roads, rough and smooth, from London to Newcastle and from London to Bristol just like a city postman knows his round.
He was fit, he was fearless, and he was a man of faith. Living like a soldier on active service, lightly equipped, ready to be in the saddle or on the march at a moment’ notice. Resolute to make known the message of Redemption. His work rate was incredible, when riding alone John Wesley rode with a slack rein so that he might read. That was how he kept up his wide studies and prepared his wonderful sermons.
He had no time for sour Godliness; along with his brother Charles they set the whole country singing the Gospel message. In fact it has been said that the hymns of John and Charles Wesley rank in devotional literature with the Psalms.
John Wesley was both a preacher and a theologian of the first order and his theology can be summed up in three words;
BELIEVE. LOVE. OBEY. There was a man sent from God whose name was John.