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  • Writer's pictureBrittany Proffitt

Podcast: Awakening and John Wesley with Terry Feix and Dr. Cliff Sanders



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The Great Awakening is very instructive for our modern-day lives. In the 1730-1740s, there was a waning period of spiritual vibrancy. Churches were preaching a “popular gospel” but their lives were not changed. The distinctions between the church and the world were vanishing. The spiritual temperature before the Great Awakening was like a flame that was being slowly extinguished. The Great Awakening lit this flame back into vibrancy.


Wesley’s Spiritual Battle

Wesley spent his life seeking assurance of salvation. He tried to “do better,” be disciplined, and utilize the means of grace, but nothing seemed to provide an inward witness of assurance. There was no spiritual passion – his relationship with God was purely duty-driven. He described his spiritual life by saying, “I have the faith of a servant, but not the faith of a son.”


While carrying this weight, he traveled to America as a missionary. In America, he tried to convert others to his Anglican customs and high-church ideology. This was blatantly rejected. His experience in America discouraged him so much that he returned to England.


In England, he met another Anglican named Bohler who confronted him about knowing God by faith. This had a great impact on Wesley, who was works-driven in achieving salvation. Bohler helped Wesley understand salvation by faith alone.


Wesley’s salvation was not outwardly charismatic or mystical. However, Wesley’s salvation did engage his emotions so that he felt these truths in his heart and felt love toward Christ. Wesley is most known for preaching a heart-religion because of this experience.


Historical Orthodox Christianity has always taught that the love of God is the source of our strength and love for God. This is what Wesley is most known for teaching.


Wesley the Preacher and a Call to Holiness

For the next fifty years, Wesley preached outside of the church building. He was known for open-air preaching and pursuing lost souls who would never be inside a church building. He remained theologically aligned to the Anglican church, but found that he was barred from preaching to these congregations. Because of the influence of Geroge Whitfield, Wesley began to preach in the fields.


As individuals were saved under his preaching, he began organizing church members into smaller groups for accountability with the goal of pursuing holiness. Wesley understood that spiritual growth required not just preaching but accountability with a call to holiness based on relationship with others.


Ministry and Christian growth embody relationships and community. Spiritual life often comes from having a relationship with other believers.



Brittany Proffitt lives in Dallas and is a writer and content manager for So We Speak.

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