Category Archives: The Wesleyan Church

Doctrine

What I like about WordPress is that I am able to see how people found my blog.  Most of the time my blog is found it through the search engines.  One of the phrases that seems to show up often is “What do Wesleyans believe?”  Well, obviously we are Christian Protestants in the the Evangelical persuasion and should be thought of as believers who see themselves as part of the Holiness movement.  Therefore, I thought I would post our foundational beliefs along with the Calvinist viewpoint for a bit of comparison.

I will start with what Calvinists generally believe, although there is some variance, taken from the famous TULIP:

  1. Total Depravity: The personality, mind, body, and soul of a person is totally depraved.  Devoid of any ability to will spiritual good toward salvation.  There is nothing in us that can bring about salvation.  We are born with Original Sin inherited from Adam..  Regeneration occurs before faith.
  2. Unconditional Election: God has chosen some for salvation.  He has done so without regard for the decisions of those who have been chosen (Elect).  God elects, chooses, some to everlasting life no matter how hard-hearted.  He also elects others to eternal damnation.
  3. Limited Atonement: Christ died only for those whom God has chosen.  Therefore, those who are elect received salvation through His shed Blood.  Through the Blood of the Cross, Christ has redeemed by cleansing from Original Sin and sin committed before and after receiving faith, chosen ones from every tribe, nation, and language.
  4. Irresistible Grace: The Holy Spirit gives an irresistible urge to be saved to those who are elect.  Basically known as effectually drawing them to Christ so that they come most freely to that which is good.
  5. Perseverance of the Saints: Those who are chosen, or elect, will persevere to the end.  They cannot fall away from the state of grace.  They cannot lose their salvation.

Wesleyans are Wesleyan-Arminian.  Our beliefs were greatly influenced by John Wesley and James Arminius.  Here is what we believe:

  1. Limited Depravity: People are deep in sin, but God has extended His grace to all so that everyone can be saved if they “will.”  Faith occurs before regeneration.
  2. Conditional Election: God has called everyone to salvation, though many whom He has called do not respond.
  3. General Atonement: Christ’s Blood was shed and is available for all.  It is applied to those who respond to His offer of salvation.
  4. Prevenient Grace: God has given prevenient grace to all, which draws them toward saving grace, but the individual is not forced to respond to God’s grace.
  5. Conditional Security: Once saved, a person will always be saved unless by defiant, continued, purposeful rebellion, they refuse grace and choose apostasy.

Here are some useful links: TULIP, Arminius’ Remonstrance. and The Wesleyan Church.

These beliefs are just two doctrinal points of view within the Protestant Church.  I suggest that if you are someone who wants to compare what people believe, then you need to go to their website.  Often mainstream denominations will have their Articles of Religion posted.  However, churches that are autonomous, meaning independant or associations, may not have websites.  This means that you would have to ask the pastor if you could see what they have printed about what they believe.

Often, many assume that everyone believes the same things.  Yet, many times Protestants only agree on a few things.  In fact, I caution you that if you ask a pastor, or someone involved in a different church, what a church associated in a different denomination believes, you should not expect total accuracy.  Sometimes people take liberty in turning what another church believes into something outlandish.

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Filed under Christianity, Eternal Security, Holiness, Salvation, The Wesleyan Church

Rightly Dividing the Word

Since we live in an age where college degrees are more common, and information is accessible, does it matter if someone has been trained to teach God’s Word?  The easy answer is no. Yet, should someone who teaches God’s Word be trained theologically, have an understanding of the original text, and be familiar with Church history?

It is obvious that God uses those who do not have this type of training.  On the other hand, it is obvious that God doesn’t use many either.  In fact, there are many who have had this type of training that fail to allow God to use them.  I’m always amazed at how people are so quick to follow someone who regularly misinterprets Scripture.  The Bible calls these people “false teachers.”

What is good about denominations is that most expect their ministers to be trained in rightly dividing the Word of God.  In fact, the Wesleyan Church offers those who believe that God called them into ministry the opportunity to receive training through various types of education.  What is more, Wesleyans also have supervised ministry in place so that ministers can be trained practically while being supervised.  New ministers are held accountable for various things, and also whether or not they are able to rightly divide the Word.

I write this post not to sound arrogant.  My goal is not establish some type of hierarchy.  Neither am I putting down autonomous churches.  I believe that today it is important that people can depend on the minister to have a good grasp for dividing God’s Word.

Here is the rule of thumb: if the person who is teaches God’s Word has no accountability, then when is no accountability a good thing?  Furthermore, Jesus said that we would know them by their fruit (Matthew 7:15-20).  This is a biblical truth that continues to be the best deterrent from being misled.

My advice is be aware of who you agree with, because you may be misled intentionally, or unintentionally.  The person who teaches me the Word must be formally trained and be accountable.  This person’s teaching must be in line with historical understanding, along with accepted orthodox theology.

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Filed under Leadership, Ministerial training, The Wesleyan Church, Unity?

Trouble for The Wesleyan Church?

I try to update my blog, that seems to be going the way of “Video Killed the Radio Star,” especially since the advent of Twitter at least once a month.  I also check it several times of month to see how active it is; not very. lol.  I have few readers who are subscribed to my blog and read it when I post.

What I notice in my statistics is that my blog is found most of the time because I am a Wesleyan pastor.  There seems to be a lot of people, I don’t know where, that are interested in finding out what The Wesleyan Church is.  They are interested in learning what The Wesleyan Church believes.  They want to know what the difference between Wesleyans and Baptists are.

Well there are a few differences, but Wesleyans and Baptists serve the same God and share the same fundamental doctrine that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven.  Salvation is only found in Him alone.  The other differences are those that people can debate, can debate, can debate, can debate, got old didn’t? until the cows come home.

I think  the trouble that we Wesleyans are having in the 21st Century is that we do not know who we are either.  Simply put, if we did, then those who find my blog because of a search engine would not have to ask the search engine who the Wesleyans are.  We Wesleyans would be noted as those who seek to live Holy lives and are proactive in the face of immorality and injustice.

One question I ponder is why we Wesleyans struggle to be seen as instruments in the hands of Christ?  The first Wesleyan-Methodists, in my opinion, would have been considered a missional movement by our 21st Century standards.  Missional is one of the fads, that I strive to take part in because I follow Christ, that people are writing about in the Christian book culture.  One book title is called The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch.  Sometimes I wonder how Christians forgot to be missional since the Bible teaches it. Is there a chance that many Wesleyan churches have forgotten this too?

I think The Wesleyan Church may need to remember who we really are.  We are supposed to be a movement.  The by-product of our doctrine of Sanctification, our love for Christ and others, is that we seek to become imitators of Jesus Christ especially in regard to the lost, poor, and least of these.  We go to them with the Gospel and seek to meet their needs when possible.  We cannot ignore this biblical doctrine.  I question sometimes if this is something that many pastors want to sweep under the rug.

What may seem to be trouble for us might be our opportunity to spread the Scriptural Holiness message that is missional.  This is good news for the world.  The good news is that people are asking questions about The Wesleyan Church.  We get to answer these questions by living our lives for Jesus; and use words when necessary.

If you are a part of The Wesleyan Church, then you need to make sure, along with me, to live a life that is “worthy of God” (1 Thess. 2:12).  Then people will know what we believe and in whom we believe.  Of course, if we do this, then my blog may be officially dead. 🙂 God bless.

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A reminder to pastors (attendees)

The end of the conference year is coming in The Wesleyan Church.  This is when we audit our books and post the results of our church’s ministry for the year.  For a few, this will be a time of joy because they have experienced much fruit as a result of their church ministries. 

For others, this will be a time of doubt, dread, frustration, and mourning, because they will not have the fruit to show as a result of their ministries.  For many of these ministers they will be challenged to continue on in ministry.  Some will feel a sense of jealousy and their pride will be wounded deeply.  After all, no matter what denomination that you are in, when you see other churches doing well it is easy to feel discouraged.   

Some examples of discouragement are things that are felt indirectly.  There seems to be an undercurrent that is heard, felt, or imagined that they have not performed their duties well enough.  Yet, maybe they have performed their duties as they should. 

The good news that should encourage ministers, from all denominations and church sizes, is that Dr. Joe Dongell reminded us once that we (ministers) are not the Lord of Harvest.  Our duty is to plant and water the seeds.  When God and the people are ready, He will be the One who harvests them.   

Here is more good news from the book of John.  I’ve been spending some time in this book lately and found something that seemed to be a good reminder to all pastors who are not seeing the results they desire.  So I want to share some Scriptures that might remind us that we are taking too much upon ourselves as ministers of the gospel.  Let’s be for real.  Sometimes ministers fight the battle of taking things personal because the church’s ministry success has been tied to them, either by their choice or others’, instead of to Jesus Christ. 

In John 3:22-30, Jesus has become greater than John the Baptist.  This means that if you John the Baptist that you realize that you really are becoming less in your community.  John knew what his mission was; point people to the One who came after him though He is before him.  Also, Jesus’ disciples are baptizing more people than John.  For ministers, this means that the people of your congregation are leaving to go to another church because it is new or there is more action. 

First striking reaction from Pastor John the Baptist when he is alerted to the growth of Jesus’ ministry was that he has joy over it.  Yes, I said that the John felt joy over it.  Now, this is in contrast to the long introduction that I just gave.  Why?  Verse 29a, “The bride belongs to the bridegroom.”  Kind of what Dongell said.  The Church (the people of Christ) belongs to Christ.  This means that if ministers feel discouraged it is time to check our motives for success.  Is about us or Him?  The people in the congregation are not yours.  They have been Ransomed by Someone else.

Second, verse 29b, “The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice.”  Ministers are attendees of the Church.  We are friends that Christ has placed trust in to care for His Church (the Bride).  The mark of a true friend is the demonstration of the joy felt when the Jesus does with His people as He sees fit. 

Finally, in verse 29c John said, “That joy is mine, and it is now complete.”  Then He ends with verse 30, “He must become greater; I must become less.”  To be a true friend, we must become faithful.  Yet, not just faithful out of duty, but because we want to be faithful; a faithful friend to Christ.  This means that we are supposed to be attached to success of Jesus connecting with people instead of attached to the success of us connecting to people and receiving accolades for it. 

Discouragement, frustration, and etc, are felt when we ministers do not understand who is responsible for church growth/fruit.  When we feel this way, we need to consider that John the Baptist was just before prison and in the midst of his decline in ministry, but still felt joy and complete at the success of another. 

You might be a small church pastor who needs to verbally say out loud that your joy is complete because another minister is doing well.  After all, we are just attendees who point the bride to the groom.

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Filed under Christianity, Church Attendance, Church Health, Church planting, Discouragement, Holiness, Leadership, Mental Health, Small Church, The Wesleyan Church

The Wesleyan Church needs to . . .

The Wesleyan Church has been in a constant struggle for change since I joined our denomination 13 years ago.  Sometimes I am on board with change and other times I think that we are drifting off course.  I am a first generation Christian from my family.  My purpose for saying that I am a first gen Christian is that it should help you understand where I am coming from.  I did not grow up in church.  I did not know what a Wesleyan church was until I was 26.  When I was 14 a student at my high school was killed in a car wreck and his obituary I heard that he was a member of the Wesleyan church next to my home town.  My wife attended the Wesleyan church before I got saved.  I thought, in both cases, that the Wesleyans were not really Christians since that local church did not us the title Christian Church.  I thought Wesleyans were like Jehovah’s Witnesses or something.  A little funny now as I look back on those thoughts. 

After I received Christ as my Savior, and made up my mind to live for Him, I knew that I needed to spiritually take care of my family by starting us in church.  I went with my wife to try the Wesleyan church out.  But I had in mind to go to another church; preferably a First Assembly of God church where I had experienced the Lord before.  Long story short, the Wesleyan pastor was preaching the Word of God correctly during our visit.  I knew this because at that time I had been reading the Bible for quite some time before I sought a church.  That is another story though.  Long story short here; I stayed at this church and later was ordained through Flame before I attended SWU.

As a new Christian, I was on fire with my learning.  God was showing me so much that I was unaware of through His Word.  When I learned that the Wesleyan Church focused on Holiness I realized that God is concerned with His Church being real inside and out.  I love that we emphasize total surrender to Christ.  That is what I did.  None of us like people who pretend; Jesus had a problem with it too. 

Recently, our General Superintendents took part on a listening tour.  They wanted to hear from local church leaders about what we see as needs that we should focus on in the Wesleyan Church.  After all, we are not growing in North America at pace that we would like to see.  I was amazed at the difference of opinions that I heard about what we need to do.  One opinion that caught my was the need for more testimony time during worship service.  My thought, as soon as I heard that, was has been stopping that?  If the Spirit is prompting people to speak, then they should be speaking.  If He is and they are not, they are disobedient.  But we cannot manufacture an experience with our members.

Another opinion caught my ear; someone said that we needed to focus more on missions.  I think we do this pretty well for our size.  Yet, I thought to myself that missions is just what occurs as a result of a group of people, no matter what the denomination is, living for Jesus Christ.  If we love Jesus, then we will make that happen.  Yet, making it happen for the sake of an institution might be another story.  As a collective group who is sold out to Christ we cannot help but make it happen. 

There was a lot of talk about putting an emphasis on compassionate ministries.  I suspect that is being emphasized because of all of the cool books that are being written about this topic right now.  I am for it too.  I believe I am missional too.  Why?  Because I am a follower of Christ.  Compassionate ministries is the result of surrender to Christ.  Here we come to that fine line between works and faith.  Our faith creates our works.  Holiness goes hand in hand with this movement.

What was not talked about by our local leaders, including me because I felt that it would have been unpopular, was our massive effort to do church differently.  Nothing wrong with this if a Body of believers is led by the Spirit to do it differently.  There is a mindset that believes that if we are not playing the right music, dressing a certain way, following the right leadership model, growing a goatee (just kidding about this one; lol ) and trying to duplicate what the “successful” churches are doing, then we are failing as a result of our stubbornness to grow.  The problem is that God is the Lord of the Harvest.  Doing what works at other churches may not work at our local churches.

Here is what the Wesleyan Church needs to do; in my opinion.  First, we need to recommit to Holiness.  We don’t even have a common understanding of this among our local church leaders.  I like complete surrender, which results in love God and others. 

Get back in the fight against sin.  We tend to be so inviting that we tell people it is okay when they confess sin to us.  Let the Spirit do His job!  If He wants them to be sad about it, let them be sad about it.  Don’t tell them it is okay just so they will want to stay in church.

Start making transformation the focal point again.  I did not want to continue to be the person that I was when I got saved.  What I think is happening here is that those who grew up in church are trying to throw out this concept because it seems to them not be psychologically right.  Yet, this is what appeals to those of us who have been without Christ.  This is the Good News in this life. 

Quit trying to remove consequences from bad decisions.  If I make a bad decision, then God is going to teach me through the consequences that of that bad decision.  We need to begin reminding new Christians, and non-Christians, of this concept.  We are too busy trying to paint a Utopia for people so that they will want to attend church. 

Quit being ashamed of our doctrine.  Yes, we do not believe in Eternal Security.  No, it’s not popular.  Yes, we believe that if we die to ourselves that we can overcome sin.  Yes, people disagree with us.  What we need to deal with is, “Are we Wesleyans getting tired of dying to self?”  Do we want the perks that other churches seem to have?  God has blessed those other churches according to what His own will.  Is it our goal to become a large church like others?  Or, is it our goal to be distinct from the world because we live for the Lord?  I know that I am being narrow here but I think it is at least worth thinking about. 

Pastors need to reexamine their eschatology view.  Is the Rapture really a Holiness concept?  Enough said about that.

Our doctrine, when lived out, accomplishes all of these things that I have pointed out because the Spirit calls us to do them.  These things cannot be legislated.  These things have to be God-birthed in each local church. 

In my opinion, Wesleyan pastors need to be required to pursue yearly theological training at least as a refresher.  Local churches need a better emphasis upon discipleship that includes doctrine and theology mixed in with the other great things that are being taught.  We need to “keep the main thing the main thing” as Lee Iacocca once said.  Holiness is what takes us from an institution to a movement again.  

Show me a church that Christ is the Head of, and I will show you a church that is being successful and growing God’s way.  As I post this, I realize that there are things that I may not have said well enough.  I also realize that much of what I said can be debated.  Yet, you have a view from someone who is still new to this because I have not tradition that is influencing me.  I trust it is the Bible and the Holy Spirit.

One final statement.  I am simply questioning our motives.  Everything that I call into question does not mean that it is wrong.  It simply means that I am questioning what motivates us to do church in these different ways.  The Spirit? Need for success?  What?

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Filed under Christianity, Church Health, Holiness, Missional Resources, Small Church, The Wesleyan Church, Unity?

Is God Allowed in Your Camp by Jim Dunn

Scripture: 1 Samuel 4:2-22

Israel had heard God’s Word because of Samuel.  The problem was that Israel still depended on themselves even though they were getting ready for battle with the Philistines.  Israel decided to go get the Ark of God and bring it into the camp (God did not told them to do that) so that they could defeat the Philistines.  The Philistines were scared because the ground shook with the cheers from the Israelites in their camp.  Yet, they defeated Israel and captured the Ark. 

Israel began to question: Where was God when all our men were killed?  Now our nation is defeated.

Israel depended on God the same way we do a rabbit’s foot.  He was only brought into the camp for good luck.  He was only needed for that battle.  They paid attention to Him to that point. 

  • God cannot be manipulated!  We think that if we do the right things that God will be on our side. 
  • Don’t manipulate God.  People most of the time say that they want to experience Him.  In worship we try to manipulate an experience with a particular style.  A style that is generally controlled by us.
  • Don’t ignore God.  We must realize that we are not self-made.  Although we try to get through life on our own.  We trust in things instead of God. 

We only want to bring God out the box that we have Him in when we need Him.  We must try to know Him and not limit His worship to a particular style or way of doing it. 

My thought

Beware of only seeking God when you want Him to be on your side for your own gain.  It is better to focus on His gains and dwell in His Presence than to pull Him out like a rabbit’s foot.

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Filed under Faith, Holiness, Living it, South Carolina Wesleyan Family Camp, The Wesleyan Church

What do you want by Kerry Willis

Here are some hi-lights from a sermon by Rev. Willis on Wednesday night.  He used many different Scriptures but here are most of them.  1 Samuel 13:14, Psalm 37:4, Matthew 5:6, Psalm 139:23-24, Psalm 84:1-12

Matthew 5:6; desire God and He will give Himself to you; this should not be a verse used by us to seek worldly gain. 

Psalm 139:23-24; our thoughts matter to God.  This should be something to think about.

Jesus does not want 1st place in your life.  Instead, He wants to be your life!  The Rich Young Ruler’s story is baffling because of how it ends.  Consider, all those who were in this ruler’s life were only around him because of what he had in wealth.  They wanted to be his friend because of what he could do for them.  Yet, Jesus told him to sell everything and follow Him and you (the ruler) will still have Him (Christ) near.

We should be convicted when we let intercessary prayer be about the people getting what they want instead of it being about God getting what He wants.  This is because we want to please people instead of God. 

Rev. Willis’ advice is not choose silver over gold.  Christ is the Gold.  Here are some things that are silver: Prosperity, Possessions, and Pleasure.  These are at least 3 pieces of silver that we want more than Gold (Christ). 

Application

We need to get over doing something great for God too because we should be content with His Presence.  Be delivered and desire to know God.  After David’s sin with Bathsheba he wrote Psalm 51 and begged God to take away His Spirit. 

Definition of evil according to the Bible in Sermon on the Mount is those who do not know Christ.  Many Christians busy themselves with things, and even God’s work, but never take the time to know Christ.  This will be bad when we stand before Christ. 

In John 1:37-38; these two disciples sought the Presence of Christ.  After John the Baptist noted who Jesus was they promptly followed Jesus.  Paraphrase: Jesus said what do you want, they answered to know where you are staying. 

A thought I had

The problem with Christians is that we want to run the discussion about following Christ into the ground.  We want to talk theology and theory, but we do not want to get down to the real business of dying to ourselves.  Stop being busy looking and trying to do something great and be satisfied with His Presence.

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Filed under Holiness, Living it, Sacrifice, South Carolina Wesleyan Family Camp, The Wesleyan Church