Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Recently Outreach Magazine asked me and four colleagues who study evangelism and culture about how a church can raise it’s visibility in a community. I joined Tony Morgan, Len Sweet, Tom Bandy and Will Mancini in explaining how a church becomes “visible” in a community when it serves the needs in the community. (Consider subscribing to Outreach Magazine, one of the best sources for helping a church reach out). Click here to read the article: ARTICLE ©Whitesel Beyond Branding OUTREACH Mag
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “I recently spoke at a conference in Orlando, and described John Wesley’s conversion this way: Wesley decided that rather than live a fair-weather, ‘summer region’ … he was now: all in. Afterwords two pastors told me they had recently preached sermon series on the theme ‘all in,’ and wished they had known this about Wesley. To help pastors preach such sermons, here is my colleague’s analysis of Wesley’s Oxford sermon, where Wesley explains to his colleagues that though he was once an Oxford student and instructor, he was really only “almost” a Christian. Now Wesley realizes an ‘almost Christian’ (or what some today call a ‘cultural Christian’) is insufficient to attain eternal life, but an ‘all together Christian’ (or as might be described in modern language as being all in) is what God expects.”
The Almost Christian by John Wesley, Oxford, 1741 (click link for entire sermon)
Analysis by Ken Schenck Ph.D., Wesley Seminary, 2/12/15.
This is a masterful little sermon. Wesley preached it at Oxford in 1741. It is masterful for the way it fits its context and for the way it builds its rhetoric.
The text is incredibly clever, Herod tells this to Paul in Acts 26, that Paul almost convinces him to be a Christian.
What Wesley does is he describes a very religious person, a very pious person. Indeed, he is describing himself as a “methodist” in the Holy Club when we was at Oxford before. How wonderful if we had lots of people in our churches who were “almost Christian” like he describes!
He builds to the “altogether Christian.” This is the person who loves God and neighbor truly. And at the climax of the letter he gets to the main point. This is the person who is justified by faith.
I wonder if today we should almost preach the sermon backward, since we have plenty who are justified but are hardly as dedicated as the almost Christian he describes.
Read more at … http://nblo.gs/13gSqQ
JANUARY 2, 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Canadian churchgoers believe they know how to explain their faith in Jesus to other people. But they seldom do it, according to a survey of Canadian Protestants.
The survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research found that more than half (58 percent) of churchgoers feel comfortable in effectively sharing their faith.
But most (78 percent) have not shared that faith with anyone over the past 6 months. And more than half (59 percent) say they haven’t invited anyone to church in that same time frame.
“A quite contrary objection is made: ‘If a man cannot be saved by all that he can do, this will drive men to despair.’ True, to despair of being saved by their own works, their own merits, or righteousness. And so it ought; for none can trust in the merits of Christ, till he has utterly renounced his own.”
John Wesley, from his sermon “Salvation by Faith” which he preached shortly after his conversion to the students and faculty of Oxford University in St. Mary’s Church, Oxford. Read the entire sermon athttp://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-1-salvation-by-faith/
“So that he who is thus justified, or saved by faith, is indeed born again. He is born again of the Spirit unto a new life, which ‘is hid with Christ in God’.”
John Wesley, from his sermon “Salvation by Faith” which he preached shortly after his conversion to the students and faculty of Oxford University in St. Mary’s Church, Oxford. Read the entire sermon at http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-1-salvation-by-faith/
Was Paul Converted? NT Wright on the “Conversion” of Paul
“The standard reading of the apostle Paul’s life is the story of conversion, and at work in that story is religion and hence of Paul ‘finding religion’ or ‘leaving religion for faith.’ In the altogether exciting 15th chp of NT Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God, Wright pitches his tent in a way that he gets a good angle on this very topic (though I shall suggest another angle might provoke a more refined perspective on the question if Paul was a convert).
He sees three definitions often at work: (1) those who see Paul abandoning one religion (Judaism) for another (Christianity) — which is not how Paul saw it; (2) an inner renewal on the part of those who had no faith — again not the best way to see Paul; and (3) the move from ‘religion’ (externality kind of thing) to “faith” (inner reality). Again, NT Wright says this too is not how Paul saw things. He says more about this third view, because he’s right in saying this is the core orientation in the ‘old’ perspective on Paul…”