Wesley Center Online

Issue 2, Fall 2003, Volume 21

Issue 2, Fall 2003, Volume 21


Mark Horton

Most of us are not exempt from having presuppositions about how and when God comes and blesses his people. We hold mental pictures based on our education and experience that sum up what we have seen and know about the ways of God. Yet we are aware that God is too great to be limited to our little realm of experience and droplet of knowledge. We may live at times with a degree of insecurity knowing that God could come in ways we least expect. Recently in my own walk with God I have prayed concerning this issue. I concluded that it really didn't matter how God chose to come. The current need for him is so desperate, let him come however he chooses. It may upset our apple carts but many of us are feeling very empty with all our apples in a row and no major presence of God in our lives and ministry.

In 1985 Thomas R. Albin first published his research at Cambridge University. Albin did a study of the Wesleyan Revival and put together an amazing array of statistics on the way God worked in the lives of those touched by the Wesleys' ministry. More recently Albin was interviewed in the August 2003 issue of Christianity Today. Using mostly autobiographical accounts from the Arminian Magazine and other early sources, Albin's study used the testimony of 555 Methodist converts from the years 1725‑1790. His information follows the early Methodist tendency to interpret their spiritual journey around three definite stages: work of prevenient grace leading to awakening and conviction for sin, the experience of justification and the new birth and the experience of entire sanctification.

Most of the converts came from some type of church background with few being saved out "of the rough." Of those who included information on their childhood home, 6.2% came from "active irreligious" or "unconcerned or inactive homes." This seems to indicate that the Wesleyan revival was exactly that - a reviving of spiritual life and fervor among those who had some degree of religious training.

The average age of one's awakening was 21 years of age with a time lapse of more than two years between their awakening and new birth experience. "This fact suggests that the evangelical conversion for early Methodism was a slow process involving significant thought and reflection." One has to wonder if our American drive to push people on to an experience has not come back to haunt us.

Few of the converts were exposed to either of the Wesley brothers or Whitefield at the time of their three stages of experience. It was the laity that was the "human catalyst" at each of these transitions. Albin observes, "Lay persons are mentioned three times more frequently than clergy in relation to awakening or conviction, twice as often in relation to the new birth, and four times more often in relation to sanctification . . . It appears that the impact of a given clergyperson decreased as an individual progressed in spiritual life."

Most of the converts were alone when they experienced the new birth. When those who were in a small group are added more than two‑thirds are accounted for. Most of those who were alone were in their own room or home when the blessing came.

The time lapse between the experience of the new birth and entire sanctification was nearly six years on average. Of the 131 cases that experienced this, one‑half were alone. The "single most frequent event," for this blessing was: the deathbed (22.1%), while different types of prayer make up the largest general category (33.2%). Sixteen persons received it during preaching, thirteen in spiritual conversation and eight while going about the routines of life. Perhaps it was Wesley's emphasis to, "expect it every moment," that contributed to such diverse settings of the experience.

All this together presents an intriguing picture. God has blessed in ways and places we often would not look for today. Our limited outlook of God only coming in church services and altar calls may have restricted our faith. Since we have not expected a move of God beyond our church walls, we have reaped according to our faith. Oh that God would rend the heavens and come down and reeducate us into a larger realm of faith.




Vic Reasoner


Each of the seven letters in Revelation 2‑3 closes with a promise to the overcomer. A popular teaching defines an overcomer as anyone who had truly trusted in Christ for salvation. Since all who have truly believed in Christ are overcomers, all who have truly believed also have been guaranteed eternal life. Those who do not overcome were never truly saved. This definition fails to emphasize, however, that this saving faith is a present tense, ongoing faith, not a one‑time decision. Another popular view distinguishes between carnal Christians and spiritual Christians. While both groups are eternally secure, only the spiritual Christian receives the reward promised to the overcomer. Yet Howard Marshall observed that the rewards for conquerors in Revelation 2‑3 are elsewhere assigned to all Christians: 2:7 with 22:2; 2:11 with 20:6, 14; 2:17 with 22:4; 2:26 with 22:5; 3:5 with 22:14; 3:12 with 22:3; 3:21 with 22:5. "In particular, ruling is stated to be the privilege of all believers (Revelation 1:5, 5:10; 22:5)" [Kept by the Power of God, p. 253].

The Wesleyan‑Arminian position is that while true believers are indeed overcomers so long as they maintain an obedient faith, these believers are not guaranteed to persevere, but rather every true believer must persevere in order to fully realize the promises made to the overcomer. Thus, Jesus gives a conditional promise, that those who do overcome will be rewarded. According to Revelation 2:26 and 12:11 the overcomer is the one who keeps the works of Christ until the end.

In each of the seven churches there was something particular to be overcome. The promises were given by Jesus to encourage believers to endure to the end. In all, twelve promises are given. Of particular interest is the promise in Revelation 3:5 that he who overcomes will never have his name erased from the book of life.

What is the book of life The phrase serves as a metaphor for God's memory. The Lord knows those who are his (2 Tim 2:19). The Old Testament declared that the righteous are written in God's book. In the New Testament this expresses the idea of assurance of salvation.

This divine register is first referenced in Exodus 32:32. Even under the old covenant, the name of Moses was written in God's book and according to Malachi 3:16 all who feared the Lord were written in heaven. Yet in Exodus 32:33 God himself warned against the possibility of being blotted out of his book. David prayed concerning his persecutors, "Do not let them share in your salvation. May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous" (Psalm 69:27‑28). Notice that when Judas was replaced as an apostle, Peter quotes from Psalm 69:25. According to Peter, David spoke by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:16). And David's prayer was that apostates be blotted from the book of life. As a result of being blotted out of the book of life, Judas went to his own place - the place he had chosen (Acts 1:25).

Isaiah 4:3 teaches that those who are recorded among the living are the holy. According to Daniel 12:1, everyone written in the book escaped the great tribulation which came upon Jerusalem. Malachi 3:16‑18 describes those who were written in God's book of remembrance, which served to distinguish between the righteous and the wicked.

Luke 10:20 indicates that the names of the seventy evangelists were written in heaven. Philippians 4:3 speaks of those whose names are written in the book of life. Hebrews 12:23 declares that the church is enrolled in heaven. Our citizenship is in heaven and our names are written upon the register of that city.

Thus, with this biblical background, John makes reference to the book of life in Revelation 3:5, 13:8, 17:8, 20:12‑15, 21:27, and perhaps in 22:19. Revelation 13:8 and 17:8 indicate that God in his foreknowledge wrote the name of every saved person in the book of life before the foundation of the world. Does that mean that God predestines those whom he will save While God foreknows who will be saved, he does not predetermine their salvation.

Four hundred years ago Christopher Ness stated the Calvinistic position that "the Lamb's book of life contains a catalog of the elect, determined by the unalterable counsel of God, which number can neither be increased nor diminished" because the elect were predestined by God before the foundation of the world and these alone were redeemed by Christ. If God predestined those whom he will save, why would he ever erase anyone out of this "register of the elect" Presumably, the Calvinistic answer would be that those blotted out participated in covenant blessings, but were not elect. Yet this book is a book of eternal life, not a book of blessing.

The popular evangelical position today says that God does not predestine who will be saved, but that he has predestinated those who are saved can never be lost. Those who hold to unconditional security then offer six different explanations for Revelation 3:5:


. Only the redeemed are recorded in the book of life and Christ categorically promises never to erase a true Christian's name. There is not an explicit statement that God will blot out anyone's name. Revelation 3:5 is a litotes, a figure of speech that expresses less than what is intended. Since all who are truly saved are overcomers, this is actually a promise that their name will not be blotted out. According to Charles Stanley, "The good news is, God's pencil has no eraser"[Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure p. 182].


Yet John Walvoord said the possibility of having a name blotted out is implied [ Revelation, p. 82]. In a JETS article J. William Fuller wrote, "A command that everyone keeps is superfluous and a reward that everyone receives for a virtue that everyone has is nonsense" ["I Will Not Erase His Name," p. 299]. Robert L. Thomas wrote, "The promise to the overcomer is an empty one unless the possibility exists that such blotting out could occur. What incentive is furnished by being promised deliverance from something that could not happen" [Revelation 1‑7, p. 261].


. Everyone who ever lived is recorded in the book of life and at the end of their life those who never trusted in Christ to receive the gift of salvation are blotted out.


While this position is advocated by John Walvoord, Tim LaHaye, Hal Lindsey, and Robert Thomas, according to Revelation 17:8 not every name has been written in the book of life. James Rosscup argued that only the saved are ever listed in the book of life. "It seems to be eisegesis [reading presuppositions into a passage] to suggest that they were in it but later removed when they failed to receive Christ ["The Overcomer of the Apocalypse," p. 286]. Charles R. Smith argued from Luke 10:20 that if the names of all living humans were written in heaven there would be no point in telling any living person to rejoice because his name was written in heaven!" ["The Book of Life," p. 225]. Fuller concluded that both interpretations which have been presented lack exegetical integrity [p. 298].


. Unbelievers' names were written in the book of life in eternity past and were then blotted out prior to the creation of the world. Believers' names remain in the book unconditionally.


Walvoord admitted Revelation 13:8 "presents a number of problems" and so also adopts this view [Revelation, pp. 202‑203] as an attempt to circumvent Revelation 17:8. Thomas also floundered at 13:8. He admitted that the names of those who worship the beast might never have been written in the book of life, but then argues that while they were in the book at one time, they then were removed, presumably before the time of creation because God foreknew their disbelief and consequent disobedience. However, Thomas would not hold that believers' names could ever be removed because of disbelief and disobedience [Revelation 4‑22, pp. 164‑165].


. The "book of life" and the "Lamb's book of life" are two different books. The book of life contains the names of all mankind. The Lamb's book of life contains the names of only the redeemed. While unbelievers can be blotted out of the book of life, the redeemed can never be blotted out of the Lamb's book of life.


Rosscup concluded that only in the New Testament do references appear concerning the book of God that pertain to eternal life. MacArthur claimed Exodus 32:33 and Psalm 69:28 referred to physical death [Revelation 1‑11, p. 115]. Yet Robert Thomas, Professor of New Testament at MacArthur's Master's Seminary, disputed the distinction between the interpretation that these Old Testament passages refer to the loss of physical life, while the New Testament passages refer to the loss of spiritual life. "This distinction is arbitrary, however. Consistency demands that both refer to spiritual death" [Revelation 1‑7, p. 262].

Charles R. Smith surveyed sixteen passages in Scripture and concluded that the Old Testament refers to several divine registers or books."It is unlikely that any refer to mere physical life alone. Rather, all specify the recipients of special divine blessings." But Smith also argued that since the Mosaic Covenant promised blessing, conditioned on obedience, a person's name could be blotted from a list of covenant blessings if he failed to fulfill the conditions. Here Smith created a false distinction between the Mosaic Covenant and other covenants, since all covenants are based upon conditions.

However, Smith concluded that by the New Testament only one book was under discussion and it was "the register of the elect." Smith asserted that names are never removed from it ["The Book of Life," pp. 219‑230]. But Revelation 17:8 clearly teaches that everyone is not written in the book of life. Therefore, those blotted out in Revelation 3:5 cannot be unbelievers who were never entered into it, but backsliders who apostatized.


. Walter Scott claimed the "book of life" in Revelation 3:5 contains the names of professing believers, while the "book of life" in Revelation 13:8 contains the names of genuine believers. While the names of professing believers will be blotted out of the book of life, no genuine believer will ever be blotted out. Matthew Henry's Commentary offered a similar explanation.


Yet this is the book of life, not a church roll. Grant Osborne wrote, "It is difficult to conceive why those with an empty profession would be included on such a list in the first place" [Revelation, p. 183]. Thomas rejected this view saying, "This explanation fails to indicate why a person with an empty profession had his or her name written in the book of life in the first place" [Revelation 1‑7, p. 262]. And why would a name which was never entered in the book of life need to be erased


. Fuller explained that in Revelation 3:1 "name" refers to reputation. Those who deny the faith will still enter eternal life, but Christ will be ashamed of them. They will lose the privileged reputation of the overcomer because their garments are soiled (v 4).


However, 3:1 warns that while they have a good "name," Christ knows their true condition and they are actually dead. Therefore, the promise in 3:5 is not to those with a good reputation who are "dead," but to the few who have not soiled their garments. Those who are dead have been erased from the book of life.

In a desperate attempt to salvage eternal security, scholars such as Fuller, Rosscup, Thomas, Smith, and Walvoord have grasped at any attempted solution, sometimes offering more than one option. Often their conflicting explanations cancel each other out. While I have studied under a couple of these men and respect their scholarship, I am disappointed in their lack of objectivity in this instance. They seem uncertain about what the verse means, but they are sure about what it does not mean! They appear willing to go to any length to protect their presupposition. In his synopsis of "The Overcomer of the Apocalypse," Rosscup stated that the correct interpretation of the "overcomer" involves a "defense of the doctrines of eternal security and of the perseverance of the saints." Thus, eternal security becomes their foundational doctrine and everything else must be cut to fit.

Perhaps Revelation 3:5 could be more easily understood if we did not approach it with so much extra baggage. Let's consider a seventh possible interpretation. If God already knows who will be saved, why does he bother writing down names that he knows will later be erased The only consistent answer is that their names were written down because they were once saved; their names were erased because they fell away. "The names of the good are often represented as registered in heaven (Luke 10:20). But this by no means implies a certainty of salvation, but only that at that time the persons were on the list, from which (as in Rev 3:5), the names of unworthy members might be erased" [McClintock and Strong, Cyclopedia, 1:852].

Wesley taught that "if any who are saved make shipwreck of the faith, God will blot them out of his book, although they were written therein from before the foundation of the world." Howard Marshall wrote,


The possibility of failure to endure is mentioned. Christians who fail to persevere will come under judgment and their names will be blotted out of the book of life. There is no reason to suppose that these warnings are purely hypothetical, directed against non‑existent dangers; the reverse is the case. Moreover, the reference to the book of life indicates that John is addressing his warning to believers [Kept by the Power of God, p. 175].


Yet we need not fall away. "This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith" (1 John 5:4). Yet John describes this faith in the next verse as a present tense faith. The person who keeps on overcoming is the one who keeps on believing with active, trusting, obedient faith. Those who do not persevere will have their names blotted out of the Book of Life. Adam Clarke wrote, "Is it not evident that a soul could not be blotted out of a book in which it had never been written And is it not farther evident from [Exodus 32:32‑33] that, although a man be written in God's book, if he sins he may be blotted out"

In ancient times city registers contained the names of its citizens. There were two reasons why a name could be erased: committing a capital offense or death. Physical death can never separate us from life in Christ (Rom 8:38‑39). Yet the church at Sardis had many who had grown careless and were about to die spiritually. Their names were about to be erased. Only a few were overcomers. Joseph Benson wrote, "This passage plainly implies, that some names shall be blotted out from the book of life: this is, some who, in consequence of their adoption and regeneration, were entitled to and fitted for eternal life, shall, through falling from grace, lose these blessings, and come again under guilt, condemnation, and wrath."

If we understand apostasy to be a "capital offense" which results in spiritual death, then it is possible to understand how names which were recorded in the heavenly register could be blotted out. How long has it been since you received any confirmation from the Holy Spirit that your name can be found written in the book of life Ben Witherington concluded that "one is not eternally secure until one is securely in eternity."





Joseph D. McPherson


In John 7:38‑39 we read these words of Jesus: "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)"

It then becomes a matter of special interest to us to know just when Christ was glorified, for we see from this passage that the Holy Ghost was not to be given until He was glorified. There is a sense in which Christ was glorified when ministering, healing and raising the dead. While on the Mount of Transfiguration three of the disciples were given something of a preview of Christ's glorification as He would appear after His ascension. That scene is beautifully described to us in the Gospels. There is a sense in which He was glorified when crucified and again when He arose from the dead. A most unspeakable description of Christ's glorified state as he was seen in heaven is shared in chapter one of Revelation. The Apostle John, who had formerly known the Lord, possibly better than any other man, now fell as one dead when given a revelation of Christ 's glorified appearance. We find that the splendor of Christ's glorification as revealed to the Apostle there on the Isle of Patmos was too much for flesh and blood to behold without a supernatural touch.

So it is that when the Apostle John informs us that "the Holy Ghost was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified," he undoubtedly was referring to that glorification which would take place after His ascension and after His being seated at the Father's right hand. In his message on the Day of Pentecost Peter seems to confirm this view when he spoke the following words: "Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear" (Acts 2:33).

Adam Clarke's comments on John 7:39 are helpful:


Certain measures of the Holy Ghost had been vouchsafed from the beginning of the world to believers and unbelievers: but that abundant effusion of his grace spoken of by Joel, chap. ii.28, which peculiarly characterized the Gospel times, was not granted till after the ascension of Christ: 1. Because this Spirit in its plentitude [or in its abundant outpouring] was to come in consequence of his atonement; and therefore could not come till after his crucifixion. 2. {This descent of the Holy Spirit] was to supply the place of Christ to his disciples and to all true believers; and therefore it was not necessary till after the removal of his bodily presence from among them.


One other reference directly identifying Christ's glorification after His ascension is found in John 12:16. "These things understood not his disciples at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him."

Adam Clarke, in his comments on this verse, understands this to mean that "After the ascension of Christ [and His glorification in heaven], the disciples saw the meaning of many prophecies which referred to Christ, and applied them to him, which they had not fully comprehended before." In other words, after Christ's ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost these disciples were given understanding that they had not had before concerning many prophecies which referred to Christ.

Near the end of Christ's earthly ministry He had assured His disciples that "It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you" (John 16:7). We are to understand by this that the communication of the Holy Ghost was, in the words of David Brown, "dependent upon [Christ's] own departure to the Father. Now as Christ was not yet gone, so the Holy Ghost was not yet given." The word "glorified," as used in John 7:39, is "used advisedly," says Brown, "to teach the reader . . . that the departure of Christ to the Father was indispensable to the giving of the Spirit" [Jamieson, Fausset and Brown].

Nowhere in the Gospels are we informed that the disciples were inwardly possessed of the Holy Spirit while their Master was yet with them. Rather we find Jesus assuring them that the Spirit "dwelleth [now] with you, and shall be in you" (John 14:17). This is significant because after Pentecost we are assured in various New Testament epistles that all justified believers, even while not yet entirely sanctified, were possessed of the indwelling Spirit of God (Rom 8:9; 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19; Gal 3:2‑3; 1 Thess 1:6).

In Matthew 11:11 we read a statement made by Jesus which is truly astounding. He says, "Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."

Mr. Wesley explains these words of Jesus by quoting an ancient writer, "John," says he, "was greater than all who had been then born of women; but he was cut off before the kingdom of heaven was given.""He seems to mean," added Mr. Wesley, "that righteousness, peace, and joy which constitutes the present, inward kingdom of heaven." This ancient writer continued to describe John the Baptist."He was blameless as to that righteousness which is by the law; but he fell short of those who are perfected by the spirit of life which is in Christ. Whosoever, therefore, is least in the kingdom of heaven, by Christian regeneration, is greater than any who has attained only the righteousness of the law, because the law maketh nothing perfect." Thus, it is clear that one regenerated in this Holy Ghost dispensation is greater than any who had attained to righteousness in a former and inferior dispensation.

One passage found in John 20:22 has been a puzzle to many Bible students. On the evening of the resurrection Jesus unexpectedly appears in the presence of His disciples in a room whose doors are closed. We are told that during that appearance Jesus "breathed on them and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost."

David Brown believed that "this was a symbolic conveyance of the Spirit." However, he is also convinced that it amounted to more than mere symbolism, for he goes on to speak of it as "an earnest and first‑fruits of the more copious Pentecostal effusion." In like manner, Mr. Wesley spoke of Christ's breathing on His disciples at this time as "an earnest of the Spirit." In a general sense an earnest is a token of something to come or of that which is promised. Since Christ told the disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until Pentecost (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4, 8), the promise was fulfilled on that day. If these disciples did indeed receive an "earnest of the Spirit" and "first‑fruits of a more copious Pentecostal effusion," to what purpose and benefit did they receive it John Fletcher wrote that Christ "imparted [a measure of the Holy Ghost] to them as a 'Spirit of grace and supplication,' to help them to wait in faith and unceasing prayer, 'till they were endued with power from on high'" [Works, 1:590].

Donald Winter has observed that the occasion in which Christ "breathed" on His disciples and commanded them to "receive the Holy Ghost" took place on the evening of His resurrection. The parallel account in Luke 24 gives additional details of that Easter evening. After suddenly appearing in the presence of His terrified followers He reminded them of the words He had formerly spoken to them concerning all that "must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning [Himself]."

Verse 45 follows with these amazing words: "Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures." By weaving together the recorded accounts of that evening, Winter concluded that a token of the Spirit was imparted to these disciples to the end that their understanding might be opened. In other words an unusual enabling of the Spirit was given by Christ whereby His disciples could now understand as never before those Old Testament Scriptures that spoke of Him.

Luke also recorded that the disciples "worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy." Such joy, Winter explained, was the effect, not only of the reality of their Lord's resurrection and ascension, but the result of the Spirit's influence received on that Easter evening. Such influence quickened their anticipation of that "promise of the Father" pledged to them by their Lord before He was parted from them. Often times the expectant seeker also experiences such joy and influence of the Spirit through prevenient grace.

In contrast to these views, there are those who believe that on this occasion in John 20:22 the disciples, without the full 120, received the Holy Ghost in regenerating power. Such a view, however, is not sufficiently supported by the Scriptures. For instance, one need only take a close look at the very next chapter, John 21. Here we read that some days after their Lord's resurrection, Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James, and John were found to have gone back to their fishing. On this particular occasion they had been fishing all night without success. But by casting the net on the right side of the ship in obedience to Jesus' instruction, they not only caught a multitude of fish, but were invited to a breakfast of fish and bread that the Master had personally prepared for them.

On this occasion Jesus asked Peter three times, "Lovest thou me" Christ was asking Peter whether he loved Him with that supreme quality of agape love. "Peter, do you love me ardently, supremely, perfectly" Peter, by his reply, confessed that his love was inferior to that which the Master had in mind. His answer was, "Lord; thou knowest that I love thee," using the Greek verb phileo.

Though Peter had been one of those present during the appearance of Jesus on that resurrection evening and had been a recipient of that which the Master had imparted to them when breathing upon them and saying, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost," he nevertheless testifies some days later to an affection and esteem for the Master, but not the kind of divine love one finds in the hearts of regenerated believers after Pentecost. Those who are now justified by faith experience this agape love shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto them (Rom 5:1‑5). The Thessalonians were not yet entirely sanctified when Paul wrote his first letter to them, yet they possessed this agape love (1 Thess 1:3; 3:6; 4:9). According to 1 John 4:7‑8, everyone who possesses this agape love is born of God and those who do not possess it do not know God.

We find no evidence suggesting that the rest of the disciples prior to Pentecost had any more love than did Peter. They had all left Christ in the hour of trial. Whatever they received after His resurrection, when He breathed on them, there is no evidence that it brought a transformation of their hearts such as regeneration brings. It is true that Jesus spoke of the disciples as being clean. They did indeed belong to Him. They were not of the world. However, if Peter's triple response to Jesus in John 21:15‑17 is any indication of the disciples' spiritual state, they did not yet enjoy that agape love that believers after Pentecost uniformly received.

Were they saved Of course they were. We believe they were saved as pious Jews even before they first met Jesus. They were saved while following Jesus, while believing and obeying His teachings. Was their saving experience such as can be equated with those who were regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit after Pentecost No, it does not appear so.

After Pentecost, the New Testament Church lived in the Holy Ghost dispensation, just as we do today. Not only entire sanctification, but regeneration is the work of a powerful effusion of the Holy Ghost. Bringing a dead soul to life in the new birth takes the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. It is then that one is made a new creature in Christ Jesus. "Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." This is the transformation accomplished in regenerated souls.

The Jews annually celebrated the giving of the Mosaic law at the feast of Pentecost. God in His sovereignty chose that day when many from various parts of the ancient world would not only be present, but see and experience the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Before that great day was over, three thousand, in addition to the 120, had received the Spirit by meeting the conditions of repentance and baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. God in his sovereignty chose that day for the grand entrance of this glorious dispensation of the Holy Ghost. As one scholar assures us, "Pentecost was a unique and unrepeatable event in salvation history. It marked the beginning of a new era of divine grace. Luke calls it the 'beginning' in Acts 11:15. . . . Pentecost marked the giving of the Holy Spirit, the beginning of the new covenant, and the coming of the kingdom of God."

The dispensation of the Father, or the Jewish dispensation, afforded its blessings. The dispensation of the Son, enjoyed by the disciples while in the presence of Jesus, provided greater blessings. But the dispensation of the Holy Ghost outshines all former dispensations, showering even the new believer with blessings and privileges unavailable to those living in all former dispensations.

In Mark 9:1 we read that Jesus had previously made a promise to His disciples in the following words: "Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power." "This," wrote Adam Clarke, "was the glorious Mediatorial kingdom which Jesus Christ was now about to set up . . . and the diffusion of his Gospel throughout the world . . . the establishment of the Christian Church." Some of those who then stood with Jesus when He made this promise did live to see the inauguration of the Messiah's kingdom on the Day of Pentecost and even witnessed a mighty extension of that kingdom.

So it was that after His ascension Jesus was glorified in the ultimate and superlative sense. It was then that He sent the Comforter as He had promised. The Holy Spirit with power was poured out on the day of Pentecost and Christ's kingdom was inaugurated. In fact, on that very day, His kingdom of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost began to be set up in the hearts of men. Since then, His kingdom is established in the hearts of all true believers.






In 1778 John Wesley introduced the first issue of a new Wesleyan Methodist publication which he named the Arminian Magazine. For the last twenty‑four years we have attempted to publish a magazine by the same name. Our purpose is to articulate and defend the historic Wesleyan‑Arminian interpretation of Scripture. The Arminian Magazine current is sent free of charge to 40 states and 12 foreign countries.

We estimate that each annual subscription costs us $3.50. If you appreciate this publication, we encourage you to send a contribution not only to cover the cost of your subscription, but for someone else as well. If you know anyone who would profit from receiving this publication, please send us their name and mailing address. Pastors we would be glad to send bulk copies for your congregation. Send all addresses to <victorpau@aol.com> If you would like to know more about us, visit our web site at <fwponline.cc> Send all contributions to: Fundamental Wesleyan Publishers, 1370 Harrison Ave, Corydon, IN 47712.




Marion Brown


Recent surveys, conducted by the Barna Research Group, indicate that a doctrinal "rot" has gripped even the most conservative segments of the Church. Barna concluded, "In many ways, we are living in an age of theological anarchy." In Boiling Point Barna also wrote, "The Church is rotting from the inside out, crippled by abiblical theology."

In an attempt to be relevant, many pastors simply use the Scripture as a point of departure for "feel good" discourses on self‑help themes. The result is preaching that conforms to the popular culture, when God intended the preaching of his Word to transform culture.

In an effort to promote biblically‑based, doctrinal preaching, I want to reproduce some sermon outlines from the ministry of Robert L. Brush. My purpose is not to produce a polished homiletical specimen, but to provide a model from which pastors and teachers might profit. Here is a message he preached in Brent, Alabama on November 20, 1977.


THE COMING JUDGMENT2 Corinthians 5: 9‑10

Introduction: There is a future time when the dead will be raised and judged. This is a universal appointment. The scriptures are very clear. Dan. 12:11‑15; Matt 25:31‑33; John 5:28‑29; Acts 24:15,25; Rev. 20:11‑15. I. The quickness of the transition.A. The departed go immediately and without delay to heaven or hell to await the resurrection. In reality when life leaves the body, judgment is upon us.B. In Luke both the rich man and the beggar went to hell and paradise respectively.C. God gives all men one chance; any second chances are in His hand.

II The judgment will be according to the record.A. The deeds of every man are kept in God''s record books.B. The books will be opened.C. The book of life will be opened.III The judgment will be QuickA. The scriptural term is ''in the twinkling of an eye.''B. Another scriptural term ''at the last trumpet.''C. The sequence ''the dead in Christ shall rise first.''D. ''Afterward they which are alive and remain shall be caught up.''

IV. The judgment will be without comparison.A. Those on the earth shall tremble and men's hearts failing because of fear.B. The Trumpet Angels, Christ appearing, graves opening, saints shouting, bodies coming out of the graves. Bones coming out of museums and suddenly coming to life, phenomena that was never thought possible.C. Wicked men shall cry for the rocks and mountains to fall on them and hide them from the wrath of God. (2 Peter 3:10‑14)

V. The Judgment will be complete and exacting.A. The Day of the Lord will come.B. Every soul will be judged for every deed.C. We will be required to give account for our deeds, words, thoughts and the intent of our heart.D. God searches the hearts and motives and they will be made known to all.E. There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, nothing hid that shall not be made known.

VI. The Judgment will be revealing.A. Then God's ways will be made known and the wise council of His will upheld.B. Sins of the righteous will not be mentioned to their disadvantage or condemnation.C. Everyone will receive a verdict. Acquittal (Matt. 25:34) or condemnation (Matt. 25:41); but no one will be exempted (Matt. 25:46). This judgment is universal and eternal.



"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conduct and godliness" (2 Peter 3:11).





Lawrence W. Wood, The Meaning of Pentecost in Early Methodism. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2002. 401 pages.


The author of this study has attempted to prove that the concept of "pentecostal perfection" had its roots with the elderly John Wesley, through the influence of John Fletcher. By the term "pentecostal perfection," Wood understands "the baptism of the Spirit" as synonymous with Christian perfection. It is quite apparent that Wood is intent on proving, if he can, that John Fletcher always identified the baptism of the Holy Ghost only with entire sanctification. He further attempts, without full substantiation, to persuade the reader that numerous early Methodist leaders followed Wesley and Fletcher in the identification of "the baptism with the Spirit" with entire sanctification.

Although Wood makes the claim that his book shows "Fletcher's 'reader response' interpretation of Pentecost uniting it with sanctification was adapted largely from Wesley's Standard Sermons," such an assertion is again unsubstantiated.

Throughout the entire book Wood identifies the witness of the Spirit primarily with the experience of Christian perfection. For instance, he refers to a letter Fletcher wrote to a Miss Hatton, dated November 1, 1762, in which Fletcher makes a distinction between justifying faith and believers' receiving "the seal of their pardon." This being "assured of that justification," is erroneously interpreted by Wood as Christian perfection.

It is surprising that Wood should consistently endeavor to convince his readers that Wesley and other early Methodists considered a believer to be without the constant and inward dwelling of the Holy Spirit until attaining Christian perfection. In fact the reader is led to believe that the constant enjoyment of the Spirit of adoption is found only among those who have attained Christian perfection. This is confuted by many of Wesley's writings, both early and late, including his sermons on the "Witness of the Spirit," wherein he plainly taught that the Spirit of adoption was to be enjoyed by all justified believers. To suppose with Wood that "Wesley repeatedly identified assurance primarily with Christian perfection" is a mistake.

Wood makes the assertion that "Wesley eventually came to alter his opinion about justified believers receiving the witness of the Spirit . . . as shown in his sermon, 'On Faith' (1788)." Any unprejudiced reader, however, who is familiar with Wesley's writings will be persuaded otherwise when closely reviewing this sermon. While it is true that Wesley never links the witness of the Spirit with the "faith of a servant," we find him unequivocally assuring us here that the "faith of a son" or justifying faith is accompanied with the witness of the Spirit. There was never any alteration in Wesley's views concerning this matter. In his A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, he taught that there was a witness of the Spirit to a believer's justification as well as to one' s entire sanctification. Writes Mr. Wesley, "I can know [that I am entirely sanctified] no otherwise than I know that I am justified. 'Hereby know we that we are of God,' in either sense [whether justified or entirely sanctified] 'by the Spirit He hath given us.'" A Plain Account of Christian Perfection was last revised in 1777 and we are assured that no significant changes in Mr. Wesley's sentiments concerning its contents were ever evident beyond that date.

Interestingly, this author finds the conversion of the three thousand on the day of Pentecost to be a problem. To those who had been "pricked in their hearts" as a result of Peter's sermon, the Apostle clearly promised the receiving of "the gift of the Holy Ghost" upon their meeting the conditions of repentance and baptism "for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:37‑38). "This," says Wood, "was an extraordinary occurrence and not the usual pattern because believers normally are justified believers first and later receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit." Such a statement reflects a general denial of that mighty effusion of the Spirit so necessary to the bringing of a penitent from the state of spiritual death to a resurrection of spiritual life in the new birth.

Later in his book, Wood refers to Fletcher's closing passages in his Essay on Truth and confidently asserts that "Fletcher believes this [conversion of the three thousand on the day of Pentecost] was an extraordinary event when the Jewish believers simultaneously received forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ and received that fullness of sanctification through faith in the Spirit." Anyone who wishes to review that part of Fletcher' s writings, however, will not find him making the claim that the three thousand received fullness of sanctification on the day of Pentecost. What the Scripture describes concerning all new converts at and immediately following the day of Pentecost is the expected norm and standard of all who are regenerated in every age of this Holy Ghost dispensation.

It cannot be proved that Fletcher or Wesley "believed that, on the day of Pentecost, all new converts were simultaneously justified and fully sanctified" as Wood claims. This minimal view of the Spirit's initial work of sanctification in the heart is repeatedly apparent. Both Wesley and Fletcher consistently maintained that the work of holiness is begun in regeneration. Wood fails to acknowledge that both regeneration and entire sanctification are made possible only upon the descent of the Holy Spirit during and after the day of Pentecost. Initial salvation in the work of regeneration was sometimes equated by Wesley as a "restoration [if but a partial restoration] of the image of God in the soul."

Wesley and Fletcher taught the baptism of the Holy Spirit to be the instrumental means of one's total process of salvation. Neither man confined the baptism of the Holy Spirit to the work of entire sanctification nor Christian perfection. Their holistic view of the baptism of the Spirit is largely overlooked by Wood. For instance, in response to Jesus' promise to His disciples, "ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost," Wesley writes: "And so are all true believers to the end of the world." In response to Romans 8:9, "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his," Wesley comments: "He is not a member of Christ; not a Christian; not in a state of salvation" [Explanatory Notes].

There is no doubt that Fletcher, in his "Last Check to Antinomianism," refers to entire sanctification as a work of God in a believer's heart by the baptism of the Holy Ghost. However, Wood overlooks the fact that Fletcher also makes reference to justification and regeneration being wrought by the baptism of the Holy Ghost. This can be substantiated by various passages in volumes 3 and 4 of his Works. In his "A Sermon on the New Birth," he gives encouragement to those seeking justification: "Yes, you shall be baptized by the Holy Ghost for the remission of sins, and justified freely by faith" [Works, 4:115]. In his letters on the "Spiritual Manifestation of the Son of God," he assures his readers that to "be baptized with the Holy Ghost and spiritual fire, is the common blessing which can alone make a man a Christian" [Works, 4:287].

Wood highlights what he refers to as "a rich variety of Pentecostal terms," such as "the love of God poured out in the heart by the Holy Spirit," "the abiding witness of the Spirit," "the kingdom within," "the comforts of the Holy Ghost," "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost." These descriptive terms, along with others such as, "happy in God," "the Spirit of adoption," and "the abiding witness," he would identify with the experience of Christian perfection. However, it is well known that Wesley and Fletcher both used such scriptural terms to describe the experience of justified believers, as well as the entirely sanctified.

On the day of Pentecost the Holy Ghost was, according to Wesley, given in his sanctifying graces. Only then were those "who 'waited for the promise of the Father' . . . made more than conquerors over sin." Being made "conquerors over sin," Wood takes to be a common phrase for Christian perfection. This again is a confounding of Wesley's teachings. It is true that Wesley often mentions being "saved from sin" (that is, inbred sin) as being synonymous with Christian perfection, but he also taught that the newly justified and regenerated soul is initially sanctified and made "so far perfect as not to commit sin."

Both Wesley and Fletcher embraced the historic and scriptural view of one baptism, understanding water baptism to be symbolic of Spirit baptism. Wood discards this view and speaks rather of two unconnected baptisms. He conceives water baptism to be analogous to one's "Easter" or point of justification, while baptism of the Spirit is viewed as a time of one's "Pentecost" and attainment of Christian perfection. Thus in accordance with certain ecclesiastical traditions, Wood sees the outward ritual of water baptism as representing the work of justification, while the laying on of hands in the ceremony of confirmation to be a marking of the believer's attainment of Christian perfection in Spirit baptism.

Making "birth of water" the essence of "justification by faith" in the initial experience of salvation, while making "birth of the Spirit" represent full sanctification are favorite suppositions of the author. He endeavors to describe both Wesley and Fletcher as equating the "being born of God with Christian perfection." This does not, however, represent the teachings of Mr. Wesley. To both Wesley and Fletcher, baptism in the Spirit was considered to be the divine power necessary for bringing about spiritual birth and a mighty transformation in regeneration. It is then that the soul is resurrected to spiritual life and the love of God is shed abroad in the heart. By the aid of the Spirit, the new believer is to go on to perfection. Both Wesley and Fletcher were mindful of Paul's words to the Corinthian believers who were not yet entirely sanctified, but who were assured of being inwardly possessed of the Spirit (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19). "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body" (1 Cor 12:13).

Wood is partially correct when he says that "Fletcher believed the interior meaning of being baptized with the Holy Spirit may happen suddenly when one is initially converted, as with the multitudes on the day of the original Pentecost." Indeed, Fletcher did believe that an initial baptism of the Holy Spirit was given to one who was truly regenerated and born of the Spirit. It would be a mistake, however, to assume that Fletcher looked upon this initial baptism of the Spirit as synonymous with Christian perfection.

Near the close of the book, the author makes the following true statement: "Fletcher believed the baptism with the Spirit was an ongoing dynamic event always being updated in one's daily life. It was never static, absolute attainment, representing a final achievement. For Fletcher, today's reception of the Spirit's fullness became tomorrow's promise of greater infillings of the Spirit."

In conclusion I find that the author's claim of a significant change in Wesley's views later in life concerning Pentecost's relation to New Testament holiness to be greatly exaggerated. In his Journal, dated September 1, 1778, the elderly Wesley confessed that he had not made any essential addition to his knowledge in Divinity. Then with a final statement of strong conviction he assures his readers that "Forty years ago I knew and preached every Christian doctrine which I preach now."

Dr. Wood has worked very hard to force both Wesley and Fletcher to say what he wants them to say. He skews the meaning of their statements so as to fit his favorite theological preconceptions. The overall effect of this study by Laurence Wood is that of leaving the reader with a view which consistently minimizes the new birth and relegates both justification and entire sanctification to a standard far below that found in the writings of both Wesley and Fletcher.

‑Joseph D. McPherson


What Love is This Calvinism's Misrepresentation of God. Sisters, Oregon: Loyal Publishing, 2002.

500 pages.


Dave Hunt is a nationally known speaker and teacher on biblical issues. He admits that he had hardly given Calvinism a thought for years prior to publishing this book. It wasn't until he became repeatedly confronted with the topic in conversations with other people that he began to look at it more closely. He says this book was one he did not want to write because of its controversial nature. Nevertheless, with Calvinism being so widely and aggressively promoted he felt it was time that its teachings "be faced and dealt with thoroughly" (p. 15).

Hunt is very thorough in his research on Calvinism. He provides plenty of quotes from John Calvin and his Institutes, from leading Calvinists of our day-R. C. Sproul, John Piper, James White, and includes the more classical Calvinist's such as Arthur Pink, Edwin Palmer, and Loraine Boettner. These quotations provide the reader with an accurate description of Calvinism's biblical and philosophical system. This is probably his most valuable contribution.

Remaining true to his book title and general thesis, Hunt says, "We consider TULIP to be a libel against our loving and merciful God as He reveals himself both in His Word and in human conscience" (p. 304). Hunt believes,


the Bible's clear language would compel any reader to conclude that God loves all, that God is genuinely striving to convince wicked men to repent and to accept His offer of salvation, that men have the capability of responding when drawn by the Holy Spirit and convicted of their guilt and need, and that though all are drawn, some are convinced and willingly respond while others refuse. (p. 115)


Hunt also believes that "Calvinism drives us into an irrational dead end" (p. 105), because it asks us to hold to a number of intellectual "paradoxes" which are nothing but outright contradictions. For example,


Palmer calls it a paradox that "although man is totally depraved and unable to believe, and that although faith is a gift of God produced by the irresistible work of the Holy Spirit, nevertheless, it is up to man to believe. He has the duty to obey God's command to believe." This is no paradox; it is a contradiction. No one can justly be held accountable for failing to do what it is impossible for him to do. (p. 131)

Throughout the book, Hunt raises all the biblical and philosophical problems that have continually plagued the theology of Calvinism. While this is a strength of the book, it nevertheless has a number of shortcomings of which I will mention just a few.

Hunt is an inconsistent Calvinist in that he holds to the fifth point of Calvinism-perseverance of the saints (otherwise known as unconditional security or once saved, always saved), while denying the other four points. He does voice disagreements with how this point is articulated by Classical Calvinists, but in the end he adheres to its foundational teaching-it is impossible for genuine believers to develop a sinful and unbelieving heart that turns away from God (Heb 3:12).

Hunt disappointedly makes Jacob Arminius appear to be someone who believed in unconditional security in writing, "with these words, [Arminius] defended himself against the false charge that he taught the doctrine of falling away: "At no period have I asserted 'that believers do finally decline or fall away from faith or salvation'" (pp. 76‑77).

While this quote may be located in The Works of James Arminius [1:741], Hunt does not give the full argument of Arminius. On the next page Arminius explained that it was impossible for believers, "as long as they remain believers, to decline [or fall away] from salvation. . . . On the other hand, if believers fall away from the faith and become unbelievers, it is impossible for them to do otherwise than decline from salvation." Thus, Arminius concluded, "It is possible for believers finally to fall away or decline from the faith." In other words, Arminius never taught that one moment of faith secures one's eternal destiny, which is so popularly taught today by modified Calvinists - and apparently by Dave Hunt as well.

Carl Bangs, the authority on Arminius, wrote in the annotated edition of The Works of James Arminius, that the section just quoted, as well as another section on the perseverance of the saints,

reveal the leaning of Arminius against the doctrine of the final perseverance of all true believers.


The restrictions in these two passages are perfectly in unison with the rest of our author's system, which recognizes, as believers, those christian characters alone who continue to believe and do not fall from their own steadfastness. (2 Pet. 3:17.) But it also accounts it possible for those very characters to imitate the change in conduct of that faithful and wise steward, described by our Lord (Luke 12:42) as saying in his heart, "My Lord delayeth his coming!; and who [in consequence] began to beat the men‑servants. . . . The Lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers!" [Works, 1:665].


Hunt's book has garnered a lot of attention by Calvinists and Non‑Calvinists. Go to Amazon.com and see over 80 online reviews of his book. Most of the reviewers either give the book 5 stars or 1 star. It is neither that stellar nor that awful. In my opinion, Hunt is too emotional, unnecessarily repetitive, and occasionally awkward in his flow of thought. For the most part his exegesis is adequate, at other times weak to sometimes poor. A much better book that avoids these weaknesses and defends the conditional security of the believer has previous been reviewed in the Arminian-Grace, Faith, Free Will. Contrasting Views of Salvation: Calvinism and Arminianism, by Robert Picirilli.

Readers should note that Multnomah will be publishing a book called Debating Calvinism: Five Points, Two Views. It is to be released in February of 2004, with James White and Dave Hunt debating the two views.

‑Steve Witzki


Darius L Salter, America's Bishop: The Life of Francis Asbury. Nappanee, IN: Francis Asbury Press of Evangel Publishing House, 2003. 435 pages.


When I first went into the ministry, one of my Christian heroes was, and still is, Bishop Asbury. For me he is still a knight in shining armor, the prime mover and shaker of early American Methodism, and most of all, a man greatly used of God in the establishing of the greatest evangelical denomination of his time. My feelings toward Asbury were enhanced when I read his biography by L. C. Rudolph. That biography was outstanding and gave me a thirst to learn more about "my" bishop. However, Dr. Salter's biography of Asbury, while well researched and generally good, will receive a more critical review.

Like many writers, Salter starts with Asbury and his early life in England. Then he follows Asbury as he grows under the leadership of Wesley to become a missionary to America. Asbury comes to this nation when people were beginning their quest for freedom from the English government. Over the course of time, Asbury is the only missionary that remains and continues to minister throughout the war. Finally, the end of the war and the great Christmas Conference arrives. Asbury is ordained and assumes the office of bishop. He then took that task of bishop, as described in the early church, to its highest biblical level. Serving by example, Asbury said, "my brethren seem unwilling to leave the cities, but I think I will show them the way." He took his ordination as God's ordaining him to a great task. Salter does a thorough job in tracing the Asbury effect in American Methodism and the early American culture.

However, some of Salter's seeming criticism of Asbury appeared unnecessary to me. For example, concerning the James O 'Kelly debate and split, Salter says, "The tunnel vision with which Asbury operated often made him insensitive to the desires and feelings of others." Was it tunnel vision or a higher vision concerning the task or call that God gave to him when he became a bishop In another instant, Salter says that Asbury "perpetuated the Indian stereotype that was held by most American pioneers." While it is true that the Gospel is for all peoples, I don't think that our modern day criticism of the past is totally fair. Simply put, Asbury did not reach out to the Indians as we feel that he should have and could have. Salter also says this concerning the spirit of the camp meeting revivals:


There was little to provide emotional release for women and men who worked sixteen

hour days and faced the constant threat of death. The confrontational preaching of

the Word, which called for a divine‑human encounter, released the emotions of guilt,

anxiety, and loneliness. No one did it better than the Methodists.


This is almost word for word how my secular college history professor explained this time of revival. This sort of explanation for such a spirit of revival, while making sense humanly speaking, gives no real credit to the working of God's prevenient grace. Salter's use of these kinds of phrases and remarks seems to take away from the overall value and greatness of Bishop Asbury.

Beyond this complaint, the book has a lot of great information on my hero. There will be others who will write about America 's Bishop, but before they do, they will need to consult Salter's present work. Salter's biography of Asbury would be a good addition to any pastor's library.

‑Dennis Hartman

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