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Renew My Heart

Renew My Heart

by John Wesley

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If you enjoy a book of substance, beautifully packaged, you’ll love Renew My Heart—a collection of carefully-excerpted devotionals from the writings of John Wesley. Known as the founder of Methodism, Wesley wrote and preached on a living faith to be fully experienced. Renew My Heart brings together 180 selections from Wesley’s widespread writings, addressing issues like salvation, grace, faith, victory, and more. Text is lightly updated for ease of reading, and handsomely packaged for gift-giving—for others or oneself! For a substantial yet never overwhelming devotional experience, turn to Renew My Heart—and enjoy the refreshing truths of God from a giant of the Christian faith.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781607424017
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 02/01/2011
Series: Classic Insights
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
File size: 2 MB

Read an Excerpt

Renew My Heart

By John Wesley

Barbour Publishing, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-61626-349-2


Salvation by Faith

By grace you have been saved through faith.

Ephesians 2:8 NASB

All the blessings which God has bestowed upon men and women are of His mere grace, bounty, or favor—His free, undeserved favor, altogether undeserved—we have no claim to the least of His mercies.

It was free grace that "formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into him a living soul," then stamped on that soul the image of God and "put all things under his feet." The same free grace continues to us at this day life and breath and all things. There is nothing we are, or have, or do which can deserve the smallest thing from His hand.

"All our works, You, God, have wrought in us." These, therefore, are so many more instances of free mercy: And whatever righteousness may be found in us, this is also the gift of God. The gift of God is that you have been saved through faith. Neither this faith nor this salvation is owing to any works you ever did, will, or can do. "For we are His workmanship" (v. 10) shows that salvation is by faith, and that faith is the gift of God.

Grace is both the beginning and end. This lays the axe to the very root of spiritual pride and all glorying in ourselves. Grace, without any respect to human worthiness, confers the glorious gift. Faith, with an empty hand, without any pretense to personal merit, receives the heavenly blessing.

Saved from Sin

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.

Ephesians 2:8 KJV

What is the salvation which is through this faith?

First, whatever else it implies, it is a present salvation. It is something attainable, yes, actually attained, on earth, by those who are partakers of this faith. Note the words of the apostle to the believers at Ephesus, and in them to the believers of all ages, not You shall be (though that also is true), but you "are saved through faith."

You are saved (to comprise all in one word) from sin. This is the salvation which is through faith. This is that great salvation foretold by the angel, before God brought His First begotten into the world: "You shall call His name JESUS for He shall save His people from their sins." And neither here, nor in other parts of holy writ, is there any limitation or restriction: All His people, or as elsewhere expressed, "all that believe in Him," He saves from all their sins; from original and actual, past and present sin, "of the flesh and of the spirit." Through faith that is in Him, they are saved both from the guilt of sin and from the power of it.

Saved from Guilt

That {faith is} not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.

Ephesians 2:8 NASB

All who are partakers of the salvation which is by this faith are saved from the guilt of all past sin. All the world is guilty before God, so much that should He be extreme to mark what is done amiss, there is none who could stand before Him. For by the law is only knowledge of sin, but no deliverance from it. So that even by fulfilling the deeds of the law no one can be justified in His sight.

Yet now the righteousness of God—which is by faith of Jesus Christ—is revealed unto all who believe. Now they are justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.

This Jesus has God set forth to be a propitiation, a complete satisfaction for our sins, through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness by the forgiveness of sins previously committed.

Christ has taken away the curse of the law by being made a curse for us. He wiped out the handwriting that was against us, taking it out of the way, nailing it to His cross.

And so, there is therefore now no condemnation to those who believe in Christ Jesus.

Saved from Fear

In whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.

Ephesians 3:12 NASB

Being saved from guilt, those who are partakers of this salvation by faith are saved from fear. Not, indeed, from a filial fear of offending but from all servile fear: from the fear which has torment, fear of punishment, fear of the wrath of God, whom they no longer regard as a severe Master but as an indulgent Father.

They have not received the spirit of bondage but the Spirit of adoption, whereby they cry Abba, Father. The Holy Spirit Himself bears witness with their spirits that they are children of God.

They are also saved from the fear, though not from the possibility, of falling away from the grace of God, and coming short of the great and precious promises. Thus, they have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. They rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And the love of God is poured out in their hearts through the Holy Spirit who is given unto them.

And by this they are persuaded (though perhaps not always with the same fullness of persuasion) that neither death, nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other thing shall be able to separate them from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Saved from the Power of Sin

We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin.

1 John 5:18 NIV

Those who are partakers of this faith, are, through it, saved from the power of sin, as well as from the guilt of it. The apostle declares, "You know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin" (1 John 3:5–6 NKJV). Again, "Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray.... He who does what is sinful is of the devil.... Whoever believes born of God.... No one who is born of God will continue to sin" (1 John 3:7–9 NIV and 5:1 NASB).

One who is thus born of God does not sin (1) by any habitual sin; for all habitual sin is sin reigning: But sin cannot reign in any who believes. Nor (2) by any willful sin: For, while he abides in the faith, his will is utterly set against all sin, and he abhors it as deadly poison. Nor (3) by any sinful desire; for he continually desires the holy and perfect will of God; and any tendency to an unholy desire, he, by the grace of God, stifles in the birth. Nor (4) does he sin by infirmities, whether in act, word, or thought, for his infirmities have no concurrence of his will, and without this they are not properly sins.

Thus, one who is born of God "does not sin": And though one cannot say he has not sinned, yet now he does not sin.

Faith vs. Pride

Grace ... not of yourselves.

Ephesians 2:8 NASB

Does preaching this faith lead men and women into pride?

Accidentally, it may: Therefore, every believer ought to be earnestly cautioned by the words of the great apostle: "Because of unbelief they [the first branches] were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off" (Romans 11:20–22 NKJY).

And while believers continue in that goodness, they will remember those words of St. Paul, foreseeing and answering this very objection (Romans 3:27NKJV): "Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith." If a man or woman were justified by their works, they would have something of which to glory. But there is no glorying for the one who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly (Romans 4:5).

Everything is of God. The faith by which salvation is given as well as the salvation itself are both the free gift of God. There is nothing of which a man or a woman can boast.

The Righteousness of God

"Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."

Romans 9:33 NKJV

Simple faith is too "hard" for many people. They make this objection: "If a person cannot be saved by all he or she can do, it will drive them 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.

The one who goes about to establish his own righteousness—his own method of acceptance with God—cannot receive the righteousness of God, which is the way of justification that He has fixed.

The design of the law was to bring men and women to believe in Christ for justification and salvation. The righteousness which is of faith cannot be given a person while he is trusting in that which is of the law: namely, his own works.

It is sometimes called the righteousness of God—the whole benefit of God through Christ for the salvation of a sinner—and it is called this because God planned and prepared, reveals and gives, approves and crowns it; and it is shown to us only by the gospel.

Rich in Mercy

It does not ... depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.

Romans 9:46 NIV

Salvation by faith is an uncomfortable doctrine to the self-righteous. The devil speaks like himself (without either truth or shame) when he declares its discomfort, for salvation by faith is the only comfortable doctrine, very full of comfort, to all self-destroyed, self-condemned sinners. Whoever believes on Him will not be ashamed: And the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. Here is comfort, high as heaven, stronger than death!

What! Mercy for all? For Zacchaeus, a public robber? For Mary Magdalene, a common harlot? Then one may say, "Then I, even I, may hope for mercy!" And so you may, afflicted one, whom no one has comforted! God will not cast out your prayer. Perhaps He may say the very next hour, "Be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven." So forgiven that they shall reign over you no more. Yes, and the Holy Spirit will bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God.

O glad tidings of great joy, sent unto all people! To everyone who thirsts, come to the waters: And you who have no money, come, buy, and eat (see Isaiah 55:1). Though your sins be red like crimson, though more than the hairs of your head, return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon you; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

First of All, and To All

"Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."

John 3:15 NKJV

Salvation by faith must be preached as the first doctrine, and it must be preached to all. The Holy Spirit says, through St. Paul, "No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11 NKJV).

"Whoever believes on Him shall be saved" is, and must be, the foundation to all else. That is, it must be preached first, and it must be preached to all. We must exclude no one. Not the poor: They have a peculiar right to have the gospel preached to them. Not the unlearned: God has revealed these things unto the unlearned and ignorant from the beginning. Not the young: "Suffer these" to come to Christ, "and forbid them not." Not sinners, least of all. He "came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

If we were to exclude any, it might be the rich, the intellectual, the reputable, moral people. It is true that, too often, these exclude themselves from hearing. Yet we must speak the words of our Lord and give them also a simple presentation of the Word of truth. For our commission is, "Go and preach the gospel to every creature." If anyone twists it, or any part of it, to his destruction, he must bear his own burden. But still, as the Lord lives, whatever He says to us, that will we speak.

Conquering and to Conquer

This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

1 John 5:4 NIV

Declaring salvation by faith to the world strikes at the very foundations of hell. For this reason, our adversary stirred up earth and hell to destroy those who first preached it. Likewise, knowing that faith alone could overturn the foundations of his kingdom, he called forth all his forces and employed all his arts of lies and slander, to frighten Martin Luther from reviving this truth.

Nor can we wonder at this. Luther himself observed, "How would it enrage a proud, armed, strong man to be stopped and set at naught by a little child coming against him with a stick in his hand!" And especially when he knew that little child would surely overthrow him and tread him underfoot. Even so, Lord Jesus! Your strength has always been "made perfect in weakness"!

Go forth then, O little child who believes in Him, and His "right hand shall teach you terrible things!" Though you are helpless and weak as a young infant, the strong man, Satan, will not be able to stand before you. You will prevail over him, and subdue him, and overthrow him, and trample him under your feet. March on, under the great captain of your salvation, conquering and to conquer, until all your enemies are destroyed, and "death is swallowed up in victory" (1 Corinthians 15:54 KJV). Thanks be to God!

Stony Places of the Heart

"They withered because they had no root."

Matthew 13:6 NIV

A preacher of the gospel casts the seed into the hearts of the hearers. The greatest philosophers cannot explain how the earth produces food from the seed sown. Neither can a preacher of the gospel explain how the soul of a person brings forth first weak graces, then stronger, then full holiness.

It is a curious kind of mechanism in which the spring of motion is within itself. Yet observe the amazing exactness of the comparison. The earth brings forth no food nor does the soul bring forth holiness without both the care and toil of men and women and the gracious influence of heaven. One hears the word and considers it not. This is the first and most general cause of unfruitfulness. The wicked one comes, either inwardly, filling the mind with thoughts of other things—or by those who talk of other subjects when people should be considering what they have heard.

The seed sown on stony places sprang up soon, received with joy, perhaps with ecstasy, struck with the beauty of truth and drawn by the grace of God. Yet he had no root in himself—no deep work of grace, no change in the ground of the heart, no deep conviction. Good desires soon wither away, and he is offended, finding a thousand plausible pretences for leaving so narrow and rugged a way.

Lord God, may we have deep roots in good soil.

Thorns Spring Up

"The worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word."

Mark 4:19 NIV

A vast majority of those who hear the Word of God receive the seed of the gospel as by the highway side. Many of those who do not lose it by the birds—Satan or his agents—receive it as on stony places where it springs up with no deep root. Some who receive it in a better soil still permit the thorns to grow up and choke it. Yet, in all these cases, it is not the will of God that hinders, but the person's voluntary perverseness.

The seed that fell among thorns was choked out and became unfruitful. One who received the seed among the thorns heard the Word and considered it in spite of Satan and all his agents, has root in himself, is deeply convinced and in great measure inwardly changed. He does not draw back when tribulation and persecution arise. Yet, perhaps unperceived at first, thorns spring up with the good seed till they gradually destroy all its life and power, and it becomes unfruitful.

Cares are thorns to the poor; wealth, to the rich; desire of other things, to all. The desire of anything that does not lead to happiness in God tends to barrenness of soul. And, these enter in where they were not before, some perhaps never known till now. If you have received and retained the Word, see to it that no other desire enters in.

Lord, may we hold close the Word of the gospel.

Good Ground: Hearers and Doers of the Word

"Which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, {they} keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."

Luke 8:15 KJV

Those who keep the good word have avoided the deceitfulness of riches. Deceitful indeed, for they smile and betray, put out the eyes, harden the heart, and steal away all the life of God in the soul, filling it with pride, anger, and love of the world. It makes men and women enemies to the whole cross of Christ; yet, all the while, riches are eagerly desired and vehemently pursued, even by those who believe there is a God.


Excerpted from Renew My Heart by John Wesley. Copyright © 2011 Barbour Publishing, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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