Yet, on the authority of God’s Word, and our own Church, I must repeat the question, “Hast thou received the Holy Ghost?” If thou hast not, thou art not yet a Christian. (From Sermon 3: Awake Thou Sleeper)
As I read through John Wesley’s sermons I am amazed at how often he defined a Christian as one who has received the Holy Spirit. He was not ashamed of his view and this view would get him in hot water from time to time.
In some of his sermons he went as far as to say that even though you might act like a Christian, look like a Christian, or even smell like a Christian, if you had not received the Holy Spirit then you were not.
He didn’t care if you had been attending a church your whole life, or if you fed the hungry and clothed the naked, or even if you were clergy. He even said that he was an “almost Christian” for years.
How many of us and our memebers would Wesley consider ‘Almost Christians’? As I reflect on Wesley’s definition, it causes me to wonder if perhaps the greatest need for the Methodist church today is for us to preach conversion to the church members (including the clergy).
Wesley’s fear wasn’t that Methodism would cease to exist, but that it would have the form of religion and lack the power. Our fear of Methodism is that we cease to exist. Perhaps it is time for us to concentrate more on the power of religion (the Holy Spirit empowering the life of love), rather than the form.