The Lord Our Righteousness - John Wesley (Condensed Sermon)
This is part of a series of some of John Wesley's greatest sermons in condensed, detailed outline format.
The Lord Our Righteousness – Detailed Outline
Wesley's Text for the Sermon: "This is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our righteousness." Jeremiah 23:6
I. What is the righteousness of Christ?
A. His divine righteousness belongs to his divine nature
1. Now this is his eternal, essential, immutable holiness; his infinite justice, mercy, and truth; in all which, he and the Father are One.
2. But “few, if any, do now contend for the imputation of this righteousness to us.”
B. The human righteousness of Christ belongs to him in his human nature;
1. His internal righteousness is the image of God, stamped on every power and faculty of his soul.
2. His external righteousness,
i. The smallest part of his internal righteousness was the negative: “that he did nothing amiss; that he knew no outward sin of any kind”
ii. The larger part of his internal righteousness was “his outward righteousness was positive too: He did all things well: In every word of his tongue, in every work of his hands, he did precisely the "will of Him that sent him."
iii. His internal righteousness Includes “not only doing, but suffering; suffering the whole will of God, from the time he came into the world, till "he bore our sins in his own body upon the tree;"
3. Both of these together “is called "the Lord our righteousness."
II. When is it that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, and in what sense is it imputed?
A. To whom? “To all believers the righteousness of Christ is imputed; to unbelievers it is not."
B. When? “When they believe. In that very hour the righteousness of Christ is theirs.”
C. In what sense? “In this: all believers are forgiven and accepted, not for the sake of anything in them, or of anything that ever was, that is, or ever can be done by them, but wholly and solely for the sake of what Christ hath done and suffered for them.”
D. Regardless of what we actually call it, This is what is meant.
E. Objections: But must not we put off the filthy rags of our own righteousness, before we can put on the spotless righteousness of Christ? “Certainly we must;”
F. Objections: But do not you believe in implanted righteousness? “Yes…I believe God implants righteousness in every one to whom he has imputed it.”
III. A mis-application on imputed righteousness to avoid:
A. What we are afraid of is this: -- lest any should use the phrase, "The righteousness of Christ," as a cover for his unrighteousness.
1. Many examples of this exist.
2. This attitude guards against conviction for sin.
3. This “makes us sparing in the use of these expressions.”
IV. Application of this message:
A. To those who violently oppose these expressions, and are ready to condemn all that use them as Antinomians.
1. Do not imitate the bigotry which you blame. At least, allow them the liberty which they ought to allow you.
2. And why should you be angry at an expression "O, it has been abused!" And what expression has not? However, the abuse may be removed, and, at the same time, the use remain."
B. To you who are fond of these expressions.
1. I allow the whole sense which you contend for;
2. I allow you to use whatever expressions you choose, and that a thousand times over;
3. Only guard them against that dreadful abuse, which you are as deeply concerned to prevent as I am.
4. Allow me to use it just as often as I judge it preferable to any other expression; and be not angry with me if I cannot judge it proper to use any one expression every two minutes.
5. Do not condemn me because I do not use it as often as you.
6. Do not misrepresent me if I do use it.
CONCLUSION: As we have "one Lord, one faith, one hope of our calling," let us all strengthen each other's hands in God, and with one heart and one mouth declare to all mankind, "THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."
This clarifying message helps to stop the accusations against John Wesley. Some have claimed he believed in a form of works salvation. Yet in this sermon, he clearly (as at many other times) rejects that doctrine.
Wesley's great passion was discipleship, the full restoration of the Image of God in righteousness and true holiness.
If you want to study more about the Methodist theology of sanctification, click through to Pursuing Holiness.