Scriptural Christianity - John Wesley

"And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost" (ACTS 4:31).

  1. The same expression occurs in the second chapter, where we read, "...when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all (the Apostles, with the women, and the mother of Jesus, and His brethren) with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind... And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost". One immediate effect whereof was, they "began to speak with other tongues"; inasmuch that both the Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and the other strangers who "came together... when this was noised abroad, heard them speak, in their several tongues, the wonderful works of God" (ACTS 2:1-11).
  2. In this chapter we read, that when the Apostles and brethren had been praying, and praising God, "...the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost..." Not that we find any visible appearance here, such as had been in the former instance: nor are we informed that the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were then given to all or any of them, such as the gifts "of healing, of working of miracles, of prophecy, of discerning of spirits, the speaking with divers kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues..." (1 CORINTHIANS 12:9-10).
  3. Whether these gifts of the Holy Ghost were designed to remain in the Church throughout all ages, and whether or no they will be restored at the nearer approach of the "restitution of all things," are questions which it is not needful to decide. But it is needful to observe this, that, even in the infancy of the Church, God divided them with a sparing hand. Were all even then prophets? Were all workers of miracles? Had all the gifts of healing? Did all speak with tongues? No, in no wise. Perhaps not one in a thousand. Probably none but the teachers in the Church, and only some of them 1 CORINTHIANS 12:28-30 It was, therefore, for a more excellent purpose than this, that "...they were all filled with the Holy Ghost".
  4. It was, to give them (what none can deny to be essential to all Christians in all ages) the mind which was in Christ, those holy fruits of the Spirit, which whosoever hath not, is none of His; to fill them with "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness" (GALATIANS 5:22-24) to endue them with faith (perhaps it might be rendered fidelity), with meekness and temperance; to enable them to crucify the flesh, with its lusts.

Par. 2: "It does not appear that these extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were common in the Church for more than two or three centuries... The cause of this was not because there was no occasion for them because all the world was become Christian. The real cause was "the love of many", almost of all Christians, so-called, was "waxed cold". This was the real cause why the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were no longer to be found in the Christian Church; because the Christians were turned heathens again, and had only a dead form left."

Par. 3: It is not possible to draw a hard-and-fast line between the so-called extraordinary and the ordinary gifts of the Spirit. The first are occasional and special; the second are common to all believers. But it is not true that the former ceased to be bestowed after the first three centuries. No student of foreign missions will deny that they are still imparted where the necessity arises. And the more important ones - the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, prophecy (i.e. the gift of inspired preaching, not necessarily involving the foretelling of the future), are as common now as in the primitive Church. Wesley speaks more fully on the subject in Sermon LXXXIX, ‘The More Excellent Way'.

Source: ‘The Standard Sermons of John Wesley" by E. H. Sugden, Vol. I'

Aggressive Christianity


The addresses contained in this little volume were delivered during a series of services at the West End of London, in the summer of 1880. That they were used then of the Lord I had abundant evidence, and on that account I have consented to their reproduction in this form, hoping that He may still speak through them to many souls.

I only regret that pressing public duties have prevented the shorthand writer's notes being revised as thoroughly as I could have wished, especially as they are reports of what were themselves largely unpremeditated utterances.

Catherine Booth

London, December 1880

Adaptation of Measures (p.54-55)

"...the bare principles of the New Testament. If I cannot substantiate and defend them by that I will give them up for ever. I am not wedded to any forms and measures. To many of them I have been driven by the necessities of the case. God has driven me to them as at the point of the bayonet, as well as led me by the pillar of cloud, and when I have brought my reluctance and all my own conventional notions, in which I was brought up like other people, face to face with the naked bare principles of the New Testament, I have not found anything to stand upon! I find things here far more extravagant and extreme, than anything we do - looked at carefully.

Here is the principle laid down that you are to adapt your measures to the necessity of the people to whom you minister; you are to take the Gospel to them in such modes and habitudes of thought and expression and circumstances, as will gain for it from them a HEARING: You are to speak in other tongues - go and preach it to them in such a way as they will look at it and listen to it! Oh! in that lesson we read what beautiful freedom from all set form and formula there was! What freedom for the gushing freshness, enthusiasm, and love of those new converts! What scope for the different manifestations of the same spirit. Everything was not cut and dried. Everything was not pre-arranged. It was left to the operation of the Spirit, and the argument that this has been abused, is no arguments against it, for then you might argue against every privilege.

Here is abundant evidence that these new converts, each one, had opportunity to witness for Jesus, opportunity and scope to give forth the gushing utterance of his soul, and tell other people, how he got saved, or the experience the Holy Ghost has wrought in him. And look at the result! "If there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all; and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest, and so falling down on his face, he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth." What unkind things have been said of The Salvation Army, because people have fallen on their faces under the convicting power of the Spirit at our meetings, but you see this is Apostolic! And, Oh, friends, what a glorious service this would be! You say, it would look so strange. More the pity. More the pity that this natural, easy, domestic, familiar kind of testimony and witnessing of divine things should have become strange.

May it not be because the experience which prompted it has become strange? May it not be that there is no more desire to testify because there is little to testify about? May it not be that there is want of the utterance of the Holy Spirit through the tongue because there is less of it in the soul? Oh! then, should we not make haste back to those days of simplicity and power? Should we not pray to be set free from the traditionalism and routinism in which Satan has succeeded in lulling us to sleep? I ask any saved man - Do you not remember the gushing love and enthusiasm of your first-found liberty? How you longed to tell everybody, and if you had been placed in such circumstances as these Corinthian converts, how gladly you would have testified to what Jesus had done for you. It was only the repressing, keeping down, and ultimately, I am afraid the all-but extinguishing of the Holy Spirit's power."