The General Rules are Living Prayer

There is only one condition previously required of those who desire admission into these societies: “a desire to flee from the wrath to come, and to be saved from their sins.” But wherever this is really fixed in the soul it will be shown by its fruits. It is therefore expected of all who continue therein that they should continue to evidence their desire of salvation, ….

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In their original form, the General Rules of the Methodist Church were a kind of living prayer. Conforming to the Rules was not a means to earn God’s favor. Neither were Rules a prescription for virtuous and praiseworthy living in general. They were not even a roadmap for living gratefully and joyfully in response to what God had done. Rather, they were a way for people “deeply convinced of sin, and earnestly groaning for redemption” to wait actively and expectantly before God.

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How Wesley Organized for Transformation

After retiring last month from military service as an Army chaplain, I was able to attend my first district preachers meeting in 27 years last week. The district superintendent spent most of the meeting reminding us of Methodism’s earliest means of making disciples. John Wesley, he recalled, organized Methodists into societies, classes and bands.

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Participating in Bodily Worship

For human beings, worship is both a physical and a spiritual activity.

When the Apostle Paul tells us to “Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper (‘logikos‘) worship,” I think the first application pertains to what Christians do when they assemble on Sunday morning.

The place of worship has moved from the temple in Jerusalem to the assembly of the faithful. Instead of offering a ram or a bull, the congregation unites itself to Christ’s offering of himself on the cross. All who are united to Christ a members of his royal priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices (1 Peter 2:5). But Christian worship is still a bodily, physical activity.

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I Will Build My Church

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.  (Matthew 16:13-20)

Jesus Takes Responsibility for Building the Church

“I will build my church.” These are the most important five words in Matthew 16:13-20. This passage announces the good news that Jesus is going to build a church that even the power of death (“the gates of hades”) cannot defeat. That’s the gospel in this passage.

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What’s (Not) New in Peter’s Confession at Caesarea Philippi?

Peter’s confession at Caesarea in Matthew 16:13-20 seems like an important turning point in Matthew’s gospel. So what’s new in this passage?

Jesus Didn’t Give Peter a New Name

First, it’s not the name “Peter”.  Jesus didn’t give Simon a new name at Caesarea Philippi.

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