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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sermon on the Mount as seen by John Wesley

The Sermon on the Mount is found in chapters five six and seven of Matthew’s gospel.  Wesley regards the Sermon on the Mount as one that was preached by Christ in its entirety on one occasion to lay down at once the whole plan of His religion and to give us a full picture of what Christianity looks like.

Wesley sees the Sermon on the Mount as being neatly divided into three parts by the three chapters five, six and seven of Matthew’s gospel:  He says that in the fifth chapter our Great Teacher has laid before us those dispositions of the soul which constitute real Christianity. In the sixth chapter He has shown how all our actions may be made holy and good and acceptable to God by a pure and holy intention. In chapter seven He points out the most common and fatal hindrances to holiness and then He exhorts us to break through all such hindrances and secure that prize of our high calling.

It is Wesley's belief that faith which does not lead to the type of religion described in the Sermon on the Mount is not saving faith at all.

Wesley was once accused of being a “dry, legal preacher” as opposed to those who “preached the gospel.” His response was that he was a preacher of the law and the gospel and he writes: 

“I mean by ‘preaching the gospel’ preaching the love of God to sinners, preaching the life, death, resurrection, and the intercession of Christ, with all the blessings which in consequence thereof are freely given to true believers.  By ‘preaching the law’ I mean explaining and enforcing the commands of Christ, briefly comprised in the Sermon on the Mount.” 

(from Letter To an Evangelical Lay Man, London, December 20, 1751)

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