24 May 2011Romans 5:1-11
"... and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us." (v. 5)
24 May is a special anniversary for Methodists and other
Christians as we remember John Wesley's heart-warming experience of
God in a church on Aldersgate Street. Wesley was already a priest
in the Church of England and had travelled to America as a
missionary, which had not gone at all well. On the voyage there his
ship was caught up in a storm and he was impressed by the calm
faith of a group of Moravian Christians, who prayed and sang and
showed no fear amidst such danger.
Not long afterwards he felt led, reluctantly, to attend worship at a Moravian church on Aldersgate Street in London. Despite his reluctance, it was during this service he felt his "heart strangely warmed" - he experienced God's love in a most personal and life-giving way. Until then he had known God in his mind but not in his heart, now he understood the value of a personal experience of God that would bring assurance to the believer. Paul's words in verse 5 point us all to the possibility of God pouring love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Wesley, who began the Methodist movement, was convinced that all people could know the love of God. This is clear through the "Four alls" that are still quoted by Methodist people today.
All people need to be saved.
All people can be saved.
All people can know they are saved.
All people can be saved to the uttermost.
Paul has something similar to say in Romans, making it clear that Jesus did not die just for those who were righteous but that he "died for the ungodly" (v. 6). All people fall within the scope of God's love and Christ's saving action, and all people can experience this for themselves as God's love fills their hearts with love through the Holy Spirit.
Can you remember an occasion when you felt assured of God's love in a powerful way? How does that support and encourage you today?
Some people despair of the state of the world, how might you share with them the idea of a God who loves all creation?