We have a building on our church campus named “Aldersgate” and if you don’t know where that name comes from, you’re about to. Today is Aldersgate Day. It’s the day that commemorates the experience that John Wesley (the founder of Methodism) had when his heart was “strangely warmed.” This is a very significant piece of Methodist history, and instead of trying to explain it all to you, I will let you read John Wesley’s own description of this experience. Here is an excerpt from his personal journal on that day:
Wednesday, May 24, 1738: In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.
I began to pray with all my might for those who had in a more especial manner despitefully used me and persecuted me. I then testified openly to all there what I now first felt in my heart. But it was not long before the enemy suggested, “This cannot be faith; for where is thy joy?” Then was I taught that peace and victory over sin are essential to faith in the Captain of our salvation; but that, as to the transports of joy that usually attend the beginning of it, especially in those who have mourned deeply, God sometimes giveth, sometimes withholdeth, them according to the counsels of His own will.
After my return home, I was much buffeted with temptations, but I cried out, and they fled away. They returned again and again. I as often lifted up my eyes, and He “sent me help from his holy place.” And herein I found the difference between this and my former state chiefly consisted. I was striving, yea, fighting with all my might under the law, as well as under grace. But then I was sometimes, if not often, conquered; now, I was always conqueror.
Some of us know what it’s like to feel our heart strangely warmed by the Holy Spirit. I pray that you live in that warmth and grace of God, which allows us to be more than conquerors through Christ who gives us strength.
Happy Aldersgate Day my friends,