What are you Now?*
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith. Second Corinthians 13:5 New International Version.
You, who are born of God, according to the marks laid down in his word well know that you are his children. Your hearts are assured before him. Everyone who has observed these marks can sense and know, of a truth at this very moment whether, in the sight of God, you are thus his child.
The question is not anything else. What are you now? Is the spirit of adoption now in your heart? Make the appeal to your own heart. Are you now the temple of the Holy Spirit? Does he now dwell within you?
Perhaps you are resting in a transaction made at your baptism, but does the Spirit of Christ and of glory now rest upon you, or has the light that was within you become darkness again? To you also I say, “You must be born again.”
You have read what are the marks of the children of God. All that do not have these on their souls, whether baptized or unbaptized, must needs receive them, or without doubt they will perish eternally.
Lord Jesus! May everyone who prepares his or her heart to seek your face receive that spirit of adoption, and be enabled to cry out, “Abba Father.” Let them now have power so to believe in Your name as to become children of God and know and sense redemption through Your blood and the forgiveness of sins.
*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.
What is it that John Wesley is trying to get us to see in this first lesson on prayer? The title, “What are you Now?” answers that very question. In fact, Wesley tells us there is no other question.
He tells us to inventory our hearts to see if we have a witness that we are, indeed, a child of God. He first asks if the Spirit of adoption is now in our hearts. Romans 8:14-17 says,
“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our Spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”
Wesley next asks if we are now temples of the Holy Spirit, if the Spirit now dwells within us. 1 Cor. 6:19-20 exhorts us, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” That begs the question, “Are you glorifying God in your body now? Are you fleeing immorality now? Are you living a life pleasing to God now? Or have you become as the world? Have you allowed the new normal of a liberal society that has thrown off what the Bible says in favor of whatever makes you feel good to infect your soul?”
Next, Wesley brings up the error of relying on your Baptism instead of relying on the Baptizer, the Spirit of Christ. He asks, “Is the light that was within you become darkness again?” Were your vows of Baptism simply a religious formula you recited thinking they would keep you out of hell? He says regardless if you are baptized or unbaptized, if you lack the marks of the children of God in your soul, you are lost eternally, and must be born again.
And what might these marks be? In Galatians 5:22-25, the apostle Paul tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
A born-again experience is going to produce fruit. If you are made alive by the Spirit, your walk, or outward manifestation of the life within, will show fruit. The Holy Spirit works from the inside out. Fruit hangs from a tree for all to see.
The Spirit prunes the deadwood from our lives. He waters and fertilizes the potential within us. You cannot produce lasting fruit on your own. As Paul says of authentic believers in Philippians 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”