Wesleyan Beliefs

The Wesleyan Church is an evangelical, Protestant, holiness denomination organized to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. The technical name for our church's theological heritage is Arminian-Wesleyan. This refers to the teachings of James Arminius and John Wesley. Arminius (1560-1609), a Dutch theologian, stressed that God has predestined all who believe in Jesus Christ for eternal life and those who reject Him for eternal separation from God; that He has given us as human beings true freedom to accept or reject this salvation; that He offers grace to enable all persons to repent and believe; and that believers are secure spiritually in Christ based on continued faith and obedience to God.

Wesley was a priest in the Church of England in the 1700's and the founder of the Methodist movement. He added to Arminius' insights an emphasis on the assurance of salvation believers can enjoy through the inner "witness of the Spirit." He also taught about the entire sanctification of believers by which their hearts are made perfect in love for God and other persons.

Wesleyans are convinced that the Bible is God's written Word and the final authority for all Christian beliefs and practices. Therefore, our statements of faith, which we call "Articles of Religion," seek to express only what the Bible teaches, as those teachings have been understood by the Church as a whole in its official assemblies. The Discipline, the book containing the constitution and bylaws of The Wesleyan Church, includes twenty-one "Articles of Religion." Each has its own brief list of supfrom the power of sin which reigns over all the unregenerates, so that they love God and through grace serve Him with the will and affections of the heart, receiving the Spirit of Adoption.

Justification: Hab. 2:4Acts 13:38-3915:1116:31Rom. 1:173:284:2-55:1-2Gal. 3:6-14Eph. 2:8-9Phil 3:9Heb. 10:38.

Regeneration: John 1:12-133:3, 5-8II Cor. 5:17Gal. 3:26Eph. 2:5, 10, 194:24Col. 3:10Titus 3:5James 1:18I Peter 1:3-4II Peter 1:4I John 3:1.

Adoption: Rom. 8:15Gal. 4:5, 7Eph. 1:5.

Witness of the Spirit: Rom. 8:16-17Gal. 4:6I John 2:33:14,18-19.

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12. Good Works

We believe that although good works cannot save us from our sins or from God's judgment, they are the fruit of faith and follow after regeneration. Therefore they are pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and by them a living faith may be as evidently known as a tree is discerned by its fruit.

Matt. 5:167:16-20John 15:8Rom 3:204:2, 4, 6Gal. 2:165:6Eph. 2:10Phil. 1:11Col. 1:10I Thess. 1:3Titus 2:143:5James 2:18, 22I Peter 2:9, 12.

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13. Sin After Regeneration

We believe that after we have experienced regeneration, it is possible to fall into sin, for in this life there is no such height or strength of holiness from which it is impossible to fall. But by the grace of God one who has fallen into sin may by true repentance and faith find forgiveness and restoration.

Mal. 3:7Matt. 18:21-22John 15:4-6I Tim. 4:1, 16Heb. 10:35-39I John 1:92:1, 24-25.

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14Sanctification: Initial, Progressive, Entire

We believe that sanctification is that work of the Holy Spirit by which the child of God is separated from sin unto God and is enabled to love God with all his heart and to walk in all His holy commandments blameless. Sanctification is initiated at the moment of justification and regeneration. From that moment there is a gradual or progressive sanctification as the believer walks with God and daily grows in grace and in a more perfect obedience to God. This prepares for the crisis of entire sanctification which is wrought instantaneously when the believer presents himself a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, through faith in Jesus Christ, being effected by the baptism with the Holy Spirit who cleanses the heart from all inbred sin. The crisis of entire sanctification perfects the believer in love and empowers him for effective service. It is followed by lifelong growth in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The life of holiness continues through faith in the sanctifying blood of Christ and evidences itself by loving obedience to God's revealed will.

Gen. 17:1Deut. 30:6Ps. 130:8Isa. 6:1-6Ezek. 36:25-29Matt. 5:8, 48Luke 1:74-753:16-1724:49John 17:1-26Acts 1:4-5, 82:1-415:8-926:18Rom. 8:3-4I Cor. 1:26:11II Cor. 7:1Eph. 4:13, 245:25-27I Thess. 3:10, 12-134:3, 7-85:23-24II Thess. 2:13Titus 2:11-14Heb. 10:1412:1413:12James 3:17-184:8I Peter 1:2;II Peter 1:4I John 1:7, 93:8-94:17-18Jude 24.

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15. The Gifts of the Spirit

We believe that the Gift of the Spirit is the Holy Spirit himself, and He is to be desired more than the gifts of the Spirit which He in His wise counsel bestows upon individual members of the Church to enable them properly to fulfill their function as members of the body of Christ. The gifts of the Spirit, although not always identifiable with natural abilities, function through them for the edification of the whole church. These gifts are to be exercised in love under the administration of the Lord of the church, not through human volition. The relative value of the gifts of the Spirit is to be tested by their usefulness in the church and not by the ecstasy produced in the ones receiving them.

Luke 11:1324:49Acts 1:42:38-398:19-2010:4511:17 Rom. 12:4-8I Cor. 12:1-14:40 Eph. 4:7-8, 11-16Heb. 2:413:20-21I Peter 4:8-11.

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16. The Church

We believe that the Christian church is the entire body of believers in Jesus Christ, who is the founder and only Head of the church. The church includes both those believers who have gone to be with the Lord and those who remain on the earth, having renounced the world, the flesh, and the devil, and having dedicated themselves to the work which Christ committed unto His church until He comes. The church on earth is to preach the pure Word of God, properly administer the sacraments according to Christ's instructions, and live in obedience to all that Christ commands. A local church is a body of believers formally organized on gospel principles, meeting regularly for the purposes of evangelism, nurture, fellowship, and worship. The Wesleyan Church is a denomination consisting of those members within district conferences and local churches who, as members of the body of Christ, hold the faith set forth in these Articles of Religion and acknowledge the ecclesiastical authority of its governing bodies.

Matt. 16:1818:17Acts 2:41-479:3111:2212:514:2315:2220:28I Cor. 1:212:2816:1II Cor. 1:1Gal. 1:2Eph. 1:22-232:19-223:9-10, 215:22-33Col. 1:18, 24;I Thess. 1:1II Thess. 1:1I Tim. 3:15Heb. 12:23James 5:14.

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17. The Sacraments: Baptism and the Lord's Supper

We believe that water baptism and the lord's Supper are the sacraments of the church commanded by Christ and ordained as a means of grace when received through faith. They are tokens of our profession of Christian faith and signs of God's gracious ministry toward us. By them, He works within us to quicken, strengthen, and confirm our faith. We believe that water baptism is a sacrament of the church, commanded by our Lord and administered to believers. It is a symbol of the new covenant of grace and signifies acceptance of the benefits of the atonement of Jesus Christ. By means of this sacrament. believers declare their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.

Matt. 3:13-1728:19Mark 1:9-11John 3:5, 22, 264:1-2Acts 2:38-39, 418:12-17, 36-389:1816:15, 3318:819:522:16Rom 2:28-294:116:3-4I Cor. 12:13Gal. 3:27-29Col. 2:11-12Titus 3:5.

We believe that the Lord's Supper is a sacrament of our redemption by Christ's death and of our hope in His victorious return, as well as a sign of the love that Christians have for each other. To such as receive it humbly, with a proper spirit and by faith, the Lord's Supper is made a means through which God communicates grace to the heart.

Matt. 26:26-28Mark 14:22-24Luke 22:19-20John 6:48-58I Cor. 5:7-810:3-4,16-1 711:23-29.

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18. The Second Coming of Christ

We believe that the certainty of the personal and imminent return of Christ inspires holy living and zeal for the evangelization of the world. At His return He will fulfill all prophecies made concerning His final and complete triumph over evil.

Job 19:25-27Isa. 11:1-12Zech. 14:1-11Matt. 24:1-512526:64Mark 13:1-37Luke 17:22-3721:5-36John 14:1-3Acts 1:6-11I Cor. 1:7-8I Thess. 1:102:193:13;4:13-185:1-11, 23II Thess. 1:6-102:1-12Titus 2:11-14Heb. 9:27-28James 5:7-8II Peter 3:1-14I John 3:2-3Rev. 1:719:11-1622:6-7, 12, 20.

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19. The Resurrection of the Dead

We believe in the bodily resurrection from the dead of all mankind of the just unto the resurrection of life, and of the unjust unto the resurrection of damnation. The resurrection of the righteous dead will occur at Christ's Second Coming, and the resurrection of the wicked will occur at a later time. The resurrection of Christ is the guarantee of the resurrection of those who are in Christ. The raised body will be a spiritual body, but the person will be whole and identifiable.

Job 19:25-27Dan. 12:2Matt. 22:30-3228:1-20Mark 16:1-8Luke 14:1424:1-53John 5:28-2911:21-2720:1-21:25Acts 1:3Rom. 8:11I Cor. 6:1415:1-58II Cor. 4:145:1-11I Thess. 4:13-17Rev. 20:4-6, 11-13.

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20. The Judgment of Mankind

We believe that the Scriptures reveal God as the Judge of all mankind and the acts of His judgment are based on His omniscience and eternal justice. His administration of judgment will culminate in the final meeting of mankind before His throne of great majesty and power, where records will be examined and final rewards and punishments will be administered.

Eccl. 12:14Matt. 10:1525:31-46Luke 11:31-32Acts 10:4217:31Rom. 2:1614:10-12II Cor. 5:10II Tim. 4:1Heb. 9:27II Peter 3:7Rev. 20:11-13.

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21. Destiny

We believe that the Scriptures clearly teach that there is a conscious personal existence after death. The final destiny of man is determined by God's grace and man's response, evidenced inevitably by his moral character which results from his personal and volitional choices and not from any arbitrary decree of God. Heaven with its eternal glory and the blessedness of Christ's presence is the final abode of those who choose the salvation which God provides through Jesus Christ, but hell with its everlasting misery and separation from God is the final abode of those who neglect this great salvation.

Dan. 12:2Matt. 25:34-46Mark 9:43-48Luke 13:3John 8:21-2314:2-3II Cor. 5:6, 8, 10Heb. 2:1-39:27-2810:26-31Rev. 20:14-152122:1-5,14-15 

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The Discipline of The Wesleyan Church, 1988 (Indianapolis, Ind.: Wesleyan Publishing House, 1989), pars. 103-126, pp. 20-28.

Text prepared by the General Department of Evangelism & Church Growth

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