Friday, November 14, 2008

A Word from John & Charles for Those Who Stumble

It seems quite easy to counsel the Christian who finds his/herself seeking forgiveness for falling prey to temptation. As a pastor, I know how to point them to Scripture, to pray with them, to encourage them, and to offer them words of assurance about the forgiveness of their sins.

I find it rather difficult, however, to apply the same to myself. After all, I'm different. I've been a Christian all of my life. I'm a pastor. I should know better. Therefore, what I would say to others, somehow, doesn't seem to apply to me. At least those seem to be the feelings that I sometimes face.

It seems to me that all of us are much harder on ourselves than on others, when it comes to repentance and forgiveness. Perhaps this is why the historic Church includes the prayers of confession and the words (not granting, but) announcing pardon within its liturgy.

For those who, like myself, find it difficult to accept that God so readily forgives, not others, but ourselves, I offer (in addition to the Scriptures, of course!) this admonition from John Wesley:

If you have stumbled, O seeker of God, do not just lie there fretting and bemoaning your weakness! Patiently pray: "Lord, I acknowledge that every moment I would be stumbling if you were not uphoding me." And then get up! Leap! Walk! Go on your way! Run with resolution the race in which you are entered.

And having heard these words, I invite you to sing along with the Wesley brothers their hymn, Depth of Mercy!:

Depth of mercy! can there be
Mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear -
Me, the chief of sinners, spare?

I have long withstood His grace,
Long provoked Him to His face,
Would not hearken to His calls,
Grieved Him by a thousand falls.

Now inlcine me to repent;
Let me now my sins lament;
Now my foul revolt deplore,
Weep, believe, and sin no more.

There for me the Saviour stands,
Holding forth His wounded hands;
God is love! I know, I feel,
Jesus weeps and loves me still.

And sing, also, the last verse of their hymn, Jesus, the Sinner's Friend:

What shall I say Thy grace to move?
Lord, I am sin, but Thou art love:
I give up every plea beside -
Lord, I am lost, but Thou hast died.


Craig L. Adams said...

Hey Todd,

What's the source of the John Wesley quote?

Todd Stepp said...


I regret to say that I do not have readily available the original source for the quote.

The immediate source, upon which I was relying is a little journal entitled, "A Personal Journey of Faith-Sharing: People Called Methodists: Into the New Millennium." It has a 1999 copyright by the World Methodist Council, and it was published by Providence House P., Franklin, TN.

I have three copies of these little journals. The first was handed out during the Millennium Event for the Methodists in North America. The other two I received from the Order of the FLAME, World Methodist Evangelism, World Methodist Council.

They are designed to be little journals, but they included a number of Wesley quotes.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help. When/if I find the original, I will post it.


Daniel Coutz said...

Thanks for this. I need to be reminded of these things quite often.

Pastor Steven said...

Thanks Todd,

We need to hear that as Pastors.

Peace in Christ,


James Gibson said...


You've been tagged with the book meme.


Bonnie Coutz said...

Todd, Thanks for this blog. I found it through my son's links. It is very easy for me to love & forgive others, but much harder for me to give myself forgiveness & grace. I am thankful that God offers these without reserve. Thank you for posting this Hymn also.