To fully evaluate the role of the sacraments in the journey of the Scripture way of salvation according to John Wesley’s sermons, we must achieve a few important understandings. We must examine and work to understand Wesley’s Scripture way of salvation. We must also work to understand Wesley’s views on the sacraments of baptism and communion. Finally, after completing both of these crucial steps, we can then move on to finally understanding the relationship that Wesley has established between these two through his preaching.
When beginning to work to understand Wesley’s Scripture way of salvation in his sermons, it is perhaps best to start with his sermon titled The Scripture Way of Salvation, preached in 1765. In this sermon, Wesley again clarifies what he means by the word salvation. He states early in his message that “[…] the salvation which is here spoken of might be extended to the entire work of God, from the first dawning of grace in the soul till it is consummated in glory.” Here Wesley is reminding Christians that salvation is an ongoing process that starts with prevenient grace that is with Christians from the time we are born and works to prepare Christians to live in Christ, then moves to justifying grace that actually brings Christians into living in Christ, and then finally ends with sanctifying grace that moves Christians on to perfection. And if salvation is an ongoing process, then one could potentially assume that there must be other things happening continually as well throughout it.
Wesley notes however that he is truly focusing only on the idea of salvation that the “Apostle” speaks on, which is only made up of justification and sanctification. Wesley explains justification as the pardon of sins by God once we have accepted God and we then come to know the peace of God and the joy therein. He then goes on to explain that sanctification is how “We are inwardly renewed by the power of God.” He warns however, that those people who experience sanctification often assume that sin is now beyond them since they have achieved sanctification. But Wesley also reminds Christians that we can still fall back into sin and that moving through each of these kinds of grace is an ongoing process because as humans we have not yet reached perfection. Wesley also believed that the sacrament of baptism is an ongoing process in a way as he argues “Such a person assumes that baptism is an end rather than a means, that it grants a permanent status rather than being a first step upon a journey.” So in the same way that moving through the different types of grace is an ongoing process for Christians, so too is the sacrament of baptism in that it is the beginning place similar to prevenient grace and must be moved through like justifying and sanctifying grace.
Wesley continues to point out that sin still remains in our hearts and spirits throughout the process of justifying grace. This is important because it highlights that salvation is an...