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Spiritual Growth

Wesley Bible: A Study Guide

Journey of Faith: Session 1

By Glory E. Dharmaraj, Ph.D.

"These two little words-I mean faith and salvation-include the substance of the entire Bible, the marrow, as it were, of the whole Scripture"  John Wesley, Sermon 43, The Wesley Study Bible, page 717.


God calls Abram to leave the place of his birth, comfort zones of familiarity and known relationships, and go to the land that God is going to show to him. The Wesley Study Bible directs the readers to read the "six clauses," or promises in Genesis 12: 2-3 that are a key to the obedience of Abram. 

The call of Abram is a defining moment in his life to leave all the things that he came to cherish and leave them to follow God so that God make him a light to the nations. 

Read Genesis 12: 1-3

Use the method of divine reading or lectio divina

  • Read the Scripture passage slowly.
  • Ponder the words or phrases that stay with you.  
  • Talk with God about what makes these words meaningful to you.
  • Pray to God asking God's will for your life. 

Questions:
FACTS:
What do you see in the narrative found in Genesis 12:1-3? 
What is happening in this narrative?
What are the six "promise-clauses" in the given narrative? 

ASSOCIATION:
Have you ever been in a place like Abram?
Can you share your discernment of God's call in your life? 
How have you felt God working in your life?
Do you know of any one who has been called to be in ministry?

MEANING: 
What is it to walk in faith?
What are some of the hesitations and joys of being called? 
Are there moments that you could recall in your life when you felt the call of God to engage in mission? 
Who are the others in the family who are impacted by the call of Abraham?
Abram was promised some material blessings. What are they? 
Is God's call accompanied by material blessings always? Why? Why not? 

ACTION: 
What are some of the steps that you have taken in order to follow God's call? 
What is it to walk in faith for you? 
Give one-minute witness to faith. Share very brief stories.
What does it mean to be a person of God in today's world? 
Anything else you want to share regarding your inner journey and outer expression of it through actions that make a difference

WESLEYAN CORE TERMS FOR A FAITH JOURNEY
Call
God's call in our lives begins with God's claim on us through our redemption by Jesus Christ and the seal of the Holy Spirit in baptism. The general call of God on our lives summons forth love of God and love of neighbour from each Christian, resulting in works of mercy and works of piety. (See The Wesley Study Bible, page 304) 

Justifying Faith
For John Wesley, faith is a gift of God, not something that we accomplish on our own. Instead of simply being our decision or choice, faith is made possible by God's grace in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. Faith is needed for our salvation, which Wesley understood as forgiveness (justification) and living a holy life (sanctification).  (See The Wesley Study Guide, page 21)

Sanctification
John Wesley often characterizes the sanctified life as a life of "the pure love of God and man; the loving God with all our heart and soul, and our neighbor as ourselves" (The Wesley Study Guide, page 149)

Works of Piety
Works of Piety are acts we do that express reverence and love for God. They include such means of grace as studying Scripture devotionally, hearing Scripture read and sermons preached, receiving the Lord's Supper, praying, fasting, and coming together for conversation and mutual support as we seek to live faithfully…as we do works of piety, the Holy Spirit uses them to further transform our hearts and lives, enabling us to continue to grow in faith, hope, humility, and above all, love. (The Wesley Study Bible, page 1066).

Works of Mercy
Works of mercy, or charity, are acts we do that care for and meet the needs of our neighbor. They include, for Wesley, feeding the hungry, providing clothing and shelter for those in need, visiting the sick and those who are in prison, welcoming the stranger, comforting the afflicted, and offering counsel, advice, or desire to grow in their relationship with God. Works of mercy thus address physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Wesley was clear that, at their best, works of mercy involve us not only in assisting others but also in drawing us into relationship with them. Works of mercy are not only concrete expressions of our love for our neighbor; they are means of grace. As we assist others, and especially as we get to know others through our relationships with them, the Holy Spirit enables us to grow in understanding, compassion, and other fruits of the Spirit. (The Wesley Study Bible, page 814). 

Prayer
God of Abraham, God of our forebears, teach us how to walk in faith, as individuals and communities of faith. Accompany in this journey of faith as we some times take faltering steps to follow you. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen. 

Click HereJourney of Faith: Session 2

i Langston Hughes in "Harlem" in Norton Anthology of African American Literature. New York: Norton, 1997 ed. Gates H.L and McKay. 


This Bible study was also published by United Methodist Publishing house; a print-friendly PDF can be downloaded from their site.

Last Updated: 03/17/2014
 
 

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