It took John Wesley some hardship to get to revival. He tried pastoring in Georgia for a short time before returning to England beat and broken. But then, while attending a service where a message that Martin Luther had written was being read aloud, Wesley remarked that,
About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation: and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.John Wesley (Journal entry: May 24, 1738)
A little over a month later, he shared another experience.
The love of God was shed abroad in my heart, and a flame kindled there, so that my body was almost torn asunder. I loved. The Spirit cried strong in my heart. I trembled: I sung: I joined my voice with those that excel in strength.John Wesley (Journal entry: July 6, 1738)
And then, by the end of the year, things got intense. Wesley and his friends came together to pray on New Year’s and God showed up tangibly. Wesley wrote that, “About three in the morning, as we were continuing instant in prayer, the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground” (Journal entry: January 1, 1739).
Wesley and his friends received a fresh empowerment of the Holy Spirit and great things would go on to happen as the Methodist revival took place. People would be saved, knocked to the ground by the power of the Holy Spirit, delivered from demons, healed, raised from the dead, and more. God continued to pour out His love on Wesley, empowering him for the ministry he was doing and reminding him of the love he needed to do it with.
When those who know John Wesley try to identify the pivotal moment in his ministry, they turn to his heart being “strangely warmed” at Aldersgate. And while it’s true that this was the pivotal moment, it was actually a string of moments that went on to bring about revival. John Wesley did not just have his heart strangely warmed by the love of God and then walked out and changed the world. No, John Wesley had his heart strangely warmed by God and then was given a fresh infilling of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to go out and change the world. He did not do it alone by his own charisma or intelligence, but by offering all of his life to co-labor with the Holy Spirit who empowered him and brought about revival.
So this New Year, may our hearts be filled with desire to co-labor with God. May we cry out for a fresh and deeper infilling of his Spirit to do the things that he calls us to do. May we give our hearts to a deeper obedience than ever before. May we see Heaven come in our cities as the Kingdom of God breaks through in our Holy-Spirit-infused good works, testimonies, and healings. May we usher in a New Year of revival.