Tuesday, October 19, 2010


John Wesley did not pen the 4 Alls. Rather early in the 20th century William Fitzgerald summarised the core emphases looking back on the first Methodists. (William Fitzgerald, The Roots of Methodism(Epworth, 1903). These are expressed:
  • All need to be saved
  • All can be saved
  • All can know they are saved
  • All can be saved to the uttermost

All need to be saved means that everyone is in need of God’s saving love and no one can save themselves. As Paul puts it writing to the Romans ‘There is no one who is righteous, not even one; there is no one who has understanding, there is no one who seeks God. All have turned aside …’ (Romans 3.10-12)

All can be saved is Methodism’s Arminian emphasis. Unlike some Calvinists who believed that only a chosen number are to be saved and that others cannot be, John Wesley was convinced that God invited everyone, though we might chose not to go to it. Again Paul’s words seem to convey that idea when he says ‘For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. It is also implicit in many of the parables of Jesus about the banquet feast to which the poor and the outcast are invited to take their place (Matthew 22.2-14). Charles Wesley’s hymn put it like this:

O for a trumpet voice
On all the world to call
To bid their hearts rejoice
In him who died for all!
For all, my Lord was crucified,
For all, for all my saviour died

All can know they are saved is the conviction that every person can know the love of God in their own hearts and minds. John Wesley referred to Paul’s words in Romans 8 to support his belief that God’s Spirit witnesses with our spirit that we are.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ-- if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8. 14-17).
This is sometimes called the doctrine of assurance.

All can be saved to the uttermost expresses well the holiness to which all Christians are called. God is at work in and through to draw us into his life and to be us complete in Christ. This is sometimes called ‘sanctification’.

Another ‘All’ was added by George Eayrs in 1909. He suggested that the early Methodist also believed that ‘All must be witnesses to their salvation’, meaning that Christians are called to share the good news with others.