Jonathan Liautrakul is a recent graduate of the National University of Singapore and worships at Wesley Methodist Church. He is an avid researcher on church history, especially Christmas carols.
What keeps us Methodist? How do we relate to God in light of the Gospel promise of salvation?
These are questions I often asked myself despite attending a Methodist church for some time. Apart from getting involved in deep theological discussions which often left me more confused than enlightened, trying to understand the nature of faith in a Methodist framework and identity did not result in any satisfactory answer.
This went on until I was recently directed to a blog post by Teddy Ray concerning four ‘All’s that form the basis of Wesleyan (or Methodist) belief. Namely,
• All of us need to be saved,
• All can be saved,
• All can know that they are saved,
• and all can be saved completely.
What struck me about the beauty of the four ‘All’s is the progression from man’s needs to God’s assuring fulfilment of those needs. In other words, our lives depend on the necessity of salvation; through Jesus’ atoning death on the cross, the assurance of our salvation is possible.
Moreover, not only do we have that very knowledge in God’s Word of the fulfilment of His grace but also the utter forgiveness of past, present and future sins, that we may be sanctified as holy with God. It reads like a mission, and tells us the end objective: God’s mission to save sinners has already been fulfilled.
Acknowledging the four ‘All’s was a paradigm shift I had to adjust to, and it called into question my idea of a relationship with God in the first place. In particular, the notion that we know that we are saved impressed me the most as it provides a salient point about the hope of salvation. I used to worry about the possibility of not being saved despite being a Christian, perhaps due to the prevalence of the Calvinist teachings of predestined election, where God has chosen some to be saved long before we were born. Learning and appreciating the fact that we are definitely saved by our faith alone has given me a motivation to value my relationship with God, rather than questioning myself on the possibility of not being saved at all.
I would go as far as to say that this is not just Wesleyan theology, but a mindset that should be at the confidence and heart of every believing Christian to grow “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord” (2 Peter 3:18). As the adage goes, “there is beauty in all simplicity.” These four ‘All’s capture precisely that beauty of not dreading any condemnation by our lives simply because we live in the knowledge of the completeness of salvation, if only we believe and accept Christ to rule in our spiritual and practical lives.