Editorial Note: John Wesley was impressed by the sketch of a "Perfect Christian" written by Clement of Alexandria about 200 A. D. In 1742 Wesley wrote such a sketch himself, called "The Character of a Methodist," using the words of Scripture to describe Christian perfection. Tom Kiser, pastor of Pure Life Church, Brooklyn, NY, has adapted Wesley's description using more contemporary language. This short document incorporates 93 biblical references.
A mature Christian is purified through and through as God pours out His love into his heart by the Holy Spirit, whom He gives him.
He loves the Lord his God with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his mind and with all his strength. God is the joy of his heart, and the desire of his soul; which is constantly crying out, Whom have I in heaven but you? And being with you, I desire nothing on earth. God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!
He is therefore always happy in God. Christ has put in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life, which overflows his soul with peace and joy. Perfect love having now driven out fear, he is always joyful. He rejoices in the Lord always, even in God his Savior. He rejoices in the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom he has now received reconciliation. Having experienced redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, he cannot help but rejoice whenever he looks back on the horrible pit out of which now he is delivered. He sees all his offenses are swept away like a cloud and his sins like the morning mist. He cannot help but rejoice, whenever he looks at his present condition; for he is justified freely, and has peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. He believes in the Son of God and so has this testimony in his heart that he is now a child of God. Because he is a son, God sends the Spirit of his Son into his heart, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father!" The Holy Spirit himself testifies with his spirit, that he is God's child. He rejoices also whenever he looks to the future, in hope of the glory that will be revealed in him. Yes, his joy is full and all his soul cries out, "Praise be to the God and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy he has given me new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for me!"
Because he has this hope, he gives thanks in all circumstances. He knows constant thanksgiving is God's will for him in Christ Jesus. From God he cheerfully receives all, saying "The will of the Lord is good." Whether the Lord gives or takes away, he equally praises the name of the Lord for he has learned to be content whatever the circumstances. He knows what it is to be in need and what it is to have plenty. He has learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Whether he is in ease or pain, sickness or health, life or death; he gives thanks to God who in all things works for the good of those who love him. Because every good and perfect gift is from above, so nothing but good can come from his heavenly Father, the Faithful Creator into whose hands he has wholly committed his body and soul. He is not anxious about anything, but casts all his anxiety on Him that cares for him. His soul rests on God in everything, after presenting his request to Him with thanksgiving.
He prays continually. God enables him always to pray and not give up. Not that he is always in the house of prayer; though he neglects no opportunity of being there. Neither is he always on his knees before the Lord his God. Nor is he always crying aloud to God or calling upon him in words, for often the Spirit intercedes for him with groans that words cannot express. True prayer is lifting up the heart to God. The constant disposition of his mind is, "Glorious ever-present Lord, unto you are my thoughts." At all times and in all places, his steadfast spirit rises to God. No person or thing hinders or interrupts. In solitude or company, in relaxation, business or conversation, his heart is ever with the Lord. Whether he lies down or rises up, in all his thoughts there is room for God. He continually walks with God, for his mind steadfastly trust Him and everywhere see Him that is invisible.
While he exercises his love to God, by praying continually, rejoicing always, and giving thanks in all circumstances, this commandment also is written in his heart; that whoever loves God must also love his brother. Divine love within inspires him to love his neighbor as himself. He loves everyone as his own soul, every child of the Father of the spirits of all mankind. That a man is not a personal friend, is no obstacle to his love. Neither is it a barrier to his love when he knows someone is the kind of person he disapproves of, one that repays hatred for his good-will, for he loves his enemies and the enemies of God, the ungrateful and wicked. If it is not in his power to do good to them that hate him, yet he does not refrain from praying for them, though they continue to reject his love, and still mistreat and persecute him.
He is pure in heart. The love of God has purified his heart from all revengeful passions, from envy, malice and hate, from every unkind temper or abusive desire. It has cleansed him from pride and arrogance of spirit which only breeds quarrels. He has now clothed himself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. He bears with others and forgives whatever grievances he could have against someone, forgiving as the Lord forgave him. Positively all possible ground for contention on his part is gone, for no on can take from him what he desires, because he does not love the world nor anything in the world. Because the world has been crucified to him and he to the world; he is dead to all that is in the world, both to the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does.
The one purpose of his life is not to please himself but He who sent him. He has pure eyes [pure motives] and because his eyes are good, his whole body is full of light. Since the loving eye of his soul is continually focused upon God, his whole body is full of light and no part of it dark; completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines. God reigns alone. All that is in his soul is holiness to the Lord. There is not a motion in his heart, but is according to God's will. Every thought that arises points to Him and is obedient to Christ.