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A John Wesley Moment: Peter Bohler

May 31, 2021
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS
DAVE HANSON


Peter Bohler was a young German Moravian Christian. John Wesley met him soon after returning from his failed mission to Georgia. Bohler was in London preparing to travel to America to do missionary work among the slaves. John Wesley looked after Bohler and some of his friends while they were in London. Bohler, who was about 10 years younger than Wesley, spoke a little English. Wesley spoke a little German, but they found that they could speak easily in Latin.

Wesley confided to Bohler that he was thinking about giving up preaching because he had no faith. He said, “I need faith that will give me three things: peace in the face of death, joy, and victory over sin.”

Bohler encouraged Wesley to “preach faith until you have it. Then you will preach faith because you have it!” Wesley tried that, but it didn’t work very well.

Bohler told Wesley he could have the kind of faith he sought and he could have it instantaneously, but first he must put aside all this philosophy and just come as a little child and ask Christ to save him. Then the Holy Spirit would give him the assurance he sought. Wesley’s reply was, “I never heard such a thing in my life.” Bohler encouraged him to read his Bible. He said this to a man who had taught Bible at Oxford!

Wesley then did a study of the Book of Acts, looking for conversion stories. He discovered that Acts was full of instantaneous conversions. Wesley said, “I see it in the Bible, but that was way back then. I don’t see it today.” Bohler said, “I can bring 10 people within an hour who can testify to this faith.” Five people came and gave their witness. Wesley said, “That’s enough. I see it can happen today… but, how can it happen to me?”

Have you been there in your life?

The Rev. Dave Hanson is a retired pastor and John Wesley scholar.

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