John Wesley and The Holy Club’s 22 Questions

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In 1729, while John Wesley was a student at Oxford, he started a club with his brother Charles. It was soon mockingly dubbed “The Holy Club” by some of his fellow collegians. The club members rigorously self-examined themselves everyday by asking the following 22 questions:

1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?

2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?

3. Do I confidentially pass on to others what has been said to me in confidence?

4. Can I be trusted?

5. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work or habits?

6. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?

7. Did the Bible live in me today?

8. Do I give the Bible time to speak to me every day?

9. Am I enjoying prayer?

10. When did I last speak to someone else of my faith?

11. Do I pray about the money I spend?

12. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?

13. Do I disobey God in anything?

14. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?

15. Am I defeated in any part of my life?

16. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?

17. How do I spend my spare time?

18. Am I proud?

19. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?

20. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?

21. Do I grumble or complain constantly?

22. Is Christ real to me?

“Encourage one another daily . . . so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13

The first list appeared about 1729 or 1730 in the preface to Wesley’s second Oxford Diary. Similar questions appeared in his 1733 A Collection of Forms of Prayer for Every Day in the Week. As late as 1781, Wesley published a list of questions like this in the Arminian Magazine. More accountability questions

Wesley died on Wednesday March 2, 1791, in his eighty-eighth year. As he lay dying, his friends gathered around him, Wesley grasped their hands and said repeatedly, “Farewell, farewell.” At the end, summoning all his remaining strength, he cried out, “The best of all is, God is with us,” lifted his arms and raised his feeble voice again, repeating the words, “The best of all is, God is with us.”

Comments 6

  1. Curt McKee

    If anyone thinks that because John Wesley was a strict disciplinarian he believed one was saved by works, that person does not know John Wesley at all. He struggled in that regard early in his ministry but had a “heart-warming” experience that changed how he viewed the nature of salvation and of being assured of salvation. As for these questions being too hard or too…anything for the 21st century, I don’t think so. A pursuit of holiness is not in our own strength. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit leading our lives. To claim an easy believism without further pursuit of a Holy(Christlike)life is to miss out on a large part of the Christian experience. These are vital questions when one considers one other question: is all of my life sold out to all of God and His Way?

  2. Roger Metzger

    Let it be readily admitted that whenever two or more people agree to encourage each other to be intentional and systematic in their daily lives, there exists the danger that such devotion to holy living will eventually come to be viewed, by themselves or by others, as an attempt to earn or deserve salvation. Such is not, however, the only possible motive and we need to be careful about impugning the motives of others.

    It is certainly wrong for Methodists or any other voluntary association of Christians to have a criteria for membership in a “club” or denomination without adequately emphasizing that such criteria are not criteria for salvation. I’m not a Methodist myself but I have known several Methodists and none of them have failed in this regard.

    Whatever may have been the original motives for the behavioral criteria for membership in the holing Club at Oxford, John Wesley dedicated most of his life to teaching the exact opposite of salvation by works. His doctrine of the “second blessing” was (and is) that as surely as justification (forgiveness) is a free gift of God’s grace and received though faith alone (not through penance or good works), so sanctification (holiness) is a free gift of God’s grace and received through faith alone. It (sanctification or holiness) is God’s gift to us–not our gift to him.

    Roger Metzger

  3. Sandra Jacobs

    These are thoughts to ponder and amuse yourself to think you can apply them to the life we live in the world we have to live in. We would be saints if we could truly live applying these to our lives daily. Reality is we are sinners and Gods grace and mercy saves us. We can never live good enough to deserve His love for us. We are saved by faith in the resurrection and His shed blood. Following rules puts you back under the old law and Christs death wouldn’t be necessary if we were saved by living under the law.

    1. Tim Simon

      We will all be held accountable for the way we live our lives,not just living our lives as if we had a fire insurance policy. Not by power or might but by my Spirit says The Lord. Who will let Jesus live thru them today who will be His hands and His feet? Who will bring others closer to Him today in all that we say and do? Encourage one another in our walk with Him in truth but in love.So thankful for these suggestions to help in our Christian walk

  4. Pingback: Enjoying prayer | Chris Hamilton's Stuff

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