Love of God
Wesley carried a high view of the sovereignty of God, and we shall turn to it in due course, however, for Wesley, the love of God was at the foundation of his convictions and theology. In order to descend properly into the theology of Wesley’s thoughts on free will, it is imperative to grasps the importance that Wesley put on the Love of God. He could not imagine a God of love depriving mankind of a voice either for Him or against Him. In his sermon, God’s Love To Fallen Man, Wesley emphasizes that the love of God is manifested most real at the fall of man.
Wesley speaks, “We see then, what unspeakable advantage we derive from the fall of our first parent with regard to faith; —Faith both in God the Father, who spared not his own Son, his only Son, but “wounded him for our transgressions,” and “bruised him for our iniquities:” and in God the Son, who poured out his soul for us transgressors, and washed us in his own blood… The chief ground of this love, as long as we remain in the body, is plainly declared by the Apostle: “We love Him, because He first loved us.” But the greatest instance of his love had never been given, if Adam had not fallen.”
For Wesley, all of life and Christian discipline flowed from the overflow of God’s love towards humanity. God chose to love us and demonstrated that love with action. Therefore, the Christ follower professing to be in Christ must operate out of the same love they have received and thereby, produce fruit beyond their lives. Snyder asserts that, “…the new birth must produce faith, hope, and love, or else it was not true conversion. The “necessary fruit” of the love of God resulting from the new birth, said Wesley, is “the love of our neighbor, of every soul which God hath made.”
Wesley’s theology of free will continued to flow outward from salvation to overflowing works of compassion. He would have embraced the thought, “Grace is necessary along with free will to lead a good life.” Wesley’s soteriology wasn’t static but rather reached beyond an individualist mode. For example, the type of love Wesley advocated was a deep God love that served no matter what. A love like you find at the Last Supper where, “Jesus washed the feet of each of them. He washed their feet just after a misguided fuss about who was greatest. He washed their feet knowing they would fail Him in the future. He even washed the feet of Judas, who would soon betray Him. He washed their feet because that is what love does, and that’s what service looks like. Jesus, who is God, gets down on his knees and washed the feet of his children.”
Wesley connected the love of God with a somewhat oneness with his creation. Collins notes, “Moreover, “by love man is not only made like God, but in some sense (is) one with him.” Love was a signpost pointing toward the recognized and proclaimed truth of Wesley’s view of free will. God’s love carries the fruit of choice as an attribute and that same attribute is passed to humanity, the height of His creation.