Nearly 300 years ago, John and Charles Wesley formed a discipling group on the campus of Oxford University. Fellow students scoffed at the group and called them “The Holy Club” because of their methodical approach to the Christian life.
The Wesley brothers aimed to use every waking moment of their lives to worship God, and this group was the center of their life together. They regularly met to read the Bible, discuss classic writings, serve the poor, fast, pray, and challenge each other with questions.
While all these elements are noteworthy, let’s take a moment to consider their practice of asking questions to each other.
What follows are 22 questions they used with one another on almost a daily basis.
- Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
- Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
- Do I confidentially pass on to others what has been said to me in confidence?
- Can I be trusted?
- Am I a slave to dress, friends, work or habits?
- Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
- Did the Bible live in me today?
- Do I give the Bible time to speak to me every day?
- Am I enjoying prayer?
- When did I last speak to someone else of my faith?
- Do I pray about the money I spend?
- Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
- Do I disobey God in anything?
- Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
- Am I defeated in any part of my life?
- Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
- How do I spend my spare time?
- Am I proud?
- Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?
- Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?
- Do I grumble or complain constantly?
- Is Christ real to me?
Three Considerations from the Holy Club
Accountability. The Wesley Brothers’ model of discipleship is worth emulating on many levels. Their example of committed love for one another is a critical part of the Christian life. In our individualistic age, we would do well to remember that God designed the Christian life to be lived out in the context of committed community.
At our church, we regularly encourage members to develop “intentionally intrusive relationships” with one another. This kind of accountability can make us uncomfortable at times, but we rarely grow in holiness when we are comfortable.
Who are you developing intentionally intrusive relationships with?
Who knows everything about you?
Do you run from soul-exposing relationships?
If so, why? What are you hiding?
What damage will be done to your soul if you keep running?
Who are you helping to follow Jesus in a similar manner?
God uses the intentional love of other brothers and sisters to push us into the light and further along the Highway of Holiness (Isaiah 35:8). You can learn more about what this kind of accountability could look like by reading this.
Questions. Well-aimed questions are often used by God to penetrate past the surface and pierce the deepest recesses of our hearts. God asked revealing questions in the Old Testament (Gen. 3:9-11; 1 Kings 19:9; Job 38-41), just as Jesus did during His earthly ministry (Matt. 16:15; John 6:67, 21:15-19). Asking and answering thoughtful questions is a good way to stir up the sinful mud that settles in our hearts.
But simply having and asking questions isn’t the goal.
Did you actually read the 22 questions above?
Did you pause and allow them to do work on your soul?
What are you in such a hurry to go do?
I encourage you to consider going through this list with another brother or sister in Christ. Feel free to sharpen the questions or make additions to the list. I don’t think the Wesley Brothers would mind. All they would ask is that their aim be the same as theirs—holiness.
Holiness. This “Holy Club” had one chief goal. They desired to be set apart from the world, and set apart to God. They longed to be free from their worldly ways. They didn’t want their sins coddled in the darkness. No, these men wanted to be holy. And they knew that holiness doesn’t just happen by itself (1 Tim. 4:7-8; 2 Timothy 2:22; 2 Peter 1:5-7).
That is why they pursued each other and questioned each other and encouraged each other and prayed for each other. And this is of course, the very purpose of our lives. “As He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16).
One of the most striking things for me in this study was that the Wesley Brothers very well may have not been believers until almost a decade after their Holy Club was formed. This doesn’t mean we should discount the importance of accountability or questions in the life of believers. It should however remind us that merely doing these things does not ensure anyone of a right standing with God. That comes by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
As you pursue devotion to God, seek Him with diligence. But do not do it alone. God’s people are to be intentional in their love for each other, doing all they can to cultivate holiness in one another. My prayer is that God will use these types of intentionally intrusive questions in the context of committed relationships to produce faith and devotion to Christ until we see His face.
Come, Lord Jesus, come!
Very helpful post. Just found your blog today via email from The Gospel Coalition. Thank you.