Sandemanian_graveyard,“Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” {James 2:18-20}

I first noticed the term Sandemanianism while reading about the Welsh Baptist Christmas Evans {1766-1838}. This was a sect of Christianity in the 19th century that basically taught that “saving faith is reduced to intellectual assent to the gospel proclamation about Christ.” In other words becoming a Christian means believing a few facts about the gospel. “There is no new thing under the sun”.  We have similar belief systems in many churches today.

But the Bible tells us that Christianity is not just believing some facts about the gospel. Christianity is more than just nodding your head to some questions and repeating a prayer or raising your hand. Christianity is a new birth with a new life and new affections. Christianity has new desires and new dislikes. True faith produces works otherwise it is only the faith of devils.

Being saved is not something you “did one time”. Being saved is trusting Jesus Christ and in His righteousness alone. It is not believing some facts about Jesus… it is believing on Jesus.

John Wesley is known as the father of the Methodist movement. He was a very religious man, an ordained preacher and a missionary before he became a Christian. He tells in his journal how that God used a Moravian pastor to show him his need of a Saviour. This excerpt is from his journal;

“Sat. Feb. 7. Mr. Oglethorpe returned from Savannah, with   Mr. Spangenberg, one of the Pastors of the Germans. I soon found what spirit he was of; and asked his advice with regard to my own conduct. He said, “My brother, I must first ask you one or two questions. Have you the witness within yourself? Does the spirit of God bear witness with your spirit, that you are a child of God?” I was surprised, and knew not what to answer. He observed it, and asked, “Do you know Jesus Christ?” I paused and said, ” I know he is the Saviour of the world.” “True; replied he; but do you know he has saved you?” I answered, “I hope he has died to save me.” He only added, “Do you know yourself?” I said, “I do.” But I fear they were vain words.”

John Wesley spoke of Christ in intellectual terms but the Moravian preacher desired that Wesley might know Christ in a personal way. Wesley was trusting in his good deeds and his religious duties to be his salvation. Salvation is not found in our good deeds or good works for the Bible says that “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags”. True salvation does not trust a plan… it trusts a Person. I am afraid that many people today who name the name of Christ only know facts about Him but do not really know Him. The Spirit of God does not bear witness with their spirit. Their faith is a dead faith.

According to the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, “The last of the Sandemanian churches in America ceased to exist in 1890.” But their teaching seems to me to be very much alive and well in America today.

To use the words of the Moravian preacher 276 years ago, “Do you know Jesus Christ?”

Recommended listening: Demon Faith by Harold Vaughan

Recomended Reading: No Holiness, No Heaven by Richard Alderson

p.s. If you are ever in the Winston Salem area of North Carolina there are some Moravian historical sights that are very interesting. {and the food is good too}




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