The actual experience of John Wesley receiving assurance of salvation; that Jesus had died for him was recorded in his journal that 'his heart was strongly warmed. The experience itself was a curious conflation of events given his serious study and approach to the Christian life and that The Church of England did teach one could have personal assurance of salvation. In fact, this preaching and teaching of personal assurance was one reason Wesley and the revivalist of the 18th century were called "enthusiasts."
The actual event of receiving assurance of salvation is recorded in his journal. May 24, 1738. He records that he attended a small group meeting of the Fetter Lane Society (Moravian) at Aldersgate street, London. However he states that "went very unwillingly."
Once at the meeting he heard one reading Martin Luther's preface to the Epistle of Romans. Wesley's specific description of what happened is as follows: "About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangle warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death."
Wesley received this sense of assurance and his life was never the same. In some sense he was now able to serve and fellowship with God as a son and not as a servant or worker; he now lived in the confidence of God's love for him and he found it possible to love God back.
Wesley found this assurance of God's love for him a new power to love God. He famously states that true Christian living is to love God with all one's heart, soul, mind, strength BUT one cannot love God until one is convinced He loves us (Sermon, Witness of The Spirit, Discourse 2). This is surely consistent with the teaching of I John 4:19, "we love because He first loved us." Wesley tried to love God and serve God but it seemed to be more by grit and discipline than love. Now, because he had the assurance that God love him he was able to love God.
REFLECTION: 1--Will you believe that even when you "go unwillingly," like Wesley, to church services, a small group meeting or a study group that God can work great things into your life?
2--Is your love for God "self-generated" or is your love for God the result of knowing that God loves you? Would you reflect on God's great love for you in the person and work of Jesus on a regular basis and see what this does to your ability to love God.