If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
1 Corinthians 12.13:
For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
John Wesley’s belief in entire sanctification was connected to an idea of a second work of grace, Whereas believers are first justified and forgiven of their sins when they come to faith, at a later point God bestows a further grace upon them that will lead to their purification from sin. At the heart of Wesley’s understanding of entire sanctification and the second work of grace is that God’s work in humanity does not stop when one comes to faith, but that God is actively seeking to put an end to sin and purify a people who will listen to His will.
While there is much to say about the notion of a second work of grace, there seems to be a foundation for such an idea. When Jesus tells his disciples in John 14.17 that the Spirit remains with them and then that he will be in you, Jesus describes two different “phases” of the Holy Spirit’s relationship with the disciples. However, this further bestowal of the Spirit is conditioned upon Jesus asking the Father to provide the Spirit as another Helper in place of Jesus’ absence. Yet, this even this act of Jesus is conditioned upon the obedience of his disciples, as their love for them realized through keeping His commandments is connected by to Jesus’ request by the word κἀγὼ, suggesting the request is a consequence of the disciples’ faithfulness to Jesus’ teachings. The disciples already had the Spirit with them, but in order for the Spirit to be in them would entail their obedience.
On the one hand, the Old Testament intermittently speaks of the Holy Spirit’s work. The primary persons spoken of as being influenced by the Holy Spirit throughout the Scriptures are the leaders of Israel. Joshua is said to have the Spirit, the Spirit regularly raises up the judges of Israel, Saul is said to have had the Spirit, David multiple times refers to the Holy Spirit in his psalms, and the prophet Isaiah speaks of the Spirit of the Lord that will grow from the root of Jesse, that is the Davidic lineage. To speak of the Spirit being with the disciples would have conveyed more than the idea of salvation that it does to us, but it would have brought forth ideas of being some sort of leader among God’s people, giving wisdom and insight to fulfill the role given to them. Yet, throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus indirectly alludes to the Spirit as the source of life, including most particularly through the image of living water. In John 7.37-39, Jesus saying about receiving living water is clarified as something that doesn’t come until after Jesus is glorified. This points forward to Pentecost in Acts 2, where the Spirit is powerfully poured out on the disciples as they preached. A new work of the Spirit has come about.
The Apostle Paul seems to be aware of this distinction between two “phases” of the Spirit’s relationship with believers. In 1 Corinthians 12.13, he talks about two Spirit in two different ways: being baptized into the body of Christ and having drunk from the Spirit. The idea of water is very prevalent in these two images, connecting the two images together. However, Paul’s description suggests that these two realities are not the same thing. The first image speaks to believer’s participation in the community of God’s People, whereas the second image best seems to relate to the spiritual gifts that Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians 12, much as the outpouring of the Spirit came upon the disciples at Pentecost with tongues of fire.
The conclusion to draw from this is that there is a second work of the Spirit, but according to Jesus’ words, it isn’t a second work of grace, if by that one means it comes without regard to one’s works. Instead, the deeper, indwelling of the Spirit is given to those who are obedient. For Jesus, it is important that those whom He teaches have the right heart (John 2.23-25). While he takes the disciples in to teach them, we see this idea becoming evident even with them in regards to a further teaching from the Spirit of truth after Jesus has ascended: they must obey what they have learned from Jesus to receive more.
So it is with the Christian life. God freely welcomes and includes us in His kingdom through the Spirit even though we have done nothing to merit or deserve this. However, if we wish to proceed further, if we wish to be taught the deeper things of God, if we wish to bathe in the foundations of His wisdom, it requires us to believe in Jesus’ as the teacher who words are eternal life and then put them into practice. To that end, we may refer to this further bestowal of the Spirit as the second work of the Spirit of grace, recognizing that God’s grace is ultimately His own presence, who leads us into truth, which upon reception frees us from sin (John 8.31-36). While Wesley may not have gotten all the particulars precisely correct about the second work of grace leading to entire sanctification, this idea resonates deeply with the way Jesus speaks of the Spirit throughout the Gospel of John and how this is evident in the Acts narrative and Paul’s letters.