Saturday, May 3, 2008

John Bunyan, 1628-1688

This month we are reading Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ by John Bunyan. Bunyan is better known for his Pilgrims' Progress, but "Come and Welcome", as I have seen from the 20 or so pages that I have read so far, should be read by every Christian. Even without a formal education, Bunyan demonstrates a firm grip on the truth of Scripture. John Owen, when asked by King Charles why he, a great scholar, went to hear an uneducated tinker like Bunyan preach said, "I would willingly exchange my learning for the tinker's power of touching men's hearts."

But the most remarkable thing about Bunyan, at least to me, is the fact that he was a man of principal. At least twice he was imprisoned due to following his conscience and preaching the Gospel according to his understanding of God's Word. The longest term of his confinement was twelve years. He could have avoided this by going "underground", as did some of his contemporaries, or by abandoning his ministry altogether. He refused to be ashamed of the Gospel and of his Lord, knowing full well that faithfulness to Christ would lead to prison, and possibly even to death (in 1685, 300 people died during the "Bloody Assizes" for crimes no worse than those of Bunyan). Bunyan was more concerned that Jesus be magnified than he was for his own safety, security, and comfort.

Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy— wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.... Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 11:36-38; 12:1-2, ESV)

No comments: