Thursday, February 1, 2007

This is brief, but gives a concise background of the life, conversion and ministry of this hero of the faith.

John Bunyan was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel. He also, of course, wrote The Pilgrim’s progress. Bunyan was born in 1628 – in Elstow, England (a few miles from Bedford) . His father was a tinker (that is, an itinerant mender of pots and pans and repairer and manufacturer). It eventually became Bunyan’s occupation.

What you may not know is that Bunyan had no more than a grammar school education. Then he joined army after mother died. He left home at 16 ½ to be part of the army (for 2 years). He then got married – both were unsaved and both were completely physically pure - by the grace of God - in his own words.

When they were married, they were so poor that her only diary was 2 books from her father. God’s Word's spoken through the Apostle Paul which say: “my grace is sufficient for Thee” was his verse (2 Cor 12:9).

Once Bunyan got saved at a local church, he then set about to be the most upright and godly man in the town – because of reading the books with his wife that her father gave to them as her dowry when they got married.

Thus, after receiving Christ in church he grew and set about to preach, though he had no formal training to preach.

The library of John Bunyan consisted of a massive two volumes– Fox’s Book of Martyrs and the Bible (2 books) . He read them with great difficulty because of his poor education. Yet still, He learned them and became part of fuel for his soul.

He had meetings in farmhouses, village schools and wherever people would gather to listen to him preach, he would gladly preach as long as they would listen. He sure had a message to preach now.

However, in 17th c. England, there was political difficulty – the church of England attempted to control an dominate all religious service. He was preaching and political officials came to arrest him- but Bunyan did not run or flee. He did not want to preach that "persecutions must come upon believers" and then flee when "persecution came upon him." So when the magistrates came, Bunyan asked for time to finish preaching – and then magistrate agreed and listened.
Bunyan's sermon was on the topic: "Dost thou tremble to fear God" – and the magistrate trembled during Bunyan's very sermon – and became the illustration to Bunyan’s dark-hearted people. He said to his people, "Why don't you tremble like this very magistrate who came to persecute me but now he is being saved because of the conviction of the Holy Spirit."

Upon being arrested, Bunyan spent 6 years in prison for the gospel’s sake – he could be released if he would agree to sign a paper promising that he would stop preaching except under official approval of the church of England (the paper was laid outside his cell every day for 6 years)

Bunyan even preached in prison – he was not silent – he won many to Christ in prison. After released, he was re-arrested for 6 more years. Thus, 12 years of his 60 in life were spent in prison for the Gospel. Once again, he was released again.

Then, for a third time, he was re-arrested for 6 months – these final months in prison became the occasion for the allegorical story of the Pilgrim’s Progress.

The point: God uses willing and humble people as instruments for his work. May we be such instruments willing to be used for God and for His glory just like John Bunyan was. To God be the glory!
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