Archive for the ‘John Bunyan’ category

Calling for Truth, Come and Welcome MP3

June 4, 2008

The Calling for Truth radio show where we discussed Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ can be accessed online or downloaded by clicking here (MP3).

The Pilgrim’s Progress – Free Audio Book

June 4, 2008

This week my senior pastor is teaching a one-week course at MWCTS on pastoral theology, and he shared with me the temptation to teach the entire course from Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress alone.  That alone should encourage anyone in pastoral ministry to consider reading the book.  🙂  So anyway, I was excited no less to find out that this month’s free download from Christian Audio is indeed Pilgrim’s Progress.  Simply click on the link and enter the code JUN2008 to download the 9 MP3’s of the unabridged version (a total of almost 11 hours).  Many thanks to Christian Audio for making this resource available for free!

HT :: Said

Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ Book Outline

June 4, 2008

For those interested, here’s what I whipped up for this past month (and which I use as prep for the radio interview).  🙂

Calling for Truth and Puritan Reading Challenge – Today

June 4, 2008

This afternoon I will join Pastor Kevin Boling and Paul Dean who host Calling for Truth to talk about Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, the Puritan Paperback for May’s Puritan Reading Challenge.  The show begins at 1:00 p.m. EST and is a live, one-hour call in radio broadcast.  You can listen two ways:

1. If you live in SC or parts of NC, GA, or TN, you can listen in at Talk 660.
2. If you are like me and live elsewhere, you can listen online by going here.

The toll-free number to call in is 1.888.660.9535.

From what I have heard from some folks, there might be a little problem with listening online.  However, if you can check in, we would love to hear from you with your thoughts and/or questions.  Even if you may not be able to follow the discussion live, you can still contribute to the conversation with your thoughts by calling in.  After the show is completed, I will provide a link to the downloadable version (MP3) of the show.

Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ: Your Thoughts (Open Thread)

June 2, 2008

A couple days late, but I figured it’s never a bad time to hear your thoughts on Bunyan’s work Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ! The thread is open: please take a moment to share with others your observations, experiences, benefits, or uses this book as been for you over the past month.

UPDATE: Some of you may have noticed that I failed to confirm and announce the free books for this month.  However, I will still be doing a random drawing from those on this thread and will indeed be giving two books away, both from Reformation Heritage Books.  They are:

1.  The Fear of God by John Bunyan
2.  Meet the Puritans by Joel Beeke and Randal Pederson

Bunyan on Faith vs. Unbelief

May 25, 2008

John Bunyan, in his book Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, gives 25 particulars wherein he contrasts the qualities of faith and unbelief.  Consider the following:

1. Faith believes the Word of God; but unbelief questions the certainty of the same (Psa 106:24).

2. Faith believes the Word, because it is true; but unbelief doubts thereof, because it is true (1 Tim 4:3; John 8:45).

3. Faith sees more in a promise of God to help, than in all other things to hinder; but unbelief, notwithstanding God’s promise, says, “How can these things be?” (Rom 4:19-21; 2 Kings 7:2; John 3:11-12).

4. Faith will make you see love in the heart of Christ, when with his mouth he giveth reproofs; but unbelief will imagine wrath in his heart, when with his mouth and Word he says he loves us (Matt 15:22-28; Num 13; 2 Chron 14:3).

5. Faith will help the soul to wait, though God defers to give; but unbelief will take huff and throw up all, if God makes any tarrying (Psa 25:5; Isa 8:17; 2 Kings 6:33; Psa 106:13-14).

6. Faith will give comfort in the midst of fears; but unbelief causeth fears in the midst of comfort (2 Chron 20:20-21; Matt 8:26; Luke 24:26-27).

7. Faith will suck sweetness out of God’s rod; but unbelief can find no comfort in his greatest mercies (Psa 23:4; Num 21).

8. Faith makes great burdens light; but unbelief makes light ones intolerably heavy (2 Cor 4:1; 14-18; Mal 1:12-13).

9. Faith helps us when we are down; but unbelief throws us down when we are up (Micah 7:8-10; Heb 4:11).

10. Faith brings us near to God when we are far from him; but unbelief puts us far from God when we are near to him (Heb 10:22; 3:12-13).

11. Where faith reigns, it declares men to be the friends of God; but where unbelief reigns, it declares them to be his enemies (John 3:23; Heb 3:18; Rev 21:8).

12. Faith puts a man under grace; but unbelief holds him under wrath (Rom 3:24-26; 14:6; Eph 2:8; John 3:36; 1 John 5:10; Heb 3:17; Mark 16:16).

13. Faith purifies the heart; but unbelief keeps it polluted and impure (Acts 15:9; Titus 1:15-16).

14. By faith, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us; but by unbelief, we are shut up under the law to perish (Rom 4:23-24; 11:32; Gal 3:23).

15. Faith makes our work acceptable to God through Christ; but whatsoever is of unbelief is sin. For without faith it is impossible to please him (Heb 11:4; Rom 14:23; Heb 6:6).

16. Faith gives us peace and comfort in our souls; but unbelief works trouble and tossings, like the restless waves of the sea (Rom 5:1; James 1:6).

17. Faith makes us to see preciousness in Christ; but unbelief sees no form, beauty, or comeliness in him (1 Peter 2:7; Isa 53:2-3).

18. By faith we have our life in Christ’s fullness; but by unbelief we starve and pine away (Gal 2:20).

19. Faith gives us the victory over the law, sin, death, the devil, and all evils; but unbelief lays us obnoxious to them all (1 John 5:4-5; Luke 12:46).

20. Faith will show us more excellency in things not seen, than in them that are; but unbelief sees more in things that are seen, than in things that will be hereafter (2 Cor 4:18; Heb 11:24-27; 1 Cor 15:32).

21. Faith makes the ways of God pleasant and admirable; but unbelief makes them heavy and hard (Gal 5:6; 1 Cor 12:10, 11; John 6:60; Psa 2:3).

22. By faith Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob possessed the land of promise; but because of unbelief, neither Aaron, nor Moses, nor Miriam could get thither (Heb 11:9; 3:19).

23. By faith the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea; but by unbelief the generality of them perished in the wilderness (Heb 11:29; Jude 5).

24. By faith Gideon did more with three hundred men, and a few empty pitchers, than all the twelve tribes could do, because they believed not God (Judg 7:16-22; Num 14:11, 14).

25. By faith Peter walked on the water; but by unbelief he began to sink (Matt 14:28-30).

John Bunyan, Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2004), 202-05.

“I Will Not Cast Out”

May 21, 2008

John Bunyan, in his book Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, provides some exposition on what Christ means when he says, “I will not cast out” (John 6:37b).  Here are eight “particulars” for your encouragement:

(1.) Christ has everlasting life for him that comes to him, and he shall never perish; “For he will in no wise cast him out;” but for the rest, they are rejected, “cast out,” and must be damned (John 10:27-28).

(2.) Christ has everlasting righteousness to clothe them with that come to him, and they shall be covered with it as with a garment, but the rest shall be found in the filthy rags of their own stinking pollutions, and shall be wrapped up in them, as in a winding-sheet, and so bear their shame before the Lord, and also before the angels (Dan 9:27; Isa 57:20; Rev 3:4-18, 15-16).

(3.) Christ has precious blood, that, like an open fountain, stands free for him to wash in, that comes to him for life; “And he will in no wise cast him out;” but they that come not to him are rejected from a share therein, and are left to ireful vengeance for their sins (Zech 13:1; 1 Peter 1:18-19; John 13:8; 3:16).

(4.) Christ has precious promises, and they shall have a share in them that come to him for life; for “he will in no wise cast them out.” But they that come not can have no share in them, because they are true only in him; for in him, and only in him, all the promises are Yea and Amen. Therefore they that come not to him are no whit the better for them (Psa 50:16; 2 Cor 1:20-21).

(5.) Christ has also fullness of grace in himself for them that come to him for life: “And he will in no wise cast them out.” But those that come not unto him are left in their graceless state; and as Christ leaves them, death, hell, and judgment finds them. “Whoso findeth me,” says Christ, “findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death” (Prov. 8:35-36).

(6.) Christ is an Intercessor, and ever lives to make intercession for them that come to God by him: “But their sorrows shall be multiplied, that hasten after another,” or other gods, their sins and lusts. “Their drink-offerings will I not offer, nor take up their names into his lips” (Psa 16:4; Heb 7:25).

(7.) Christ has wonderful love, bowels, and compassions, for those that come to him; for “he will in no wise cast them out.” But the rest will find him a lion rampant; he will one day tear them all to pieces. “Now consider this,” saith he, “ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver” (Psa 50:22).

(8.) Christ is one, by and for whose sake those that come to him have their persons and performances accepted of the Father: “And he will in no wise cast them out;” but the rest must fly to the rocks and mountains for shelter, but all in vain, to hide them from his face and wrath (Rev 6:15-17).

 – John Bunyan, Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2004), 116-18.

Related Articles:

* Who Is John Bunyan? (Meet the Puritans)
* The Works of John Bunyan (PDF)
* Piper on Bunyan’s Life of Suffering and Service
* Oh the Heart-Pulling Glory in Jesus Christ! (excerpt)

Oh the Heart-Pulling Glory in Jesus Christ!

May 18, 2008

The first of hopefully several excerpts from the PRC paperback of the month, Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ by John Bunyan (emphasis mine):

“Oh! the heart-attracting glory that is in Jesus Christ, when he is discovered, to draw those to him that are given to him of the Father; therefore those that come of old, rendered this as the cause of their coming to him: ‘And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father’ (John 1:14).  And the reason why others come not, but perish in their sins, is for want of a sight of his glory.  ‘If our gospel is hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine upon them’ (2 Cor. 4:3-4).

There is therefore heart-pulling glory in Jesus Christ which, when discovered, draws the man to him; therefore, by ‘shall come to me’, Christ may mean, when his glory is discovered, then they must come, then they shall come to me.

[ . . .] Indeed, the carnal man says, at least in his heart, ‘There is no form or comeliness in Christ; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him’ (Isaiah 53:2); but he lies.  This he speaks, as having never seen him.  But they that stand in his house, and look upon him through the glass of his Word, by the help of his Holy Spirit, they will tell you other things.  ‘But we all,’ say they, ‘with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory’ (2 Cor. 3:18).  They see glory in his person, glory in his undertakings, glory in the merit of his blood, and glory in the perfection of his righteousness; yes, heart-affecting, heart-sweetening, and heart-changing glory!”

 – John Bunyan, Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2004), 73-75.

If the Scriptures explain our sinful state as “falling short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23) and that the gospel is the “glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4), then surely our gospel proclamation must not be on the worthiness of man but the excellencies and glory of Jesus Christ.  If hearts are going to be pulled, affected, sweetened or changed, it will not be by making much of the sinner but by making much of Jesus Christ.  He who is altogether lovely loves the unlovable, and such love is glorious indeed.  May we preach thus and so exult in the God-man who is the radiance of God’s glory (Heb. 1:3). 

Piper on Bunyan’s Life of Suffering and Service

May 8, 2008

One of the greatest blessings of the writing and preaching ministry of John Piper is his commitment to remembering and learning from great men and women in church history. His messages, articles, and books on these saints of old have profoundly affected many today, and we would be well-served to avail ourselves to such pacesetters in the race of faith.

In 1999, John Piper addressed the life of John Bunyan, focusing specifically on his suffering and service. His message can be read or download (MP3) for your benefit. Piper concludes the biographical portion of his message, stating,

So, in sum, we can include in Bunyan’s sufferings the early, almost simultaneous, death of his mother and sister; the immediate remarriage of his father; the military draft in the midst of his teenage grief; the discovery that his first child was blind; the spiritual depression and darkness for the early years of his marriage; the death of his first wife leaving him with four small children; a twelve year imprisonment cutting him off from his family and church; the constant stress and uncertainty of imminent persecution, including one more imprisonment; and the final sickness and death far from those he loved most. And this summary doesn’t include any of the normal pressures and pains of ministry and marriage and parenting and controversy and criticism and sickness along the way.

In the second half of his message, Piper makes five observations from the suffering service of John Bunyan. Here they are:

1. Bunyan’s suffering confirmed him in his calling as a writer, especially for the afflicted church.

2. Bunyan’s suffering deepened his love for his flock and gave his pastoral labor the fragrance of eternity.

3. Bunyan’s suffering opened his understanding to the truth that the Christian life is hard and that following Jesus means having the wind in your face.

4. Bunyan’s suffering strengthened his assurance that God is sovereign over all the afflictions of his people and will bring them safely home.

5. Bunyan’s suffering deepened in him a confidence in the Bible as the Word of God and a passion for Bible memory and Biblical exposition as the key to perseverance.

After reading and listening to the life of such a man as John Bunyan, I cannot help but think of how little I have lived and suffered for the sake of Christ. We need to read about Bunyan in the morning, Brainerd at noon, and Baxter in the evening to keep us sober in the day of spiritual inebriation. May God help us to live for Him that is invisible as we progress to our heavenly home.

Blue Collar Theology 26: The Works of John Bunyan (PDF)

May 5, 2008

We live in a day and age where we have access to the works of the most eminent saints of church history. One such saint is John Bunyan, and his complete works have been compiled here for your benefit. Each link directs you to a PDF document which can be downloaded to your computer. All of these files have been made available via Bunyan Ministries under the direction of Dr. Barry Horner. You can also find these links in other formats at the John Bunyan online page developed by Mount Zion Chapel Library. I find it most appropriate that Bunyan’s Works be included in the Blue Collar Theology series as this “tinker of Bedford” who was rather poorly educated left quite a legacy. Check it out!

Volume 1

Memoir of John Bunyan
Grace Abounding to Chief of Sinners
Relation of Bunyan’s Imprisonment
Continuation of Bunyan’s Life
Bunyan’s Dying Sayings
Bunyan’s Prison Meditations
The Jerusalem Sinner Saved
The Greatness of the Soul
The Work of Christ as an Advocate
Christ a Complete Savior
Come and Welcome to Christ
Justification by Imputed Righteousness
Saved by Grace
The Strait Gate
Light for Those who Sit in Darkness
Treatise on the Fear of God
Doctrine of Law and Grace
Israel’s Hope Encouraged
A Discourse Touching Prayer
The Saint’s Privilege and Profit
The Acceptable Sacrifice
Paul’s Departure and Crown
The Desire of the Righteous Granted

Volume 2

Saint’s Knowledge of Christ’s Love
Of Antichrist and His Ruin
The Resurrection of the Dead
Some Gospel Truths Opened
Vindication of Gospel Truths Opened
Discourse on Pharisee and Publican
Defence of Doctrine of Justification
Reprobation Asserted
Questions About Seventh-Day Sabbath
Of the Trinity and a Christian / Of the Law and a Christian
Scriptural Poems
Exposition of Genesis 1-10
A Holy Life the Beauty of Christianity
Christian Behavior
Caution to Watch Against Sin
Discourse of the Building of God’s House
A Confession of my Faith and Practice
Differences About Water Baptism
Peaceable Principles and True / On the Love of Christ
A Case of Conscience Resolved
John Bunyan’s Catechism
Seasonable Counsel
An Exhortation to Peace and Unity
Bunyan’s Last Sermon

Volume 3

Pilgrim’s Progress – Introduction – Editor
Pilgrim’s Progress – Synopsis – Editor
Pilgrim’s Progress – Part I
Pilgrim’s Progress – Part II
The Holy War
A Map of the Order of Salvation
The Heavenly Footman
The Holy City, or The New Jeusalem
Solomon’s Temple Spiritualized
Discourse of the House of the Forest of Lebanon
The Water of Life
The Barren Fig Tree
The Life and Death of Mr. Badman
A Few Sighs From Hell
One Thing is Needful / Ebal and Gerizim
A Book for Boys and Girls
The Struggler (and Chronological Listing of Bunyan’s Works)

Several of these works have been modernized and included in the Puritan Paperback series published by Banner of Truth (including The Jerusalem Sinner Saved, Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, The Acceptable Sacrifice, Prayer, and All Loves Excelling. Also, Soli Deo Gloria has also published several editions as well. For more information about John Bunyan in general and a list of reprinted works, check out the Meet the Puritans entry.

The Works of John Bunyan – First Edition

May 4, 2008

While browsing the internet looking for resources on John Bunyan (who happens to be the Puritan of the month), I came across something I found quite fascinating. Check it out:

According to dking.org.uk, they are selling a first edition of Bunyan’s Works for a measly price of only 585.00 GBP (pounds). According to the current exchange rates, that is roughly $1155.00 in American dollars. Here’s the detail info they have provided:

Author Name: Bunyan, John
Title
: The Works of John Bunyan in 3 Vols
Binding:
Full-Leather
Book Condition:
Very Good
Size
: 4to – over 9¾” – 12″ tall
Publisher:
London Blackie 1862
Description: No marks or inscriptions. Gilt lettering to spine. Nice and clean internally and externally. The Whole Works of John Bunyan, accurately reprinted from the authors own editions with editorial prefaces, notes and life of Bunyan by George Offer Esq. Tissue guarded frontis. Numerous illustrative engravings. A most impressive set. A heavy set. First edition means first edition, first printing, unless otherwise clearly stated.

In case you might be wondering, no, this will not be the giveaway this month. Sorry to get your hopes up, but perhaps one of you out there might be sitting on oh a thousand or so dollars and dying to get your hands on the first edition of Bunyan’s Works. So there, my public service announcement for the week. 🙂

Who Is John Bunyan?

May 4, 2008

[Reformation Heritage Books has graciously provided this biographical and reprint essay on the life and works of John Bunyan. You can find this information and others in the book, Meet the Puritans.]

John Bunyan [1628-1688]

John Owen said of John Bunyan, a powerful preacher and the best-known of all the Puritan writers, that he would gladly exchange all his learning for Bunyan’s power of touching men’s hearts. John Bunyan was born in 1628 at Elstow, near Bedford, to Thomas Bunyan and Margaret Bentley. Thomas Bunyan, a brazier or tinker, was poor but not destitute. Still, for the most part, John Bunyan was not educated well. He became rebellious, frequently indulging in cursing. He later wrote, “It was my delight to be taken captive by the devil at his will: being filled with all unrighteousness; that from a child I had but few equals, both for cursing, swearing, lying, and blaspheming the holy name of God” (Works of Bunyan, ed. George Offor, 1:6). Sporadic periods of convictions of sin helped restrain some of that rebellion, however.

When Bunyan was sixteen years old, his mother and sister died a month apart. His father remarried a month later. Young Bunyan joined Cromwell’s New Model Army, where he continued his rebellious ways. Fighting in the Civil War sobered him considerably, however. On one occasion, his life was wonderfully spared. “When I was a soldier, I with others, was drawn out to go to such a place to besiege it. But when I was just ready to go, one of the company desired to go in my room; to which when I consented, he took my place, and coming to the siege, as he stood sentinel he was shot in the head with a musket bullet and died” (ibid.).

Bunyan was discharged from the army in 1646 or 1647. His military experience was later reflected in his book, The Holy War.

In 1648, Bunyan married a God-fearing woman whose name remains unknown, and whose only dowry was two books: Arthur Dent’s The Plain Man’s Pathway to Heaven and Lewis Bayly’s The Practice of Piety. When Bunyan read those books, he was convicted of sin. He started attending the parish church, stopped swearing (when rebuked by a dissolute woman of the town), and tried to honor the Sabbath. After some months, Bunyan came into contact with some women whose joyous conversation about the new birth and Christ deeply impressed him. He mourned his joyless existence as he realized that he was lost and outside of Christ. “I cannot now express with what longings and breakings in my soul I cried to Christ to call me,” he wrote. He felt that he had the worst heart in all of England. He confessed to be jealous of animals because they did not have a soul to account for before God.

In 1651, the women introduced Bunyan to John Gifford, their pastor in Bedford. God used Gifford to lead Bunyan to repentance and faith. Bunyan was particularly influenced by a sermon Gifford preached on Song of Solomon 4:1, “Behold thou art fair, my love, behold thou art fair,” as well as by reading Luther’s commentary of Galatians, in which he found his own experience “largely and profoundly handled, as if [Luther’s] book had been written out of my own heart” (cited by Greaves, John Bunyan, p. 18). While walking through a field one day, Christ’s righteousness was revealed to Bunyan’s soul and gained the victory. Bunyan writes of that unforgettable experience:

One day, as I was passing in the field, this sentence fell upon my soul: Thy righteousness is in heaven; and methought withal I saw with the eyes of my soul, Jesus Christ, at God’s right hand; there, I say, as my righteousness; so that wherever I was, or whatever I was a-doing, God could not say of me, He wants my righteousness, for that was just before Him. I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse; for my righteousness was Jesus Christ Himself, the same yesterday, today, and forever. Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed. I was loosed from my afflictions and irons; my temptations also fled away. Now I went home rejoicing for the grace and love of God. I lived for some time very sweetly at peace with God through Christ. Oh! methought, Christ! Christ! There was nothing but Christ that was before my eyes. I saw now not only looking upon this and the other benefits of Christ apart, as of His blood, burial, and resurrection, but considered Him as a whole Christ! It was glorious to me to see His exaltation, and the worth and prevalency of all His benefits, and that because now I could look from myself to Him, and would reckon that all those graces of God that now were green in me, were yet but like those cracked groats and fourpence-halfpennies that rich men carry in their purses, when their gold is in their trunk at home! Oh, I saw that my gold was in my trunk at home! In Christ my Lord and Saviour! Now Christ was all (Grace Abounding, paragraphs 229-32, pp. 129-31).

The year 1654 was a momentous one for Bunyan. He moved to Bedford with his wife and four children under the age of six; his firstborn, Mary, was blind from birth. That same year, he became a member of Gifford’s church, and was soon appointed deacon. His testimony became the talk of the town. Several people were led to conversion in response to it. By the end of the year, he had lost his beloved pastor to death.

In 1655, Bunyan began preaching to various congregations in Bedford. Hundreds came to hear him. He published his first book the following year, Some Gospel Truths Opened, written to protect believers from being misled by Quaker and Ranter teachings about Christ’s person and work. Two years later, Bunyan published A Few Sighs from Hell, an exposition of Luke 16:19-31 about the rich man and Lazarus. The book attacks professional clergy and the wealthy who promote carnality. It was well received, and helped establish Bunyan as a reputable Puritan writer. About that same time, his wife passed away.

In 1659, Bunyan published The Doctrine of the Law and Grace Unfolded, which expounds his view of covenant theology, stressing the promissory nature of the covenant of grace and the dichotomy between law and grace. This helped establish him as a thoroughgoing Calvinist, though it led to false charges of antinomianism by Richard Baxter.

In 1660, while preaching in a farmhouse at Lower Samsell, Bunyan was arrested on the charge of preaching without official rights from the king. When told that he would be freed if he no longer preached, he replied, “If I am freed today, I will preach tomorrow.” He was thrown into prison, where he wrote prolifically and made shoelaces to provide some income for twelve and a half years (1660-1672).

Prior to his arrest, Bunyan had remarried, this time to a godly young woman named Elizabeth. She pleaded repeatedly for his release, but judges such as Sir Matthew Hale and Thomas Twisden rejected her plea. So Bunyan remained in prison with no formal charge and no legal sentence, in defiance of the habeas corpus provisions of the Magna Carta, because he refused to give up preaching the gospel and denounced the Church of England as false (see Bunyan’s A Relation of My Imprisonment, published posthumously in 1765).

In 1661 and from 1668-1672, certain jailers permitted Bunyan to leave prison at times to preach. George Offer notes, “It is said that many of the Baptist congregations in Bedfordshire owe their origins to his midnight preaching” (Works of Bunyan, 1:lix). His prison years were times of difficult trials, however. Bunyan experienced what his Pilgrim’s Progress characters Christian and Faithful would later suffer at the hands of Giant Despair, who thrust pilgrims “into a very dark dungeon, nasty and stinking.” Bunyan especially felt the pain of separation from his wife and children, particularly “blind Mary,” describing it as a “pulling of the flesh from my bones.”

Prison years, however, were productive years for Bunyan. In the mid-1660s, Bunyan wrote extensively, with only the Bible and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs at his side. In 1663, he wrote Christian Behaviour, intended as a handbook for Christian living and a response against charges of antinomianism, as well as a last testament, since Bunyan expected to die in prison. He also finished I Will Pray with the Spirit, which expounded 1 Corinthians 14:15, and focused on the Spirit’s inner work in all true prayer. In 1664, he published Profitable Meditations; in 1665, One Thing Needful, The Holy City (his understanding of church history and the end times), and The Resurrection of the Dead. This latter work is a sequel to The Holy City, in which Bunyan expounds the resurrection from Acts 24:14-15 in a traditional way, and then uses his prison torments to illustrate the horrors that await the damned following the final judgment. In 1666, the middle of his prison-time, he wrote Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, in which he declared, “The Almighty God being my help and shield, I am determined yet to suffer, if frail life might continue so long, even till the moss shall grow upon my eyebrows, rather than violate my faith and principles.” During the last part of his imprisonment, he finished A Confession of My Faith, A Reason for My Practice, and A Defence of the Doctrine of Justification, an uncompromising criticism of the rising tide of Pelagianism among the Nonconformists and latitudinarianism among the Anglican establishment.

The Bedford congregation, sensing some relaxation of the law against preaching, appointed Bunyan as pastor on January 21, 1672, but Bunyan was not released until May. He had been the first to suffer under Charles II and was the last to be released. His long years in Bedford’s county prison made him a martyr in the eyes of many.

Bunyan had enjoyed only a few years of freedom when he was again arrested for preaching and put in the town jail. Here he wrote Instruction for the Ignorant (a catechism for the saved and unsaved that emphasizes the need for self-denial), Saved by Grace (an exposition of Ephesians 2:5 that encourages the godly to persevere in the faith notwithstanding persecution), The Strait Gate (an exposition of Luke 13:24 that seeks to awaken sinners to the gospel message), Light for Them That Sit in Darkness (a polemical work against those who oppose atonement by Christ’s satisfaction and justification by His imputed righteousness, especially the Quakers and Latitudinarians), and the first part of his famous Pilgrim’s Progress. That book, which sold more than 100,000 copies in its first decade in print, has since been reprinted in at least 1,500 editions and translated into more than two hundred languages, with Dutch, French, and Welsh editions appearing in Bunyan’s lifetime. Some scholars have asserted that, with the exception of the Bible and perhaps Thomas à Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ, this Bunyan classic has sold more copies than any other book ever written.

John Owen, minister of an Independent congregation at Leadenhall Street, London, successfully appealed for Bunyan to Thomas Barlow, bishop of Lincoln, who used his influence at court to secure Bunyan’s release from prison on June 21, 1677. Bunyan spent his last years ministering to the Nonconformists and writing. In 1678, he published Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, a popular exposition of John 6:37 that movingly proclaims a strong free offer of grace to sinners to fly to Jesus Christ and be saved. This book went through six editions in the last decade of Bunyan’s life. In 1680, he wrote The Life and Death of Mr. Badman, described as “a series of snapshots depicting the commonplace attitudes and practices against which Bunyan regularly preached” (Oxford DNB, 8:707). Two years later, he published The Greatness of the Soul and The Holy War. In 1685, he published the second part of Pilgrim’s Progress, dealing with Christiana’s pilgrimage, A Caution to Stir Up to Watch Against Sin, and Questions About the Nature and the Perpetuity of the Seventh-day Sabbath.

In the last three years of his life, Bunyan wrote ten more books, of which the best-known are The Pharisee and the Publican, The Jerusalem Sinner Saved, The Work of Jesus Christ as an Advocate, The Water of Life, Solomon’s Temple Spiritualized, and The Acceptable Sacrifice. Most of those books were reproduced in paperback by William Frasher in the 1960s through Reiner Press, in Swengel, Pennsylvania. They are not listed separately in this book because they are included in Bunyan’s Works.

In 1688, Bunyan died suddenly from a fever that he caught while traveling in cold weather. On his deathbed, he said to those who gathered around him, “Weep not for me, but for yourselves. I go to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will, no doubt, through the mediation of his blessed Son, receive me, though a sinner; where I hope we ere long shall meet, to sing the new song, and remain everlastingly happy, world without end” (Works of Bunyan, 1:lxxviii). After telling his friends that his greatest desire was to be with Christ, he raised his hands to heaven, and cried, “Take me, for I come to Thee!” and then died. He was buried in Bunhill Fields, close to Thomas Goodwin and John Owen.

The Works of John Bunyan (BTT; 3 vols., 2,400 pages; 1999).

Bunyan was unusual among the Puritans in that he had little formal education. Nevertheless, he read exhaustively, and the Holy Spirit blessed his studies. He became a prolific writer and wrote more than sixty works in sixty years. Many of those have been overshadowed by Pilgrim’s Progress and The Holy War, but they are still worthy of reading.

Bunyan’s works are a treasure of scriptural, experiential truth. He was a Spirit taught theologian who had the gift of interpreting evangelical truth for the masses. Bunyan was one of the most popular Puritans, no doubt because, while possessing the Word-centeredness and depth of doctrine and experience of other Puritans, he presented truth with warm simplicity. Several publishers have reprinted Bunyan’s individual works. Most recently, SDG has reprinted The Fear of God, in which Bunyan addresses the objects and reasons for fearing God, the various kinds of fear, the character and effects of godly fear, and the privileges and uses of this doctrine. BTT has also reprinted five of Bunyan’s works (The Acceptable Sacrifice, All Loves Excelling, Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, The Jerusalem Sinner Saved, and Prayer) in the Puritan Paperback Series. GM has reprinted Groans of a Lost Soul, Solomon’s Temple Spiritualized, and Advice to Sufferers, among others.

For those wishing to own the best of what Bunyan has written, the BTT edition of George Offor’s 1854 compilation is the best option. It offers fifty-five of Bunyan’s works in three volumes. The first volume contains valuable introductions and an eighty-page memoir of Bunyan’s life and times. Volumes 1 and 2 contain his experimental, doctrinal, and practical works, such as Christ a Complete Saviour and The Fear of God. Volume 3 has Bunyan’s allegorical, figurative, and symbolical works, such as The Pilgrim’s Progress, The Holy War, and The Life and Death of Mr. Badman, as well as a compendious index.

Christiana’s Journey; Or, The Pilgrim’s Progress, The Second Part (BP; 150 pages; 1993).

This edition contains the text of Christiana’s Journey and seventy-three beautiful full-page oil paintings by Albert Wessels, which especially engage children.

Bunyan may have been motivated to write the second part of Pilgrim’s Progress in which Christiana and other female characters, as well as children, play prominent roles to depict a more subdued way in which the Holy Spirit often works conversion in typical church members. Hence Christiana and her children do not fall into the Slough of Despond nor have such a dramatic experience at the cross as Christian did. Christian and Christiana traverse much of the same ground, which shows the universality of believers’ spiritual experiences, but the section on Christian is more autobiographical while the section on Christiana is more corporate and normative, showing a more typical morphology of conversion.

Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (AP; 243 pages; n.d.).

An indispensable source for Bunyan’s early life and conversion, this autobiographical classic chronicles his life from infancy to his imprisonment in 1660. Text on the remainder of Bunyan’s life is supplied by the editor. It provides an open and candid look into his life struggles, showing that God’s grace abounds to even the chief of sinners. Richard Greaves writes, “Although conventional in structure, Grace Abounding transcends contemporary examples of the genre in its depth of psychological experience, its riveting account of Bunyan’s struggle to keep from succumbing to pervasive, numbing despair, and his agonizing wrestling with biblical texts” (Oxford DNB, 8:705).

Grace Abounding was published six times during Bunyan’s lifetime, and has been reprinted scores of times over the centuries. This reprint is taken from the eighth edition.

The Holy War (Reiner; 454 pages; 1974).

This allegory, second only to Pilgrim’s Progress, bears the full title of The Holy War, made by King Shaddai upon Diabolus, for the Regaining of the Metropolis of the World; or, the Losing and Taking again of The Town of Mansoul. Reiner’s edition contains the valuable “explanatory, experimental, and practical notes” of George Burder and sixty-eight engravings.

Macauley claims that The Holy War, written after Bunyan’s imprisonment, “would be the best allegory ever written if Pilgrim’s Progress did not exist.” The Holy War is more difficult to read but is also more profound in places than Pilgrim’s Progress partly because it involves several levels of allegory. “Mansoul is not only the soul of each believer and the allegorical personification of Christianity but the symbol of England itself” (Oxford DNB, 8:707). The Holy War contains valuable counsel on how to fight the good fight of faith. It will richly reward the meditative reader.

The Pilgrim’s Progress (Reiner, 1974; BTT, 1983; BP, 1999).

This is a moving, allegorical account of spiritual warfare experienced by a wayfaring pilgrim traveling from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City, in which Bunyan allegorizes his own religious experience as a guide for others. “Christian is both pilgrim and warrior, and the message of The Pilgrim’s Progress is not only a call to embrace and persist in the Christian life, but also a summons to battle the forces of evil” (Oxford DNB, 8:705).

Bunyan’s insights into mankind’s desperate plight and God’s redeeming grace make this a legendary classic. Regeneration, faith, repentance, justification, mortification, sanctification, and perseverance are poignantly painted for us in biblical, doctrinal, experiential, and practical detail.

Among the more than two dozen reprints of Bunyan’s classic since 1960, three are worthy of mention. First, an excellent edition of both parts of Pilgrim’s Progress containing the invaluable explanatory notes of Thomas Scott, original marginal notes, and textual support, has been reprinted by Reiner (1974), and is the most helpful edition. It includes a helpful 50-page memoir of Bunyan by Josiah Condor.

Second, Banner of Truth Trust published a deluxe edition in 1983, which includes original marginal notes and references from Scripture, both parts of Pilgrim’s Progress, and a series of sketches by William Strang.

Third, Bunyan Press has issued a handsome, coffee-table volume containing the complete text of Pilgrim’s Progress along with a beautiful collection of more than seventy oil paintings by Albert Wessels. This edition is excellent for helping children grasp the classic story. A number of retellings of Bunyan’s famous story have been printed for children by other publishers.