Posted tagged ‘Biographies’

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.

Driscoll and Haykin on Christian Biographies . . . and Puritan Profiles

December 27, 2007

In April of this year, Dr. Mohler wrote a nice piece on reading Christian biographies with ten excellent choices of his own. Last week, both Dr. Michael Haykin and Mark Driscoll chimed in with their favorite biographies as well. Here are the nine top biographies by Dr. Haykin:

1. Iain Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (2 vols.)
2. Faith Cook, Grimshaw of Haworth
3. Courtney Anderson, To the Golden Shore (Adoniram Judson)
4. Timothy George, Faithful Witness (William Carey)
5. Andrew Fuller, Memoirs of Samuel Pearce
6. Arnold Dallimore, George Whitefield (2 vols.)
7. Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo
8. George Marsden, Jonathan Edwards
9. Iain Murray, Jonathan Edwards

Mark Driscoll shares his thoughts on reading Christian bio’s in reference to the upcoming Resurgence conference, Text and Context. Here is the video excerpt:

Driscoll names some great folks, including Lloyd-Jones, Whitefield, Edwards, Calvin, and Spurgeon. Speaking of Spurgeon, I finally picked up vol. 2 of his autobiography published by Banner of Truth. There are several bio’s on him out there, and I thought I’d provide you a list of some. Here’s some to check out:

C.H. Spurgeon Autobiography: The Early Years, Vol. 1
C.H. Spurgeon Autobiography: The Full Harvest, Vol. 2
The Forgotten Spurgeon by Iain Murray
Spurgeon: A New Biography by Arnold Dallimore
Letters of Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Spurgeon vs. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching by Iain Murray
Susannah Spurgeon: Free Grace and Dying Love
Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers by Lewis Drummond

Also, if you want to read rip-roaring Spurgeon, be sure to purchase his sermons from the New Park Street Pulpit which you can get for a great price–$34.99 at Monergism Books. These sermons from his early years in the pulpit and really encouraging to read. Oh, and here’s the Amazon link to Light and Heat: A Puritan View of Preaching by R. Bruce Bickel.

Lastly, I have decided to supplement the 2008 Puritan Reading Challenge with short biographical profiles of each author at the beginning of each month. I also hope to hunt down some quotes by others regarding the various authors which I will intersperse throughout that given month. Stay tuned in 2008 for a meet-and-greet with Puritans and those like Edwards, Spurgeon, and Lloyd-Jones who express their indebtedness.