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Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners: Or Brief Faithful Relation Exceeding Mercy God Christ his Poor Servant John (Penguin Classics) Paperback – November 3, 1987
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From the Back Cover
From his conversion and through many trials and temptations, Bunyan reveals how the grace of the Lord was extended to him so that he learned to surrender all of self and rely totally
on Christ. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
John Bunyan was born in 1628 in Elstow, England. He was a Baptist preacher and writer, creating about sixty books and tracts including The Pilgrim's Progress, The Holy War, and Grace Abounding. He died in 1688.
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John Bunyan's autobiography is almost solely focused around how he became a Christian, and then how he defended himself against the Church of England after he became a follower of Jesus Christ.
At times Bunyan's account of his struggle with his self-doubts about whether God would ever receive a sinner such as himself are absolutely heart-wrenching. He clung so desperately to the Scriptures that said God wanted to forgive him, and yet beat himself up with other Scriptures that talked about the vileness of sin. He felt that his sin had so wounded God, that he was unsure if he could ever be forgiven.
In a way, I found this quite refreshing. It reminded me of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's warning against "cheap grace," where far too many people trivialize the high price Christ paid on the Cross. But John Bunyan acutely felt his sin.
So once he finally received God's forgiveness, he was a changed man who wanted to tell the world about his Savior. Unfortunately for the time in which he lived, his message of salvation wasn't "sanctioned" by the Church of England, which landed him in jail for over a decade. The second-half of his autobiography is a play-by-play account of his interaction with the judges who tried and sentenced him. In this account, we read the words of a man who thoroughly knew Scripture, and knew how to use it!
It's a fascinating biography, which I think any reader will enjoy.
His fear is that he has lost his chance at salvation by cursing Jesus, somehow committing an unpardonable sin. No matter how many times he comforts himself with the truth, it seems to be pulled away from him by other fears.
Ultimately he determines that even if he is thrown into hell, he will still honor Jesus. Eventually, he is freed from this mental torment after a couple of years.
I was helped greatly by this book when in a period of intense anxiety in my own life. It was a great help to know that someone else went through similar things. I have also recommended this book to many who are currently struggling with anxiety.
It is said that before using a man greatly, God breaks him. Bunyan's dark night of the soul is here recorded. God would bring him to great weakness and then later use him greatly. This book is worth your money and time.
One side note: the book is written in a style of English that is dated. You can still follow it, but it takes a little work.
Here he tells us how he came to see himself not just in the light of the Law but the Gospel and this realization of "grace abounding" sets him free to live for Christ. Here is the man behind the tale, and both are well worth the attention.