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Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ (Puritan Paperbacks) Paperback – March 1, 2004
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About the Author
John Bunyan was born in Elstow, England, near Bedford, where he spent most of his life. Although today he is regarded as a literary genius, he had little formal education. At the age of 16, this rough and profane young man enlisted in the army of Parliament, and saw active duty during the English Civil War. In 1647, at the age of 19, he married a young woman, who persuaded him to attend church with her regularly, where he heard the Gospel. After deep and prolonged soul struggle, he made a complete surrender to Christ, and was converted, after which he was baptized and joined the Baptist church of Bedford. Soon, he began to preach there and also in the surrounding villages, which caused the people to recognize in him elements of leadership as well as ability as an expositor of the Scriptures.
Continuing in his trade as a tinker, he witnessed wherever he went, in addition to spending his holidays and Sundays preaching in barns, shops, village greens, as well as in the open air. Soon great crowds began to follow him, which led to his arrest and imprisonment in 1660 for conducting a "conventicle" religious meeting without the permission of the State Church. When offered his freedom if he would promise not to preach, he refused and chose jail. While in prison, he stud- ied, preached, wrote, and supported his family by making and selling shoelaces. It was while a prisoner that he wrote his immortal 'Pilgrim's Progress' in 1672. He was released and immediately resumed his ministry.
During the last 16 years of his life, he was active as pastor, writer, helper, counselor, organizer, administrator, and pastor-in-chief to a multitude of churches and young ministers. Bunyan was a champion for the cause of religious lib- erty and freedom of conscience in spiritual matters. One who knew him well wrote, "The grace of God was magnified in him and by him, and a rich anointing of the Spirit was upon him. And yet this great saint was always, in his own eyes, the chiefest of sinners and the poorest of saints." He died in 1688 after riding 40 miles in a driving rain on horseback to London to preach. He was always a poor man, yet, through his example, his ministry, and especially his pen, he bequeathed inestimable riches to posterity.
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In considering some of the obstacles that keep men in doubt and fear concerning the way in which they are coming to Christ,John Bunyan and Horatius Bonar(two masters in spiritual Israel)have much wisdom to impart in assisting those who question their motives in coming to the Savior(they think that selfish motives as opposed to God's glory alone,cast a shadow on the legitimacy of their coming to the Savior. Bunyan answers this concern thus "come thou for life,and trouble not thy head with such objections against thyself,and let God and Christ alone to glorify themselves in the salvation of such a worm as thou art." Horatius Bonar in his classic work 'God's Way Of Peace' addresses this same concern in this manner "you say,I am not satisfied with the motives that have led me to seek Christ;they are selfish.That is very likely.The feelings of a newly awakened sinner are not disinterested,neither can they be so."-A sinner shouldn't wait until they think their motives are wholly pure before they will come to Christ,if that were so,no one would be fit to come.When the Lord calls his servants to warn of the wrath and judgement of God that will fall upon the impenitent,he is appealing to their fears and their hopes of escaping these horrors.These are some of the means that the Lord God uses to bring his people to His Son for their salvation.So to delay coming until you think or feel your motives are perfect is unrealistic and very dangerous.
Is the door of mercy shut to some before they die? Yes.This is the teaching of Jeremiah 7:16 and 1John5:16. How does an individual know that the door has not been shut to them? Bunyan boldly asserts "by no means,if thou art coming to Jesus Christ;because when God shuts the door upon men,he gives them no heart to come to Jesus Christ." Thus if you have a heart to come to Jesus the door has certainly not been shut to you.This is one of the many examples of Bunyan's belief in 'the free offer of the Gospel'. This book has many examples of this eminent man of God's convictions on this important teaching.In the publisher's forward to the Banner Of Truth Ed., they explain how Andrew Fuller was influenced by some who maintained the Doctrines of election and predestination but did not preach the free offer of the Gospel.It was through the writings of Bunyan and the puritans of the sixteenth and seventeenth century that he came to understand that believing in election and predestination and also holding to 'the Free Offer' were both possible and Biblical.
The author instructs us that just as Issac was the child of promise to Abraham and Sarah(even though they were both past child bearing age by nature)thus Issac,the promised son's birth was supernatural. Everyone who has been given to Christ by his Father will come to him(those who have been given to Christ,have been promised to him and are children of promise just as Issac was(their second birth,which is spiritual,is also supernatural-they are a new creature-according to 2Corinthians 5:17.Their coming does not depend upon their will,their power or their goodness but God's power will enable them to come(they will be willing in the day of His power).Abraham believed God,he was certain that what God had promised would come to fruition.Thus when the Gospel is faithfully proclaimed,we can be confident that those who the Father has given to His son will come to him for mercy.
What is seen as foolish and weak by the world is in fact the great salvation which God has provided for His people(the giving of His beloved only begotten Son to die for them ,that they might live eternally with Him). Bunyan tells us how God views the wisdom of this world "Now,that God counteth the wisdom of this world one of his greatest enemies,is evident.Because it casteth the greatest contempt upon his son's undertaking... in that it counts his crucifixion foolishness;though that be one of the highest demonstrations of divine wisdom." This is perhaps the greatest example of the truth that God's thoughts and ways are not as the thoughts and ways of men(as Isaiah 55:8 declares).
John Bunyan's books are valued by many of God's people centuries after they were written.If you are only familiar with Pilgrims Progress you are doing yourself a disservice by not availing yourself of the works of this mighty servant of the Most High God.