zaterdag 11 januari 2014

John Bunyan and his Relevance for Today 4 (end)

A few themes out of the works of Bunyan 2              
         Especially his works Come and Welcome to Christ and The Jerusalem Sinner Saved show us the moving and compassionate way in which Bunyan preached the gospel. In the titles as such we feel already something of the moving way in which Bunyan preached the gospel.
       Bunyan did not preach the free offer at the expense of the prea­ching of the law. According to his opinion the preaching of the go­spel has no content without the preaching of the law. In Grace Aboun­ding he says about his way of preaching:
In my preaching of the Word I took special notice of this one thing that the Lord did lead me to begin where his Word begins with sinners; that is to con­demn all flesh and to open and alle­ge that the curse of God by the law doth belong to and lay hold on all men as they come into the world because of sin.
       The reason why the law must be preached he stated once as follows:
       So long as sinners can make a life out of anything below Christ, so long they will not close with Christ.
       I also want to make some remarks on Bunyan's view on the relation between faith and assurance. In The Pilgrim's Progress the cross is not place directly alongside the wicket gate. Why not? Because closing with Christ for life and salvation is not the same as having the full assurance of faith. In the life of most Christians there is a distance in time between coming to Christ and coming to full assurance. When you are under a sound gospel preaching, normally the distance will not be very long.
       Intentionally Bunyan has placed the house of Inter­pre­ter between the wicket gate and the cross. In The Pilgrim's Prog­ress, the Wicket Gate is a symbol for Christ. The first part of The Pilgrim's Pro­gress is a symbolical expression of the puritan view of effec­tual calling. Convinced of his misery Christian leaves the city of Destruc­tion and flees to the wicket gate. Evangelist pointed him to the wicket gate.
       Bunyan did not only speak about faith and justification, but also about sanctifica­tion. True gospel-holiness flows form justifying and saving faith. Bunyan also stressed self-examination. He called people to self-examination when they professed that they belonged to Christ. He did not call men to self-examination before coming to Christ.
       We can also learn from Bunyan that a Christian always remains a student of Christ. It is not possible to comprehend the richness of Christ. There are always many reasons to pray for the light and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. It is remarkable that in The Pilgrim’s Progress Christian is confronted with the severest struggles after he had been at the Cross and lost his burden there. Bunyan wants us to show that the strength of a Christian does not lay in his faith or conversion as such, but in Christ in whom he believes and in God to whom he has dedicated his life.
       Bunyan portrays all children of God as poor beggars in themselves. Real assurance and growth in grace makes a man humble. Bunyan also makes clear to us that how severe the struggles of a Christian may be, it is impossible that a Christian will loose his faith. Real faith is a gift of God. And the gifts of God are without repentance. When a man goes in his life through the wicket gate, he will finally pass through the gates of heaven into eternal glory. Even in the river of death Christian was severely assaulted by the devil. Hopeful tried to encourage him and said:
       Brother, I see the gate, and men standing to receive us.

       Christian answered:

       It is you, it is you they wait for; you have been Hopeful ever
       since I knew you.

       But finally Christian brake out with a loud voice:

O, I see him again, and he tells me, When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee. (Isaiah 43:2).

        The Lord loosened his bonds. In this way, Bunyan makes it clear that the children of God are more than conquerors through him that loved them.
       Much more could be said about Bunyan. Bunyan was a preaching with a burning compassion in souls for the Saviour. In Grace Abounding it says:
 It pleased me nothing to see people drink in opinions if they seemed ignorant of Christ, and the worth of their own salvation, sound con­viction of sin, especially for unbelief, and a heart set on fire to be saved by Christ with a strong breathing after a truly sanctified soul, that was it what delighted me.
       O must I explain you further the relevance of Bunyan for today. May God give the church preachers with the same spirit Bunyan had. O that the preaching may be blessed and that souls are set on fire to be save by Christ and Christ alone. When that is the case we are a pilgrim on earth. Then heaven where we shall see the Lamb that was slain and where God is all in all will be our final home.
       A pilgrim knows of sorrow after God and joy in God. One day God will wipe away all tears and the joy of God’s people will be a joy that passes all understanding. Here we receive some foretastes. There we receive the fullness of joy and gladness. O my dear friends, let us pray that the Lord grants us both sorrow after him and joy in him in this life, that we may enjoy the full glory in the eternal life and not be eternally separated from him.