Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” – Hebrews 2:14-15

A Snapshot of the Life of John Bunyan:

Born: Nov. 25/28, 1628, Swan Hill, London, England
Died: Aug. 31, 1688, Elstow, England
Puritan writer and preacher. Bunyan authored the most recognized book in Christian history, Pilgrims Progress (1678).
His parents had him “baptized” on Nov. 28, 1628. In 1649, Bunyan married the young girl that won him to Christ. He was converted one evening as he sat by the fireside reflecting on Hebrews 2:14-15. This was preceded by the preaching of Christopher Hall and John Gifford, plus the prayers of his wife. His wife died in 1655, leaving him with four children, one (Mary) who was blind. Bunyan remarried a girl named Elizabeth in 1659. He joined the Baptist Church in Bedford (1653), began to preach (1655), and became the pastor of his church before he was imprisoned, (1660-72, except for a few weeks in 1666) for preaching without a license. Bunyan wrote nine books during his twelve-year confinement and was finally released by Charles Il’s Declaration of Indulgence (penal laws against nonconformists lifted: 1672), Bunyan began to pastor the Bedford Church again in 1675. His wife and children suffered greatly during this time. In 1675-76, he was imprisoned again for six months, during which time he wrote two thirds of his epic work, Pilgrim’s Progress, an allegory describing the Christian’s journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. Bunyan pastored for 16 more years after his release. His testimony is recorded in his autobiography, Grace Abounding (1666). The second part of Pilgrim’s Progress came out in 1684. He endured another imprisonment in 1685. Bunyan was visiting a friend in London in 1688 and suffered exposure from a rainstorm, which gave him a fever, from which he died. He said as he died, “Weep not for me but for yourselves. I go to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” His favorite Bible verses were John 6:37 and I Corinthians 1:30. – (Excerpt taken from the Reese Chronological Encyclopedia of Christian Biographies. Used by permission.)

A Spiritual Application for Our Lives:

John Bunyan was a man of rare courage and tenacity. After being commanded to join the state church in order to obtain his preaching license, Bunyan refused…at the expense of freedom. To many, his 12 years of imprisonment seemed wasted. Doubtless, most of us would have given way to self-pity and discouragement. Not Bunyan! Instead, he was mightily used by God in the writing of Pilgrims Progress (after the Bible, this was the best-selling book for over two centuries; it has never been out of print since its writing. Further, it has been translated into 200 languages and read by hundreds of millions of people). Moreover, as we survey his life, we find that God used those difficult times far “exceedingly, abundantly above” all Bunyan could have asked for or imagined (Ephesians 3:20).

A study of Bunyan’s life teaches us practical lessons for life:

  1. Seek to honor God, no matter the test (2 Corinthians 4:6-18, Romans 8:18).
  2. Stand firm in your Biblical convictions, no matter the cost (1 Corinthians 16:13, Philippians 1:27-30).
  3. Surrender your life to God’s direction, no matter the path (Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 18:30-32, 1 Corinthians 16:9, Psalm 23).
  4. Study the Word of God, no matter the scorn (2 Timothy 2:15, 2 Timothy 3:14-17).
  5. Stop complaining, no matter the circumstance (2 Corinthians 4:15, 1 Thessalonians 5:18).
  6. Speak the Truth, no matter the consequence (2 Timothy 4:1-2, Acts 4:29).

Friend, let us take heart. I encourage you to study the life of Bunyan. Read his Pilgrim’s Progress and Holy War – they will strengthen your faith! Let us, as noble Christian in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, remember how God has led us, and “resolve to go on…in the strength of the Lord God.

A Suggestion for Further Reading…

Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners – John Bunyan, 1666 (autobiography)

The Pilgrims Progress – John Bunyan, 1678

The Holy War – John Bunyan, 1682

John Bunyan: Author of The Pilgrim’s Progress – Sam Wellman; Barbour Publishing, 1996

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