Thursday, September 3, 2020

Another word on Bunyan

With my interest in preaching I must add this. As a young adult Bunyan could neither read not write.  He did not make Christian commitment until his late twenties and did not preach until almost 30 years old. Yet. this late developer was to become known world wide as a Christian writer of long lasting influence as well as a gifted preacher. 

He describes how in his church fellowship 'some of the most notable among the saints with us' perceived that he might be a preacher and they asked him to accompany the preaching elders to give his testimony or even a sermon.  I guess it was to test his gifting.  Well, they found out soon enough.  He was immensely surprised to find himself a preacher as the hundreds flocked to hear him.  Often in the open air on village greens, in barns, in private houses and sometimes even in parish churches people's lives were changed as he preached. A biographer comments that his passionate sincerity coupled with a  concern for the souls of his hearers meant he always worked to find some word from God which would awaken their consciences. The biographer says he also preached with fear and trembling.

In his book Grace Abounding he writes'In my preaching I have really been in pain, and have as it were travailed to bring forth children to God; neither could I be satisfied unless some fruit did appear in my work.' He goes on to say that ' it pleased me nothing to see some people drink in opinions if they seemed ignorant of Jesus Christ' but rather those who found ' the worth of their own salvation, sound conviction of sin, especially for unbelief, and an heart set on fire to be save by Christ , with strong breathings after a truly sanctified soul. That it was that delighted me; these were the souls I counted blessed.'

I was struck by his humility and his focus. Genuine surprise that he was selected to preach and anguished trouble if his preaching made no difference!  The high call of preaching.  Here was no passing on information but only desire to be used by God to transform.  I am glad to be reminded of him.

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