While John Owen and Jonathan Edwards may have been two of the greatest minds of the Puritan movement, John Bunyan impact is felt in his ability to make simple foundational biblical truths. Although He was not a well educated young man and was far from a Christian as a youth, Bunyan is a testimony to understanding and grace. In his autobiographical writings it reads:
It was my delight to be taken captive by the devil at his will: Being filled with all unrighteousness; that from a child I had but few equals, both for cursing, swearing, lying and blaspheming the holy name of God.”
It is refreshing to hear one write of such a life as sinful and captivated by the devil. So little is thought of cursing and using the Lord’s name in vain in our culture. These are the least of offenses in our minds, and yet Bunyan in his understanding of the Word of God and sensitivity to it states it simply, it is allowing oneself to be captive by the will of the devil. It is to disregard God and his way and follow darkness. Sin is so rarely spoken of, therefore it is becoming more difficult to detect. We put things in terms of discernment, good and best, rather than veiwing them from the spiritual relm of right or wrong before God. This was the brilliance of Bunyan, he was able to see the spiritual relm, the invisible, clearly. John Piper writes of him,
In 1672, about 50 miles northwest of London in Bedford, John Bunyan was released from twelve years of imprisonment. He was 44 years old….He looked back over the hardships of the last 12 years and wrote about
how he was enabled by God to survive and even flourish in the Bedford jail…
He quotes 2 Corinthians 1:9 where Paul says, “We had this sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not
trust in ourselves, but in God that raiseth the dead.” Then he says,
By this scripture I was made to see that if ever I would suffer rightly, I must first pass a sentence of death upon every thing that can be properly called a thing of this life, even to reckon myself, my wife, my children, my health, my enjoyment, and all, as dead to me, and myself as dead to them. The
second was, to live upon God that is invisible, as Paul said in another place; the way not to faint, is to “look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
The phrase that I have fastened on for the title and focus of this study of Bunyan is the phrase, “to live upon
God that is invisible.” He discovered that if we are to suffer rightly we must die not only to sin, but to the innocent and precious things of this world including family and freedom. We must “live upon God that is invisible.” Everything else in the world we must count as dead to us and we to it. That was Bunyan’s passion from the time of his conversion as a young married man to the day of his death when he was 60 years old.
In Bunyan’s most famous work, Pilgrim’s Progress, the church is left with a treasure which unveils the invisible. Derek Thomas encouraged the Pastors at Basics 2007 that it was already May, if we had not read through Pilgrim’s Progress this year, there was still time! It is that kind of a book. One that should be read over and over.