The Obedience of John Bunyan

The Obedience of John Bunyan

by DeShannan Paddock

     John Bunyan was born around 1628 and died in 1688, having lived his whole life in England. After he met some people that were discussing their love for Jesus Christ, he began to hunger for God's Word, to read and to meditate on it. As he studied, he became convicted of the sin in his life and changed his actions to reflect a new obedience to God. Even though some temptations were harder to overcome, he relied on God's grace to help him obey. Bunyan's journey to faith in Christ was long and filled with questions. He eventually wrote about his testimony in the book, Grace Abounding to the Chief Sinner.

     As Bunyan gained further knowledge of God and His Word, he began to preach. John Bunyan was imprisoned for preaching outside of the limits set forth by the laws of the time. Bunyan was offered release, if only he would promise to not preach again. John Bunyan refused. He spent over twelve years in jail. Parts of Bunyan's life in jail are reminiscent of the apostle Paul in the book of Acts. Paul was jailed because of his preaching. Acts 16:25 records that Paul and his partner Silas were "praying and singing to God and the prisoners listened." Similar to Paul, Bunyan preached and had a time of communal prayer with the fellow prisoners. Unlike Paul, Bunyan was allowed to have visitors, and was able to spend some nights at home.

    While in prison, Bunyan wrote many books. His most famous writing was The Pilgrim's Progress. The book is an allegorical account, closely related to his spiritual experience. By the end of his life, Bunyan had written over sixty books. Around 1674, Bunyan was freed from jail, was given a license to preach, and was able to accept a call to be a preacher at a church near his home.

     At the time of his imprisonment, the world told Bunyan to discontinue his calling of preaching, but he knew that was something he could not do. He knew that, although it cost him, he could rely on God to see him through the suffering. Obedience to God was paramount to the example he set for those around him. God used Bunyan's obedience to influence Christians centuries later.