A Christian’s Beginning

Know therefore, whoever thou art, that art minded to be saved, thou must first begin with Christ crucified, and with the promise of remission of sins through his blood; which crucified Christ thou shalt not find in heaven as such; for there he is alive; but thou shalt find him in the Word; for there he is to this day set forth in all the circumstances of his death, as crucified before our eyes (Gal 3:1, 2). There thou shalt find that he died, when he died, what death he died, why he died, and the Word open to thee to come and wash in his blood. The word therefore of Christ’s Testament is the laver for all New Testament priests, and every Christian is a priest to God, to wash in.

—John Bunyan (1628-1688)
The Saints Privilege and Profit

c.1688, published after his death.

About Jon J. Cardwell

"The Spirited Speaker" - Pastor of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Anniston, Alabama. Nationally recognized speaker and publisher. Author of several books, including the bestseller, Christ and Him Crucified.

4 Comments

  1. Thank you for presenting these thoughts from classic Christian authors who have inspired so many, and thank you for devoting your site to the essential doctrine of Christianity that we are saved and our sins forgiven through God’s grace alone, and not by any works we could do. I invite you and your readers to visit my blog, Saved by Grace (http://savedbygracebiblestudy.blogspot.com/) God bless you, Laurie Collett

  2. Jon,

    How are you my brother, I hope all is well with you and your family and church.

    Question about Bunyan. Pilgrims Progress is one of the best selling Christian books apart from the bible. And yet it is a dream that Bunyan had while in prison.

    So what is the Reformed view of visions and dreams? It seems that the idea that God can speak apart from scripture is contrary to the Reformed position.

    Any thoughts?

    Steve

    • Hello, dear brother.

      That’s a great question. Often, these days, because of the Keswick movement in England 150 years ago, and the rise of the charismatic movement in the US over 100 year ago, i.e., the “Asuza Street Revival,” etc., there has been a tendency among many over the years to justify John Bunyan’s popular work as a result of an inspired dream. for the short answer, i would just say that Mr. Bunyan used the word in his opening as a metaphor. He wrote, “As I walk’d through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a Denn; And laid me down in that place to sleep: And as I slept, I dreamed a Dream.” [taken from the unabridged first edition published in 1678]. The “Denn” he speaks of is the Bedford jail (gaol in 17th century English). The metaphor introduces his allegory, presenting a typical Christian pilgrimage from the conviction power of the Holy Spirit by the Word, through salvation at the revelation of the crucified Savior, unto a progressive sanctification, until final glorification at the Celestial City.

      From his beloved allegory, the most published book in the world after the King James Version of the Bible, he presents a poetic defense of his allegory, in the books preface: “The Author’s Apology for his Book.” Mr. Bunyan writes,

      “When at the first I took my pen in hand
      Thus for to write, I did not understand
      That I at all should make a little book
      In such a mode: nay, I had undertook
      To make another; which, when almost done,
      Before I was aware I this begun.

      “And thus it was: I, writing of the way
      And race of saints in this our gospel-day,
      Fell suddenly into an allegory
      About their journey, and the way to glory,
      In more than twenty things which I set down
      This done, I twenty more had in my crown,
      And they again began to multiply,
      Like sparks that from the coals of fire do fly.

      Nay, then, thought I, if that you breed so fast,
      I’ll put you by yourselves, lest you at last
      Should prove ad infinitum, and eat out
      The book that I already am about.” [Emphasis Added]

      Bunyan made mention here that once he started writing things down, as many as twenty things, then twenty other things would pop into his head, like sparks that pop and fly out from split would in fire place.

      Additionally, the title itself presents a clue to the metaphor “dream” used to convey his allegory. The title is: The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World, to That Which is to Come: Delivered Under the Similitude of a Dream Wherein is Discovered, the Manner of His Setting Out, His Dangerous Journey; and Safe Arrival at the Desired Countrey. [Title also taken from the very first published edition in 1678]. Notice that the title says that this allegory was “Delivered Under the Similitude of a Dream” [emphasis added]. It wasn’t an actual dream, but the allegory was told as if it were seen by the narrator in a dream, for it was only a “similitude” itself. On page 1 of the same 1678 edition, a brief title hangs above the first paragraph, which reads: The Pilgrims Progress: In the similitude of a DREAM. This basically reiterates and emphasizes the very same point.

      John Bunyan was considered a moderate Baptist because he held to the belief [as do I] that the Lord’s Table is open to all who openly confess the Christ of the Bible, and not merely to those who are baptized upon that confession [credo-baptist]. John Bunyan was also what people might call an “experiential” or “experimental” Christian believer; that is, that he believed that Christianity was not merely confessional upon the propositions of Biblical truth, but that it was also experienced and progressed actually through the reality of that truth, and that it was manifested practically as a result of that truth. Yet, the expression, manifestation, and practical applications of Biblical Christianity flowed from faith upon the revelation truth of Christ incarnate, crucified, risen, ascended, and coming again. Experience and practice was always a result of faith, not the origin nor the sustainer of it.

      Mr. Bunyan’s first published treatise, Some Gospel Truths Opened, was written in order to address the physical displays and outbursts of those called the Ranters or Familists. These groups were hyper-charismatic, sometimes called “quakers” because of their trembling and shaking “under the unction of the Holy Spirit” and were also given to outbursts and rigorous attacks of anything they viewed as “error.” Edward Burroughs, disapproving of Some Gospel Truths Opened, answered this first treatise with a tract of his own, to which John Bunyan responded again with A Vindication of Some Gospel Truths Opened.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *