Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners by John Bunyan
Bunyan, John. The Works of John Bunyan, 3 Volumes. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009. $99.00. Purchase at Westminster for $69.30.
I read the book Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners in the first volume of the three volume complete works of Bunyan shown above in the picture. You are able to purchase this title as a separate volume for $15.83 at Westminster books though I would highly recommend purchasing the set.
Grace Abounding is John Bunyan’s (1628-1688) spiritual autobiography that was published in London in 1666. In this spiritual biography, Bunyan shows in great detail his wrestling with God for salvation. He lists how he often thought he was saved yet would willingly shun the Scriptures and correction by God in order to continue in his sinful ways. At one point, he actually began attending church because of the great name he was gaining within the village as a man changed by the workings of God.
After writing much of his false faith, he gloriously details his conversion and how he was changed, quite literally, overnight. Soon after, he was called to preach. While pastoring, he began writing. Bunyan is most well known for his The Pilgrim’s Progress which he wrote while in prison for preaching the gospel. Though that is his most famous book, he wrote many, many others all of which can be found in the three volume works.
Toward the end of this biography, Bunyan offers an apologetic (defense) against the charge of sexual immorality. I honestly do not know why he felt the need to address this particular topic in his spiritual biography (if anyone has insight, please comment!), but he does so at length. Also, toward the end of the book, he offers an account of his imprisonment which is when he wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress.
Reading this spiritual biography was of great encouragement and blessing to me. It was a great encouragement for me personally as I read how he came with no Christian heritage or pedigree yet God saw fit to save his soul. I, too, came from no real Christian heritage (nominal Catholicism at best) nor do I have much of a spiritual pedigree in my family beforehand. To see how Bunyan, through Christ, was to live out his faith and come to grips with the sovereignty of God was refreshing to my souls. Many times I found myself thinking that I could relate to what Bunyan had written.
Bunyan is quite open with his life both before and after his conversion. He especially spends much time detailing his false faith leading up to his true salvation. This alone is worth the price of whichever book you purchase. There are many in the church today who, though they think they are Christian, are, in fact, anything but Christian.
Every Christian needs to read Grace Abounding not just for their own edification, but for their spiritual well-being as well. Bunyan tells it straight and in so doing, challenges everyone to take a hard look at their own standing in Christ. We need more testimonies like Bunyan’s (and I fear that there are many out there waiting to be told–Mt. 7:21) in today’s Americanized, apathetic Christian churches. Be sure to pick up a copy of Grace Abounding and rediscover the genius of Bunyan through his own eyes.