November 20th, 2009
Bunyan, John. The Acceptable Sacrifice. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2004. 117 pp. $8.00. Purchase at Westminster books.
Based on Psalm 51:17, John Bunyan writes on what exactly God looks for in the heart and mind of a man. That is, God seeks a broken spirit and a contrite heart. Without these two, Bunyan questions the authenticity of one’s conversion.
The Acceptable Sacrifice, as is the case with most anything written by the Puritans, needs to be read today. In an age of walking an aisle and praying a prayer, John Bunyan lays it all out on the line regarding what kind of true emotions come with one’s salvation. Even more, he argues that the Christian must remain with a contrite heart and broken spirit.
This does not mean that Christian’s will mope around and be bummed out all the time. On the contrary, they are to have a broken heart because of their sin, while knowing that God has forgiven them through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. Our spirit is to be contrite because we will see more and more the reality of our sinful natures. At the same time, we will experience more and more the grace of God in forgiving a “wretch such as I.”
As I read The Acceptable Sacrifice I was reminded one again to remain humble before the foot of the cross. I was also reminded of the only means by which men can truly have a broken spirit and a contrite heart–the Word of God. It takes the work of the Holy Spirit in conjunction with the spoken Word (the gospel) to bring about the emotions necessary for forgiveness.
John Bunyan writes with a keen eye toward the Christian and the unrepentant sinner. His words from 1688 may have well been written in 2008. What we need today is more men and women to experience the emotions that lead to true salvation rather than simply praying a prayer and adding your name to a local church. The Acceptable Sacrifice would make an excellent gift for a new believer in Christ.