Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Next 10 Years: John Bunyan

A long time ago (about 10 years now), I heard John Piper say that we should pick one great saint from history and saturate ourselves in his life and writings. Piper chose Jonathan Edwards. I disobeyed Piper's counsel not to pick someone who is still living. I chose Piper. In these past 10 years, I have read everything Piper has published, listened to hundreds of his sermons, and have had a handful of opportunities to talk with Dr. Piper personally. My gratefulness to God for Piper's life and ministry is abundant. I plan to continue reading his books and listening to his sermons for the rest of my life.

However, time has come to take Piper's advice seriously. As of right now, I am going to get to know John Bunyan. I am compelled by the example of this Baptist Puritan. He loved the gospel, loved his family, and loved preaching. He was uneducated but Bible-saturated. He suffered, struggled, and sang.

Anybody want to join me in learning from Bunyan?

I plan to read slowly through the Banner of Truth 3 Volume Works of Bunyan. WTS has it for 40% off! A steal of a deal.

There are no real good biographies of Bunyan.
His Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners is the best source of information about his life.
Of course, Pilgrim's Progress is his most famous book (There is a good children's version called Dangerous Journey).


Randy said...

I think you'll enjoy that greatly. My attempts are aimed at John Owen. I heard the same advice from Piper, but I've been slow to listen on that one.

Aaron said...

Justin, I'm with you on taking Piper's advice and turning it towards his life and writing/preaching. No one alive today encourages, compels, and challenges me more than him. His love for the savior and passion for the proclamation thereof is a great testimony to the grace of our Lord. (although I would say that one of the next best examples is our buddy Rob...)

And thanks also for the heads up on the deal at WTS; I just got some birthday money today and your post inspired me to use it on Bunyan's works.

pastor justin said...

I'm glad I could encourage you to get Bunyan's Works.

Yes, Rob has been a huge encouragement to my pursuit of Christ.

Jimmy said...


First, I really enjoy reading your blog. Your posts are very insightful and often motivating.

I too have poured over many of Piper's books and listened to hundreds of sermons over the past few years. Like you, I am very grateful for John Piper and his ministry.

Interestingly I have also recently begun reading and studying John Bunyan. I am finishing up Pilgrim's Progress and then will be moving into Grace Abounding.

I will certainly be following along with your progress and look forward to your insight on Bunyan's works.

On a side note, as much as you read you really should look into an Amazon Kindle. I have had mine for a few weeks and while it is taking a little getting used to I am really enjoying it. I am definitely enjoying saving money on books. I purchased Pilgrim's Progress, Grace Abounding, and the Works of Bunyan for 99 cents each. I also love not having to tote around 2 or 3 books plus my Bible everywhere I go.

God Bless You.

jason sessoms said...

I came across the same advice from Piper a good while ago. I have often thought about who I would look more into. I have yet to really tackle anyone, but interestingly enough, I brought with me this week Piper's biography on Bunyan. I know that is light reading and does not go into the depth that other biographies would. But I did learn enough to know that he would be interesting for me to learn more about. Two things that I found encouraging (among many others) were that he had no real "biblical" education (like myself) and that he worked with his hands (like myself).

I would love to read more about him and his writings.

It may be helpful to point out that ChristianAudio.com has Pilgrim's Progress as their free download of the month.

Also, I found what appears to be the "Works of John Bunyan", volumes 1,2, and 3 online in a free text edition. I found those at Project Gutenberg, but I am not sure if that is the same thing you have. I know that it would be hard to read as an ebook, but I could use that until I was able to get the bound copy.

pastor justin said...

Jimmy, I recently heard about the Kindle. However, I have to mark in my books. Part of reading well for me is taking notes in the margins, underlining, etc.

I'm sure Buyan's works are available online. However, I have to mark in my books. Part of reading well for me is taking noties in the margins, underlining, etc.

I feel like I'm repeating myself.

It is encouraging to hear of some interest in Bunyan. I am loving reading through Grace Abounding. Bunyan thought deeply about sin and grace.

Jimmy said...


Though it takes a little getting used to, the Kindle does have a keyboard for taking notes in the margin. I too do a lot of marking in most of the things I read. This was a must have for me.

Another nice thing is that once the notes are made they are indexed and you can search through them. I really enjoy this feature. You can also draw boxes around passages that you would normally underline.

Again all this takes a little getting used to, but having the ability to search through the text in your books and the notes you add in the margines helps me quickly relocate a passage or important topic later.

It is also good for topically marking things. For example, I may mark passages in the Bible that support a particular doctrine and then I can mark passages in a book I am reading with the same topic name. When I search on that particular topic it will return results from the Bible and from the books I have tagged with that topic.

And about Bunyan, we should probably all think more deeply about our sin and grace.