The Pilgrimage to the Celestial City: John Bunyan (1628-1688)

 

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Drawn by Andy Gutierrez

John Bunyan lived in a volatile time in England’s history. As Joel Beeke wrote in John Bunyan, Grace in Fearing God, “England was visited by deadly plagues and torn apart by civil wars. In 1636 the plague returned killing thirty thousand people or more in England. The historian Christopher Hill wrote, ‘the most turbulent, seditious, and factious sixty years of recorded history.’”[1] But, God raised up John Bunyan for a specific time and a specific purpose. God has used this man to influence not just England or his generation but the whole world and future generations. Tim Challies has given him the title of “the most famous of all puritans.”[2]

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World Changer Wednesday-J. C. Ryle (1816-1900)

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Drawn by Andy Gutierrez

Man of Granite with the Heart of a Child

J. C. Ryle is one of the most widely read evangelical authors of the 19th century. He was given many different titles by his peers. F. J. Chavasse described Ryle as, “That man of granite with the heart of a child. Truly, Ryle stands among so many for his unwavering stance on God’s Word during a time the church of England was putting into question the reliability of Scripture. He was not easily swayed by man and was as bold as a lion with the gospel. His aim in life was seeing the lost being found—the enemies of God becoming children of God. For that, Ryle also was a lover of people. He genuinely displayed God’s love towards others in his day-to-day life.

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Why Church?

Why go to church? Why is it important for Christians to not only go to church but to be actively involved in a church? One of the obvious reasons is because of Jesus. In Ephesians 5:25 Paul gives the example of husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church. How does Jesus demonstrate this love? He gave Himself up for the church (Ephesians 5:25). He died for the church. He prays for the church (John 17). He established the church (Matthew 16:18).

The church is more than a gathering place or a building. The church is the body of believers who gather together on a regular basis and exalt Jesus by teaching through the Bible. The church is the gospel made visible.

What Is Church About?

  • The church is about Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the reason why we meet together at church. He is it. It is for Him to be known and proclaimed. Jesus is the motivation for why we get up on Sunday to meet with other Christians. Because of Jesus we have more in common as believers than anyone else.

Jesus is proclaimed through the worship service and the faithful teaching of God’s Word. Jesus Christ is proclaimed when we live out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19). When we make church not about us but about the reaching of the lost, we can encourage each other as we evangelize.

  • The church is about people.

As mentioned above, the church is the body of believers coming together to worship Jesus through songs and teaching and giving—we need to understand that church is about people. Paul exhorts the church in Ephesus with these words:

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1–3 ESV).

We are called to be with other believers in unity. The church is about people and when you make it about others, it is hard for you to make church about you. Church needs to consist of other people—male and female, young and old. That is why church is unique. We have one focus and one purpose: Jesus Christ.

  • The church is about sinners being redeemed.

The church is made up of people who have sinned and now are forgiven. The church is made up of flawed individuals who are not perfect. But, the church rallies around the fact that believers are sinners who have been redeemed.

The church cares about the redemption of mankind by giving opportunities for people to repent publicly of their sin and follow Jesus. Every believer’s goal should be to encourage each other with the gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. That is why discipleship is so important. When we make church about others we help the Christian walk of other believers and apply what Paul said in Galatians 6:1–2, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch over yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burden, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (ESV).

The church is not about me but about God and His glory. When I realize that I am called to meet together with other believers and that it is not about me (Hebrews 10:23–25), I actually grow and gain from the church.

Back to the question, “Why church?” Because of what Jesus has done for me and the church, His bride, whom He loves and died for. The church is where I get together with my brothers and sisters in Christ, where we are united with our purpose—the gospel.

I love the church and I love my church!

Marriage and Electric Vehicles

My wife and I have the opportunity to attend a marriage conference. The conference is a little over seventy miles away from where we live and I drive an electric vehicle.  The range on my car is a little over one hundred miles but that is if you drive at a reasonable speed (which means under the speed limit) and it is completely flat (which it was not) and there is no wind (which there was a lot). When I placed the address of the conference in the cars navigational system it said we would not make it on a single charge and would need to find a place to charge along the way. We took the cars advice, found a free charging station along they way, and sat and waited a little to charge the car enough to get us the rest of the way.

Marriage and electric vehicles have something in common. You need power to drive an electric vehicle just like you need Jesus Christ at the center of your marriage to glorify God in it.

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World Changer Wednesday- Corrie Ten Boom (1892-1983)

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A lesson on Forgiveness:

Corrie ten Boom is a world changer. She lived in one of the darkest times of humanity yet was able to be a light shining bright for Jesus Christ. Her life shouts what forgiveness is in Christ and how we can forgive others because we have been forgiven of much.

Corrie ten Boom was born in the beautiful country of Holland. Her father was a watchmaker and life was good for the ten Boom family.

Her parents raised her and her siblings in the ways of the Lord. At age five, Corrie came to faith. Family worship was consistent in the home. Many of the lessons she would learn in family worship would impact her and prepare her and her siblings for what awaited them. Her father taught them that there is love that one needs to have for God’s people, which would later motivate the ten Boom family as they worked with the underground network to save Jews from the Germans.

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World Changer Wednesday-George Whitefield (1714-1770)

The Great Awakening took place across two continents (America and Europe). There are a few names that come to mind with the Great Awakening; John and Charles Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, and George Whitfield are among them. When you read the account of Whitefield you are amazed at what he was able to accomplish with the limited technology of the time. It would seem impossible or supernatural. Harry Stout writes that “by 1750 virtually every American loved and admired Whitfield and saw him as their champion.” It has been said that by the time Whitfield died, 80% of the people in the American Colonies heard Whitefield in person at least once in their lifetime (this is before TV or radio)—fascinating! Eric Metaxes attributes to Whitefield the success of American Independence. He states that without the Great Awakening there would be no revival and no revolution. There would be no America as we know it. No one in church history has been able to rally people like George Whitfield and he was used by God for the sake of the gospel as a world changer.

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The Room that Powers it All!

What room holds the power at church? Is it the room where decisions are made? Is it the office where things get done? Is it the sanctuary where the pulpit stands? No, the room that holds the power is the room where there is prayer for the church! When visitors would come to the nineteenth century pastor, C. H. Spurgeon’s church he would show them the room that has the power, it was the room where Christians would gather faithfully and pray for the church. He called it the “boiler room”

E. M. Bounds so prophetically in his book The Power Through Prayer,

“What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use — men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men — men of prayer.”

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World Changer Wednesday-John G. Paton

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What do you get when you put Indiana Jones, John the Baptist, and a missionary together? You get John G. Paton. A man who was willing to go to an island where the missionaries before him went and were killed and eaten by the islanders within hours of their landing. If ever there has been an autobiography that read like an adventure novel, it is that of John G. Paton. Though his account is exciting to read, his faith despite difficult situations and his love for Jesus stand far above the adventure. He begins his autobiography by saying, “What I write here is for the glory of God” and truly his life was one lived for God’s glory.

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