From John Bunyan’s Conclusion to ‘Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners’

Of all tears, they are the best that are made by the blood of Christ; and of all joy, that is the sweetest that is mixed with mourning over Christ. Oh! it is a goodly thing to be on our knees, with Christ in our arms, before God. I hope I know something of these things.

I find to this day seven abominations in my heart:

(1) Inclinings to unbelief.

(2) Suddenly to forget the love and mercy that Christ manifesteth.

(3) A leaning to the works of the law.

(4) Wanderings and coldness in prayer.

(5) To forget to watch for that I pray for.

(6) Apt to murmur because I have no more, and yet ready to abuse what I have.

(7) I can do none of those things which God commands me, but my corruptions will thrust in themselves,
‘When I would do good, evil is present with me.’

These things I continually see and feel, and am afflicted and oppressed with; yet the wisdom of God doth order them for my good.

(1) They make me abhor myself.

(2) They keep me from trusting my heart.

(3) They convince me of the insufficiency of all inherent righteousness.

(4) They show me the necessity of fleeing to Jesus.

(5) They press me to pray unto God.

(6) They show me the need I have to watch and be sober.

(7) And provoke me to look to God, through Christ, to help me, and carry me through this world. Amen.

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Grace Abounding To the Chief of Sinners is John Bunyan’s spiritual autobiography. In it he tells of his conversion and struggle with faith. He wrote it while he was imprisoned for preaching without a license. His main issue was a kind of “spiritual obsessive compulsive disorder” as one reviewer puts it. Bunyan was constantly concerned about the state of his salvation and whether God deemed him worthy enough for eternal life. This story communicates the author’s anguish over his sin, his confession, and the life-changing impact of God’s saving grace. Bunyan’s spiritual struggles will remind readers that even the great minds of faith had issues with belief, and his personal testimony will encourage anyone who is doubting the status of their salvation.

A PDF copy of Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners can be downloaded from Christian Classics Ethereal Library..

Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners – John Bunyan

Found out you can listen to the entore book on a single 50 mile bike. I started when I left the house this morning and the book was finshed at about the 40 mile mark. Avweage speed 12 – 13 MPH.

It was my ‘birthday ride’. Turning 68 in about a week.

Here’s the link to listen:

https://librivox.org/search?q=grace%20abounding&search_form=advanced

Pilgrim’s Progress

There is a really good version of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress at CCEL. You can read it on line, download it, or lsten to it. All of the scriptures are embedded as links in the text. Click the link and youmare taken to the passage in an online study Bible. You cn look at the passage and go,straight back th the text.

Interview with a Missionary in Northern Iraq RE: The Memphis Dialogues

While engaging in my favorite research activity of late (The Memphis Dialogues), I came across an audio file of a segment of an interview with a Christian missionary who lives in Mosul, in the Ninevah Province of Northern Iraq. Here are questions asked and the answers given by Neil, the missionary.

Q: Two things you know living in Iraq. You know how ugly, how murderous, how horrific radical Islam is. You also know how the great majority of Muslims do not share those sentiments. From your perspective as a missionary in a Muslim world, was it a wise thing for James (White) to try to have civil discussions, to bring walls down, to un-demonize certain people, and therefore Christians and Muslims talk face to face, or is this just being a ‘useful idiot for Islam’, and now you basically desensitize people to the dangers of radical lslam. What was your take?

A: I love that James White did this. I think it was a beautiful example of who we are supposed to be. Of course we’re supposed to be wise, but we come with love. The demonstration of the Kingdom of God comes with humility and love, and if I’m debating or arguing it’s not going to sound like love to the person I’m arguing with. This is what we do all the time. We sit down with people who are on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of belief and faith, and we have a choice. I’m either going to argue with you about who Mohammad is and what the Quran is, how evil and vile it is, the expression of Islam and what it’s done in the Middle East, OR we can talk about Jesus. We can talk about the Kingdom of God and we can talk about what that looks like. And I can demonstrate that for you even in the way I interact with you as a human being – my tone of voice, the way I honor you and respect you as an individual created in God’s image.

The last thing we want to do is tear somebody down; what, so we can prove our theological point? That’s not going to convince somebody of anything. At best, it may convince their mind, but it’s not going to lead to a genuine conversion in the heart.

I applauded James White for doing that.

Q: Neil, have you yourself interacted with devout Muslims; you said that perhaps 75% are not devout in praying five times a day, and many of the younger people are more alienated from Islam because of ISIS, as you live there in Northern Iraq. Have you interacted though with very conservative Muslims as well?

A: I’ve sat down in the middle of Mosul and had lunch with Imams who I KNOW were leading prayers for ISIS in the Mosque. I’ve sat down with young men who lived their entire time through ISIS and are now studying to be Imams. And I can tell you that the best fruit we have ever seen is when we sit down and we discuss Jesus.

We don’t want to talk about the Quran. We don’t want to talk about Mohammad. Let’s talk about Jesus. Let’s talk about the truth, because they’ve never heard these things.

As for us, when we cross the boundary into deb ate and argument, it’s never going to end up good. But when we can introduce something to them that they’ve never heard before, there’s something inside of them that longs for the truth. And when we can give it to them, that’s when there entered into the Kingdom.

______

That was it. Two intelligent questions and with some ‘background’ to put them in context and a missionary’s answers.

Listening to that interview gave me flashbacks to my service in Special Forces and what we did to prepare to infiltrate behind enemy lines to conduct military operations of one sort or another. Whether those operations were short or long term, we performed detail country studies to learn all about a country, their customs, language, religion, etc.

Once on the ground it was necessary to establish good rapport with the indigenous population. Some of how we went about accomplishing that was described by the missionary in the interview!

I can only ask any reader who might stumble upon this little blog “If it’s necessary to earn the respect of indigenous peoples working with them for a common cause, how much more vital is it when you want to present a religion they inherently hate?”

______

The best thing about all this talking about James White is that it has afforded me the opportunity to improve my own thinking about touchy matters, and hopefully it helped me in the interpretation and exegesis of scripture.

May God bless you richly as you also travel along the way to the Celestial City.

A Mid-Week Bible Study and the Memphis Dialogues

I attended an interesting lunch time Bible study today. It meets once a week on Wednesdays here where I work. The leader said that since they were still working out technical difficulties, we would talk about what is on our minds. I took a question with me:

“Was James White ‘unequally yoked’ with Yasir Qadhi in Memphis?”

I just happen to be in the middle of a study in 2 John and already have some good notes (I am blessed to teach the class)! Talk about timing!

There were four of us and none of the others knew about Memphis, so it was perfect, as far as I was concerned. No chance of the others already having made up their minds.

I provided the necessary background and then read from a really good and fair article that was published by a Christian news outfit.

One of the other men had no problem with a general discussion about two religions, and did not see any ‘yoking’ going on (I shared the definitions from 4 separate commentaries.) One of the men had some of the same issues brought up by those who have already aired their ‘issues’ with James White. The last of the three other men didn’t give an opinion.

It was a good time of ‘dialogue’.

I learned something else that was disturbing. I heard Jimmy DeYoung, one of the regulars on Brannon Howse’s program (from the July 7 show) say

“James White does not believe the word of God and is a heretic. We should mark him and just forget about him. . .the man’s a heretic.”

Then Shrahram Hadian chimed in and said that Dr. Andy Woods said in a conversation with him that Dr. White should be given over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. Fine Christian men, these!

And last but not least, in his latest podcast, at about the 1:20 mark, there is an interview with an actual missionary in Iraq that is quite illuminating and should be listened to by all of those who are ‘rebuking’ (bashing) Dr. White, especially the fellow on another blog that told me my missionary analogy was ridiculous.

My point was that the answer to being unequally yoked can be yes, no, or maybe, and maybe is probably the best answer.

Anyway, this whole ‘Christian’ fiasco has been a vehicle for this guy to dig a little deeper into His work to sharpen the few exegetical skills I might have, as well as taught me a bit more about ‘Christian’ behavior and humility

Was James White ‘Unequally Yoked’ in Memphis?

Some say yes, some say no, some say maybe. This post is for informational purposes. Your opinion is your own. If you MUST have my opinion, I am in the ‘maybe’ camp. The term ‘interfaith’ is briefly discussed because someone recently told me that EVERYTHING interfaith is ‘unequally yoked’. I think that’s silly.

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” 2 Cor 6:14

unequally yoked together G2086  (KJV + Strongs)

G2086   (Strong)

ἑτεροζυγέω

heterozugeō

het-er-od-zoog-eh’-o

From a compound of G2087 and G2218; to yokeup differently, that is, (figuratively) to associate discordantly: – unequally yoke together with.

Total KJV occurrences: 1

 

Albert Barnes

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers – This is closely connected in sense with the previous verse. The apostle is there stating the nature of the remuneration or recompence which he asks for all the love which he had shown to them. He here says, that one mode of remuneration would be to yield obedience to his commands, and to separate themselves from all improper alliance with unbelievers. “Make me this return for my love. Love me as a proof of your affection, be not improperly united with unbelievers. Listen to me as a father addressing his children, and secure your own happiness and piety by not being unequally yoked with those who are not Christians.” The word which is used here (ἑτεροζυγέω heterozugeō) means properly, to bear a different yoke, to be yoked heterogeneously – Robinson (Lexicon). It is applied to the custom of yoking animals of different kinds together (Passow); and as used here means not to mingle together, or be united with unbelievers.

 

It is implied in the use of the word that there is a dissimilarity between believers and unbelievers so great that it is as improper for them to mingle together as it is to yoke animals of different kinds and species. The ground of the injunction is, that there is a difference between Christians and those who are not, so great as to render such unions improper and injurious. The direction here refers doubtless to all kinds of improper connections with those who were unbelievers. It has been usually supposed by commentators to refer particularly to marriage. But there is no reason for confining it to marriage. It doubtless includes that, but it may as well refer to any other intimate connection, or to intimate friendships, or to participation in their amusements and employments, as to marriage. The radical idea is, that they were to abstain from all connections with unbelievers – with infidels, and pagans, and those who were not Christians, which would identify them with them; or they were to have no connection with them in anything as unbelievers, pagans, or infidels; they were to partake with them in nothing that was special to them as such.

 

They were to have no part with them in their paganism unbelief, and idolatry, and infidelity; they were not to be united with them in any way or sense where it would necessarily be understood that they were partakers with them in those things. This is evidently the principle here laid down, and this principle is as applicable now as it was then.

 

Jamiesson-Fausset-Brown

Be notGreek,Become not.”

unequally yoked — “yoked with one alien in spirit.” The image is from the symbolical precept of the law (Lev 19:19), “Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind”; or the precept (Deu 22:10), “Thou shalt not plough with an ox and an ass together.” Compare Deu 7:3, forbidding marriages with the heathen; also 1Co 7:39. The believer and unbeliever are utterly heterogeneous.Too close intercourse with unbelievers in other relations also is included (2Co 6:16; 1Co 8:10; 1Co 10:14).

fellowship — literally, “share,” or “participation.”

righteousness — the state of the believer, justified by faith.

unrighteousness — rather, as always translated elsewhere, “iniquity”; the state of the unbeliever, the fruit of unbelief.

light — of which believers are the children (1Th 5:5).

 

Adam Clarke

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers – This is a military term: keep in your own ranks; do not leave the Christian community to join in that of the heathens. The verb ἑτεροζυγειν signifies to leave one’s own rank, place, or order, and go into another; and here it must signify not only that they should not associate with the Gentiles in their idolatrous feasts, but that they should not apostatize from Christianity; and the questions which follow show that there was a sort of fellowship that some of the Christians had formed with the heathens which was both wicked and absurd, and if not speedily checked would infallibly lead to final apostasy.

Some apply this exhortation to pious persons marrying with those who are not decidedly religious, and converted to God. That the exhortation may be thus applied I grant; but it is certainly not the meaning of the apostle in this place. Nevertheless, common sense and true piety show the absurdity of two such persons pretending to walk together in a way in which they are not agreed. A very wise and very holy man has given his judgment on this point: “A man who is truly pious, marrying with an unconverted woman, will either draw back to perdition, or have a cross during life.” The same may be said of a pious woman marrying an unconverted man. Such persons cannot say this petition of the Lord’s prayer, Lead us not into temptation. They plunge into it of their own accord.

 

John Gill

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers,…. This seems to be an allusion to the law in Deu 22:10 and to be a mystical explanation of it; and is to be understood not as forbidding civil society and converse with unbelievers; for this is impracticable, then must believers needs go out of the world; this the many natural and civil relations subsisting among men make absolutely necessary; and in many cases is both lawful and laudable, especially when there is any opportunity or likelihood of doing them any service in a spiritual way: not is it to be understood as dehorting from entering into marriage contracts with such persons; for such marriages the apostle, in his former epistle, had allowed to be lawful, and what ought to be abode by; though believers would do well carefully to avoid such an unequal yoke, since oftentimes they are hereby exposed to many snares, temptations, distresses, and sorrows, which generally more or less follow hereon: but there is nothing in the text or context that lead to such an interpretation; rather, if any particular thing is referred to, it is to joining with unbelievers in acts of idolatry; since one of the apostle’s arguments to dissuade from being unequally yoked with unbelievers is, “what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?” and from the foregoing epistle it looks as if some in this church had joined with them in such practices; see 1Co 10:14. But I rather think that these words are a dissuasive in general, from having any fellowship with unbelievers in anything sinful and criminal, whether in worship or in conversation:

 

“Interfaith”

adjective: of, operating, or occurring between persons belonging to different religions

This could mean a wide variety of things from having an actual worship ‘service’, picketing an abortion clinic together, having a conversation, eating a meal, UFC, playing chess, name an activity. If you are going to tell me that James White was ‘unequally yoked’, you had better tell me exactly WHY you make the conclusion. 

James White had a discussion about religion with a Muslim in which each man presented various tenets of their respective faiths. Whether he was unequally ‘yoked’ is a matter of speculation and individual opinion.

You can come to a hard and fast conclusion, or, you could choose wisdom and say you ‘think’ He might have been ‘unequally yoked’. 

 

On Christian Behavior Toward Christians

This came to me by way of a friend:

“Oh that Christians would learn to censure less and pray more and instead of speaking OF one another speak more TO one another and one FOR another…. But now the tender praying, healing, restoring spirit is departed and if Christians stir not up themselves to call it back again it is a sad sign that God is departing….

  • We judge before we inquire.
  • We reject before we admonish.
  • We conclude vain assumptions upon our brethren before we come to them as Christians and fellow members.

We think this well becomes us as we take a kind of pride and contentment in it, but oh to inform, to convince, to exhort, to pray, this is to act like the disciples of Christ. This is to show ourselves Christians in deed, professors not of the letter but of the spirit that would gain our brothers instead of blasting them.”

– Thomas Case (1598-1862)

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – Jesus