Amazing Grace Behind Bars

As I prepare today for another Lord’s Day and the challenging preaching assignment God has given me from John 12:20-26, particularly vv. 25-26, I find myself decidedly grateful for the grace of Christ and His gospel. That and that alone enables anyone to hate his life in this world that he might keep it in the next.

Reminder that only the grace of God can empower extreme devotion to Christ came to me today from some reading I did in Bryan Chapel’s excellent book, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon. In the chapter entitled Developing Redemptive Sermons, he writes of John Bunyan, the famous hymn writer, noting how much of his theology came into focus with clarity from behind bars.

Historians tell us that one of the amazing features of the life of John Bunyan was his refusal to let prison deter him from his pursuit of ministry. The author of Pilgrim’s Progress wrote many of his most influential words while incarcerated. In fact, prison helped strengthen and galvanize much of his thought. Bunyan’s theology took more concrete form when, though facing great deprivations, he debated with fellow religious prisoners whether the assurance of God’s love promoted holiness or license. Fellow prisoners challenged Bunyan saying, “You must not keep assuring people of God’s grace because they will do whatever they want.” Bunyan responded, “That is not true for God’s people. If you keep assuring God’s people of his grace, then they will do whatever he wants” (p. 313).

Guess who is praying for grace this evening that tomorrow God will help him assure His people of His grace that they will do whatever He wants?

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