John Bunyan: The Worst and Best of Times

Ron Geschwendt

READ : Hebrews 11:30-40

Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (v. 16 NIV)

The Stuart monarchy was restored when Charles II returned to England from exile in 1660. He was witty, immoral, and believed in little except the divine right of kings. While outwardly accepting the Church of England, Charles despised Presbyterians and Protestants alike. Parliament ordered that all non-Anglican ministers stay five miles from a city or incorporated town.

Although these were tough times for Christians, congregations of dissenters grew not only in Protestant churches but also in the Church of England. Great leaders emerged. John Milton wrote Paradise Lost. Richard Baxter became a faithful pastor. John Bunyan (1628-1688), a Baptist preacher of Bedford who had been converted to Christ after a long personal struggle, spent 12 years in and out of prison for preaching and evangelizing. He wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress, an allegorical story of a Christian’s journey from the bondage of sin and death to new birth and eternal life.

Faith is not limited to good times. Spiritual fires are often fanned by persecution. Surprisingly, more people are being martyred today than in any other time in history. The Christian faith always has enemies. Darkness hates the light. But in the worst of times, faith still lives, and even grows.

PRAYER

Lord, please strengthen and encourage the persecuted church throughout the world.