By Elizabeth Prata*
I read an interesting list of points an author made about John Bunyan’s conversion. John Bunyan was the writer of Pilgrim’s Progress, a book many say is the greatest book ever written, apart from the Bible. It is without doubt a literary masterpiece. It has stood the test of time since its publication in 1678. It is regarded as one of the most significant works of religious English literature in history. And the man who wrote it was raised as an atheist.
In Geoff Thomas’ essay titled “John Bunyan,” Mr Thomas wrote,
“John Bunyan had no family influences encouraging him to become a Christian. … In June 1644 when he was 16 his mother passed away and four weeks later his sister died. Eight weeks after his mother’s death his father remarried and in 8 months his wife gave birth to a boy whom his Royalist father named ‘Charles’. Four months earlier John had left home and had joined the Parliamentary Army fighting against King Charles. There was little affection between son and father. How then did John Bunyan become a Christian? There were ten factors which all played their part, great and small:”
One of these factors caught my attention-
Bunyan was stirred by the godly conversation of Christians.
He would work in Bedford and eat his bread with some Christian women who tailored their conversation for his ears. They talked of their own sin, the new birth, and the love of Christ. Bunyan listened intently and later wrote, ‘They spoke as if joy was making them speak. They were to me as if they had found a new world,’ and he often sought them out and sat with them.
‘they tailored their conversation for his ears.’ How important it is, to speak of Jesus in truth for known hearers and unknown hearers! The women must have seen the Spirit working in Bunyan, and they made a choice to and selflessly not speak of the carnal or mundane or the personal, but of the joy of His grace!
They were living this verse:
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:6)
Gill’s Exposition says,
“let grace be the subject matter of your speech and conversation. When saints meet together they should converse with each other about the work of grace upon their souls, how it was begun, and how it has been carried on, and in what case it now is; they should talk of the great things and wonders of grace, which God has done for them, which would be both comfortable and edifying to them, and make for the glory of the grace of God”
Whether we are preachers exhorting in church, parents teaching our children, or two simple Puritan Christian ladies serving lunch to an obviously tortured soul, we have the privilege and the responsibility to speak ‘as if joy was making us speak.’
What glory it brings the Lord when we intentionally speak of the riches of His grace. Hearers known and unknown to us, Christian and perishing, listen to us and our Spirit-carried words,
For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. (2 Corinthians 2:16)
For John Bunyan, the ladies’ words were the aroma of life to life (‘he often sought them out and sat with them‘). Therefore season your conversation with love, joy, and salt, and watch with admiration and joy where He carries your words. For we all have a pulpit.
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36)
*This essay first appeared on The End Time in June 2014