Wayne Mack

Why I Wrote “Christian Life Issues, Volumes 1 and 2 – An Exposition and Application of John Bunyan’s Description of the Christian Life as Found in his Book The Pilgrim’s Progress”

August 4, 2017

On occasion when people hear that I have written a two volume set of books entitled Christian Life Issues, Volume 1 and 2, based on the Bible and John Bunyan’s classic description of the Christian life, I’ve been asked to explain my purpose for writing these two volumes. My main purpose—as is true or should be true for every Christian in terms of whatever they do— is to magnify the Lord and help people see how glorious He is (1 Cor. 10:31; Rom. 11:36). But the question is, how can we do that? Well, the Westminster Children’s Catechism’s answer is that we glorify God by loving Him and doing what He commands.[1] This means that one of the ways to glorify God is by doing what Jesus told us to do in Matthew 28:19. In that verse we find one of the last recorded commands He gave before He ascended back to His rightful place in Heaven (Acts 1:9-11). And what was that command? It was the command that we should make disciples.

According to Matthew 28:19, how are we to do that? The text says that we are to make disciples by helping people to so completely trust Jesus that they will want to live the way He wants them to live. Our Lord said that we should go and make disciples by teaching them to observe whatever He has taught us. Implicit in that command are several factors. One of these factors is that we are to help people understand who Jesus is and that He is worthy of being trusted and obeyed. This will, of course, involve the work of evangelism, because certainly no one will be committed to observing everything He commands unless they understand and believe who the Bible says He is and what He has done for them on the cross.

Moreover, according to Matthew 28:19, making disciples (followers of Jesus) will also involve teaching them to observe all that He commands. The key word in that phrase is the word observe. But what does observing involve? Answer: observing will certainly involve knowing the basic truths that the Lord has taught and it includes putting those truths into practice in our lives. Observing will require clear teaching and the practical application of what is taught.

Matthew 28:19 presents a wonderful challenge, responsibility, and opportunity to all of us as Christians. We are to teach others to know and obey God’s will, which will involve doing the will of God that is laid out for us in this biblical text. It is not simply that we are to teach people to know the will of God, but also to actually do it. But how do we practically do that? How do we teach people to observe? As I said, it will certainly involve doing evangelism – bringing the gospel to people. But evangelism is only the beginning of fulfilling this responsibility. It will involve helping those who are evangelized to grow up in Christ, to become more like the Lord Jesus in their character and in their manner of life. And again I ask, how do we do that? How do we teach people to observe?

Personally, I know of no other book that can be of more help in becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ through understanding and applying biblical truth to our daily lives than the The Pilgrim’s Progress. In my opinion, there is no other book outside the Bible that can be a better guide for us in becoming disciples and making disciples. There, of course, have been many books that have been written to help us in this two-fold endeavor of being a disciple and making disciples. But personally, having been in the ministry since 1957, I have come to consider The Pilgrim’s Progress to be the best discipleship, how-and-what-to manual that is available. This book will aid us in clarifying what we should teach as it is chock full of biblical truth presented in a very interesting and understandable way. And more than that, it contains information and illustrations about how to actually teach and it overflows with practical examples of what it means to actually put God’s Word into practice in our lives.

In her study guide for The Pilgrim’s Progress, Maureen Bradley has written,

If we consider the success of literature to be in its influence over people, then Bunyan’s book will possess such influence as long as the process of redemption from sin is something angels or men desire to look into. Theologians of the past such as Augustine, Calvin and Edwards have been recognized for their excellent teachings and writings, yet in the simple adventures of Christian (the main character of The Pilgrim’s Progress) these same great theological truths are made to come to life before our very eyes. Bunyan turns theology and doctrine into an exciting adventure and imaginations are captured as these truths are personified. A person who thoroughly understands The Pilgrim’s Progress is an accomplished theologian…Biblical truths come blasting through these pages like smart bombs hitting their targets of the mind and the heart.[2]

Well, my intention in writing these two volumes on Christian life issues based on The Pilgrim’s Progress is to give people a well-rounded understanding of basic biblical doctrines and also provide for us and those whom we disciple the how-to information necessary for actually applying those doctrines to practical, everyday Christian living.

In his book, Pictures from Pilgrim’s Progress, Spurgeon commented that outside the Bible The Pilgrim’s Progress was the most important book in his life and this statement is verified by the fact that he read Pilgrim’s Progress at least one hundred times (twice a year).[3] Add to that the fact that he quoted from this book more than any other single book that he ever read and you will see how important this great man of God considered The Pilgrim’s Progress to be.

My intention in writing these two volumes on Christian life issues based on biblical truth found in The Pilgrim’s Progress is to assist in the glorious task of being and making disciples. I pray that God will be pleased to use these two volumes to fulfill those twin tasks laid out for us by our Lord in Matthew 28:19. If the Lord uses the biblical material found in these books, He will be glorified and we will be blessed.

[1] Catechism for Young Children: An Introduction to the Shorter Catechism. Questions 4 and 5 accessed on January 19, 2017.
Catechism for Young Children | Reformed.org

[2] Maureen Bradley, The Pilgrim’s Progress Study Guide (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1994), 1.

[3] Ibid., 1.

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