One of the most impressive books that I have ever read is John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress”. Considered by many to be a true work of art it is an allegory written in plain English prose.
The first time that I read it was over 50 years ago. In elementary school, along with Hawthorne’s ‘The Scarlet Letter’, John Bunyan’s work was just part of the English literature curriculum. It wasn’t until years later that I read it again and this time I read it, not as a Children’s classic but as the true message of Christ’s gospel.
My interest in the work peaked when I read somewhere that John Bunyan had written the bulk of his work while imprisoned for continuing to preach outside of the Episcopal orders and that his two favorite books were of course the Bible and John Foxe’s “Book of Martyrs”.
But as great as his work is in that book and in all of his writing for that matter, the words that he penned were just the words of a man.
But the Bible that he loved and spent many years in prison defending is infallible and without error. While it is certainly penned by the hands of many over the course of the 1600 years, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” And the words ‘inspired by God’ literally means ‘breathed out by God’.
But how can we know for sure? If you have ever tried to witness to someone who questions the validity of the Bible, you know that it can be difficult to share the Gospel with someone who sees no reason to believe that the words written in the Bible are any more infallible that the words written in their favorite book or a great scientific publication like the National Geographic.
Most of us are not biblical scholars but we must be prepared with the answer. And if we are doing as we know we should, as the Apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:15 to do, and that is to “be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth”, then we will be able to respond to the doubt and unbelief with the evidence that is so clearly laid out for us to use.
John Bunyan began writing Pilgrim’s Progress while imprisoned for his refusal to desist from preaching, being known to say, “if you release me today, I will preach tomorrow. . . .”
And no one but Bunyan added to or took away from his words. John Bunyan is solely the author and creator of his work.
But consider this the next time someone questions the truth of the Bible. . . .tell them that while it is true that we as Christians accept the Bible as the Word of God by faith, we know that at least 40 different people ‘penned’ the 66 books of the Bible over a period of nearly 2000 years, including a silent period lasting over 400 years between the Old Testament and the New, yet from Genesis to Revelation, it is one unified report of God’s interaction with His people, and all without the aid of a computer, iPad, iPhone or even the lowly printing press.