The Jerusalem Sinner Saved
In his preface to this little book subtitled, “Good News for the Vilest of Men”, Bunyan states that one reason which moved him to write the book was: “to invite and encourage the worst to come to Christ”. He goes on, “I have been vile myself but have obtained mercy; and I would have my companions in sin partake of mercy too”.
In what follows, he bases his arguments on the Lord’s commission to His disciples, that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached . . . beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). In chapter 1,”The Text Explained”, he proceeds to show what Jerusalem then was, and what it was to preach the gospel to those there. This leads to the observation that “Jesus Christ would have mercy offered in the first place to the biggest sinners”, which he proves to be the practice of both Christ in the Gospels and the Apostles in Acts.
Chapter 2, “Why Mercy is First Offered to the Biggest Sinners”, contains eight reasons, including: “They have the greatest need”; “When they receive it, this brings most fame to Christ’s name”, and, “Others hearing of it will be the more encouraged to come to Christ”.
In chapter 3, “The Doctrine Applied”, Bunyan presents lessons we can learn from the fact that Christ would have mercy first offered to the biggest sinners. He makes 11 points here including: “This shows us how to judge rightly of Christ’s gracious intentions toward men”, and, “This gives arguments to use with unconcerned sinners to urge them to come to Christ”.
In the fourth and final chapter, “Conclusions and Answers to Objections”, Bunyan offers a caution on the ending of the day of grace. He concludes with answers to three fears a sinner might have: (1) that his day of grace is passed, (2) that he is not elect, and (3) that he has committed the unpardonable sin. He explains what this sin is and why it is said to be against the Spirit rather than against the Son of God. The book contains George Offer’s original preface (1854) to Bunyan’s Works and, at the end, a most helpful analysis of each of the four chapters.
Anyone tempted to believe that they have gone too far, or too long, in sin to be saved will find this book a great encouragement. For example, commenting on God’s grace being offered to Jerusalem sinners, Bunyan says, “What a pitch of grace is this! Christ is minded to amaze the world, and to show that He acts not like the children of men. This is that which He said of old: ‘I will not execute the fierceness of my wrath, and I will not return to destroy Ephraim, for I am God and not man’ (Hos 11:9, Geneva Bible). This is not the manner of men; men are shorter winded; men are soon moved to take vengeance, and to right [avenge] themselves in a way of wrath and indignation. But God is full of grace, full of patience, ready to forgive and one who delights in mercy. All this is seen in our text. The biggest sinners must first be offered mercy; they must, I say, have the cream of the gospel offered unto them” (pp 12,13). This book also contains powerful arguments for preachers to use, whether by way of encouraging those concerned about their souls, or by way of warning the unconcerned.
In a footnote to Offer’s preface we are told that “for the present edition some of the original language and grammar have been slightly modified to make the work more accessible to present-day readers”. Even with such modifications we find the language somewhat difficult in places.
Taken from the March Free Presbyterian magazine with permission.
The Jerusalem Sinner Saved (ISBN 085151 9148) retails for $10.00 (US), Ã‚Â£5.00 (UK and ROW) and can be purchased from the Banner of Truth book catalogue
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