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Bunyan on the Death of Christ: Unlimited Expiation

August 29, 2007

John Bunyan (1628–1688)

Sins of the world:

1) Look to it, sinner, here is life and death set before thee; life, if it be not too late to receive it; but if it be, it is not too late for death to swallow thee up. And tell me, will it not be dreadful to be carried from under the gospel to the damned, there to lie in endless torment, because thou wouldst not be delivered therefrom? Will it be comfort to thee to see the Saviour turn Judge? to see him that wept and died for the sin of the world now ease his mind on Christ-abhorring sinners by rendering to them the just judgment of God? For all their abominable filthiness, had they closed with Christ, they had been shrouded from the justice of the law, and should not have come into condemnation. ‘But had been passed from death to life’; but they would not take shelter there; they would venture to meet the justice of God in its fury, wherefore now it shall swallow them up for ever and ever. Bunyan,Justification by An Imputed Righteousness,” in The Works of John Bunyan, (Banner of Truth), 1:334.

2) CHRIST TOOK UPON HIM OUR SINS…

Answ. Even so as if himself had committed all our sins; that is, they were as really charged upon him as if himself had been the actor and committer of them all. ‘He hath made him to be sin,’ not only as a sinner, but as sin itself. He was as the sin of the world that day he stood before God in our stead. Some, indeed, will not have Jesus Christ our Lord to be made sin for us; their wicked reasons think this to be wrong judgment in the Lord; it seems, supposing that because they cannot imagine how it should be, therefore God, if he does it, must do it at his peril, and must be charged with doing wrong judgment, and so things that become not his heavenly Majesty; but against this duncish sophistry we set Paul and Isaiah, the one telling us still, ‘the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all’; and the other, that ‘God made him to be sin for us.’ Bunyan,Light For Then that Sit in Darkness,” in The Works of John Bunyan, (Banner of Truth), 1:408.

3) Look, then, upon Christ crucified to be as the sin of the world, as if he only had broken the law; which done, behold him perfectly innocent in himself, and so conclude that for the transgression of God’s people he was stricken; that when the Lord made him to be sin, he made him to be sin for us. Bunyan, Light For Then that Sit in “Darkness, in The Works of John Bunyan,” (Banner of Truth), 1:409.

4) Answ. It is said he took them away— ‘Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.’ It is said he put them away— ‘Now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself’ (John 1:29; Heb 9:26). That is, by the merit of his undertaking he brought into the world, and set before the face of God, such a righteousness that outweigheth and goeth far beyond that sin, and so did hide sin from the sight of God; hence, he that is justified is said to have his sins hid and covered—‘Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered’ (Psa 32:1). Covered with the righteousness of Christ—‘I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness,’ thy sins (Eze 16:8). Christ Jesus, therefore, having by the infiniteness of his merit taken away, put away, or hidden our sins from the face of God, therefore he raised him up from the dead. Bunyan, “Light For Then that Sit in Darkness,” in The Works of John Bunyan, (Banner of Truth), 1:416.

5) Fourth. The POWER of God is here more seen than in making of heaven and earth; for one to bear, and get the victory over sin, when charged by the justice of an infinite majesty, in so doing he shows the height of the highest power; for where sin by the law is charged, and that by God immediately, there an infinite majesty opposes, and that with the whole of his justice, holiness, and power; so then, he that is thus charged and engaged for the sin of the world, must not only be equal with God, but show it by overcoming that curse and judgment that by infinite justice is charged upon him for sin.

When angels and men had sinned, how did they fall and crumble before the anger of God! they had not power to withstand the terror, nor could there be worth found in their persons or doings to appease displeased justice. But behold here stands the Son of God before him in the sin of the world; his Father, finding him there, curseth and condemns him to death; but he, by the power of his Godhead, and the worthiness of his person and doings, vanquisheth sin, satisfieth God’s justice, and so becomes the Saviour of the world. Here, then, is power seen: sin is a mighty thing, it crusheth all in pieces save him whose Spirit is eternal (Heb 9:14). Set Christ and his sufferings aside, and you neither see the evil of sin nor the displeasure of God against it; you see them not in their utmost. Bunyan, “Light For Then that Sit in Darkness,” in The Works of John Bunyan, (Banner of Truth), 1:432.

6) Second. A surety must consent to the terms of the agreement, or covenant; and so did Christ. Now that which he did engage should be done for sinners, according to the terms of the covenant; it was this–1. That there should be a complete satisfaction given to God for the sins of the world; for that was one great thing that was agreed upon when the covenant was made (Heb 10: 5, 17). Bunyan,Doctrine of Law and Grace,” in The Works of John Bunyan, (Banner of Truth), 1:526.

7) That when Jesus Christ did thus appear, being born of Mary, He was looked upon by the Father as if the sin of the whole world was upon Him; nay, further, God did look upon Him and account Him the sin of man—“He hath made Him to be sin for us,” (2 Cor 5:21) that is, God made His Son Jesus Christ our sin, or reckoned Him to be, not only a sinner, but the very bulk of sin of the whole world, and condemned Him so severely as if He had been nothing but sin. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh”— that is, for our sins condemned His Son Jesus Christ; as if He had in deed and truth been our very sin, although altogether “without sin” (Rom 8:3; 2 Cor 5:21). Therefore, as to the taking away of thy curse, thou must reckon Him to be made sin for thee. And as to His being thy justification, thou must reckon Him to be thy righteousness; for, saith the Scripture, “He,” that is, God, “hath made HIM to be SIN for us, though He knew no sin, that we might be made the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God in HIM. Bunyan,Doctrine of Law and Grace,” in The Works of John Bunyan, (Banner of Truth), 1:561-562.

8) And if thou dost indeed believe this, thou wilt not only confess Him as the Quakers do–that is, that He was born at Bethlehem of Mary, suffered on Mount Calvary under Pontius Pilate, was dead and buried, rose again, and ascended, etc.; for this they confess, and in the midst of their confession they do verily deny that His death on that Mount Calvary did give satisfaction to God for the sins of the world, and that His resurrection out of Joseph’s sepulcher is the cause of our justification in the sight of God, angels, and devils… Bunyan, “Doctrine of Law and Grace,” in The Works of John Bunyan, (Banner of Truth), 1:563.

9) Behold then, here is the high priest with his sacrifice; and behold again, how he comes to offer it. He comes to offer his burnt-offering at the call of God; he comes to do it in his priestly garments, consecrated and sanctified in his own blood; he comes with blood and tears, or by water and blood, and offereth his sacrifice, himself a sacrifice unto God for the sin of the world; and that too at a time when God began to be weary of the service and sacrifices of all the world. ‘Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me,’ thou hast fitted me; ‘in burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure; then said I, Lo I come, in the volume of the book it is written of me, to do thy will, O God’ (Heb 10:5-7). Bunyan, “The Saints Privilege,” in The Works of John Bunyan, (Banner of Truth), 1:667.

10) Exam. 3. Art thou born again? Then though seest that thy great sin was want of faith in the Son of Mary. Then thou seest that it is he that was sent of God to die for the sins of the world, (Jn 1:29, and 3:16-19. Ac. 13:28, 39. Bunyan,Some Gospel Truths Opened,” in The Works of John Bunyan, (Banner of Truth), 2:166-167.

11) When alas! poor soul we do know, and are bold to declare, in the name of the Lord Jesus the Son of mary, that our God hath owned us, with others of his servants, in his own work against the devil’s devices and false doctrine; as instruments of both for the comforting and establishing of his own, and also for the convincing and converting of some of them, who aforetime was not converted. And friend, why dost thou say, that we join with Magog in the defence of the dragon against the Lamb, when thou seest the whole drift both of my brother’s epistle, and also of my writing, is to exalt and advance the first-born of Mary, the Lord of Glory, and to hold o his side, notwithstanding there are so many tempests go through the world. And the rather, because we know that it is he, and he alone, that did ber our sins in hi body on the tree, (1 Pe 2.24). for it is he that hath taken away the sins of the world. Bunyan, “A Vindication of Gospel Truths,” in The Works of John Bunyan, (Banner of Truth), 2:181.

12) Nay, but thou shouldst have said, then surely the best course is, for a poor soul in this case to fly to the Lord Christ, even the man Christ Jesus, who was slain on Mount Calvary for the sins of poor sinners. And the rather, because he did so willingly, of his own accord, lay down his life for them. Methinks, I say, thou shouldst rather have said, then let us follow the Son of Mary, the man Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world by his blood on the cross; who is now also at his Father’s right hand, making intercession for all those that do come to the Father by him. But they that are not for the truth will advance anything but the truth. And as for that which thou callest the second clause, which is, The law, sayest thou, must be obeyed. Bunyan, A Vindication of Gospel Truths, in The Works of John Bunyan, (Banner of Truth), 2:194.

13) And, secondly, in thy saying it is redeemed by Christ within, by being within; when the work of the Spirit of Christ in believers is to make known to the soul, by dwelling within, which way and how they were redeemed by the man Christ Jesus on the cross. And this I prove farther, because when thou art forced to answer to these words, Why did the man Christ Jesus hang on the cross on Mount Calvary for the sins of his children? thou sayest, Because they wickedly judged him to be a blasphemer. Friend, I did not ask thee why the Jews did put him to death? but why was he crucified there for the sins of his children? But thou, willing to cover over thine error, goest on cunningly, saying, “And through their envy they persecuted him to death, for an evil doer. This is one ground at least,” &c.

Friend, but that thou art ashamed to own the gospel of Jesus Christ, thou wouldst have said, he was crucified there for the sins of the world; and by his offering up of himself upon the cross, he did for ever perfect them that are sanctified. Bunyan,A Vindication of Gospel Truths,” in The Works of John Bunyan, (Banner of Truth), 2:203.

14) Ans. Truly, to know that God, out of love to poor sinners, did in the fulness of time send forth his only-begotten Son, who is equal with his Father, to be born of a woman, and made under the law, to redeem them that are under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons; this is to know the mystery of godliness. Therefore, when the Scriptures say, God was manifested in the flesh, they mean, God sent forth his Son, which was and is the word of God, God himself, and he was made flesh. (John 1:14.) And so in the nature of man he did become the Lamb of God, or the sacrifice of God, that doth take away the sins of the world. (ver. 29.) Now here I might enlarge abundantly, but that I would not be tedious. Bunyan,A Vindication of Gospel Truths,” in The Works of John Bunyan, (Banner of Truth), 2:208.

15) Pray tell me the meaning of this one text; which speaking of Christ, saith, ‘Who when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high’ (Heb 1:3). Tell me, I say, by this text, whether is here intended the sins of all that shall be saved? If so, what kind of a purging is here meant, seeing thousands, and thousands of thousands, of the persons intended by this act of purging were not then in being, nor their personal sins in act? And note, he saith, he purged them, before he sat down at the right hand of God: purging then, in this place, cannot first, and primarily, respect the purging of the conscience: but the taking, the complete taking of the guilt, and so the curse from before the face of God, according to other scriptures: ‘He hath made him to be sin, and accursed of God for us.’ Now he being made the sin which we committed, and the curse which we deserved; there is no more sin nor curse; I mean to be charged by the law, to damn them that shall believe, not that their believing takes away the curse, but puts the soul upon trusting to him, that before purged this guilt, and curse: I say, before he sat down on the right hand of God; not to suspend, as you would have it, but to take away the sin of the world. ‘The Lord hath laid upon him the iniquities of us all’ (Isa 53:6). And he bare them in his own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24): nor yet that he should often offer himself; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now, (and that at once,) in the end of the world hath he appeared, to put away sin, by the sacrifice of himself (Heb 9:24-26). Mark, he did put it away by the sacrifice of his body and soul, when he died on the cross: but he could not then put away the inward filth of those, that then remained unconverted; or those that as yet wanted being in the world. The putting away of sin therefore, that the Holy Ghost here intendeth, is, such a putting of it away, as respecteth the guilt, curse, and condemnation thereof, as it stood by the accusations of the law, against all flesh before the face of God; which guilt, curse, and condemnation, Christ himself was made in that day, when he died the death for us. Bunyan, “A Defence of the Doctrine of Justification,” in The Works of John Bunyan, (Banner of Truth), 2:297-298.

16) As yet further testimony yet, of the sufficiency of his righteousness to justify sinners withal: for if he that undertaketh the work, is yet entertained by him, whose wrath he was to appease thereby: what is it? But that he hath so completed that work. Wherefore he saith, that the Holy Ghost shall convince the world; that he hath sufficient righteousness, and that because he went to the Father and they saw him no more, (Jn. 16.) because he, when he ascended up to the Father, was therefore entertained, accepted, and embraced of God. That is, an excellent word. “He is the chosen of God, and precious.” Chosen of God to be the righteousness, that his Divine Majesty os pleased with, and takes complacency in; God hath chosen, exalted, and set down Christ at is own right hand; for the sweet savour that he smelled in his blood, when he died for the sins of the world. Bunyan, “A Defence of the Doctrine of Justification”, in The Works of John Bunyan, (Banner of Truth), 2:306-307.

17) I conclude therefore, that you argue not gospelly, in that you so Boldly affirm, That it would signify as little to the happiness of one, to be justified by Christ’s righteousness, while a sinner; as would a gorgeous and splendid garment to one that is ready to perish. For farther, thus to be justified, is meat and drink to the sinner; and so the beginning of eternal life in him. ‘My flesh is meat indeed [said Christ] and my blood is drink indeed; and he that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal, or everlasting life.’ He affirmeth it once again: ‘As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me’ (John 6:57). Here now is a man an hungered, what must he feed upon? Not his pure humanity, not upon the sound complexion of his soul, nor yet on the dictates of his human nature, nor those neither, which you call truly generous principles: but upon the flesh and blood of the Son of God, which was once given for the sin of the world. Let those then, that would be saved from the devil and hell, and that would find a fountain of grace in themselves, first receive, and feed upon Christ, as sinners and ungodly; let them believe that both his body, and blood, and soul, was offered for them, as they were sinners. The believing of this, is the eating of Christ; this eating of Christ, is the beginning of eternal life, to wit, of all grace and health in the soul; and of glory to be enjoyed most perfectly in the next world. Bunyan, “A Defence of the Doctrine of Justification,” in The Works of John Bunyan, (Banner of Truth), 2:309.

18) For we having sinned, and transgressed the law, and the justice of God, yet requiring obedience thereto, and the law being too weak through our flesh to do it, God therefore sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, who himself for us did first of all walk in the law, and then for sin suffered also in his flesh, the sentence, and curse pronounced against us by the law. For it was nothing less necessary, when the Son of God became undertaker for the sin of the world, that he should walk in obedience to the whole of the precepts of the law, to deliver us from the judgment of the law; I say it was no less necessary he should so do, than that he should bear our curse and death. For it would have been impossible for him to have overcome the last, if he had not been spotless touching the first. For therefore it was impossible he should be holden of death, because he did nothing worthy of death; no, not in the judgment of the law, to which he immediately stood. Now as Christ Jesus stood thus to, and walked in the law, it is blasphemy for any to presume to imitate him; because thus to do is to turn Mediator and undertaker for the sin of the world. Besides, whoso doth attempt it, undertakes an impossibility; for no man can stand by the moral law, as it immediately comes from the divine majesty; he having sinned first, even before he goeth about to fulfil it. And in this sense is that to be understood, ‘as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse,’ held accursed, because they have sinned first; accursed in their performances, because of imperfection, and therefore assuredly accursed at last, because they come short of the righteousness thereof. Bunyan,A Defence of the Doctrine of Justification,” in The Works of John Bunyan, (Banner of Truth), 2:329.

19) Neither will that clause, ‘and be such,’ help such a person at all: For justification with God, comes not by imitating Christ as exemplary in morals, but through faith in his precious blood. In the law I read, that the Paschal Lamb was neither to be eaten sodden nor raw, but roast with fire, must it be eaten (Exo 12). Now to make salvation principally to depend upon imitating Christ’s life, it is to feed upon him raw, or at most, as sodden, not sanctified and holy: But the precept is, ‘Eat it roast with fire’; is to be the antitype, as accursed of God for sin, and enduring the punishment for it (Exo 19; Deu 33:2; Mal 4:1). The law is compared to fire, and its curse to a burning oven. Now under the curse of this fiery law, was the Lord Jesus afflicted for the sins of the world: wherefore, as so considered, our faith must lay hold upon him, for justification with God. ‘This is the law of the burnt-offering: [which was the offering for sin;] It is the burnt offering, because of the burning upon the altar all night unto the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be burning in it’ (Lev 6:9). Bunyan,A Defence of the Doctrine of Justification,” in The Works of John Bunyan, (Banner of Truth), 2:330.

20) CHAPTER 9.

Whether God would indeed and in truth, that the gospel, with the grace thereof, should be tendered to those that yet he hath bound up under Eternal Reprobation?

To this question I shall answer,

First, In the language of our Lord, ‘Go preach the gospel unto every creature’ (Mark 16:15); and again, ‘Look unto me, and be ye saved; all ye ends of the earth’ (Isa 45:22). ‘And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely’ (Rev 22:17). And the reason is, because Christ died for all, ‘tasted death for every man’ (2 Cor 5:15; Heb 2:9); is ‘the Saviour of the world’ (1 John 4:14), and the propitiation for the sins of the whole world.

Second, I gather it from those several censures that even every one goeth under, that doth not receive Christ, when offered in the general tenders of the gospel; ‘He that believeth not, – shall be damned’ (Mark 16:16); ‘He that believeth not God hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his son’ (1 John 5:10); and, Woe unto thee Capernaum, ‘Woe unto thee Chorazin! woe unto thee Bethsaida!’ (Matt 11:21) with many other sayings, all which words, with many other of the same nature, carry in them a very great argument to this very purpose; for if those that perish in the days of the gospel, shall have, at least, their damnation heightened, because they have neglected and refused to receive the gospel, it must needs be that the gospel was with all faithfulness to be tendered unto them; the which it could not be, unless the death of Christ did extend itself unto them (John 3:16; Heb 2:3); for the offer of the gospel cannot, with God’s allowance, be offered any further than the death of Jesus Christ doth go; because if that be taken away, there is indeed no gospel, nor grace to be extended. Besides, if by every creature, and the like, should be meant only the elect, then are all the persuasions of the gospel to no effect at all; for still the unconverted, who are here condemned for refusing of it, they return it as fast again: I do not know I am elect, and therefore dare not come to Jesus Christ; for if the death of Jesus Christ, and so the general tender of the gospel, concern the elect alone; I, not knowing myself to be one of that number, am at a mighty plunge; nor know I whether is the greater sin, to believe, or to despair: for I say again, if Christ died only for the elect, &c. then, I not knowing myself to be one of that number, dare not believe the gospel, that holds forth his blood to save me; nay, I think with safety may not, until I first do know I am elect of God, and appointed thereunto. Bunyan,Reprobation Asserted,” in The Works of John Bunyan, (Banner of Truth), 2:348.

21) Seeing, then, that the Grace of God in the Gospel is by that to be Proffered to Sinners as Sinners, as well to the Reprobate as the Elect, is it possible for those who indeed are not Elect to Receive it and be Saved?

To this question I shall answer several things, but first I shall show you what that grace is that is tendered in the name Gospel, and secondly, what it is to receive it and be saved.

First, then. The grace that is offered to sinners as sinners, without respect to this or that person, it is a sufficiency of righteousness, pardoning grace, and life, laid up in the person of Christ, held forth in the exhortation and word of the Gospel, and promised to be theirs that receive it; yea, I say, in so universal a tender that not one is by it excluded or checked in the least, ‘but rather encouraged if he hath the least desire to life; yea, it is held forth to beget both desires and longings after the life thus laid up in Christ. (John 1:16; Col 1:19,23; 1 John 5:11,12; Acts 13:38,39; Rom 10:12-14, 16:25,26). Bunyan,Reprobation Asserted,” in The Works of John Bunyan, (Banner of Truth), 2:349.

22) Witness also that strange kind of sweat that tickled down his most blessed face, where it is said: “And he sweat, as it were, great drops” or clodders “of blood,: trickling “down to the ground.” O Lord Jesus! what a load didst thou carry! What burden didst thou bear of the sins of the world, and the wrath of God. Bunyan, “A Few Sighs From Hell,” in The Works of John Bunyan, (Banner of Truth), 3:348.

23) The Second Direction. As thou shouldst get into the way so thou shouldst also be much in studying and musing on the way. You know men that would be expert in any thing, they are usually much in studying of that thing, and so likewise is it with those that quickly grow expert in any way. This therefore thou shouldst do; let thy study be much exercised about Christ, which is the way; what he is, what he hath done, and why he is what he is, and why he hath done what is done; as, why ‘He took upon him the form of a servant,’ why he ‘was made in the likeness of men’ (Phil 2:7). Why he cried; why he died; why he bear the sin of the world; why he was made sin, and why he was made righteousness; why he is in heaven in the nature of man, and what he doth there? (2 Cor 5:21). Bunyan, “Heavenly Footman,” in The Works of John Bunyan, (Banner of Truth), 3:384.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. CalvinandCalvinism permalink*
    February 26, 2008 12:59 pm

    Updated Bunyan. See Christ died for hell-bound sinners, entry #1. Credit to Tony.

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