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Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ. By John Bunyan. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1681. First Banner of Truth edition, 2004.
John Bunyan (1628-1688) is mostly known for his classic work Pilgrim’s Progress, which is an allegory of the Christian life. He also wrote other works including Holy War, Defense of Justification by Faith, and Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, which was his spiritual biography.
Bunyan was also a lay preacher who suffered imprisonment because of his preaching ministry. During his imprisonment, he was offered freedom if he would only promise to not preach. He replied, “If I am freed today I will preach tomorrow.” He was a man of conviction, skilled in written communication even though he was barely educated, and able to sustain the biblical balance of sovereignty and responsibility, or what is otherwise known as “Evangelical Calvinism.”
Come and Welcome is an excellent demonstration of Bunyan’s balanced approach to doctrine, and his utter reliance upon Scripture. The book is a plea for sinners to come to Christ and an exhortation of faith for believers who have come to Christ. The entire work is based on John 6:37: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” Bunyan proceeds phrase by phrase through this verse with the twofold result being tearing away any stumbling block for the unbeliever and building up the assurance of the believer! All the while he strongly reinforces God’s sovereignty in salvation and man’s responsibility to come. The basic outline that Bunyan follows is: (1) “All that the Father gives me will come to me” - sovereignty, (2) “and whoever comes to me” - responsibility, and (3) “I will never cast out.” - assurance and promise! Bunyan goes much further in bringing out all of the promises and graces of this verse, but that is the general skeleton. Through scriptural examples, he clearly demonstrates that man comes to Christ only by the “gift, promise, and drawing of the Father” (p. 130), and therefore if you are coming, it is a work of God!
The obvious question then is what does it mean to come to Christ? Bunyan answers, “the true coming is from a sense of an absolute need of Jesus Christ to save . . . he leaves all, forsakes all, he hates all things that would stand in his way to hinder his coming to Jesus Christ.” (p. 30)
If you have read Grace Abounding, you know that Bunyan wrestled and struggled for some length of time, possibly a few years, with his own conversion. He labored through the Law, guilt, his own sin, and realizing the promises of the Gospel. What you encounter then in Come and Welcome is Bunyan’s assistance to others who are wrestling through the issues of faith, repentance, and the Gospel. He continually sets God’s grace and faithfulness before the reader as well as removing the various doubts that may assault one who desires to “come to Christ” or who is “coming to Christ” or who has already “come to Christ.”
It is an excellent resource for one who may have questions about what it means to become a follower of Christ. It also would be a wonderful tool for the believer to embolden faith and encourage assurance. For example, Bunyan writes, “But how much more may we behold the love that God has bestowed upon us, in that he has given us to his Son, and also given his Son for us?” (p. 22)
I highly recommend Come and Welcome to anyone desiring to know salvation and all who profess to know salvation.