Ephesians 3:1-13 Paul A Prisoner Of Christ

John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, wrote an autobiographical book called, ‘Grace Abounding’. As you come to the end of this book John Bunyan is in prison and his wife, Elizabeth, is trying to procure his freedom.

What was the crime that he had committed that caused him to be put into prison and labeled a pestilent-fellow and a disturber of the peace?

What had he done that resulted in him being hated by the judges before whom he would try to plead his case?

He was in prison for preaching the gospel.

While Bunyan was in prison Elizabeth went before the judges to plead for his freedom. She spoke to each of them but she found that not one of them had any compassion for them. They told Elizabeth that he had been convicted and that it had been recorded; therefore, they said that there is nothing that they could do.

At one point Judge Twisdom asks Elizabeth if her husband would be willing to do one thing to be set free. I am sure that she immediately thought that her husband was just moments away from being sent home; but then the judge says, “Will your husband leave preaching, as long as he can speak?”

Immediately, Elizabeth responds by saying, “My Lord, he dares not leave preaching, as long as he can speak.” She told him that her husband desired to live peaceably, and to follow his calling.

In one last attempt to persuade these judges Elizabeth says, ‘My Lord, I have four small children that cannot help themselves of which one is blind, and we have nothing to live upon, but the charity of good people.”

Despite all of these things they continue to say that they cannot help her. They harden their hearts and deny her request. Surprisingly, she leaves mourning more for their souls than for the fact that her husband will remain in prison. She continues to trust that God will faithfully provide for them as He has already been doing.

As you come to the end of this book Bunyan remains in prison. And with every turn of the page you hope that you will discover that he has been released. But as you come to the last sentence of the book you read these words, “And thus was I hindered and prevented, at that time also, from appearing before the judge, and left in prison.” That is how John Bunyan ends the biographical book that he had been writing!

Thankfully, a friend of John Bunyan’s completes the book so that we know the rest of the story. We find that Bunyan is eventually released from prison and he resumes his ministry to the little flock of believers in the town of Bedford. His friend writes the reason that he decided to complete this book. He says that it was so that ‘John Bunyan’s good end may be known as well as his evil beginning.’

This friend wanted to testify about the abounding grace of God towards John Bunyan. He wanted to testify as to how the Lord can save a sinful man, transform and sanctify him and then show how such individuals can serve God and display the manifold wisdom of God.

When we come to our text this morning we see many similarities between the apostle Paul and the ministry of John Bunyan. Paul was a man who had an evil beginning before he came to know Jesus. Paul says to Timothy, “I thank Him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He judged me faithful, appointing me to His service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief.” (1 Timothy 1:12-13)

Then he says this in 1 Timothy 1:15-16, “This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for Eternal life.”