John Bunyan is most well known ,by far,for his classic allegory on the Christian life 'The Pilgrims Progress'. Many who have no interest in theology have appreciated the book,but its greatest benefit has been to help believers better understand what it is like, for those who know and love God,to live in this fallen world.One of the reasons Bunyan could write a book with such great theological stature and Biblical accuracy was because of his great familiarity with both the God of the Scriptures and His Word.He is right there with the Great Puritan Theologians of his era.Thus his doctrinal and practical works on the Christian faith are extremely valuable to those who hunger and thirst for truth.
The Acceptable Sacrifice is Bunyan's exceptional treatise on Repentance.He opens up for us Psalm 51:17, which gives us the heart of true Biblical repentance.-A heart which is broken and contrite before the Lord.David was guilty of adultery and murder and when he is finally brought to his senses;he cries out to God for mercy,he confesses his enormous transgressions before his God who sees and knows all,he acknowledges and groans over the depravity of his nature,he desires to have his sins cleansed(what can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus says the hymn writer),he no longer has any assurance of his right standing with God(and is fearful that he will forever be cast away from His presence).He has come to realize that what the Lord wants from him(even with all that has transpired)is a broken and contrite heart.Its interesting to note that while God highly esteems this sacrifice(a heart that is contrite-that bows before the Lord and trembles at His word)the world does not place any value on this at all.
To understand what something is,it is often helpful to look at its opposite or what it is not.The author gives us some idea of what a heart that is not contrite is like:it is obstinate against the Lord and His salvation,it is full of evil imaginations,it is a deceitful heart,it is an unbelieving heart,it is a proud and autonomous heart-as the prophet Jeremiah declares 'it is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked'.
That the Lord God highly esteems a broken and contrite heart is clearly revealed in His Word. 'For thus saith the high and lofty one that inhabits eternity,whose name is Holy,I dwell in the high and Holy place,with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit.' Isaiah 57:15.The Lord is so far above(in majesty,power holiness and greatness)any of His creatures,yet He delights to dwell with the broken and humble hearted.Mr.Bunyan gives us a number of reasons why the Almighty places places such high value on this particular sacrifice- 1.At its root it is Gods work(and He delights in His work which breaks the heart of stone and makes it pliable(this pliability makes the heart receptive to the work of the Holy Spirit).2.A broken heart bows before God and seeks His honor and glory in all things(it is the opposite of a heart and soul that is at enmity with God and would rather have its neck broken,than to bow in submission to the Lord).3.A broken heart is sensitive to the dangers of sin and appreciate of God's deliverance from sins wages.Thats why David could write, 'Bless the Lord,O my soul:and all that is within me,bless His Holy name.' Psalm 103:1,'...who redeemeth thy life from destruction'. Psalm 103:4a.
John Bunyan's 'The Acceptable Sacrifice' is without doubt one of the standard Christian books on Repentance.I hope its value is not overlooked by the Lord's people for many generations to come.