John Piper, John Bunyan, and Mining God’s Word

Posted: October 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

John Piper writes about John Bunyan:

One of the greatest scenes in The Pilgrim’s Progress is when Christian recalls in the dungeon of Doubting-castle that he has a key to the door. Very significant is not only what the key is, but where it is:

“What a fool I have been, to lie like this in a stinking dungeon, when I could have just as well walked free. In my chest pocket I have a key called Promise that will, I am thoroughly persuaded, open any lock in Doubting-Castle.” “Then,” said Hopeful, “that is good news. My good brother, do immediately take it out of your chest pocket and try it.” Then Christian took the key from his chest and began to try the lock of the dungeon door; and as he turned the key, the bolt unlocked and the door flew open with ease, so that Christian and hopeful immediately came out.

Three times Bunyan says that the key was in Christian’s “chest pocket” or simply his “chest.” I take this to mean that Christian had hidden it in his heart by memorization and that it was now accessible in prison for precisely this reason. This is how the promises sustained and strengthened Bunyan. He was filled with Scripture. Everything he wrote was saturated with Bible. He poured over his English Bible, which he had most of the time. This is why he can say of his writings, “I have not for these things fished in other men’s waters; my Bible and Concordance are my only library in my writings” (John Piper, “To Live Upon God That is Invisible,” an online biography of John Bunyan at the Desiring God website).

Notice what Bunyan says at the end? The “only library” that are in his “writings” are his Bible and his concordance. The value of sitting down with the Bible and a simple concordance cannot be overstated. You sit down and you let the concordance lead you to text after text that sheds light on the passage you are studying. There is great value and much joy in this simple exercise of Bible study.

Want to learn more? Interested in studying how to better study your Bible? Visit and purchase a copy of Mining God’s Word (


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