The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
Mar 13, 2011
The Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory of a Christian’s journey (here represented by a character called ‘Christian’) from the “City of Destruction” to the “Celestial City”. Along the way he visits such locations as the Slough of Despond, Vanity Fair, the Doubting Castle, and the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Bunyan, the author, had very little formal education and a humble background. Nonetheless Pilgrim’s Progress is considered one of the masterpieces of English literature, and is required reading for Christians who are on the spiritual path in a world of temptations.
…lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. 2 Corinthians 2:11
Last fall, an employee at a museum in Washington State tried to feed Stella, a Burmese python. When the creature smelled its dinner of rats, it became aggressive and struck the woman’s leg. Firefighters had to pry the snake loose. The museum’s owner told reporters the woman hadn’t been properly trained to handle the snake.
If that gives you shivers, remember, there’s a snake after us too—the old serpent, the devil. We shouldn’t be ignorant of his devices, lest we be corrupted by Satan as Eve was deceived by the craftiness of the serpent (2 Corinthians 11:3). That’s why we study the Bible, the only book that provides proper training on how to handle him. We’re to put on the Gospel armor and stand firm against his schemes (James 4:7; Ephesians 6:11). We’re to pray for deliverance from the evil one (Matthew 6:13). We’re to keep our lives free from lust, greed, and other areas where Satan can find a foothold (Ephesians 4:27).
The simplest formula is this one: “Submit to God, Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8).
Don’t think of Satan as a harmless cartoon character with a red suit and a pitchfork. He is very clever and powerful, and his unchanging purpose is to defeat God’s plans at every turn—including His plans for your life. Billy Graham, in The Journey
Enoch’s walk with the Lord was so close that Scripture tells us, “God took him” (Gen. 5:24). This implies Enoch didn’t die but was taken directly into the presence of God. What a wonderful testimony!
As we seek to follow God with this same passion, let’s review some specific steps to help us keep up in our walk with the Lord.
Reconciliation. This concept carries the sense of God moving toward us. We can be joyful because the responsibility is all His. Through the cross of His Son Jesus Christ, God has already made His move in our direction. Scripture says, “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18). When we trust in Christ, we immediately take part in that reconciliation.
Trusting God. We must have faith, not only that God is concerned with our walk, but that He has, through Jesus Christ, provided all we need to walk intimately with Him anytime.
Agreement. To appreciate the closeness God longs to have with us, we must agree with what Scripture teaches about His Son, His Word, the church, and our problem with sin.
Fellowship. Just as human relationships fall apart without regular contact, our intimacy with God weakens when we don’t spend time with Him.
Walking with God is not an impossible mission, but it does require careful attention to the details of our Christian lives. When we set our course for God, He’ll always be there to direct our paths (Prov. 3:5-6).
“And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” (2 Timothy 2:26)
We are in a great battle for the minds of young people today. The battlefield may be the classroom, or the home, or the church, or the family television, or any place else where teaching—good or bad—takes place.
It is significant that one of the greatest verses on teaching and one of the greatest on soldiering occur together. “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:2-3). Thus, it seems clear that a faithful teacher is a good soldier in the battle of Jesus Christ against the devil for the minds of those we are trying to teach.
The battle is not to be fought with bullets, however, or even with ballots, but with “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Furthermore, our battlefield strategy is not to strike down our enemy with a sharpened tongue or to bludgeon him with a superior intellect. “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6). Our text for the day gives us reason to continue, for it promises that those whose minds have been ensnared by the devil may yet be recovered. The words just preceding this verse describe our tactics: “The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:24-25). Not even Satan can stand before the mighty sword of the Spirit, wielded by an apt soldier-teacher. HMM
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
It is possible to grow up in a church, learn the catechism and have everything done to us that they do to us, within reason. But after we have done all that, we may not know God at all, because God isn’t known by those external things. We are blind and can’t see, because the things of God no man knows but by the Spirit of God….
We imagine that we can handle it by the flesh, and we do handle it by the flesh—the Lord lets us do it. We can hold the creed and not know God in His person at all. We can know the doctrine and not know spiritual things at all. The fearful consequence is that many people know about God but don’t know God Himself. There is a vast difference between knowing about God and knowing God—a vast difference!…
So it is that the human being can know about God, can know about Christ’s dying for him, can even write songs and books, can be the head of religious organizations and hold important church offices—and still never have come to the vital, personal knowledge of God at all. Only by the Holy Spirit can he know God.
Lord, it is humbling to consider the possibility that I could know all about You, and yet not know You personally. Impart Your Spirit, Lord, that I may truly know You. Amen.
The end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. (1 Peter 4:7)
When the Bible says that God is calling a special people out of the nations to bear the name of His eternal Son, I believe it—and His name is Jesus!
Our pious forefathers believed in spiritual preparation, and they said so. They saw themselves as a bride being prepared to meet the Bridegroom. They regarded this earth as the dressing room to outfit themselves for heaven.
The evangelical church has come through a period when nearly everyone has believed that there is just one prerequisite to readiness: being born again. We have made being born again almost like receiving a pass to a special event—when Jesus returns we whip out the pass to prove our readiness.
Frankly, I, Tozer, do not think it will be like that. I do not believe that all professed believers are automatically ready to meet the Lord. Our Savior Himself was joined by Peter and John and Paul in warning and pleading that we should live and watch and pray, so to be ready for Jesus’ coming.
In the very beginning, when this great universe lay in the mind of God, like unborn forests in the acorn-cup; long ere the echoes walked the solitudes; before the mountains were brought forth; and long ere the light flashed through the sky, God loved His chosen creatures. Before there was creatureship—when the æther was not fanned by the angel’s wing; when space itself had not an existence; when there was nothing save God alone; even then, in that loneliness of Deity, and in that deep quiet and profundity, His love moved for His chosen. Their names were written on His heart, and then were they dear to His soul.