Community Baptist Church Ladies’ Book Study

Pilgrim’s Progress Chapters 7-8; January 12, 2016

I.                    Review Last Lesson

a.       Last time we discussed Christian’s encounter with Mr. Worldly-Wiseman and his moralistic counsel, which lead to another near-death experience for the weary pilgrim.  What was it about his counsel that proved to be so deadly?  It led Christian to trust in his non-existent inherent goodness and away from the Cross, which landed him at the foot of the towering fiery Mt. Sinai.

b.      Evangelist appears once again, providing instruction, warning, and encouragement to steer Christian back to the narrow way that leads to Life.

II.                  Next Stop:  The Wicket Gate

a.       What is the definition of “wicket” anyway?  It occurred to me that I have read it many times, but never actually knew the meaning.  Webster’s Dictionary:  “a small gate or door”.  So the word “wicket” is an adjective describing the smallness or narrowness of the gate. 

b.      The wicket gate has been the goal since Evangelist pointed it out way back at the City of Destruction.  And now here he is, having safely arrived in spite of fierce opposition and narrow escapes.

c.       It comes with an invitation and instruction.  “Knock and it shall be opened unto you.”  He didn’t appear at the gate and then voila…the gate opened; he had to knock.  He had to believe that if he knocked, it would open, just as promised.  And knock he did, repeatedly, having a full sense of his former rebellion/diversion from the prescribed path, but having hope that if he knocked, the gate would open in spite of it all.

d.       APPLICATION:  Jesus said in John 10:9, “I am the door:  by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved…”  He says in Matt. 7:7, 8, “Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” He is the Wicket Gate.  It is narrow, but He compels those who believe His pronouncement of being the ONLY entrance to the path of Life, in spite of who they are and where they have been, to knock, and to believe His promise that the gate will open to them. **Read from pg. 32** In answer to Goodwill’s inquiry as to who was knocking, Christian responds that he is a poor, burdened sinner from the City of Destruction, but MORE IMPORTANTLY he was headed for Mt. Zion, the Celestial City, the Heavenly Jerusalem.  It matters not so much where we have been, but where are we headed?  As you look back on your life and walk, are you discouraged by a bad track record and fixated on your failures?  While looking back can be helpful so that we do not repeat those ill-placed steps, only take a glance and then set your eyes and your feet in forward motion and remember in the words of Christian:  “Here is a poor burdened sinner who comes from the City of Destruction.  But more importantly, I am going to Mount Zion!”  The heavenly Jerusalem.  

III.                 Goodwill, the Gatekeeper

a.       Goodwill has a grave, serious countenance. 

b.      Good-will opens the gate and when questioned if he would let Christian in, his reply is:  “I am willing with all my heart.”  Christian was caught by surprise when Goodwill grabbed him and hurriedly pulled him through being unaware of the peril he was in having Beelzebub and his cohorts ambushing him with their fiery darts in a last ditch effort to keep him from entering. 

c.       Showing care for his soul, Goodwill educates Christian about the enemy, whose strong castle is not far from the Wicket Gate, and whose minions shoot arrows at advancing pilgrims lest they enter into Life.

d.      Like Mr. Worldly-Wiseman, Goodwill asks questions of Christian, but it is out of genuine concern for his safety and advancement into the Narrow Way THROUGH the Wicket Gate.

e.      APPLICATION:  Who do you think Goodwill represents?  Goodwill:  grave of countenance.  Jesus:  A man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.  Goodwill:  “I am willing with all my heart.”  Jesus:  “Him that comes to me, I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37) Jesus said,  “No man can come unto me except the Father which hath sent me draw him…”  (John 6:44).  Are we not drawn into the kingdom by God, narrowly escaping imminent destruction/death?  God’s arch-enemy (and ours) unleashes all of the powers of Hell against those who would leave his tyrannical reign and enter the Narrow Way.  We are no match for that.  But God….

IV.                The Humble Pilgrim

a.       I want us to notice the mindset and demeanor of Christian, who has met much opposition and hardship in making his way to the Wicket Gate. 

b.      He does not let the past define or defeat him.  Pg. 32:  “Here is a poor burdened sinner who comes from the City of Destruction.  But MORE IMPORTANTLY, I am going to Mount Zion, the Celestial City.”  He does not forget the pit from which he was digged, but he is not fixated on it. He has set his sights on a Heavenly Kingdom.  At the same time, a remembrance of who he is if left to the natural leanings of his flesh and apart from grace serves to keep him in a humble state of mind.  He has nothing wherein to boast, but is completely reliant on the grace and full pardon of God. 

c.       He realizes how blessed he is to have recognized the dangerous position of the citizens of his hometown.  Pg. 33:  “None of my neighbors saw their danger as I saw mine.”  All are in danger of being consumed by the wrath to come, but not all see it.

d.      He sees that in essence he is no different than his neighbors.  Pg. 34: When recounting his time with Pliable & the Slough of Despond he says, “Though the truth with regard to myself is really no different.”  He does not try to inflate his reputation and resolve, but acknowledges that he is equally as sinful and easily duped, but for God’s grace.

e.      He is fully aware of the fact that he did not arrive at the Wicket Gate on his own.  He acknowledges the help of the all-seeing Sovereign in sending Evangelist at “just the right time”.  “It was the mercy of God that he came to me again, for otherwise I would never have come to this place.”

f.        He has a sobering sense that he was deserving that the quaking Mt. Sinai should have fallen and crushed him, exacting the payment due for his sin, rather than he be standing there talking to Goodwill. “But oh, what a gracious privilege it is for me to gain entrance here.”

g.       APPLICATION:  We must remember this:  1)Do not let your past define or defeat you.  2) When remembering your former pit, may it strengthen your resolve to not return; let it serve to humble you as you acknowledge the fact that only by God’s grace (and that’s not just a religious cliché’) are you where you are.  3)Count your blessings when considering not all have seen what you see.  4)You are made of the same stuff as the unbeliever…we are no different apart from the grace of God and His power and willingness to awaken us.  5)And say with Christian, “Oh, what a gracious privilege it is for me to gain entrance here.”

V.                  Instruction on the Way Ahead

a.       Goodwill invites Christian to walk and talk with him about the way ahead.  He points out that the way is straight and narrow, established by the patriarchs, prophets, Christ and the apostles.  This was the way he must go.

b.      Christian expresses some concern about losing his way.  At least he doesn’t expect a trouble-free path upon entrance; that is realistic!  Goodwill reemphasizes that the distinguishing mark of the right way is that it is straight and narrow.

c.       Christian seeks assistance from Goodwill to remove his burden, but Goodwill advised that the Place of Deliverance was further ahead.

d.      Christian girds up his loins ready to pay serious attention to the way ahead.  Goodwill points him the way of the House of the Interpreter and the promise that he would be shown excellent things there.

APPLICATION:  1) Who established the way?  The patriarchs, prophets, Christ and the apostles.  One of the very reasons we need the light of God’s Word to shine on our way.  We need to be in this Book lest we get out of the way. 2)The way is straight and narrow, which indicates that it is not the path of least resistance.  On the contrary, there is resistance all of the way.  The flesh dies hard.  The enemies are abundant and fierce.  We must not expect an easy road.  The citizens of our home-country will not be our travel companions.  Jesus said:  Mat 7:13  Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Mat 7:14  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.  He follows that with “Beware of false prophets..” who will be known by their fruit.  It is a hard road, but great is our reward in heaven.  3)After all of this….but next!  Christian will receive refreshment, instruction, and encouragement at the House of the Interpreter.  The road is hard, but God is good.  In the words of John Piper when relaying the simple words of wisdom given to him by his father:  “Life is hard; God is Sovereign; God is Good.”