Community Baptist Church Ladies’ Book Study

Pilgrim’s Progress Chapter 8; February 9, 2016

I.                    Review last lesson

a.       At the last meeting, we saw how Christian finally made it to the Wicket Gate.  He knocks more than once, trusting the invitation that was posted on the Gate.  He answers Goodwill’s inquiry as to who he was, where he was from, but MORE IMPORTANTLY where he was headed.

b.      We saw how the Gate was a picture of Christ, the Narrow Way, and that Goodwill also represented him, receiving seekers with a willing heart.

c.       Christian looks towards the way ahead with some fear of being able to distinguish the right way in light of his past failures.  Goodwill re-emphasizes that he will know that right way by keeping on the NARROW, STRAIT path.

d.      Goodwill then points him towards Interpreter’s House with the encouragement that Christian would be shown excellent things there.

II.                   Interpreter’s House

a.       Again we see Christian as the “seeker”, as he knocks more than once on Interpreter’s door.  He is putting the advice of Goodwill into practice.  Considering what he has been through in past failures, he is careful, yet eager to do just as instructed.  He is expecting to receive help for his journey.

b.      Interpreter warmly welcomes him and commands his helper to “light the candle” and beckons Christian to follow.

c.       APPLICATION:  Who does Interpreter represent?  And the candle?  Yes, the Spirit and the Word.  Here we begin to see two essential helps in making our way to the Celestial City.  Christian’s entry through the Wicket Gate was not the end of his journey; it was really only the beginning.  Those that endure to the END will be saved.  And to make it to the end we need wisdom, guidance, help, and strength.  How many times have I tried to forge ahead relying on the strength of my flesh?  If it can be accomplished on my own, can I say that it is a work of God?  It may temporarily satisfy me and even look good to others for a time, but eventually the fruit is going to rot, whether it be through my own pride that corrupts the pseudo-fruit or if it be through unmistakable failure.  We can’t do this by ourselves.  WE HAVE TO HAVE THE POWERFUL LEADING AND ILLUMINATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BRINGING LIGHT TO HIS WORD.  The Spirit and the Word.  The more we realize our dependence, the better off we are.

III.                The Godly Pastor

a.       The first room to which Interpreter leads Christian is to a room which has the picture of a very serious, important man hanging on the wall.  His features were:  his eyes were directed to Heaven, the best of books was in his hand, the law of truth was written on his lips, the world was behind his back, and he stood as if pleading with men. 

b.      The godly pastor has his gaze fixed on Heaven, looking to God for strength and grace for the work and keeping his focus on the eternal, as he deals with never-dying souls of men.

c.       He has a close tie with and dependence on the best of books, the Word of God.  He gives his life to its study to gain skill in rightly dividing it.

d.      He speaks truthfully with men, not wanting to deceive or misrepresent eternally significant truths.

e.      He is not tied down with the cares of this world; he recognizes it’s temporal nature and labors for the eternal.  He is not greedy of “filthy lucre”/material gain.  He recognizes the weighty responsibility of his calling.

f.        He is God’s gift to the church.  And God will reward those who remain faithful to His Word and to the souls of men.

g.       Before leaving the first room, Interpreter issues a warning to Christian that he keep in mind what he has seen and carefully weigh those he encounters that claim to be servants of God.  Not all are what they claim to be.  False teachers claim to lead the right way, but their way ends in death.  Prov. 14:12

h.      APPLICATION:  1)Thank God for the gift of His faithful servants and value them highly for their works sake.  2)Be careful who I follow!  There are counterfeits a-plenty.  Judge every man by the light of God’s Word.  Does he follow the Book?  Does he speak the truth? Is the world behind his back?  Is his focus on eternal or temporal? Does he plead with the souls of men?

IV.                The Law and the Gospel

a.       Next Christian is taken into a large room which was full of dust and had never been swept.  Interpreter then calls for a man to begin sweeping.  The dust begins to swirl and to rise, Christian begins to sputter and cough, nearly choking to death.  Interpreter then calls for a gracious lady to come and sprinkle the room with water.  The dust began to settle and the parlor was then easily swept and cleansed.

b.      Interpreter goes on to explain the meaning.  **What did the parlor represent? (the unregenerate heart of man) **What is represented by the dust? (his original sin and inward corruption)  **What is represented by he who first began to sweep? (the Law)  **Who was the gracious lady who brought water and sprinkled the room? (the Gospel).

c.       Just as no part of the room was untouched by the dust, there is no part of us that is untouched by our sin nature and the corruption that flows from it.  “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.  From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it…” Isaiah 1:5b-6

d.      The law cannot cleanse our hearts; it exposes, but it does not conquer.  “It does not have the power to subdue.”

e.      The Gospel alone has the power to soften, cleanse, and make the heart new, making it a suitable dwelling place for the Spirit of God.

V.                  Patience and Passion

a.       Patience and Passion are the occupants of the next room.  They are polar opposites.  **Who can tell me something about them?**  Passion wants his reward NOW.  Patience is willing to wait for his inheritance.

b.      Each representative of the two kinds that make up this world:  those who live for the now and those who know that their eternal inheritance awaits them in Heaven.

c.       This earth will pass away and the lusts thereof, but he that does the will of God will abide forever. 

VI.                 The Fire of Grace in the Heart

a.       In the next room there is a fire burning.  There was a man continually casting buckets of water on the fire trying to extinguish it.  But in spite of this, the fire just burned higher and hotter.

b.      Interpreter leads Christian behind the wall where there is a Man casting oil on the fire.  This represents Christ who continually applies the oil of His grace to the tried and tempted soul.

c.       No one, not Satan himself, can steal the grace of Christ from beloved, blood-bought children.  The adversary never rests, continually “throwing water” to try to extinguish the work of God in our hearts, to tempt us to forsake our Savior.  But his attacks will only prove to drive us closer to Christ, Who will never leave nor forsake us.  He takes personal interest in the victory of His loved ones and the fire burns hotter….

VII.              Perseverance Against Fierce Opposition

a.       Next, Christian is led to a beautiful palace.  There were a large number of men at the front door, desiring entrance, but lacking courage.  There was another group of armored men intent on using any means necessary to keep anyone from gaining entrance.  Most men cowered at the thought of forcing their way through the powerful opposition, but there was one man with sword drawn, helmet on his head, rushing towards the door.  He was met with deadly force, but not being discouraged, he fought them off with ferocity.  He both received and gave many wounds, but gained victory over his enemies and entrance into the palace.  He was met with a joyful welcome.  He was given new garments that matched the citizens of the palace.

b.      APPLICATION:  We are told in Acts 14:22 that through much tribulation we will enter the kingdom of God.  Jesus expressed the necessity of aggressively pursuing the kingdom of God.  In the KJV the word “violence” is used in association with this pursuit.  We cannot be passive in this thing.  We have to guard against spiritual drowsiness when there is a fight of faith to be waged.  The Scriptures are FULL of instruction about the tribulations to be suffered and the exhortation to be armed and active.  We cannot sleep the sleep of ease once we enter the Wicket Gate (coming to faith in Christ).  There is a battle to be fought.  Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:  But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s suffering; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.  I Peter 4:12, 13

VIII.            The Iron Cage

a.       Christian now thought that he had seen enough to carry him on his way, but Interpreter said, “No, there is a little more you need to see.”  He had seen many necessary and helpful things, but there were warnings to be issued through sobering scenes.

b.      Then Christian comes face to face with a sad sight, really a devastating one devoid of hope.  He is led into a dark room and lays eyes on a man…a man imprisoned in an iron cage.  His eyes are cast downward; his heavy sighs giving expression to his breaking heart.    Interpreter encouraged Christian to engage with him and probe for answers regarding how he landed in such a condition/place.

c.       The man then begins to relay how that he was once a professor of Christ, who looked healthy and seemed to be flourishing.  He was looked on with respect by other Christians and was sure he would reach the Celestial City.

d.      And then…..he no doubt at first began to neglect the Word of God, which led to his sinning against it by eventually removing any restraint on his lusts, which warred against his soul, leaving him with a hard heart and in this state of hopelessness. 

e.      Christian questioned him to see what it was that would lead him to gamble with his eternal destiny.  **Read his response bottom of pg. 43-44.**

f.        APPLICATION:  I am reminded of the passage in Proverbs 5 and the warning it gives for frequenting the company of the harlot.  Her call goes out promising unequaled pleasure, but in reality it is a banquet in the grave.  And in the end, the mournful lust-driven fellow with flesh and body consumed cries, “How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to those who instructed me!”  (Proverbs 5:12, 13)  Sin promises much, and indeed there are pleasures for a season, but in the end it only robs and destroys.  This serves as a warning for us….”let not sin therefore reign in your body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.  Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin:  but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. (Romans 6:12, 13)  We cannot play with sin and not get burned.  We cannot follow the lusts of our flesh and presume upon the grace of God.  We may just end up in an iron cage.  Let us walk in reverence and godly fear.

IX.                The Warning of Final Judgment

a.       Christian is led into a final chamber.  He encounters a man who is trembling with fear.  He begins to recount to Christian his fearful dream.  The skies grow black and laced with thunder and lightning.  The clouds roll back, a trumpet sounds, and then appears a Man sitting on a cloud attended with thousands of heavenly beings.  Both they and the heavens were encompassed with blazing fire.  The dead are called to rise and all are called to face their judgment.  The Man opens the book and all are called into account for the deeds done in the body in their lifetime.  The Man orders the tares to be bundled and cast into the fire.  The Bottomless Pit is opened up, fire spewing, and hideous noises rising.  At the same time, the Man orders for the wheat to be gathered into the storehouse.  The Man’s eye was upon the trembling dreamer, whose sins came flooding into his remembrance, accusing him from every direction.  Judgment had finally come and he was not ready for it.  The Judge stared at him with angry disapproval.

b.      What a sobering scene.  The Scriptures are clear on this.  We are plainly told that we all have an appointment before the judgment seat of Christ and will give an account of the deeds done in our body.  (2 Corinthians 5:10)  We are told that God will divide the wheat from the tares in that day.  We are given vivid and even terrifying pictures of the end of those who live life as if there is no eternity.  And we are warned to make our calling and election sure and to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  Our only hope is in Christ and our union with Him and yet we cannot live a presumptuous life.  We must walk in godliness and fear and with an eye on eternity.  The day will come as a thief in the night.

c.       Let us be warned and draw close to our Savior…nearer, still nearer.

X.                   Mysteries of the Kingdom

a.       So here we have the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, which are hid from some and given to others:

b.      These are kingdom essentials. 

1.       The Holy Spirit

2.       The Word of God

3.       Faithful Pastors/Teachers/Overseers

4.       The Power of the Gospel changes, not the keeping of the Law

5.       Patience to await our inheritance

6.       Sure and constant attacks of the Enemy/Christ’s applying of the oil of grace to keep us

7.       Perseverance to the end

8.       Warnings against obeying our flesh

9.       Warnings of pending judgment