Community Baptist Church Ladies’ Book Study
Pilgrim’s Progress Chapters 9-11; April 12, 2016
I. Review last lesson
a. At the last meeting, Christian makes his way to Interpreter’s house where he will visit several rooms containing important lessons for the journey ahead.
b. His host, Interpreter, leads the way with candle lit representative of the Spirit and the Word, both imperative to thriving on his journey.
c. The first room contains a portrait of a godly pastor with eyes fixed on Heaven, the best of books in his hand, the law of truth written on his lips and the world behind his back. God has given overseers as gifts to the Church, another important help on the way.
d. Next is the room full of dust, signifying the law, that when disturbed sends up a whirl of dust causing Christian to choke. Interpreter calls for a gracious lady to bring water, representing the Gospel, which then allows the room to be cleansed, just as the Gospel cleanses our hearts.
e. The occupants of the next room were Patience and Passion, polar opposites. The one wanting his reward NOW, the other content to await his eternal inheritance in Heaven.
f. Next is the room with the fire burning brought in spite of the man continuously dousing it with buckets of water in order to extinguish it. This represents Satan’s tireless efforts to keep us from Christ. The fire burns brighter and brighter due to the One on the other side of the wall keeping life in the fire with application of oil. This is none other than Christ Himself who will not lose one that the Father has given him.
g. Then we see the sobering sight of the man in the iron cage. He is imprisoned there after having given in to his lusts, though having once been a respected member of the Christian community. Having sinned against the light and quenching the Spirit, who was now departed from him and leaving him to utter shame and despair.
h. Next Christian gained a glimpse of the final judgment when the wheat is divided from the tares. Those that persevere to the end will be saved. Thus we are warned to make our calling and election sure.
i. As Christian goes on his way, he says:
Here I have seen things rare, and profitable;
Things pleasant, dreadful, things to make me stable
In what I have begun to take in hand:
Then let me think on them, and understand
For what purpose they appeared, and let me be
Thankful, O good Interpreter, to thee.
II. The Place of Deliverance
a. As Christian travels on, his way was fenced in on both sides with a Wall called Salvation. Let’s think for a moment what purpose a wall serves. A wall defines the perimeter as well as serving as protection for those within. The Scriptures tell us that God has appointed salvation to be the boundary and the bulwark that guides and protects us all the way to victory. For those outside of the walls looking in, they see us as bound, and not free. In reality, God’s boundaries are the only way to true freedom and ultimate victory. As the prophet Isaiah says (60:18), His walls are Salvation and His Gates are Praise.
b. So this way in which he runs is defined and protected providing security after a most turbulent journey heretofore. This way is also burdensome as Christian pushes forward with the burden yet on his back signifying the war between his flesh and the righteous desires of his renewed soul.
c. Christian comes to a small hill atop which stands a Cross and below it a sepulcher. As he gazes up at the Cross, his burden falls off of his back. As his focus is directed away from himself and to Christ, he finds comfort and relief.
Jonathan Edwards said: “The sweetest joys and delights I have experienced, have not been those that have arisen from a hope of my own good estate; but in a direct view of the glorious things of the gospel. When I enjoy this sweetness, it seems to carry me above the thoughts of my own estate. It seems, at such times, a loss that I cannot bear, to take off my eye from the glorious pleasant object I behold without me, to turn my eye in upon myself, and my own good estate.”
d. The attitude of his gaze is as one who is in need, unable to accomplish for himself what he needs. The object of his gaze is the One who gave rest by means of His sorrow and life by means of His death.
e. His burden of guilt is buried in the empty tomb, representing the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, his once-for-all Substitute. His salvation is accomplished in Christ alone. Romans 4:25 says, “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”
f. Christian is filled with exuberant joy as he connects by faith with this One whose death has given him life. He gazes “again and again” at the Cross. The springs of water flowing down his cheeks speaks of the Spirit of God imparted to him. And he is at once filled with peace….peace within as a result of peace with God.
g. The three Shining Ones, angels who are God’s ministering messengers, bring him four things i)The pronouncement of sins forgiven ii)COMPLETE change of garment—he is not the same person—he is now clothed in the robe of Christ’s righteousness iii)A mark on his forehead—it will be clear to all that he is distinguished from the world—being set apart for God iv)The scroll with the seal on it, which he was to carry with him to journey’s end, signifying the earnest of his inheritance, the Holy Spirit of promise, which would accompany him throughout the remainder of his journey.
h. This straight and narrow way becomes a place of freedom and the way of rejoicing. Singing has been and will be the occupation of those set free by the grace of God. Moses did it; Miriam, Hannah, David, etc. He has put a new song in our mouth, even praise to our God.
III. Simple, Sloth, and Presumption
a. Next….read the first paragraph on page 49. Here we will note several things of significance. 1)Christian had just come to the bottom of the hill and met 3 men “beside the way”. They were very close to the place of deliverance and the Way; they were close, but not in it. 2)These 3 men had this in common: they were fast asleep and they were bound in chains. They were unaware or complacent about the danger they were in. Their names were Simple, Sloth, and Presumption.
b. Christian makes an effort to awake them to alert them of the danger that they faced. He likened them to one who was asleep at the top of a mast with a bottomless gulf beneath them. What will happen if one falls asleep at the top of a mast? The book of Proverbs describes a drunkard this way. They were sleeping while in danger, ignorant of their precarious position.
c. Simple defined: “Slow of mind; given to unintelligent decisions or acts; dulled in feeling or sensation; marked by or resulting from unreasoned thinking or acting.” Simple’s response to Christian’s warning is in keeping with his nature. “I do not see any danger.”
d. Sloth defined: “Disinclination to action or labor; spiritual apathy and inactivity.” His character and attitude led to this reply: “Just let me have a little more sleep.”
e. Presumption: “Bold or arrogant disregard of normal restraints; recklessly bold.” He retorts with arrogance: “Every tub must stand on its own bottom.”
f. A vital truth that we see throughout this book is that we are not there until we’re there. It is not enough to begin the race, we must cross the finish line, and until then we be vigilant and aware. Carolyn Staley says, “Surely there is no greater personal tragedy than the loss of one’s soul. And how much more is that loss magnified when one perishes near the Cross? Yet it often happens that souls perish right out from under a sound ministry where the Gospel of Christ is faithfully declared.”
g. Simple perceived no danger; Sloth chose to ignore the danger; Presumption was confident that all was well with him after all. They were walking according to their own way, not God’s prescribed way. For them the end would be devastating as they hear the words, “Depart from Me; I never knew you.”
h. How is it with us? Do we see any of these tendencies in our own life? Just by virtue of the fact that we are here tonight tells us that we are least close to the Way. Are we in it? It is time to wake out of sleep. The time of our salvation is nearer than when we believed (Rom. 13:11).
IV. Formalist and Hypocrisy
a. Christian no sooner leaves the prisoners to their sleep, than he encounters yet another disturbing pair, who come tumbling over the wall, hurriedly trying to catch up with him.
b. The first is Formalist, whose name means: “The practice or doctrine of strict adherence to prescribed or external forms.” The second is Hypocrisy. That is, “a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; especially the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion.”
c. Everything is wrong about these two…their place of origin (Vainglory: Excessive or ostentatious pride especially in one’s achievements) and their stated purpose: “For the purpose of receiving praise”). They honestly thought they would successfully land at Mt. Zion along with Christian. They couldn’t be more wrong.
d. Christian challenges them with their point of entry. Tumbling over the wall would not do. He points out the fact that those that do not enter in by the Door will be considered, not a citizen, but a thief and a robber…just as the Scripture says in John 10:1.
e. They state the general consensus of their fellow-countryman, and that is that it’s just too far and too much trouble. Christian asks the question are they not afraid of offending the Lord of the Celestial City by trespassing against His revealed will and will their practice stand up in a court of law?
f. They tell Christian basically to not worry about it and to mind his own business. They are obviously not the least concerned about this possibility because this has been “an established route” for years. They “believe” that their way is what is true. (What we believe to be true is not what counts.) They are trusting that this practice has been around for years. What difference does it make how they got in as long as they’re in? How were they any different than Christian? They are deluded into thinking that truth is established by consensus rather than the righteous revelation of God.
g. In Bunyan’s spiritual autobiography, Grace Abounding To The Chief of Sinners, he describes himself prior to conversion as having the essential marks of these two travelers.
h. Formalist is a religious performer. His prime religious interest is in outward form. Bunyan says of himself prior to conversion: “I fell in very eagerly with the religion of the times; to whit, to go to church twice a day and there should very devoutly both say and sing as others did, yet retaining my wicked life; but withal, I was so overrun with a spirit of superstition, that I adored even all things, both the high place, priest, vestment, service. Their garb and their work did so intoxicate and bewitch me.”
i. Of the formalist Bunyan says, “He is a man that hath lost all but the shell of religion. He is hot indeed for his form; and no marvel, for that is his all to contend for. But his form being without the power and spirit of godliness, it will leave him in his sins.”
j. Hypocrisy is a religious pretender. Rutherford says, “The worst of hypocrites is he who whitens himself till he deceives himself. It is strange that a man hath such power over himself. But a man’s heart may deceive his heart, and he may persuade himself that he is godly and righteous when he knows nothing about it.”
k. Bunyan writes in his book for boys and girls:
The hypocrite is like unto the frog,
As like as is the puppy to the dog.
He is of nature cold, his mouth is wide
To prate, and at true goodness to deride.
He mounts his head as if he was above
The world, when yet ‘tis that which has his love.
And though he seeks in churches for to croak,
He neither loveth Jesus nor his yoke.
These two are two sides of the same coin. Performance with no heart for Christ. Jesus said in Matthew 6:2, “Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.” And we must ask the very sobering question, “Where is our love?”
l. Christian doesn’t pull any punches as he plainly tells them they are walking, not according to the Lord’s way, but according to their own imagination and have entered the way by their own devising. Both of which will prove them to be illegitimate pilgrims in the end.
m. In their blindness, the only difference between themselves and Christian that they see is the coat that he is wearing. They mention this as a jab to deride him. Christian acknowledges this as a free gift from the “Lord of the way”, Who will accept this as covering for Christian’s spiritual nakedness.
n. Since Formalist and Hypocrisy entered by tumbling over the wall and not through the Wicket Gate, they completely bypassed the Cross. They carry no burden of guilt on their backs due to their own blindness and self-righteousness. They are unaware of the filthy rags that cover them, so they are missing the gifts that would gain them entrance to the Celestial City: the coat, the mark in their forehead, and the scroll. Sad state of affairs indeed.
a. In this lesson we have uncovered some truths about human nature and the true nature of Biblical Christianity.
b. Salvation is in Christ alone, by faith alone, and not in our own intrinsic worth or attention to outward form.
c. We have been challenged with sobering thoughts that should lead us to self-examination to insure that we have gained entrance to this Way by God’s revealed will and not by our own devising or trust in the consensus of the crowds.
d. If we search and find that we come up wanting, what is the answer? To wallow in despair? No, but rather to make confession to God, ask Him to change and make us new, and abandon our own way, going the way of the Cross. If God awakens us to our true condition, is that not a mercy?
e. Most probably we can see some tendencies of each of these characters, which again leads us to confession to God and prayer for deliverance. May it be so for the glory of His Son.