Thursday, July 30, 2009



It's been very good reading Pilgrim's Progress with my three little girls and at the same time consulting a commentary and a curriculum to expand our understanding of what we read.

click here for link to commentary
click here for link to curriculum

Though through freqent readigns and listenings there is not yet so much familiarity with Bunyan's allegory that a little outside resources can't provide some additional input.

Click here to see how we listen to Pilgrim's Progress

Having just finished reading and discussing Christian's entering in through the wicket gate and his introduction to Mr. Goodwill I give you the text and following that a brief example of how the curriculum aided our discussion.


Click here to read in context

At last there came a grave person to the gate, named Goodwill, who asked who was there, and whence he came, and what he would have.

Christian: Here is a poor burdened sinner. I come from the city of Destruction, but am going to Mount Zion, that I may be delivered from the wrath to come; I would therefore, sir, since I am informed that by this gate is the way thither, know if you are willing to let me in.

Goodwill: I am willing with all my heart, said he; and with that he opened the gate.

So when Christian was stepping in, the other gave him a pull. Then said Christian, What means that? The other told him, A little distance from this gate there is erected a strong castle, of which Beelzebub is the captain: from thence both he and they that are with him, shoot arrows at those that come up to this gate, if haply they may die before they can enter in. Then said Christian, I rejoice and tremble. So when he was got in, the man of the Gate asked him who directed him thither.

Christian: Evangelist bid me come hither and knock, as I did: and he said, that you, sir, would tell me what I must do.

Goodwill: An open door is set before thee, and no man can shut it.

Christian: Now I begin to reap the benefits of my hazards.

Goodwill: But how is it that you came alone?

Christian: Because none of my neighbors saw their danger as I saw mine.

Goodwill: Did any of them know of your coming?

Christian: Yes, my wife and children saw me at the first, and called after me to turn again: also, some of my neighbors stood crying and calling after me to return; but I put my fingers in my ears, and so came on my way.

Goodwill: But did none of them follow you, to persuade you to go back?

Christian: Yes, both Obstinate and Pliable; but when they saw that they could not prevail, Obstinate went railing back; but Pliable came with me a little way.

Goodwill: But why did he not come through?

Christian: We indeed came both together until we came to the Slough of Despond, into the which we also suddenly fell. And then was my neighbor Pliable discouraged, and would not venture farther. Wherefore, getting out again on the side next to his own house, he told me I should possess the brave country alone for him: so he went his way, and I came mine; he after Obstinate, and I to this gate.

Goodwill: Then said Goodwill, Alas, poor man; is the celestial glory of so little esteem with him, that he counteth it not worth running the hazard of a few difficulties to obtain it?

Christian: Truly, said Christian, I have said the truth of Pliable; and if I should also say all the truth of myself, it will appear there is no betterment betwixt him and myself. It is true, he went back to his own house, but I also turned aside to go in the way of death, being persuaded thereto by the carnal arguments of one Mr. Worldly Wiseman.

Goodwill: Oh, did he light upon you? What, he would have had you seek for ease at the hands of Mr. Legality! They are both of them a very cheat. But did you take his counsel?

Christian: Yes, as far as I durst. I went to find out Mr. Legality, until I thought that the mountain that stands by his house would have fallen upon my head; wherefore there I was forced to stop.

Goodwill: That mountain has been the death of many, and will be the death of many more: it is well you escaped being by it dashed in pieces.

Christian: Why truly I do not know what had become of me there, had not Evangelist happily met me again as I was musing in the midst of my dumps; but it was God’s mercy that he came to me again, for else I had never come hither. But now I am come, such a one as I am, more fit indeed for death by that mountain, than thus to stand talking with my Lord. But O, what a favor is this to me, that yet I am admitted entrance here!

Goodwill: We make no objections against any, notwithstanding all that they have done before they come hither; they in no wise are cast out. John 6:37. And therefore good Christian, come a little way with me, and I will teach thee about the way thou must go. Look before thee; dost thou see this narrow way? That is the way thou must go. It was cast up by the patriarchs, prophets, Christ, and his apostles, and it is as strait as a rule can make it; this is the way thou must go.

Christian: But, said Christian, are there no turnings nor windings, by which a stranger may lose his way?

Goodwill: Yes, there are many ways butt down upon this, and they are crooked and wide: but thus thou mayest distinguish the right from the wrong, the right only being strait and narrow. Matt. 7:14.

Then I saw in my dream, that Christian asked him further, if he could not help him off with his burden that was upon his back. For as yet he had not got rid thereof; nor could he by any means get it off without help.

He told him, “As to thy burden, be content to bear it until thou comest to the place of deliverance; for there it will fall from thy back of itself.”

Some Scriptures to Consider accompanying this section:
Joh 10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

Q. Who is this man Goodwill?
A. Jesus
See I never quite thought of Goodwill as Jesus himself in Bunyan's allegory but rather as God's good will personified. Both resources I consulted held forth Mr. Goodwill as Christ and certainly it fits as we think of the good will of Jesus Christ to receive all that come to God by Him. And also here in John 10:9 where Jesus, himself, tells us that He is the door. We are to enter through him and entering through him we shall be saved!

Note: it is my goal that as we read Pilgrim's Progress together, we will in fact spend more time in the word of God searching out the truth behind the allegory. So the time we spend here with Mr. Goodwill opens the door to discuss several things.

Joh 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

and again:

Joh 6:35-40 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

2Pet 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Q. Why is Christ thus so willing to receive all comers?
A. Christ is thus so willing because they were given to him by the Father. How can he not receive any whom the Father has given to himself? And not only is Christ willing to receive all that come to him being given to him by the Father, but HE is also ABLE to receive all comers as he, himself, is God our Saviour. In him we live. He has undertaken to be our surety, our sins are forgiven in him - nothing bars us from him, for to him we have been given, and by him our debt to wrath was satisfied, and in him we are counted perfect and righteous.

For a wonderful exposition of John 6:37, I recommend, Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, by John Bunyan. click here

The curriculum also asked:
Q. How did Christian display honesty when talking with Goodwill even when it hurt is own
reputation? Explain in your own words.

A. One quote could be: "Truly, said Christian, I have said the truth of Pliable; and if I should also say all the truth of myself, it will appear there is no betterment betwixt him and myself. It is true, he went back to his own house, but I also turned aside to go in the way of death, being persuaded thereto by the carnal arguments of one Mr. Worldly Wiseman." Where Christian did not hide his own sin. 1John 1:9

Also asked:
Q. What did Christian call the road that Mr. Worldly Wiseman sent him down?
A. "Way of Death"

and then:
Q. How does what Christian says there relate to our own times where it is very popular to say that "all roads lead to heaven?"

A. Answer was open ended and meant to spark discussion. But I'm thinking of John 14:6 and
Prov 14:12 or even Acts 4:12. All roads do NOT lead to heaven. In fact, as my girls pointed out this morning, not only is Jesus the wicket gate, and Mr. Goodwill, but he, himself, is also the way. And he is the only way to heaven. If you are not on that strait and narrow way which alone is the way of life then you are in the way of death.

For more on both Goodwill and Interpreter check out Bunyan Characters by Alexander Whyte by clicking here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Last week we discussed writing out a paragraph or two in our own words describing "What is the Gospel." Click Here to see previous post This has resulted in a couple of good conversations and the following email from my good brother in Christ, Jim who expressing that "it was a joy thinking through the work of God from all creation" wrote the following:

My Short View of the Gospel

Before the foundation of the world (before creation) (Eph 1:4) it pleased God to choose/predestine/foreordain a people for himself from every tribe, tongue, people and every nation, (Rev 5:9) He wrote their names in a book called the Book of Life of the Lamb. (Rev 13:8) God then created the universe including the world and everything in it. He created man in his own image. Adam, the first man, disobeyed God’s command and his disobedience brought the penalty of death to him and all of his descendants. Out of Adam's fallen race would come God’s chosen people, who would be drawn to God by the hearing of His word and would believe and trust God. Trusting God was the evidence that they were His elect. To redeem His people required a payment or ransom for their sin. God gives His people the faith/belief needed for their salvation. (Eph 2:8-9) The evidence that it would require a blood sacrifice for payment of sin can be traced from God's covering Adam and Eve with skin (Gen 3:21) and his promise of a redeemer. (Gen 3:15) The history of God's salvation begins with His mercy shown to Adam and Eve all the way to the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who was fully God and fully man, who came to pay the ransom for God’s people. Jesus is the lamb who was slain in the mind of God before the foundation of the world. (Rev 13:8) Jesus paid the ransom or penal substitutionary atonement by giving His own sinless body as a perfect sacrifice for sin. He died on a cross and His blood was adequate payment for the sin of God’s people.(1Cor 15:3-4) All those whom God has chosen will, by the gift of faith, come to Christ and will receive Him as their Savior and Lord.

Hoping soon to add my own summary I invite you also to email me your own attempts or you may use the comment section below.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Man in the Picture


As we read through Pilgrim's Progress we have now arrived in the Interpreter's House. I'd like to come back to the Interpreter again in another post and for this reason, the description of the various things shown to Christian here has been called "A Classic Within A Classic." I couldn't agree more. But this post will be limited to the first thing shown to Christian as he enters the house, "The Man in the Picture." Note the picture at the top of this post. It's not perfect, so for that reason let Bunyan draw picture for you as your read the following: (note click here for more on the interpreter's house at the Pilgrim's Progress Commentaries.)

click here to read for yourself

Interpreter: Then said Interpreter, Come in; I will show thee that which will be profitable to thee. So he commanded his man to light the candle, and bid Christian follow him; so he had him into a private room, and bid his man open a door; the which when he had done, Christian saw the picture a very grave person hang up against the wall; and this was the fashion of it: It had eyes lifted up to heaven, the best of books in his hand, the law of truth was written upon its lips, the world was behind its back; it stood as if it pleaded with men, and a crown of gold did hang over its head.

Christian: Then said Christian, What means this?

Interpreter: The man whose picture this is, is one of a thousand: he can beget children, 1 Cor 4:15, travail in birth with children, Gal 4:19, and nurse them himself when they are born. And whereas thou seest him with his eyes lift up to heaven, the best of books in his hand, and the law of truth writ on his lips: it is to show thee, that his work is to know, and unfold dark things to sinners; even as also thou seest him stand as if he pleaded with men. And whereas thou seest the world as cast behind him, and that a crown hangs over his head; that is to show thee, that slighting and despising the things that are present, for the love that he hath to his Master’s service, he is sure in the world that comes next, to have glory for his reward. Now, said the Interpreter, I have showed thee this picture first, because the man whose picture this is, is the only man whom the Lord of the place whither thou art going hath authorized to be thy guide in all difficult places thou mayest meet with in the way: wherefore take good heed to what I have showed thee, and bear well in thy mind what thou hast seen, lest in thy journey thou meet with some that pretend to lead thee right, but their way goes down to death.

All day have I thought of this man. And with gratitude and thankfulness to God I consider my own Godly pastor for this is Bunyan's description of the Godly pastor.

True Pastors are gifted by God and true Pastors are a gift from God.
Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

Very Grave Person: Sober and serious about the matters of eternal consequence and the care of souls. 1Tim 3:2

Eyes Lifted up to Heaven: From whence comes our help, to whom is all our dependency. His is a God-Centered ministry. 2Cor 5:1-2, Phil 3:20, 1Pet 1:4

The Best of Books in his Hand: The godly pastor is guided by, speaks from, and filled with God's word. What other book could there be, and where else could he look? There are pastors many, but the true pastor carries the Word of God with him always.

Law of truth was written upon its lips: Speaking the word in all his counsel.

World was behind his Back: Not for money, nor fame, nor pride, not worldly advancement, it is crucified unto him and he to it. Gal 6:14, 1Pet 5:2

Stood as if it pleaded with men: Calling them to repentance, warning them to flee the wrath to come, to find all their delight and happiness in Christ. 2Cor 5:20, 1Th 2:5-12

Crown of gold did hang over its head: The world having no reward, his reward is with the God who reigns over all. 2Tim 4:7-8

Praise God for His gift, this man who is one in a thousand, the true godly pastor.

Read the following from Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners by John Bunyan, his own appreciation, for the godly pastor who cared for his soul at the beginning of his heavenward-race:

click here for Grace Abounding: (see especially paragraph #77 and #117)
At this time, also, I sat under the ministry of holy Mr. Gifford, whose doctrine, by God’s grace, was much for my stability. This man made it much his business to deliver the people of God from all those false and unsound rests that, by nature, we are prone to take and make to our souls. He pressed us to take special heed that we took not up any truth upon trust - as from this, or that, or any other man or men - but to cry mightily to God that he would convince us of the reality thereof, and set us down therein, by his own Spirit, in the Holy Word; for, said he, if you do other wise when temptations come, if strongly, you, not having received them ithevidence from heaven, will find you want that help and strength now to resist as once you thought you had.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Advice Concerning Worldly-Wiseman

AS WE READ THRU PILGRIM'S PROGRESS I hope from time to time to bring out some thoughts which most spoke to me and my girls.

A little background and Advertisement:

My three little girls and I are reading Pilgrim's Progress together and loving it. My wife and I have long considered this book by John Bunyan next to the bible, itself, our family book. And like the Holy Scriptures, Pilgrim's Progress, unites us in our vocabulary, in our experiences, in our common understanding. As we currently read through Pilgrim's Progress we are attempting to make this a kind of Bible Study and not just the reading of a book, or a supplanting of the bible with another book. But we are looking for biblical truths, gospel insights, and those things which will cause us to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. We look up every verse reference cited in the text or footnotes. And hopefully and purposefully we spend a greater time discussing the Word of God than the allegory.

We have just finished Stage 1 and are beginning Stage 2 as Christian enters the Interpreters house. Only 25 pages into the book, but several hours and several days have passed already. Time forbids me from happily relating to you how much fun we had in the author's apology at the beginning of the book - or the four consecutive hours we spent on just the first 9 pages - which was tremendous.

Let's begin:

Evangelists counsel to Christian concerning Worldly Wiseman:
click here to read for yourself

Then Evangelist proceeded, saying, Give more earnest heed to the things that I shall tell thee of. I will now show thee who it was that deluded thee, and who it was also to whom he sent thee. The man that met thee is one Worldly Wiseman, and rightly is he so called; partly because he savoreth only the doctrine of this world, 1John 4:5, (therefore he always goes to the town of Morality to church;) and partly because he loveth that doctrine best, for it saveth him best from the cross, Gal 6:12: and because he is of this carnal temper, therefore he seeketh to pervert my ways, though right. Now there are three things in this man’s counsel that thou must utterly abhor.

1. His turning thee out of the way.

2. His laboring to render the cross odious to thee.

3. And his setting thy feet in that way that leadeth unto the administration of death.

First, Thou must abhor his turning thee out of the way; yea, and thine own consenting thereto; because this is to reject the counsel of God for the sake of the counsel of a Worldly Wiseman. The Lord says, “Strive to enter in at the straight gate,” Luke 13:24, the gate to which I send thee; “for strait is the gate that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matt 7:13-14. From this little wicket-gate, and from the way thereto, hath this wicked man turned thee, to the bringing of thee almost to destruction: hate, therefore, his turning thee out of the way, and abhor thyself for hearkening to him.

Secondly, Thou must abhor his laboring to render the cross odious unto thee; for thou art to prefer it before the treasures of Egypt. Heb 11:25-26. Besides, the King of glory hath told thee, that he that will save his life shall lose it. And he that comes after him, and hates not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be his disciple. Mark 8:38; John 12:25; Matt. 10:39; Luke 14:26. I say, therefore, for a man to labor to persuade thee that that shall be thy death, without which, the truth hath said, thou canst not have eternal life, this doctrine thou must abhor.

Thirdly, Thou must hate his setting of thy feet in the way that leadeth to the ministration of death. And for this thou must consider to whom he sent thee, and also how unable that person was to deliver thee from thy burden.

It was this that really jumped out at me:
Now there are three things in this man’s counsel that thou must utterly abhor.

1. His turning thee out of the way.

2. His laboring to render the cross odious to thee.

3. And his setting thy feet in that way that leadeth unto the administration of death.

Note the words "utterly abhor." For the protecting against the false counsel of a worldly-wiseman we must "HATE TO THE UTTERMOST" these three things in Worldly-Wiseman' advice.

1. Anything that would take us off of Jesus Christ. Anything that would remove us from Jesus Christ who is the way the truth and the life. John 14:6. HATE IT.

2. Anything that would make the cross of Jesus Christ a disgusting thing to you. I take this to be the gospel truth that Jesus Christ the eternal son of the living God, took upon himself our SINS, they were imputed to him and for us and in our place he died on the cross to fully satisfy all the wrath of God due towards us for our sin. "HATE TO THE UTTERMOST" anything that would lessen the gospel truth of the cross of Jesus Christ.

1Co 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Gal 6:12 As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
Gal 6:13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.
Gal 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

Death on a cross is most horrible and disgusting, but the truth that Christ died for us, is precious and sweet to our soul. When a worldly-wiseman gives counsel that would obscure the cross, diminish the cross, he is making that sweet truth seem less important, and thus is really ashamed of the cross of Christ and making it odious. HATE SUCH COUNSEL UTTERLY.

3. "HATE TO THE UTTERMOST" the counsel of a worldly-wiseman which would bring you back under law for merit. The law condemns but it can never save. No enabling power in the law.
Gal 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

There is wisdom in Evangelists counsel to Christian which we would do well to hear and heed. What practical advice!

It is interesting to note, that Christian, after receiving this counsel from Evangelist continues on straight for the wicket gate. Keeping the light in his eye at all times as advised. And speaking no more with nor listening to any strangers along the way wishing to help him with his burden.

"So he went on with haste, neither spake he to any man by the way; nor if any asked him, would he vouchsafe them an answer. He went like one that was all the while treading on forbidden ground, and could by no means think himself safe, till again he was got into the way which he had left to follow Mr. Worldly Wiseman’s counsel."

By the grace of God we hope to continue to report on our reading through the PILGRIM'S PROGRESS.

Summarizing the Gospel

In the past I've been encouraged to make an attempt to write out a summary of the gospel. It was a profitable exercise - made me think - and strengthened my grasp of the gospel. Only problem - I remember taking several notebook pages to accomplish the task. Afraid of missing anything I tried to include everything. In retrospect, I think I may have included some things that are not technically considered "the gospel" but essential truths none-the-less.

Today I'm prodding myself to make another attempt but with the results hopefully not extending much beyond a paragraph. Maybe you would like to do the same. Feel free to email me your results or use the comment section below. It would be great to have a future post displaying our different attempts at explaining the gospel in a nutshell.

To get us started consider the following which I read recently on Jason Robertson's Fide-O-Blog:

The Gospel Paragraph by Carson

D.A. Carson says that a good exercise for everyone would be to attempt to write a single paragraph putting the gospel into the storyline of Scripture. Here’s how Carson does it:

The gospel is integrally tied to the Bible’s story-line. Indeed, it is incomprehensible without understanding that story-line. God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath. But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects. In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell. What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel (Romans 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17).

ht: fide-o