We are approaching a full year in reading through Pilgrim's Progress.
It seems at each location and venture Christian encounters we linger quite a while together. Days and even weeks pass and we are still discussing either; The interpreters house; The Cross; Hill Difficulty; The Porters House; Appollyon; The Valley of the Shadow of Death; and now once again weeks are spent in the Frightful encounter with Talkative. Part of the reason we linger so long at each venture is that we spend a great deal of time interacting with the Biblical references provided by Bunyan himself, plus sometimes with Barry Horner's commentary; and also with the discussion questions and vignettes throughout in Answers In Genesis own book pictured above. click here to see AIG's book.
Today and for the past few days we have been on this question which I quote somewhat imperfectly from memory:
Q. Faithful describes to Talkative that the strength or weakness of one's faith can be determined according to what four things?
1) According to one's joy and peace.
2) According to one's love to holiness.
3) According to one's desires to know Christ.
4) According to one's desires to serve Christ in this world.
This question was followed up with a second.
Q. Based on the four evidences listed above is your faith weak or strong?
This led to a beautiful discussion with my three little girls in which we talked personally and at length of our joy and lack of it, what it means to love holiness and the strength of our love for holiness and how that is evidenced to each of us personally.
After pointing out the difficulty of arriving with sound judgment concerning the strength or weakness of our own faith due to remaining sin which "abuses our reason" as Bunyan writes.
There was another question following:
Q. How is our faith discovered by others?
1) By an experiential confession of it. In other words we tell others about Christ, who he is and what he has done and our own interest in Him.
2) Secondly by the living out of our faith. Joy evidenced, love to holiness evidenced, desires to know Christ more evidenced, serving Christ in this world evidenced.
And so we came to my 10 year old. She has always expressed doubts regarding her own interest in Christ. "I'm not a Christian yet but I want to be." But this morning she said plainly "Christ has made me a Christian." And evidently this happened a few months back. We had called a special prayer meeting for one of our missionaries who was in dire straits. There were a few of us gathered that night as it was a spur of the moment event. But we did really pray. And more than one has commented at how God was there that night. It had been a long time myself since I had partook in such a powerful time of prayer with several brothers and sisters. As a Father, I wanted my kids with me that night. They should experience such a season of prayer and observe how we seek God in prayer. They should partake in the joy of trusting God so desperately. It was this night that my 10 year old says God saved her and gave her a new heart. Then she reminded me how this prayer meeting happened on a Friday night and starting that very next Sunday she and another 10 year old friend from church began a little bible study reading together through the book of Genesis. Maybe a couple of paragraphs reading and then discussing and trying to understand what God was saying. Months later this study still continues. And 10 year old reports that though she had heard the stories many times it was wonderful and powerful for her to read them directly from the word of God herself.
Praising God for his abundant grace.