Friday, April 29, 2011

Pilgrim's Progress: The man named Temporary

Back when I first read Pilgrim's Progress and times prior, I struggled with the concept of "Eternal Security" or "Once Saved Always Saved."    I remember as I read through Pilgrim's Progress, being struck by the realization that John Bunyan didn't really portray those doctrines in the characters within his book.   In fact, as I read, I begin to realize Bunyan allowed for a Temporary Faith.   Nothing of this "I-led-him-in-the-sinners-prayer-myself-thus-he-is-once-saved-always-saved" in Bunyan.   Bunyan did certainly embrace eternal election.  Bunyan understood that salvation is of the Lord and not a matter of man's personal decision.  Bunyan could affirm the security of the believer but grounded it fully upon the WORK of Jesus Christ and the eternal electing-love of God and not the mere decision or will of a sinner.    At first intrigued, but then so thankful was I, to have Bunyan express the Fulness of the grace of God in Jesus Christ.  Bunyan expressed truly a Grace that makes a man something he wasn't before, that causes a man to be no longer what he was.  I realize today that this really is everywhere found in the Holy Scriptures, and all the time preached by those who understand them correctly.  But back then, as far as I could tell, Decisional-Regeneration ruled the day, and I had no voice to tell me otherwise except by the grace that caused me to keep reading, keep looking, keep seeking to understand and make sense of it all.

AND SO, still walking through the enchanted ground we pick up the conversation between our two  hero's Christian and Hopeful as they consider the case of the man named TEMPORARY.

Christian: Well then, did you not know, about ten years ago, one Temporary in your parts, who was a forward man in religion then?

Hopeful: Know him! yes; he dwelt in Graceless, a town about two miles off of Honesty, and he dwelt next door to one Turnback.

Christian: Right; he dwelt under the same roof with him. Well, that man was much awakened once: I believe that then he had some sight of his sins, and of the wages that were due thereto.

Hopeful: I am of your mind, for (my house not being above three miles from him) he would oft-times come to me, and that with many tears. Truly I pitied the man, and was not altogether without hope of him; but one may see, it is not every one that cries, “Lord, Lord!”

Christian: He told me once that he was resolved to go on pilgrimage, as we go now; but all of a sudden he grew acquainted with one Save-self, and then he became a stranger to me.

Temporary was "a forward man in religion."   Back then says Christian, you could mark him as a RELIGIOUS MAN  and a man who was very OPEN About it.

Hopeful knew him,  and if the truth be told, Temporary actually lived in a town named GRACELESS.  And through the name of this town we know that this open and very religious man was actually without GRACE!

The man, Temporary, did have "some sight of his sins"  and even some understanding of "the wages that were due thereto."

Temporary came often to HOPEFUL with "many tears."   And as my eleven year old pointed out, Hopeful was true to his own name and  "was not altogether without hope of him."  

BUT the scriptures tell us "not every one that cries, "Lord, Lord!"  Mat 7:21

And Christian lastly says, Temporary spoke of being resolved or decided to become a Christian himself, but then all of the sudden he turned back. 

Lord willing, in a future post, we can see some of the reasons why Temporary had only a temporary faith.


Anonymous said...

Hi there - this is great. I just read this section of TPP and I was especially struck with the part where Christian lists the manner in which men like Temporary fall away. I was going to write those up on my blog as they are also a good warning to true believers to be on guard against insidious unbelief in our hearts.

Great blog, great post! Grace to you my brother.

Scott said...

Thanks for your kind words. Looking forward to reading your thoughts on PP. Did you happen to see the article Doug Wilson wrote today on church or fellowship as displayed in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.