4 Deadly Blows to Worldliness

My nerves were shot. I could feel the stress coursing through my body, and I knew what was pulling the strings. All of the tension straining my soul was connected to the things of this world. I had been seeking my meaning in them, and their uncertain nature made everything I was standing upon precarious, which had caused me to collapse in fear. Though I did not know it at the time, those ties to the world needed to be severed, or I was going break.

It was then that I saw a man walking toward me. He was a smallish man with a stern face that made me question his intentions, but as he drew near, I saw kindness in his eyes that provided me with some relief. He looked at me, and he immediately saw my distress. The windows of my soul were open to him, and he could see that the treasure of my heart was man’s applause. He saw that earthly pleasures had my rapt attention and would not let me go.

He immediately showed me a picture of a man arrayed in full splendor. Never had I seen such an image. The portrait reached deep down into my soul. My lust grabbed a hold and refused to let go because I wanted to be that man. Then something happened. I saw that the man of splendor was disillusioned. He had everything for which I longed, but he was still unsatisfied. He cried, “Vanities of vanities. All is vanity.”

How could this be? The man in the picture had everything I knew would make me happy, and he was still unfulfilled. I felt myself take in a deep breath. Something that had been putting pressure on my chest broke free, and I felt my lungs begin to relax. With that, the small man was gone.

As I lay there pondering what had happened, I saw a man of great evil approach me, and he had, in his hands, all the treasures of the world. He, too, had everything that I desired and had been investing my life and soul to attain, but he was hideous. I could not tell if he reminded me more of Nero or Hitler. As I look upon the monster in front of me, a searing thought shot across my mind. “If the Lord of heaven and earth allows the greatest portion of the world’s treasure to be held by the vilest of men, his avowed enemies, then they must not be the greatest treasures man can possess.” If earthly riches were part of God’s greatest gifts, the wicked would have no part in them. As he was walking away, I noticed the tension running up and down the back of my neck start to relax, and the years of chronic pain in my head began to fade.

As I sat there beginning to wonder if I had been directing all my life pursuits toward the wrong things; another man came into view. This one was the exact opposite of the last man. He was godly. I saw 11 more standing at a distance behind him, and all of them wore the clothes of poverty. I saw them being mistreated. They had no desires for earthly power, riches, or fame. In fact, they had given up what they did have to possess something greater. As the man in front stood there looking at me, I saw joy in his eyes. He said, to me, “I count all things as dung compared to knowing Christ.” He smiled and walked away, and the others went with him.

I knew at that moment that these were the men used by God to lay the foundation of the Church. The Holy Spirit had used them to write down the very words of God for all subsequent generations, and the man in front had just called all that I was pursuing “dung.” At that moment, most of the strained nerves in my body that had been tethered to the false treasures began to snap, and, contrary to what I would have thought, as they snapped, they did not hurt. Instead, they loosened and began to regain their intended use. Feeling the life returning to my body, I stood to my feet, and then something even greater happened.

I saw a man approaching riding a white horse, and he was beautiful. I knew right away that he had sent the first three visitors. As I looked upon him, my joints felt loose, my muscles began to give way, and I went down to my knees. Everything about me began to come undone. His voice shook my soul with comfort, and he showed me his hands, his feet, and his side. Up until this point, I had been pursuing the world’s crown, and he showed me what that crown truly looked like by showing me the scars on his head.

He is the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords, and he was despised and rejected by men. Foxes have dens, the birds of the air have nests, but he did not have a place to lay his head. If the treasures and esteem of this world were of eternal value, he would have had them. His beauty and worth emanated from his holiness, and the world’s riches had nothing to do with it. Compared to him, they were revolting and unnecessary.

At the sight of him, I felt something within me die. It was a former and perverse love for the things of the world. I knew in that moment that it was not wrong to possess them or use them; it was wrong to love them. The glorious cross of Jesus now stood between me and the world, and I no longer desired it, for the Pearl of Great Price overshadowed it. He then lifted me to stand in a strength not my own.

I had always known his scars provided the forgiveness of my sin, but I never realized how much they were calling me away from the things of the world. Seeing them, I felt everything within me begin to rest. My former pursuits are coming to an end. They are vain, and I now realize that my ambition for the things of the world made me my own tormentor. Through these visitors, Jesus poured contempt on the things of the world in comparison to him. He continues to lead me further out of the darkness into his marvelous light.

Now I am here to visit you. You, who have been striving after riches, power, fame, and sexual appeal. You, who are striving to increase them. You, who place your hope in keeping them. You, who fear to lose them. You, who find your delight in them. You, whose thoughts are continually upon them. You, whose conversation is always about them. Remember, they are unstable and cannot offer you the security and lasting pleasure you seek. Never forget that the Lord often allows his enemies to have the greatest portion of them. Keep in mind that his greatest servants rarely had any of the world’s goods, and they had everything in our Savior. Most importantly, look to Jesus and His cross to see how contemptuous they are compared to knowing him.

-D. Eaton

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. – 1 John 2:15

Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. – Proverbs 23:4

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. -1 Timothy 6:10

How Many Scripture References Can You Find?

How many Scripture References can you find_Charles Spurgeon once said of John Bunyon “prick John Bunyan…he will bleed Bible.” I am currently reading through Pilgrims Progress for my umpteenth time, and, as always, I am amazed at how many nods to verses of scripture can be found on every page. So with that in mind here is the opening paragraph from when Christian meets Faithful. How many bible verses can you find alluded to in this passage?

“As Christian went on his way, he came to a hill which was cast up on purpose that pilgrims might see before them. Up Christian went; and looking forward, he saw Faithful before him upon his journey. Then said Christian aloud, “Ho, ho! So-ho! stay, and I will be your companion.” At that Faithful looked behind him, and Christian cried again, “Stay, stay, till I come up to you.” But Faithful answered, “No, I am fleeing for my life, and the avenger of blood is behind me.” At this Christian was somewhat moved; and putting forth all his strength, he quickly got up with Faithful, and outran him: so the last was first. Then did Christian boastfully smile, because he had gotten in front of his brother; but, not taking good heed to his feet, he suddenly stumbled and fell, and could not rise again until Faithful came up to help him.”

Pilgrim’s Progress Discussion Questions by Chapter

I recently taught a class through Pilgrim’s Progress. Below are the discussion questions for each chapter.

Chapter 1

-pp. 1-17 in the Revell Spire Edition
-pp. 1-26 in the Moody Classic Edition
-pp. 1-27 in Pilgrim’s Progress in Today’s English
-pp. 1-20 Barbour and Company. 1985

1. What is the book Christian has in his hand?

2. What is the burden that Christian is carrying, and have you ever felt this burden?  If so, what did it feel like?

3. Christian reads the book and prays but still has the burden on his back.  How is this possible?

4. Pliable has no burden on his back yet still follows Christian.  Why would someone do this, and have you ever run across people like this?  What kind of “churches” appeal to people in this condition?

5. What do you think the “Slough of Despond” represents?

6. Where, and to whom, does Mr. Worldly Wiseman direct Christian, and what false view of salvation does this represent?

7. Read Heb. 10:38 – How does this verse fit with Christian trying to remove his burden with morality and the law.

8. Do you ever find yourself trying to find relief for the conviction of sin by attempting to be moral rather than laying it all on Christ?  What do you do in those times?

9. Worldly Wiseman is a false teacher, and Evangelist gives Christian three reasons to abhor him. What are they, and do they still apply to false teachers today?

10. When Christian is grieved by his sin of listening to Worldly Wiseman, Evangelist tells him is sin is very great.  How is this different than what you may hear in many churches today?

Chapter 2

-pp. 17-29 in the Revell Spire Edition
-pp. 26-40 in the Moody Classic Edition
-pp. 27-38 in Pilgrim’s Progress in Today’s English
-pp. 20-35 Barbour and Company. 1985

christian-at-the-narrow-gate1.  Christian runs to the wicket gate and knocks more than once or twice, what do the running and the knocking teach us?

2. Goodwill pulls Christian through the gate. Why does he do this, and what do these dangers represent?

3.  Christian goes through the wicket gate and enters the narrow path. Some people view this as the moment of his salvation, but he still has his burden on his back (which he will lose later).  What do you think about this?

4.  Who do you think the interpreter represents?

5.  How does Christian explain to Goodwill that he and Pliable are alike?  What does this teach us about Christian’s attitude?

6.  Who or what do you think the man in the picture, who is authorized as Christian’s guide, represent(s)?

7.  How is the heart of man like the dusty room, and what happens when the room is attempted to be cleaned with the broom of the law?  What does this teach us about the law?

8.  What do Passion and Patience represent in the Christian life, and what do we learn from them?  Can you think of any Bible passages that relate to this?

9.  What happens to the fire burning near the wall, and what do we learn from it?  Can you think of any Bible passages that relate to this?

10.  The picture of the man in the iron cage is one of the most shocking scenes in Pilgrims Progress. What was your reaction when you read it and what do you think it means?

Chapter 3

-pp. 29-48 in the Revell Spire Edition
-pp. 40-62 in the Moody Classic Edition
-pp. 39-55 in Pilgrim’s Progress in Today’s English
-pp. 35-58 Barbour and Company. 1985

Image

1.  How does Christian lose his burden, and what does this represent?  Have you heard of any testimonies that would illustrate this scene?

2.  Last chapter we discussed whether entering the wicket gate in chapter 2 was his conversion.  What do you think now that you have read of his burden being removed?

3.  Three beings come to Christian, what do they represent and what do they do for him?  Where do we see these things in Scripture?

4.  How do Formalist and Hypocrisy get on the road of salvation?  What lesson do they teach us? How do they defend their not entering at the wicket gate?

5.  When Christian was climbing Hill Difficulty, he finds a place set by the Lord for refreshing weary travelers. What does this represent, and what does it mean that he fell asleep there?

6.  What does it mean that Christian loses his scroll, and what does it teach us that it took a while before he realized it was gone?

7.  What is the role of the chained lions, and what do their chains teach us?

8.  What does Christian say his name was before it was Christian?

9.  What is Christian’s reason for wanting to go to Mount Zion?  How do these thoughts align with your reason for desiring heaven?

10.  What does Christian say is his wife’s reason for not following him?  Do you ever see the same tendency in your own life?

Chapter 4

-pp. 48-58 in the Revell Spire Edition
-pp. 62-74 in the Moody Classic Edition
-pp. 56-65 in Pilgrim’s Progress in Today’s English
-pp. 58-71 Barbour and Company. 1985

Image1.  Christian has no armor to cover his back when he meets Apollyon, what does this teach us?

2.  Who does Apollyon represent?  What descriptions to do see in the book that leads you to that conclusion?

3.  Apollyon says, that “many of the Lord’s servants have come to an ill end.” To what is he referring, and how does Christian respond?

4.  How does Christian respond when Apollyon accuses him of many sins?

5.  Christian loses his sword while battling Apollyon. What does this look like in the Christian life?

6.  Christian receives leaves from the tree of life to heal his wounds, what picture is Bunyan painting here?  How do the bread and wine fit?

7.  Why do you think the way to the celestial city goes through the Valley of the Shadow of Death?

8.  Bunyan refers to the quag that King David fell into, to what do you think he is referring?

9.  The valley is so dark that “when [Christian] would lift his foot to go forward he knew not where, nor upon what he should set it next.” What Scripture does this bring to mind?

10.  Bunyan describes the giants Pope and Pagan as no longer a real threat, what do you think he is alluding to, and do you think he is correct?

Chapter 5

-pp. 58-78 in the Revell Spire Edition
-pp. 74-96 in the Moody Classic Edition
-pp. 66-86 in Pilgrim’s Progress in Today’s English
-pp. 71-95 Barbour and Company. 1985

Image1.  Why does Faithful say Pliable is now seven times worse than before?  To what passage of Scripture does this allude?

2.  Who is Adam the First, and what are the names of his children?  What doctrine is Bunyan talking about here?

3.  Why do you think Bunyan portrays Moses as beating faithful, and what saved Faithful from death?

4.  What friends are dishonored by going through the Valley of Humiliation? What was Faithful’s response?

5.  What were some of Shame’s arguments against faithful, and where do you hear these today?

6.  What does it mean that Talkative was more comely [attractive] at a distance than up close?

7.  Talkative says many true things, what then is the problem with him?  Do you ever have to guard your own heart against being like that?

8.  What are some of the ways Faithful says the work of grace is discovered in the life of a person?

9.  When Talkative is exposed as a hypocrite, what is his response to Faithful, and do you ever see this type of response happen to Christians today?

10.  Christian commends Faithful for talking so plainly with Talkative and laments that it rarely happens.  Do you think this is still true and why?

Chapter 6

-pp. 78-90 in the Revell Spire Edition
-pp. 96-111 in the Moody Classic Edition
-pp. 87-98 in Pilgrim’s Progress in Today’s English
-pp. 95-110 Barbour and Company. 1985

20140221-101815.jpg1. Evangelist tells Christian and Faithful, “You are not yet out of the gun-shot of the devil; you have not yet resisted to bloodshed,” What does this mean? Read Hebrews 12:4 as you consider this.

2. What are some of the other things Evangelist tells them?

3. As you read of Vanity Fair, what aspects of today’s world come to mind? Has any of these aspects made it into the church?

4. Why were the people of Vanity Fair stirred up when Christian and Faithful arrived? What do these things look like in the Christian life?

5. What does it mean that Christian and Faithful said, “they would buy the truth?”

6. What were Christian and Faithful charged with by Lord Hate-good?

7. Which three people came forward to testify against Christian and Faithful?

8. Pickthank said Faithful railed against several men, what were their names?

9. What was Faithful’s response to the charges of the three men?

10. Knowing that John Bunyan was in jail for the faith when he wrote this, as you read the names of the jury that convicted Faithful, do you think this was an expression of how he saw the men who convicted him?

11. How is Faithful the most blessed one in this situation, even more than Christian?

Chapter 7

-pp. 90-110 in the Revell Spire Edition
-pp. 111-137 in the Moody Classic Edition
-pp. 99-118 in Pilgrim’s Progress in Today’s English
-pp. 110-135 Barbour and Company. 1985

20140228-071053.jpg1.  Who are some of the citizens of the town of Fair-Speech, and against what is Bunyan trying to warn us?

2.  What does it mean when Christian says “you must also own religion in his rags, as well as in his silver slippers; and stand by him, too, when bound in irons, as well as when he walk in the streets with applause?”

3.  What scripture did Mr. Hold-the-World twist to defend his right to cling to the things of this world?

4.  How does Mr. Money-love defend using religion to get rich?  What is wrong with his arguments?

5.  Demas, who calls the people to the silver mine, is also a biblical character.  What is his story in Scripture (See Philemon 1:23-24, and 2 Timothy 4:10?)

6.  What is the River of the Water of Life where Christian and Hopeful walked?  Where do we see it in Scripture?

7.  Bunyan says the pilgrims had to go with Giant Despair because he was stronger than they. What does this teach us?

8.  Why was Christian in double sorrow in the dungeon?

9.  What were some of Hopeful’s arguments to Christian as to why they should not end their own lives?

10.  What does the key represent that unlocked the door to Doubting Castle, and what does it look like in the Christian life?

Chapter 8

-pp. 110-135 in the Revell Spire Edition
-pp. 96-111 in the Moody Classic Edition
-pp. 87-98 in Pilgrim’s Progress in Today’s English
-pp. 95-110 Barbour and Company. 1985

Image1.  What were some of the sights the shepherds showed the pilgrims in the Delectable Mountains?

2.  Why does Ignorance think he will be accepted at the gate of the celestial city?

3. What is the story of Little-faith, and what do we learn from it?

4.  Bunyan describes Faint-heart, Mis-trust, and Guilt as powerful. Who were some of the Biblical examples that Bunyan gives who where injured by them?

5.  What warning does Christian gives us about desiring to meet our enemies, and what two things must we do if we do meet them?

6.  Why did Christian and Hopeful not recognize Flatterer, and what does this teach us?

7.  What were some of Atheist’s arguments to Christian and Hopeful?

8.  The Enchanted Ground had air that makes pilgrims drowsy, what situations in life have this effect on us?

9.  How do the pilgrims keep from falling asleep?  What does this look like in the Christian life?

10.  What aspects of Hopeful’s conversion do you find interesting and encouraging?

Chapter 9

-pp. 135-145 in the Revell Spire Edition
-pp. 167-179 in the Moody Classic Edition
-pp. 138-147 in Pilgrim’s Progress in Today’s English
-pp. 167-78 Barbour and Company. 1985

Image
Ignorance

1.  Where did Ignorance ground his hope when asked whether he was right with God or not?  What are some examples where we hear similar things today?

2. What does Christian say to set Ignorance right about whether his thoughts are correct or not?

3.  What is Ignorance’s understanding of justification?  Where might we hear a view like this preached?

4.  What are Christian’s four responses to Ignorance’s false view of justification?

5.  What problem does Ignorance have with Christian’s response?

6.  What is Christian’s response to Ignorance’s objection to justification?

7.  How does Christian say that correct fear can be detected over a wrong fear?

8.  How do some people try to stifle the conviction of sin?

9.  What reasons does Hopeful give for Temporary’s backsliding?

10.  What does Christian say are the ways people like Temporary backslide?

Chapter 10

-pp. 145-154 in the Revell Spire Edition
-pp. 179-191 in the Moody Classic Edition
-pp. 149-156 in Pilgrim’s Progress in Today’s English
-pp. 178-190 Barbour and Company. 1985

image1. Why do you think the grapes of the vineyard caused Christian and Hopeful to talk in their sleep? What is Bunyan trying to tell us?

2. Why do you think that Bunyan decided to use a river to represent death? What Scriptures come to mind?

3. The golden beings tell them that the river is “deeper or shallower as you believe in the King of the place.” What does this mean in the Christian life?

4. What do you think it means that Christian “in great measure lost his senses” as he crossed the river?

5. Why were Christian and Hopeful able to climb the hill to the Celestial City so easily?

6. Christian asks what they would do in the holy place, what were some of the things he was told by the ministering spirits?

7. What did you find interesting or encouraging about the reception the pilgrims received and the description of the Celestial City?

8. What was the name of the ferryman the helped Ignorance cross the river so easily?

9. Now that we have finished Christian’s story, what were some of the aspects of the book that had the biggest impact upon you?

D. Eaton