Poetry Saturday—Selections From “The Pilgrim’s Progress”

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The hill, though high, I covet to ascend,
The difficulty will not me offend;
For I perceive the way to life lies here.
Come, pluck up heart, let’s neither faint nor fear;
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe. —John Bunyan’s Christian, in The Pilgrim’s Progress

He that is down needs fear no fall;
   He that is low, no pride:
He that is humble ever shall
   Have God to be his Guide.
I am content with what I have,
   Little be it or much:
And, Lord, contentment still I crave,
   Because Thou savest such.
Fullness to such a burden is
   That go on pilgrimage:
Here little, and hereafter bliss,
   Is best from age to age. —John Bunyan’s Mr. Great-heart, in The Pilgrim’s Progress

The Pilgrim’s Progress (book review)

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

Charles Spurgeon said of John Bunyan, “Prick him anywhere—his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God.” Although this can be said of all Bunyan’s books and sermons, it is abundantly clear in The Pilgrim’s Progress. 

In my mind it’s easy to classify this book as “a classic” because of its enduring message. The journey through life for pilgrims like Christian, Hopeful, Faithful, Christiana, and you and me resonate with readers all over the world. In over the nearly 350 years since this book was first published, the pilgrimage has connected with Christians and seekers alike because it is the pilgrimage we are all on. 

In The Pilgrim’s Progress it’s not hard to identify the biblical messages because Bunyan literally names them for what they are, using names like Talkative, Mr. Worldly Wiseman, the Giant Despair, Mr. Great-heart, the Interpreter, and many more. Some biblical stories are portrayed in this book just as they are in the Bible, while others are fairly easily seen for all modern-day pilgrims to learn their lessons. 

As I’ve said before about this book, it’s an excellent one for parents to read aloud to their children. Then as their kiddos get a bit older, there is an easy-to-read version called Little Pilgrim’s Progress for them to read on their own. But I still highly recommend the original version of Bunyan’s classic in its 17th-century English. To me, the Old English in a story like this makes it feel like an epic adventure story, which, in fact, it is because it is every Christian’s story still to this day. 

I can’t urge you enough to make The Pilgrim’s Progress a friend that you visit often.

Book Reviews From 2020

Shadows And Light

Have you ever been afraid? Even scared half to death? Once there was the biggest, lumpiest, scariest monster hunched in my room just waiting to pounce on me! My mouth was so dry that I couldn’t even call out for help. Finally, I got enough moisture in my mouth to be able to yell out, “DAD!!” When my Dad came into my room and turned on the light, the monster disappeared. But right where he had been waiting to pounce on me was my desk chair with a hoodie hanging on the back. 

Sometimes we’re scared because of what we don’t see clearly or can’t fully understand because there’s not enough light for us to make out the details. 

On the night Jesus was born, an angel announced the news of His birth to some nearby shepherds. The angel was coming with good news, but Luke writes that the shepherds were terrified! I like the picturesque language of the King James Version that says they were “sore afraid,” as if they shook so much it made them sore!  

Why were they so terrified? I think it’s because they knew that when angels show up that means God Himself is close by! In fact, Luke emphasized that it was an angel of the Lord who shone with the glory of the Lord. 

For their entire lives, these shepherds had been trying to live by the law. They had been told that this is what would make them acceptable to God. The law told them how to live, and how to make things right with God if they broke a law. If they didn’t make things right, God would punish them. So perhaps they were sore afraid because they weren’t ready to meet God. 

But the angel told them something unexpected: Today your Savior has been born! A Savior, not a Judge! 

This is what God promised through one of His prophets: “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel. I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”  

The writer of Hebrews said all of the laws were just a “shadow of what is in heaven” (Hebrews 8:5). This shadow was the source of fear, but now Jesus had come as the Light of the world and as our Savior. Jesus came to take away the penalty of sin: Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant (Hebrews 9:15). 

In The Pilgrim’s Progress, Faithful told how a man came and beat him because he had broken the law. Even when Faithful begged for mercy the man said, “I don’t know how to show mercy to anyone.” This man was Moses the Lawgiver. 

Faithful explained what finally gave him relief: “He would have finished me off, but then one came by, and told him to stop. I did not know Him at first, but as He went by, I saw the holes in His hands and in His side and I concluded that He was Jesus.” 

The Advent of Jesus was to let the punishment for breaking the law fall on Him instead of us! 

The Law says, “Clean yourself up first and then you can come to God. But if you miss anything, God will bring down the hammer of His judgment!” Jesus says, “Come to Me just as you are. If you ask Me, I will forgive your sins. I’ll clothe you in My robe of righteousness so you can stand faultless and unafraid before God” (see Romans 8:1; Galatians 3:26-27).  

This is very Good News indeed! It means we can join in the song of the angels: Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests. 

Links & Quotes

link quote

Some good reading from today…

This is tough reading, but very vital: How the normalization of pornography fuels the rape culture.

“What a gracious thing for us that Jesus Christ never thinks about what we have been! He always thinks about what we are going to be.” —A.W. Tozer

“So seldom does God find a Christian whose only goal in life is to know and to do His will—as Jesus did—and who never says, ‘God, where are You?’ but instead prays, ‘God, where am I in this matter of obedience and dependence?’” —David Wilkerson

“Remember Luther, Knox, Calvin, Wycliffe, Bradford, Latimer, and many others! Under God these men owed their liberty of speech and liberty of conscience to the fact that the world thrust them out from all hope of its favor, and so loosed their bonds.” —Charles Spurgeon

“Lay not fast hold upon the things of earth. He who is but a lodger in an inn must not live as though he were at home.” —Charles Spurgeon

Desiring God has released an updated version of The Pilgrim’s Progress with some cool features. If you download the ebook version, it’s free!

Poetry Saturday—Valiant For Truth

John BunyanWho would true valour see,
Let him come hither;
One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather;
There’s no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.
Whoso beset him round
With dismal stories.
Do but themselves confound;
His strength the more is.
No lion can him fright.
He’ll with a giant fight.
But he will have a right
To be a pilgrim.
Hobgoblin nor foul fiend
Can daunt his spirit;
He knows he at the end
Shall life inherit.
Then fancies fly away,
He’ll fear not what men say;
He’ll labour night and day
To be a pilgrim. —Mr. Valiant-for-truth in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress

 

Poetry Saturday—World Of Wonders

John BunyanO world of wonders (I can say no less),
That I should be preserved in that distress
That I have met with here! O blessed be
That hand that from it hath delivered me!
Dangers in darkness, devils, hell, and sin.
Did compass me, while I this vale was in;
Yea, snares, and pits, and traps, and nets did lie
My path about, that worthless, silly I
Might have been catched, entangled, and cast down:
But since I live, let JESUS wear the crown. —John Bunyan’s Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, after he came through the Valley Of The Shadow Of Death

 

Poetry Saturday—Difficulty

John BunyanThe hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend;
For I perceive the way to life lies here:
Come, pluck up, heart, let’s neither faint nor fear.
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe. —John Bunyan’s Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, as he is climbing the Hill Difficulty

 

Poetry Saturday—Thus Far Did I Come

John BunyanThus far I did come laden with my sin;
Nor could aught ease the grief that I was in,
Till I came hither: what a place is this!
Must here be the beginning of my bliss?
Must here the burden fall from off my back?
Must here the strings that bound it to me crack?
Blessed Cross, blessed sepulcher! blessed rather be
The Man that there was put to shame for me! —John Bunyan’s Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, after he lost his burden at Calvary

 

Great-heart & Christiana From “Pilgrim’s Progress”

Pilgrim's ProgressI love Pilgrim’s Progress! You can read my full book review by clicking here. I’m sharing some of my favorite passages from this classic.

This is part of a dialogue between Great-heart and Christiana—

Great-heart: “He [Christ] has more righteousness than you have need of, or than He needeth Himself.”

Christiana: “Pray make that appear.”

Great-heart: “With all my heart: but first I must premise, that He of whom we are now about to speak, is one that has not His fellow. He has two natures in one person, plain to be distinguished, impossible to be divided. Unto each of these natures a righteousness belongeth, and each righteousness is essential to that nature; so that one may as easily cause the nature to be extinct, as to separate its justice or righteousness from it. Of these righteousnesses therefore we are not made partakers, so as that they, or any of them, should be put upon us, that we might be made just, and live thereby. Besides these, there is a righteousness, which this person has, as these two natures are joined in one. And this is not the righteousness of the Godhead, as distinguished from the manhood; nor the righteousness of the manhood, as distinguished from the Godhead; but a righteousness which standeth in the union of both natures, and may properly be called the righteousness that is essential to His being prepared of God to the capacity of the mediatory office, which He was to be intrusted with. If He parts with His first righteousness, He parts with His Godhead; if He parts with His second righteousness, He parts with the purity of His manhood; if He parts with this third, He parts with that perfection which capacitates Him for the office of mediation. He has therefore another righteousness, which standeth in performance, or obedience to a revealed will; and that is it that He puts upon sinners, and that by which their sins are covered. Wherefore He saith, As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.”

Christiana: “But are the other righteousnesses of no use to us?”

Great-heart: “Yes; for though they are essential to His natures and office, and so cannot be communicated unto another; yet it is by virtue of them that the righteousness that justifies is for that purpose efficacious. The righteousness of His Godhead gives virtue to His obedience; the righteousness of His manhood giveth capability to His obedience to justify; and the righteousness that standeth in the union of these two natures to His office, giveth authority to that righteousness to do the work for which it is ordained.

“So then here is a righteousness that Christ, as God, has no need of; for He is God without it. Here is a righteousness that Christ, as man, has no need of to make Him so; for He is perfect man without it. Again, here is a righteousness that Christ, as God-man, has no need of; for He is perfectly so without it. Here then is a righteousness that Christ, as God, as man, as God-man, has no need of with reference to Himself, and therefore He can spare it; a justifying righteousness, that He for Himself wanteth not, and therefore He giveth it away. Hence ’tis called the gift of righteousness. This righteousness, since Christ Jesus the Lord has made Himself under the law, must be given away; for the law doth not only bind him that is under it, to do justly, but to use charity. Wherefore he must, he ought by the law, if he hath two coats, to give one to him that has none. Now our Lord indeed hath two coats, one for Himself, and one to spare; wherefore He freely bestows one upon those that have none.”

Read a dialogue between Faithful, Christian, and Talkative by clicking here.

And a dialogue between Christian and Hopeful by clicking here.

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