I love the 17th Century classic masterpiece "The Pilgrim's Progress" by John Bunyan who was imprisoned 12 years in England for preaching without a license. It is reportedly second only to the Bible in number of copies sold worldwide. It chronicles the allegorical journey of the main character named "Christian" from this life to the next, on his quest for the "Celestial City", leaving his hometown, the "City of Destruction" behind. Everything and everyone in the book represents symbolically something or someone we encounter in our Christian lives.
I was reading it again the other day and came across this passage, where CHRISTIAN and his friend HOPEFUL have ventured off the "NARROW WAY", and find themselves in "DOUBTING CASTLE", and imprisoned by the "GIANT DESPAIR". How did they get out? They leaned on the Promises of God found in Scripture! Christian could say as David did in Psalms, "Thy Word have I hidden in my heart"...and this ties in with my last blog on Adoniram Judson, who said: "The Future is as bright as the Promises of God". The Bible is full of the Promises of God, and if we would rely more on His Word, we would find the answers (or keys) to getting through life's difficulties.
Here's the passage from Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress:
"I fear," said she (Giant Despair's wife), "that they live in hope that some will come to relieve them; or that they have picklocks about them; by the means of which they hope to escape." "And sayest thou so, my dear?" said the Giant; "I will therefore search them in the morning."My Dad (the man I respect and look to the most for spiritual insight) & I exchange good books all the time, and he gave me "Pilgrim's Progress" for a birthday present years ago and highly recommended I read it. I put it on my shelf, intending to read it when I got around to it.
Well, on Saturday, about midnight the pilgrims began to pray; and continued in prayer till almost break of day.Now a little before it was day, good CHRISTIAN, as one half amazed, break out in this passionate speech: "What a fool," quoth he, "am I, thus to lie in a stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty! I have a key in my bosom called Promise; that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in Doubting Castle." Then said HOPEFUL, "That’s good news; good brother, pluck it out of thy bosom, and try."Then CHRISTIAN pulled it out of his bosom, and began to try at the dungeon door; whose bolt (as he turned the key) gave back, and the door flew open with ease: and CHRISTIAN and HOPEFUL both came out. Then he went to the outward door that led into the castle yard; and with his key opened that door also. After, he went to the iron gate, for that must be opened too; but that lock went exceedingly hard: yet the key did open it. Then they thrust open the gate to make their escape with speed; but that gate, as it opened, made such a creaking, that it waked Giant DESPAIR: who, hastily rising to pursue his prisoners, felt his limbs to fail, for his fits took him again, so that he could by no means go after them. Then they went on, and came to the king’s highway again; and so were safe, because they were out of his jurisdiction.
Not long afterward, I heard several preachers on my MP3 itunes sermons referencing it. I started flipping through, and felt drawn to read it, but had other books I was still working on. "As luck would have it...", (just joking, there's no such thing as luck), Collin Wimberly, our Pastor at the time, quoted from it the following Sunday and said
"all Christians should read through "Pilgrim's Progress" at least once a year.
I took that as a "Word from the Lord", and went home that afternoon and started reading it. Man, was I blessed! I gave copies of it to several people, and to my knowledge only 1 person, a friend I work with named Mark actually read it. He, however, was as blessed by it as I was.
If you've never read Bunyan's book, maybe this will whet your appetite. Maybe not.
The choice is yours. You'll miss a huge blessing if you don't.
Charles Spurgeon is reported to have read it over 100 times. It was his favorite book outside the Bible.
Alistair Begg references it frequently in his sermons, as do many other solid preacher/teachers of today.
Of course, the Bible itself takes priority over any other books written by men, but I think we all could make time to read more than we do. It's how you prioritize your time.
In case you're wondering how I feel about books and the Bible,
click the link below -my older blog entitled Bring Out The Book!
Bring Out The Book!