by Mike Ratliff
One of my favorite books outside of the Bible is John Bunyan’s allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan wrote this wonderful book while in prison for preaching without license from the Church of England. He was a 17th Century Baptist non-conformist preacher who was counted among the Puritans. The continuing appeal of this book, even into the 21st Century, is its inherent Christian authenticity. Through this authenticity we learn what real Christianity is and what it isn’t.
Bunyan suffered for his faith. His first imprisonment lasted 12 years. He was sentenced to a few months, but his release from prison was always contingent upon his agreeing to stop preaching. He refused. While in prison, he wrote poetry and books to be sold to support his family. He also made boot laces to sell for the same reason. Finally, he was released from prison and returned to preaching to his little flock. Then he was arrested again on the same charge. This time, he was in prison for only six months, but it was during this imprisonment that he wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress.
It was an immediate success and went through several editions. The reason this wonderful book has had such lasting success with Christians is that the reader knows the author suffered for His savior. Also, the essence of the message reveals that the authentic Christian faith will result in the believer suffering as well.
Bunyan portrayed each believer’s life as a Pilgrimage. Each Pilgrim would experience various tests and trials in their life journey until they reached the Celestial City. I agree with this analogy. Each day of our Christian walk takes us closer to that day we will arrive at the gates of Heaven to meet our savior face to face. Each Christian’s pilgrimage will be unique, but the end is the same. Some will arrive after much victory while others will arrive by the skin of their teeth. However, all of the Elect will complete this journey.
This study will take a look at the heart of the Pilgrim. What I mean by that is that we will examine the various traits of the genuine regenerate heart. As we look at these traits we will also compare them with those inherent in the heart of the disingenuous Pilgrim. Many appear to be on the same path to the Celestial City as the genuine Pilgrim. However, they didn’t enter by the narrow gate, but climbed in some other way. They look religious, but are not one of the savior’s sheep.
As we study The Pilgrim’s Heart we must do much self-examination. I pray that the Holy Spirit will use this study to draw each reader into making their Pilgrimage via the narrow path straying neither to the right nor to the left.