The Library Book Club will be reading Why Trust the Bible? by Greg Gilbert in April. Crossway Publishing is offering a free download of the book until Friday, March 18 so don’t miss this great opportunity to download this thought-provoking book and join us in April!
“The Bible stands at the heart of the Christian faith. But this leads to an inescapable question: why should we trust the Bible? Written to help non-Christians, longtime Christians, and everyone in between better understand why God’s Word is reliable, this short book explores the historical and theological arguments that have helped lead millions of believers through the centuries to trust the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Written by pastor Greg Gilbert, author of the popular books What Is the Gospel? and Who Is Jesus?, this volume will help Christians articulate why they trust the Bible when it comes to who God is, who we are, and how we’re supposed to live.”
No sign-up is required to join the club. All you need to do is to read along and follow us on our Facebook page here. You can read at your own pace, post a comment, or just simply read what others have to say; there is no pressure to post anything at all.
(Image credit: Crossway)
Ministering Spirits Meet Christian and Hopeful
At the face of the gate, two Shining Ones come out to meet Christian and Hopeful. They are surrounded by sounds of trumpets with joyful and melodious noise as they are welcomed into Heaven. The King commands that the gate be opened to receive the two pilgrims.They also receive new garments that shine like gold. As they look back, they see Ignorance trying to cross the river but no one attends to him. He tries to enter but the King would not come down to see him and had him bound up and brought to hell instead.
It was all a dream and the author urges the reader to carefully consider the metaphors presented in this allegory.
1. Interestingly, Bunyan does not end the story with Christian and Hopeful. Instead, he describes a man named Ignorance attempting to enter the Celestial City. What happened to Ignorance? What do you think Bunyan is trying to communicate?
Thank you for joining us on this journey through The Pilgrim’s Progress. We hope you are encouraged by Bunyan’s precious advice to us as fellow travelers on the journey to our eternal home.
(Image credit: 1Fear)
Adventures on the Enchanted Ground
Hopeful and Christian enter the Enchanted Ground and feel sleepy. They remember what the Shepherds told them about being watchful and decide to talk in order to stay awake. Hopeful shares his conversion experience and talks about his spiritual life. Ignorance who trailed behind them all along, catches up to the two and joins their conversation. He claims to follow Christ but still holds on to his own righteousness for salvation.
Christian and Hopeful continue on and find two shining men who tell them they are two difficulties away from the Celestial City. There is a river with no bridge across, which is very deep, but they must pass through or else they cannot reach the gate. Christian begins to sink but Hopeful encourages him and eventually they reach the bank of the river. The Shining Ones tell them of all the glory of the place and the things to come on the other side of the gate.
(Image credit: Pilgrim’s Progress Net)
The Delectable Mountains
Christian and Hopeful come to the Delectable Mountains which belong to the Lord, and upon them they can see the Celestial City. They meet four Shepherds named Knowledge, Experience, Watchful and Sincere, who invite them to stay for the night. In the morning, they show the pilgrims some wonders, namely the hill Error, where some had fallen and were dashed in pieces, and a mountain named Caution, where men were blind and stumbling among the tombs after their encounter with Giant Despair. The pilgrims cry at these sights and are speechless in front of the Shepherds.
Christian, Hopeful and The Shepherds
Next, the Shepherds show them the byway to Hell and explain that even those who had been on the pilgrimage to the Celestial City for a long time could end up in the place of judgment. As a way to strengthen the pilgrims, the Shepherds give them their glass to look at the gates of the Celestial City, keeping their hope within sight. As a final warning, the Shepherds give them a note and ask them to beware of the Flatterer.
Christian and Hopeful continue on and meet Ignorance who claims to be on the road to the Celestial City. He did not enter through the wicket gate though and wants to enter the gate on the basis of his own righteousness. Christian and Hopeful begin a discussion about a man named Little-faith and how he is like Esau who had no faith. Having little faith is better than no faith at all.
They meet a black man clothed in white and begin following him, only to find themselves entangled in a net. How quickly did they forget the Shepherd’s warning of the Flatterer. A Shining One comes to their rescue and sets them back on track. They are more careful with the next person they meet, a man named Atheist who tries to persuade them that the Celestial City does not exist. But they do not listen and press on, walking in faith.
(Image credit: Two Ages Pilgrim)
Christian Has Another Companion
After Faithful was martyred, Christian found Hopeful as a companion and they continued on their journey together to the Celestial City. They are joined by Mr. By-Ends who wants to travel with them, but Christian is aware that Mr. By-Ends may be seeking his own gain and still has not denounced his love of the world. Mr. By-Ends finds his own companions, Mr. Hold-the-world, Mr. Money-love and Mr. Save-all and they enjoy each other’s company as they converse about the benefits of religion and how they can use it for personal gain. When the group challenges Christian and Hopeful with a question, they are speechless when Christian gives a sound, biblical answer. The group did not follow them anymore.
Christian and Hopeful run into another lover of the world, Demas who invited them to see a silver mine and dig up its treasure. Hopeful was persuaded to go, but Christian warned him otherwise and that saved them from disaster. The two wander into By-path Meadow and witness a man named Vain-confidence fall into a pit because he continued in the dark. They come to Doubting Castle owned by Giant Despair and because they trespassed his property, they were put in a dungeon. After consulting with his wife, the Giant beats the pilgrims and even tries to persuade them to end their own lives. Christian begins to doubt but Hopeful reminds him to stay the course and recount all that he has been through. They pray on Saturday night until morning and then Christian remembers he has a key called Promise. He uses this key to open the prison doors and successfully escapes. When they are out, Christian and Hopeful made a sign on a pillar to warn other pilgrims of this danger.
(Image credit: Truth for Life)
Christian Overtakes Faithful
Christian caught up to Faithful, who had been with him in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Along their journey, they enjoyed fellowship and encouraged one another with stories of the people they met, the spiritual battles they fought and the victories they tasted, by the grace of God. As they continued walking, they met Talkative, who initially appeared to be very interested in spiritual talk and verbal religion. Faithful was impressed, but Christian warned him not to be deceived by his words. It turned out that Talkative could “talk the talk”, but he did not “walk the walk” wholeheartedly, because his life did not exhibit the elements of a heart truly changed by the Gospel. As Faithful challenged Talkative by asking hard questions, he got uncomfortable and chose to leave.
The pilgrims were met by Evangelist who told them of the hardship they would face shortly. The two approached Vanity Fair, a place of trials and temptations. Merchandise was on sale, things of worldly value that lured them, but they set their eyes on things above and refused to do business with them. Thus, they were beaten and put in prison for their noncompliance, yet they continued to display Christian conduct, which eventually won some of the townspeople over, causing more conflict at the fair. Christian and Faithful were presented at a trial before Lord Hate-good. The jury members all testified against Faithful and found him guilty and punishable by death. It happened just as Evangelist had said. Faithful was martyred and taken to the Celestial Gate by horses and sounds of a trumpet.
The Valley of Humiliation/Combat with Apollyon
Christian descends the hill and enters the Valley of Humiliation. Discretion, Piety and Charity do not go with him, but they give him bread, wine and raisins and send him on his way. In the valley, a beast named Apollyon meets Christian. Apollyon begins by questioning Christian and reminding him of his unfaithfulness, in hopes of persuading him to abandon God. Upon Christian’s refusal to deny God, the beast resorts to force and the two engage in combat. Eventually Christian is successful in piercing Apollyon with his two-edged sword, forcing the beast to leave.
The rest after the battle was only short-lived because Christian continues into the Valley of the Shadow of Death, where two men approach him and urges him to turn back. Yet Christian presses on. The valley was surrounded by dangers, with a ditch on the right and a quag on the left. In the darkness of the valley, Christian was confused by blasphemous thoughts whispered to him by a fiend, which he thought were his own thoughts. Even so, hope remains in the valley as Christian hears a man’s voice, showing that he is not alone and that God is with him. At the end, he sees Faithful and tries to catch up to him.
1. What spiritual battles do you fight in your day-to-day life? How does the enemy most often attack you?
2. In what ways can the companionship of other Christians help a person to endure the valley? How has God used relationships with other believers to strengthen your faith?
(Image credit: Answers in Genesis)
Proceeds to the Cross
Christian continues on his way, walking on a highway fenced on either side by a wall called Salvation. At last, the burden falls from his back and leaves Christian glad and light. Three Shining Ones approach him and salute him, proclaiming that his sins are forgiven, stripping him of his rags and clothing him with new robes, setting a mark in his forehead and giving him a roll with a seal upon it.
Christian Saluted by the Three Shining Ones
Christian sees three men who are fast asleep. Their names are Simple, Sloth and Presumption. He tries to wake them and warn them of possible danger but they turn Christian away and continue to sleep. Christian meets Formality and Hypocrisy who did not enter through the gate, but chose to climb over the wall. They argue that it does not matter which way they get in as long as they are in, but Christian knows they are counted as thieves instead.
1. When did Christian become a Christian? What does it mean to have assurance of salvation?
2. What can we learn from the other travelers like the three sleeping men, Formalist and Hypocrisy?
(Image credit: Answers in Genesis)
Evangelist Findeth Christian Under Mount Sinai
Evangelist meets Christian who is lost and explains the true identity of Mr. Worldly-wiseman, Mr. Legality and his son Civility. He warns him that following that path will only lead to death. Christian is then directed to find Good-will who is standing by the gate. Good-will allows Christian to recount his journey thus far and then bids him on his way to the house of the Interpreter. In the Interpreter’s house are many rooms for Christian to enter while Interpreter explains the meaning of each room.
1. What is the significance of Interpreter’s house? Why was this an important place for Christian to visit?
2. Which of the rooms in Interpreter’s house do you find the most encouraging? How does this room speak to your own experience of the Christian life?
3. Which room in Interpreter’s house do you find most sobering or disturbing? What can Christian learn from this room?
The Slough of Despond
Christian and Pliable set off on their discourse. At first, Pliable is excited to hear the words that Christian shares from the book, but his excitement is short-lived when they suddenly fall into the Slough of Despond. Pliable is offended that the happiness written in the book was not a reality and decides to head back. A man named Help lifts Christian out of the slough and explains that it is a place of conviction of sin, mixed in with fears, doubts and discouraging apprehensions. Being on his way again, Christian meets Mr. Worldly-wiseman and they discuss about Christian’s heavy burden. Mr. Worldly-wiseman advises Christian to take the easy way out, and pursue safety, friendship and contentment, instead of the dangerous way leading to the wicket gate. He directs Christian to go to a village called Morality to find Legality and his son Civility in order to remove the burden. Christian takes this advice, but feels the burden become heavier and he is regretful that he heeded this new counsel.
Reflection Questions (from the link in previous email)
1. Where did the Slough of Despond come from, and why could it not be fixed? In what ways do Christians experience the Slough of Despond today? What has God given His people to help them through the slough?
2. What is Christian’s burden? What are ways that people, both in Bunyan’s story and in actual human experience, try to escape from their burdens? What is needed for a person’s burden to be truly removed?