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January 18, 2022 12:01 am
There is room in the kingdom of God even for those who are weak in faith. Today, Derek Thomas considers how the character named Mercy in The Pilgrim's Progress shows the Lord's care for His people amid their many doubts, fears, and struggles.
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I love this thing about the second part of Pilgrim's progress. But it tells a tale that perhaps some of us can identify with enough hopeful will not faithful enough monitors were more like mercy.
Shy, retiring, not especially talented and gifted, and yet there is room in the kingdom of God. For those of little faith. John Bunyan's classic Pilgrim's progress is been read and loved by millions for more than 300 years is not only the Bible is have more copies printed welcome to Renewing Your Mind on this Tuesday I'm we were glad to have you with us today.
Six years after publishing part one Bunyan release the story of Christian's wife and their children, and the journey they made today Dr. Derek Thomas continues his guided tour of part two as the pilgrims make their way to interpreters house looking back to the second parts of parts two of Bunyan's Pilgrim's progress. The story of the Christiana and the full bodies of the four boys were called Matthew Samuel Joseph and James. We left the story. I'm going to go back just a little bit to the wicked Gateway left the story with the Christiana and mercy on the four boys at the wicked gate Christiana is knocking so hard that this gate that she awakens a huge dog and the Christiana has entered to leaving mercy behind and then she intercedes on her behalf. Some mercy is still outside of the gate that she's begun to knock repeatedly and then then she thinks thinking that the gate I will not be opened, and eventually the door of the gate opens and she says to the gatekeeper if there be any grace or forgiveness of sins to spare, I beseech that I died poor homemade may be partaker that off. So here's a dozen oranges since very very conscious of her unworthiness to see is not she's not worthy. And then with a sublime gentleness. The gatekeeper takes her by the hand and brings her inside. I think Bunyan is demonstrating that the salvation for those who are weak in faith and who experience doubts of face mercy is not a heroic figure. And I think that's a Bunyan's way of being a pastor here and will seal a lot of this in part two of Bunyan Pops because of the heroism of the first volume now wants to make a volume writer volume of that appeals, especially to the week in face the Lord of the way receives them all grants them. Pardon my words and deeds by word and the promise of forgiveness by deed in the way I obtained it. The Lord of the way. Of course, is Jesus in the allegory, but he has both invited and given a promise.
Rev. knocks the door will be opened but is also in his deed he has accomplished his obtained salvation on their behalf. Bunyan I think is trying to clear up her here. The sins are forgiven. The burden that they have undone is not a great burden, but that button is now disappeared. Unlike the first story where Christian County does burden all the way to the cross and I think Bunyan is signaling to things here. One that was doubts expressed after the first volume is to at what point did Kristin get saved up a point where his sins forgiven. Was it that the wicked gate or was it at the cross and I I said in my earlier lectures on part one that it was at the wicked gates that Christian I was saved and that the issue of the cross was one of assurance you didn't receive assurance that his sins were forgiven until the cross, but it raises an issue sometimes known as preparation is him and it's criticism often made against the Puritans that they introduced certain issues that needs to be demonstrated before you could entertain them assurance of salvation wasn't enough to have repentance.
It had to be a certain quality of repentance was enough simply to have faith had to be a certain type in a certain caliber of faith in the perhaps a sequence of steps in order had to be passed through for you could entertain an assurance that you actually were one of the elect and do some of that consistently affected Puritanism in New England in the 1630s Thomas Sheppard and others, and some of the criticism was brought in as a result of part one of Pilgrim's progress. I actually think it's a misunderstanding of Pilgrim's progress and I do think that here. Bunyan clears up by whatever direct there was another Lord of the way. Leave some for a while in the two a minute talking about. What does happen to them than when he returns they ask him why he keeps such a ferocious dog.
Remember when Christiana knocked on the door. This dog was awakened and she learns that it belongs to another owner at a nearby castle.
Beelzebub's castle that we met in part one that's near the gate on the dog often comes up and worries some of the Lord's people, but the Lord of the way always ensures that he doesn't take them and I think that brings us to our first lesson that the devil will do his utmost to harm those who are intent on coming to Christ as a move away. They begin to sing the lyrics and not terribly good poetry, when all of a sudden from behind the wall where the dog is barking jump to ill favored ones. Now this is Stockton you're not expecting this. These two men attempt to have their way with these two women. Christiana and mercy. You're not expecting that this is a this is a family story. This is a family book consists of Christian book. It's quite stocking but perhaps something that was more than apparent in Bedfordshire during the 17th century and Bunyan had seen it took was part of life that your Christian you been saved to be drawn into union with Christ and the cysts attempts by these two ill favored ones to have their way with Christiana and mercy.
The women cry out in distress, and it seems a long time before the reliever comes to help them and he tells them they should have known that the way was not fit for women to travel alone and that they should have asked for a conductor to help them on their way to lessons emerge here one Christiana asks the reliever why Noreen that there was danger on this road had a conductor not being given to them at the point of entry at the gate of the wicked Kate and then Sir we loose for want of asking. It is not always necessary to grant things not asked for less. By doing so they become of little steam for an interesting lesson that we value things more when we have to ask for them, and then receive them, and even even more so when we been made to wait a little lesson on the value of prayer and of asking why does God make us ask for things since he knows what we need so that we might esteem them better is Bunyan's little lesson but it's a lesson told in a very difficult set of circumstances and Christiana says secondly that they were so taken with their present blessings that they forgot about the dangers under lesson again in about needing to be prepared just 20 think everything is going well.
Just be prepared that around the corner. There may well be trouble.
The two just because Rick Christensen just because we live under the covenant umbrella of Almighty God and the gospel doesn't mean to say that we might not find ourselves all of a sudden and unexpectedly in trouble for.
That's a fascinating issue and would love to spend a little more time on it, but we don't have the time now. But how interesting that Bunyan would introduce that particular issue so quickly into the story of a woman to women and children and perhaps perhaps that's the reason.
As we shall see in a minute. Because these two women are in need of the help of a conductor as they arrive at the house of interpreter and the news of the conversion is already reached the occupants of the house and just as in part one where Christian was shown seven things that he needed to see and learn as he makes his pilgrimage toward the celestial city so Christiana and mercy are now shown seven things. The first is perhaps the best and the cleverest thing that Bunyan gives us property cooling and even even bettering anything that was found in part one of the story is a man with a muckraker and he's raking leaves and twigs oblivious to the fact that above him.
There is someone holding a crown of gold. This man is always looking down at his he's raking and all he can see is the mark probably conceals the mire below, but if you only he stopped and looked off he would see her crown of gold above his head and that Sir is a wonderful wonderful illustration.
It's so very Paul in order to remind ourselves all the time of who we are wearing union with Christ, we are forgiven we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we are adopted we are sons heirs joint heirs with Jesus Christ. We been baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus. We are constantly to remind ourselves of who we look up see the crime above your head. Secondly, a tidy and neat room with a spider in it. While yes this is a woman story, of course, so spiders in the 17th century brought as much fear and alarm as they probably do today, the best of Christians have little sins and the two trouble them, and sometimes we might consider them to be small but actually they can be quite terrifying as the third thing is a chicken and her brood which looks up after every drink from the trough and to what Bunyan seems to know this is rural England.
17th century chickens everywhere and the he watches how the chickens will drink and in order to swallow. I think for a chicken. It has to raise its head so that you can swallow, but it looks as though it is giving thanks to Almighty God chicken after every little drink lifts his head and give thanks lesson about thankfulness, a butcher, and the sheep and that sheep can face a trouble without a murmur.
I grew up in the farm. I have seen this firsthand how as a sheep before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth to turn the ship on its back and interests of the lies that doesn't struggle.
It's an uncanny thing and seems shearers actually unintentionally cut into the flesh of a shape and didn't see blood them, but they don't seem to struggle at all the just lie there and the butter was a lesson that the sheep taken to face the trouble, but it can do so without fear. Don't be afraid. Is the lesson and then the gods and I with different flowers, different sizes, different smells different colors, yet they don't quarrel with each other. Are they get on this is an English country garden. Now if you travel in the Cotswolds. You see these wonderful gardens, but there seems no rhyme or reason to them that they haven't been planning terribly well under the multiplicity of flowers growing next to each other in the church is made up of all kinds of Christians should get on with each other. There shouldn't be any quarreling and then a field sold with wheat and corn.
But when the tops are cut off only the Strahl remains want to do that you burn it or you make must color to as a kind of bending for animals. The fruit is what you want and when you don't see it, you condemned the rest to fire and traded under foot, as was a lesson about fruits looking for the fruit in a Christian life and then 73 and lastly a Robin and a warm. This is an English Robin are not an American Robin. That's three times the size of an English Robin the English. I still have a great deal of affection for Robin. Actually the very territorial and they they fight a great deal but to their one of those birds that's quintessentially England in rural England. And that brings a sense of nostalgia when or when a red breasted little Robin comes in the lands outside the window, but look at what it's eating, it's eating this worm. Such a pretty thing and Christiana says I like him worse than I did when she sees him eating this worm.
Bunyan sees a test depicting some Christians, who looked wonderful and pretty and sweet and tender, sociable and public but drink down iniquity, and swallow sin like water so little lessons from English country life and then while waiting for supper. Number of Proverbs are given to them. This is Bunyan teaching family religion in the home that would be lessons the Bible would be read and lessons should be given to the children that the bananas emphasizing here the importance of family, religion, there are lots of these products one leak cool destroyer ship and one soon will destroy the sender. If a man would live well let him fetch his last day to him and make it always his company deeper lesson about remember that you will die. Remember that you will meet the judge live as though this is the last day of your life. John Wesley was Austin. The next century and what would he do if he knew that he would die that day and he looked at his diary for the day and he said I would do precisely as I had planned to live like that and then they eat. After some of these Proverbs servers are great many of them little lessons for the children and for the two women they eat and this music on this so wonderful conversation and again there are testimonies just as we saw is a kind of literary device. In part one. Bunyan has the character sort of repeat the story just in case you put the book down and picked it up and forgotten what you were perhaps a second literary device, but much more than that. Bunyan is teaching the importance of telling our Christian story, encouraging one another with the story of the grace of God in the gospel in our own lives and mercies testimony interpreter call Sir sweetheart Massey blushes son wants to be silent conversation. Isn't this the dramatic collector Christiana's.
We should note about Mercy Hershey lies in bed praising God and the supper is now ended, quiet conversations of the personalities and individuals have taken place in the mercy is so one of these watches. One of these endearing characters. She gives her testimony.
She said defendant is a little shy. It's not a terribly dramatic story. It's not a road of Damascus, story should only come because she was a friend of Christiana and should be there, and even remember outside the gates of the wicked skates she she was unsure of whether she should enter all not in shape just plead see if there's any mercy left. Will you give it to me in that wonderful way with the gatekeeper, pulled her in – here she is sir quiet and introverted and then you see a little private picture of her and she's going to bed and she's lying in the bed and she is she's quietly giving thanks to God in a very undramatic sort of way, Henry Holland, who is one of the commentators over the years on Bunyan says that mercy seems more fragile than Christiana more charming to with our youth center pretty face often blushing with humility.
Mercy has no dreams and no visions nor sense of crushing guilt conversion is a movement of the whole soul like water from a spring tranquilly following that slope.
She's worried for others rather than for herself. A fear of not being received by the Lord makes a faint at one moment the favor enables her to recover and knock so hard that the door that the Lord has a wonderful innocence smile. The wonderful description of mercy and causes us. I think to ask once again the question what is sir, what is Bunyan doing a rewrite or a sequel is one thing to write a best-selling novel.
The second one is much harder to write. How did how do do it in order to achieve the same kind of success is the first I don't think Bunyan is governed here by success.
Yes, I think it made some money from part one of Pilgrim's progress. But I do think that you see here Bunyan the pastor Bunyan who is now ministering to all kinds of for Christians in his church ministering to widows ministering to children to teenagers to young boys and ministering especially to the likes of mercy whose faith is fragile and weak. She's not a hero she's not even like Christiana shall emerge in this book has wonderfully godly woman.
I think that says something to the CI thinking Bunyan that is not setting up Christian as a heroic figure. Christians are in all shapes and sizes and sometimes behind the defendant's outward appearance, there lies this hard to face simple face unknown heroic faith, even but heroic in her own way so I love this thing about the second part of the program's progress that it tells a tale of the perhaps some of us can identify with in a world were not enough hopeful were not faithful will not monitors not even like Christian were more like mercy diffident shy, retiring, not especially talented, though gifted, and yet there is room in the kingdom of God. For those of little faith. This is the family story of part two of Pilgrim's progress in the to make the journey all the way to the celestial city conducted again in our next and we will do that tomorrow.
We hope you'll join us. John Bunyan's classic, the Pilgrim's progress is our focus this week. Renewing Your Mind in the regular teaching fellow Dr. Derek Thomas is our teacher. This allegorical tale has been loved by generations of Christians but death that seems to be waning. Unfortunately, Dr. Thomas always asked his seminary students each semester.
How many have read the Pilgrim's progress.
To his dismay, he says, it usually only about 20%. I had to admit that that I read it for the first time just a few years ago I remember it was on a summer reading list and I was in junior high school, many, many years ago and I started reading it and I got to about the second page and I realized this is too difficult to read. It is challenging to read but I promise you that Dr. Thomas's series will help you understand each part of the journey. We will send you the complete series 19 lessons on three DVDs for your donation of any amount to look at your ministries. There are couple of ways you can reach us. One is email@example.com or if you prefer you can call us at 800-435-4343 we have the privilege or religion or ministries or preaching people around the world with biblical truth with teaching series like the one you've heard today our founder Dr. RC Sproul always maintained that we exist to bridge the gap between Sunday school and seminary by helping growing Christians understand theology, the Bible, church history, and a Christian worldview. One way to connect with this rich teaching is through rough net answer 24 hour Internet radio station when you tune in, you'll hear sound biblical teaching from a reformed perspective from men like Dr. Sinclair Ferguson Alastair bag Dr. John MacArthur, and of course RC Sproul was in for free at any time when you go to ref net.FM or when you download the free rough net app Renewing Your Mind is the listener supported outreach of regular ministries. Thank you for joining us today and we hope to see you again tomorrow