Having the Fight of Your Life, Part 2 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #5)

Pilgrim's Progress

Pilgrim's Progress

PART A:

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PART B:

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Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #183

TEXT: 2 Timothy 4:7-8: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

Today, as we continue our journey through the Bible using the classic Christian allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress, as a tool for illustration, we are returning to a topic that is crucially important for Christians to understand. And that is the fact that, as believers, we are engaged in the fight of our lives against an enemy that seeks to render us ineffective in our service to the kingdom of God.

1. We saw last week that the first thing we must do is make the decision to join the battle. We must make up our minds that we are on God’s side and that we are prepared to do whatever it takes to fight. At the end of his life, Paul was able to say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” Paul, who once fought against Christ, had to make a decision to fight for Christ. Each of us must do the same.

2. The fight not only involves a decided fighter, but a dedicated fighter. Paul said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” In order for Paul to finish his fight, he had to be dedicated to it. He had to keep fighting day after day, month after month, year after year. Through persecution and pain, Paul was dedicated to finishing his course.

3. The fight not only involves a decided fighter, and a dedicated fighter, but a determined reward. Notice Paul’s words once again. He said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me.” The Apostle Paul anticipated heavenly rewards because he had fought the good fight.

Scripture tells us that God has already determined the rewards which we can receive, and for those rewards, we should be willing to face any fear, fight any foe, and keep the faith despite the doubts and temptations the devil will throw our way. As the Bible says in 2 Timothy, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.”

MUSICAL SELECTION: “Take Me Back” by Andrae Crouch and “Victory” by Byron Cage

Having the Fight of Your Life, Part 1 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #4)

Pilgrim's Progress

Pilgrim's Progress

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Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #182

TEXT: 2 Timothy 4:7-8

In our last message, Christian was in the house of the Interpreter who was sharing with Christian, through a series of vivid illustrations, what it means to live as a follower of Christ. In one of those illustrations, Interpreter showed Christian the illustration of Christ starting a fire in the believer’s life and the devil constantly trying to put that fire out. However, Christ keeps the fire burning, and the believer is eventually transformed into the image of Christ no matter what the world, the flesh, and the devil try to do.

Today, allow me to share with you from Pilgrim’s Progress another illustration which Interpreter showed Christian.

When we look around at the world, we can’t help but notice how those in authority are bent on telling people not to fight. Nations are admonished not to fight each other. Companies and people are advised to work out their differences instead of taking their fight to the court. Parents tell children that it is wrong to fight. Yet, every society draws much inspiration from fighting, and from those who fight. Some of our greatest heroes are those who fought in wars and armed conflict. Others who we look up to are those who fought disease, poverty, injustice, or immorality, and those who fought to survive difficult circumstances. And, nearly everyone loves to watch a good sporting competition such as football or basketball in which two teams fight for victory.

Fighting is a part of life — a part of our existence on this Earth. The Bible tells us that our faith involves a fight, and that is what the Interpreter shows Christian in this vision. I titled this message, “the fight of our lives” not “the fight for our lives”, because, as Christians, we are not fighting to preserve our mortal, temporary lives. However, we are required to give the fight all that we have. In other words, we must put all of our life into the fight. Let’s look at what this means from a Scriptural perspective.

1. The fight involves a decided fighter. At the end of his life, Paul was able to say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” Paul, who once fought against Christ, had to make a decision to fight for Christ. When Jesus interrupted him on the road to Damascus, he had to make a decision — would he continue fighting against Christ, or would he choose to fight for Christ? That is a decision that each of us has faced or will face at some point in our lives — perhaps not as dramatically as Paul, but it is a decision we will face nonetheless.

In the vision told to us in Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian sees a good number of men standing around the entrance to the palace, but they are not trying to get in. They are scared because of the soldiers blocking the way to the entrance. They are not sure if they want to risk their lives in order to follow Christ. They are undecided.

Those who are standing at the door to the palace, ready to attack anyone who dares attempt entry, are like the many doubts and objections that the devil sends our way when we consider following Jesus Christ. He doesn’t want us to make that decision, so He makes us think of everything that we will be risking — the family members whom we will offend, the job we may have to give up, the lifestyle that we may have to say goodbye to. These nagging doubts keep many people on the fence.

Becoming a Christian is as much a mental decision as it is a spiritual or emotional one. A decision is the act of making up one’s mind; it is a resolution. We see an example of one who makes such a decision in the man who steps up to the door and says, “Write my name down in the book.”

Jesus Christ spoke of those who have made a decision to follow Him as those who have “put their hands to the plow.” Luke 9:62 reads, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” When you put your hand to the plow — when you choose to follow Christ — you are making a firm decision to enter the fight as a soldier in the army of the Lord with no intention of turning back to your old lifestyle. As the old hymn says:

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

MUSICAL SELECTION: “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord” by the Katinas and “In Christ Alone” by Adam Young

A Fire that Can’t be Extinguished (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #3)

Pilgrim's Progress

Pilgrim's Progress

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Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #181

TEXT: Romans 8:28-31

Today, we return to the journey of Christian — the main character of Pilgrim’s Progress. When we last saw him, he was talking to Mr. Worldly Wiseman who tried to convince him that he should turn to the ways of the world in order to ease his burden of sin. Christian unfortunately follows Mr. Worldly Wiseman’s advice and heads to the city of Morality. However, along the way, Evangelist comes to meet him, and informs him of the dangers of following such worldly advice.

Christian accepts Evangelist’s advice and commits himself to following the straight and narrow way until he gets to the Wicket Gate. At the gate, he is let into the palace where he is given advice on his journey from a man named Goodwill and a man named Interpreter. Interpreter takes Christian on a tour of the castle showing him various rooms which contain scenes depicting certain realities of life for the believer.

What the interpreter shows Christian is a picture of the work of Christ in the life of the believer. It is like a fire that burns and burns but never burns out. Rather it grows brighter and brighter as time goes on.

Let’s look at the significance of this fire in the life of a Christian.

1. Notice the One who started the fire and keeps it burning. In Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian is first shown the side of the room where the devil is pouring water on the fire. However, the fire did not spring up of its own accord. Someone started the fire, and that someone is God through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. Our passage states, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.”

2. Notice the one who is trying to extinguish the fire. Let’s go back to the other side of the room. Here we see someone throwing water on the fire. Peter asks the question, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” This question does not imply that there will be no one who is against us. It simply lets us know that no one who is against us will be effective in their quest to destroy us.

3. We may not always feel the heat from the fire, but we know that it is still burning. We have dealt with the two supernatural sides of this matter, now let’s deal with the human side. Verse 28 reads, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

We are being made into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. That is the destiny that has been predetermined for us, and because God cannot lie, we can rest assured that we will reach that destination.

MUSICAL SELECTION: “Until I Found The Lord” by Walter Hawkins and “Hold to God’s Hand” by The Sensational Nightingales

That’s the Way of the World (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #2)

Pilgrim's Progress

Pilgrim's Progress

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Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #180

TEXT: Romans 8:5-8

Today, we return to the journey of Christian — the main character of Pilgrim’s Progress. When we last saw him, he was worried about the burden of sin in his life and looking for a way to be freed from it. He met a man named Evangelist who told him how to begin his journey to the cross where he would be freed of his burden of sin. Christian began that journey. As he left the city of Destruction, his wife, children, and neighbors begged for him to come back. Two of his friends, Obstinate and Pliable, said they would go with him, but as soon as they got stuck in the Slough of Despond, they abandoned him, and Christian went on alone.

Help comes along and gets Christian out of the Slough of Despond, and sets him on his way again. However, Christian meets with another traveler — Mr. Worldly Wiseman.

In our message last week, we explored the promise of salvation that Christian received from Evangelist. This salvation is only available through Jesus Christ who died on the cross for the sins of all mankind. It is through Jesus Christ that all people can get rid of their burden of sin. However, Mr. Worldly Wiseman tells Christian that there is another way he can get rid of his sin burden. Let’s explore this way and see what the Bible has to say about it.

1. Let’s look at the mindset of the world. Our passage for today vividly describes the mindset of the Worldly Wiseman. Verse 5 says, “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh…” The Worldy Wiseman is a man who is “after the flesh.” He does not have his mind on spiritual matters. He has his mind on the here and now and how he can satisfy his fleshly desires.

2. Let’s look at the result of a worldly mindset. The Bible states, “For to be carnally minded is death…” Mr. Worldy Wiseman tells Christian a lot of good things about the flesh-focused lifestyle. He tells him that he will go to live in cities with names like Morality and Civility. It all sounds well and good. But, what Mr. Worldly Wiseman doesn’t mention is that it all will come to an end.

3. Let’s look at the alternative to a worldly mindset. Romans 8:5-6 says, “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” God offers us something that is far better than the riches of this world. If we follow the wisdom of the world and pursue temporal things, in the end, we will find that it all comes crumbling down. But if we follow Jesus Christ — if we decide to be spiritually-minded — God will give us eternal life and peace.

The way of the world is the way of regret. It is the way of constantly saying, “I wish I had done this…” or “I should not have done that…” You may enjoy it for a while, but soon, you will be reminded of your burden. Your burden of sin, guilt, and an unpeaceful conscience. Nothing this world offers can free you of that burden.

But God can. He can free you of your burden and give you peace and eternal life through His Son Jesus Christ. As we close, I want to give you the opportunity to let Him give you what this world can’t. Yes, your burden of sin can be lifted today. Jesus Christ said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

MUSICAL SELECTION: “He’s Able” by the Mighty Clouds of Joy and “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” by Selah

The Way of Escape (Pilgrim’s Progress #1)

Pilgrim's Progress

Pilgrim's Progress

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Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #179

TEXT: Luke 3:1-7

Today, we are beginning a new series of messages drawn from the Bible and the classic Christian book, The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan. John Bunyan was a 17th century English preacher. He was thrown into prison because, during that time, the government had a law that said no one could preach without a license and without being a member of the Church of England. Bunyan abided by neither rule and was thrown into prison for 12 years. During his imprisonment, he conceived Pilgrim’s Progress and later wrote it. It has become the most popular Christian allegory in the world, has been translated into over 200 languages, and has never gone out of print.

Pilgrim’s Progress is based on the journey that every Christian takes out of their sinfulness and into salvation and then onto the straight and narrow way which ultimately leads to the Celestial City or Heaven. As such, the Pilgrim’s Progress is based firmly on the Bible. In fact, annotated editions of Pilgrim’s Progress have been published which include the Scripture references for each of the scenarios that the main character faces.

This main character is a man named Christian who lives in the city of destruction. Allow me to read a short portion of the first chapter to you.

As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a den, and laid me down in that place to sleep; and as I slept, I dreamed a dream. I dreamed, and behold, I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back.

I looked and saw him open the book, and read therein; and as he read, he wept and trembled; and not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry, saying, “What shall I do?”

In this plight, therefore, he went home, and restrained himself as long as he could, that his wife and children should not perceive his distress; but he could not be silent long, because that his trouble increased. Wherefore at length he brake his mind to his wife and children; and thus he began to talk to them: “O, my dear wife,” said he, “and you the children of my bowels, I, your dear friend, am in myself undone by reason of a burden that lieth hard upon me; moreover, I am certainly informed that this our city will be burnt with fire from heaven; in which fearful overthrow, both myself, with thee my wife, and you my sweet babes, shall miserably come to ruin, except some way of escape can be found whereby we may be delivered.”

Our passage for today shows us people who also were seeking a way of escape from the wrath to come. Let’s travel with Christian and explore this way of escape.

1. In this passage, we see the people. The Bible says that ‘multitudes came forth.’ These multitudes were worried, they were concerned, they were distressed over their spiritual condition. To put it simply, the people had a problem. What was their problem? Their problem was the same problem that Christian had in Pilgrim’s Progress. Christian told his family that a huge burden weighed down on him every day. That burden was the burden of sin. He was looking for a way to get rid of his burden.

2. In this passage, we see the preacher. Our text reads, “the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” We must not overlook the importance of this man who dressed in clothes made of camel’s hair, lived in the desert, and ate locusts and wild honey. For over 400 years, the people had received nothing but silence from God. When John the Baptist came on the scene, it represented God beginning to speak again.

3. In this passage, we see the promise. The preacher told the people, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight [for] all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” The message of John the Baptist was that the One who would bring salvation to “all flesh” was about to come on the scene and John wanted the people to get ready to receive Him.

Who is the way of escape? Who is the promised One who will bring salvation? It is none other than Jesus Christ. First Thessalonians 1:10 calls Jesus the one “who delivers us from the wrath to come.” The wrath to come is eternal punishment in Hell and separation from God for all those who do not flee the wrath while they have a chance by believing on Jesus Christ as their Savior.

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