Three Pitfalls for Believers to Avoid (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #7)

Pilgrim's Progress

Pilgrim's Progress

PART A

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PART B

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PART C

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Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #185

TEXT: 1 Peter 5:8-9: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”

During our last message in this series, we accompanied Christian as he came to the place where he received what he had set out from his home city to find — deliverance from his burden of sin. He found this deliverance at the cross. His burden of sin was rolled away, and he was given a clean slate as a child of God. You might be tempted to think that all is well with Christian now that he has reached his goal, but the truth of the matter is that Christian’s journey is just beginning. He will face dangers, setbacks, and troubles along the way. In fact, he is not too far gone from the cross when he comes upon an interesting scene.

Christian comes across three men — Simple, Sloth, and Presumption — who also have come by the way of the cross, yet did not get very far beyond that. They, for one reason or another, gave up before they could grow into mature Christian believers, and they sit by the wayside as distractions to others content in their spiritual infancy. Today, I want to talk from the Word of God about three things we must do if we are going to grow in our walk with Christ, and not remain, as these three men were, babes in Christ.

1. The first pitfall is not being serious about our walk with Christ. The Bible commands us to “be sober.” The word “sober” means to be serious-minded or grave. Many new believers come into the faith thinking that now that they are saved, the rest of their life as Christians will be easy. They think that from here on to Heaven it will just be fun and games.

2. The second pitfall is not taking the time to get educated about the Christian faith. Peter goes on to say, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” I mentioned that 60% of Christians do not believe the devil is real living being. Well, if these dear Christians would take the time to read their Bibles, they will find that the same Bible from which they learned how to get saved also informs them that there is a devil and he is out to devour them.

3. The third pitfall is thinking that we can live the Christian life on our own. First Peter 8-9 says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” Although you may feel as though you can, you cannot live the Christian life or resist the devil who is seeking to devour you on your own. That is why Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit to live inside of us and empower us to live the Christian life. And He has given you the Word of God.

I encourage you, as a new believer, or even if you have been saved for some time, but never got firmly rooted and grounded in the faith, to avoid these three mistakes. Understand that walking with Christ is serious business and that it is not always going to be easy. Second, take the time to become more educated about your life, duties, and responsibilities as a Christian. Third, choose to rely on the Holy Spirit’s power to resist the devil and live a victorious Christian life.

MUSICAL SELECTION: “High and Lifted Up” by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and “Beautiful Redemption” by Joy Williams

The Cross: Bridging the Gap Between God and Man (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #6)

Pilgrim's Progress

Pilgrim's Progress

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Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message #184

TEXT: Colossians 1:19-22

In our last message, Christian was in the house of the Interpreter who was giving him various demonstrations of what he could anticipate as he began his walk with Christ. After this time of teaching and explanation, Christian left the house and began his journey, still burdened down by sin, once again. He went on until he came to the very place that he had been seeking since he set out from the City of Destruction. He came to the cross.

Saint Augustine declared, ‘God made us for Himself, and our hearts are restless, until they find rest in Him.’ Every person who is not saved will at one time or another experience this restlessness of heart and soul. I know that I did when I was not saved. Even though I was raised in the church, I did not have a real relationship with God, and I knew deep down that something was missing in my life. Many people have felt the same way. They often try to fill this gap with wealth, success, relationships, sex, crime, education, and a variety of other things. But all of it eventually fails, and they have to admit that they are still not fulfilled, they are still not complete, they are still not whole.

One of the most successful and beloved comedians in history, Joan Rivers, died this week. Even though she was 81 years old, her mind was still sharp, and she was at the top of her game. She was booked with engagements all the way through this year and into next year. She seemed to have it all. Yet, many people like her, with similar success and status, often find that they are still not fulfilled — that something is still missing in their life.

Very briefly, today, I want to share with you the reason and the remedy for this condition, and how all of this centers around the cross.

1. The curse of sin. Our passage tells us that Jesus had to make “peace through the blood of his cross.” The opposite of peace is war, conflict, enmity, or discord. Jesus Christ had to make peace between man and God because man and God were on opposite sides of a conflict. This conflict came about because of sin.

2. Complete salvation. Our passage states, “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself.” God set about to bridge the divide between Himself and His Creation. He knew that because we were sinners, imperfect, unholy, and destined for eternal punishment in Hell, He would have to provide a way of salvation in totality.

3. Our current standing. Turning once more to our passage, we find these words: “you that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.” On the cross, Jesus Christ bridged the gap between man and God.

Ultimately, what is missing in the world today is more people who enjoy a relationship in which they have been reconciled to God. People pursue morality, happiness, pleasure, joy, doing good deeds, and so many other things thinking that they can find what is missing in their life. But, what is missing for them is the same thing that Adam and Eve lost in the Garden of Eden — a relationship with God.

Yes, God is a judge and we are guilty before Him. But God is also a loving Creator, who does not like the separation that has come between Him and his children We need forgiveness and justification. We need reconciliation and restoration. All of this is provided at the cross where Jesus Christ bridged the gap between man and God.

MUSICAL SELECTION: “Every Praise” by Hezekiah Walker and “No Sweeter Name” by Kari Jobe

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

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