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

Pilgrim's Progress
Pilgrim’s Progress

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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