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.

Freestyle Skier, David Wise, Wants to Show People that ‘God Created Us All With the Potential to Enjoy His World’ (Gospel Light Minute #138)

David Wise
David Wise

He is an American freestyle skier. He won the gold medal at the Winter X Games #16 in the SuperPipe in 2012, 2013, and 2014. He also won gold at the 2013 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships. Most recently, at 23-years-old, he went to the winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and returned home with a gold medal in Men’s Halfpipe.

He became a Christian as a teenager and his faith is an important part of how he sees himself as a competitor and athlete. He said, “For me, if you’re going to go so far as to believe something, then it really should be a big part of whom you are. So, whenever I’m out there skiing, I try to be the same person as a skier as I am in church on Sundays. I try to be the same in everything that I do. I really feel blessed and fortunate to be a part of such a cool sport.” He added that his dream is to “take what I love to do and inspire other people…Show people that the world is beautiful. Yes, there’s ugliness mixed in, but God created us all with the potential of enjoying this place.”

He and his wife run the youth group at their church in Nevada and he said he could even see himself as “a pastor of a church at some point.” “If that’s the way it works out, or if that’s God’s plan for my life, then that’s something I’d be totally okay with, but if not, then I’ll do whatever else comes.” In the meantime, he runs a non-profit fund called the Clean Water Project, which aims to provide clean drinking water to people in Malawi.

His name is David Wise.

GLMX #175: Beyonce: It’s the Soul that Needs the Surgery

To the surprise of the music industry and the delight of her fans, multi-Grammy award-winning singer Beyonce released an entire album on iTunes on Friday, December 13th, without any previous announcement or promotions. On Friday night, both versions of the album were ranked at number 1 and number 2 on the iTunes charts. With thousands of people trying to download the album in a matter of hours, iTunes reportedly crashed under the sudden load of visitors.

According to Religion News Service, one of the songs worth listening to is titled “Pretty Hurts.” The song, which is accompanied by a video in which Beyoncé is acting as a beauty pageant competitor, addresses the critical way women are treated in the entertainment industry simply based on their outward appearance. The hook goes like this:

Pretty hurts
Shine the light on whatever’s worse
Perfection is the disease of a nation
Pretty hurts
Shine the light on whatever’s worse
Trying to fix something
But you can’t fix what you can’t see
It’s the soul that needs the surgery

We live in a society that places a lot of emphasis on a person’s outward appearance. We make judgments of people based on how they look. And people work desperately to present an image of perfection when on the inside they are broken, hurt, wounded, and messed up. Perhaps the greatest tragedy of our day is the vast number of people who look alright on the outside but, in reality, it’s all a facade — a mask they put on in order to deceive the world.

As Beyonce laments, the makeup, the nice clothes, and the controlled personality, is really an attempt to fix something that you can’t see. It’s not the outside that needs a re-make. It’s the inside — the soul, the part of you that you can’t see — that needs the surgery. On the inside, people are messed up because of their own sins, failures, and faults that leave them feeling guilty, inadequate, and even unworthy of success or the finer things of life.

God does not want you to live under the pressure of constantly trying to fix your problems by fixing up your physical appearance. As Beyonce sings, “you can’t fix what you can’t see.” It’s the inside — the part of you that you can’t see — that needs to be fixed. And God is the only one who can fix a person on the inside. He can heal your soul. He already knows your sins and failures. He already knows your darkest secrets. In Jeremiah 16:17, God says, “Mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes.” Ecclesiastes 12:14 also says, “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” You can’t hide anything from God.

Not only does He know all about your faults and failures, but He has done something about them. Two thousand years ago, he sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross and accept the punishment that you deserve for your sins, failures, and faults. Jesus Christ shed his own blood so you would not have to. And 1 John 1:7 says, “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

Today, you can bring everything in your past that you have been trying to hide from others before the Lord Jesus Christ, and He will wash you, cleanse you, and make you a new person on the inside. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

+ Plus, listen to Natalie Grant singing “Perfect People”