The Pilgrim’s Progress Study Guide Book

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JOHN BUNYAN’S classic with Questions, Quizzes, Insights and Modern English Text by Olufemi Oguntokun

PART ONE

Let’s Begin!

Preface

I am delighted that you are considering this Study Guide as a resource to more fully understand and explore the captivating stories and spiritual insights in John Bunyan’s timeless classic, The Pilgrim’s Progress.

Born from discussions and activities during a group reading by the Readers’ Club on GospelBellsRadio.com, this guide offers a structured approach to studying the book. Through questions designed to highlight the meanings of the metaphors and symbols in the text, focused group discussions, and ideas for personal application of the themes and lessons, you and your group will be blessed by the meaningful conversations the guide will stimulate as it points you to the enduring relevance of the book for your Christian walk.

Because the original language would seem archaic today, this Study Guide is accompanied by a new English revision that retains the style and message of the original. Whether you are a seasoned reader or a newcomer to The Pilgrim’s Progress, I pray that this guide becomes a valuable resource for your study.

Olufemi Oguntokun
Lagos, Nigeria.

July, 2024.

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About John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress

The Pilgrim’s Progress tells the story of a man named Christian who leaves his home in the ‘City of Destruction’ to embark on a journey to the Celestial City. This allegorical tale is a vivid depiction of the believer’s spiritual journey towards heaven.

Christian’s path is fraught with many adventures and challenges. Early in his journey, he is misdirected from the cross of Christ to the town of Morality, symbolizing the futile attempt to gain righteousness by works. He also passes through Vanity Fair, a place teeming with the world’s temptations and hostility, where he and his companion Faithful face severe trials.

In one of the most poignant episodes, Christian finds himself imprisoned in Doubting Castle, a place of despair and spiritual bondage. He eventually remembers that he possesses a key called ‘Promise,’ which symbolizes the assurances found in God’s Word, capable of freeing him from his plight.

These episodes are just a few examples of the harrowing adventures Christian endures. The narrative portrays the everyday trials and triumphs of the Christian life, illustrated through symbolic people and places. Each character and location represents different trials and situations that Christians encounter on their spiritual journey.

Publication and Style

The first part of The Pilgrim’s Progress was published in 1678 and believed to have been written during John Bunyan’s imprisonment for being a member of a nonconformist church, that is, a Christian church unaffiliated with the Anglican Church. The second part of the book, popularly called Christiana’s Journey was published in 1684.

The style of The Pilgrim’s Progress is straightforward and written in the common man’s language of Bunyan’s time. The original language would seem archaic today, but there are modern English revisions available that maintain the essence of Bunyan’s powerful allegory. This Study Guide is accompanied by a new English revision.

Influence in Christianity

Perhaps the best way to tell of the influence of The Pilgrim’s Progress over the centuries is to re-echo the opinions of distinguished Christian authors and preachers about it. George Whitefield, the 18th-century evangelist, regarded it as “the finest piece of writing in the English language,” and John Owen, the esteemed theologian, famously said, “I would trade all my learning for John Bunyan’s ability to write as he did.”

According to Thomas Carlyle, “Bunyan is the most popular religious writer in the English language. His Pilgrim’s Progress has been translated into most European tongues, and into all the languages of modern Christendom,” and George Whitefield considered the book the “finest piece of writing in the English language.”

Charles Spurgeon, the 19th-century distinguished ‘prince of preachers,’ said, “Next to the Bible, the book I value most is John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. I believe I have read it through at least a hundred times.” He also said, “I know of no book, the Bible excepted, which I could substitute for Pilgrim’s Progress if I must have only one book for a whole year.”

The overarching message of The Pilgrim’s Progress is a reminder that the Christian life is a pilgrimage. John Newton emphasized this in his 1776 preface to the book as follows: “If you are indeed asking the way to Zion with your face thitherward, I bid you good speed. Behold, an open door is set before you, which none can shut. Yet prepare to endure hardship, for the way lies through many tribulations. There are hills and valleys to be passed, lions and dragons to be met with, but the Lord of the hill will guide and guard his people. ‘Put on the whole armor of God, fight the good fight of faith.’ Beware of the Flatterer. Beware of the Enchanted Ground. See, the Land of Beulah, yea, the city of Jerusalem itself is before you: There Jesus the forerunner waits. To welcome travelers home.”

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How to use this Book

This book is designed to be used by small groups reading and meditating on John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress.

The group may meet weekly or at such other intervals as is convenient. I recommend the following format for the meetings:

  • Begin with the Study Hymn followed by an opening prayer.
  • Chorus-read the Cornerstone Bible Verses.
  • The study leader reads the chapter overview.
  • Follow the recommendations under the Study Arrangement for the chapter to be read at the meeting. (It is best for arrangements to have been made for this before the meeting.)
  • Invite the group to attempt the Quick Quiz to test participants’ comprehension of the important aspects of the passage.
  • Read out each the Discussion Question and encourage robust discussions.
  • Read and reflect on the Key Takeaways and Food for Thought.
  • Update the Characters’ Table after every chapter to classify the characters Christian meets in this book under the appropriate category.

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Study Hymn: We’re Marching to Zion

This hymn is recommended to be sung at the beginning of every study session to the tune, Marching to Zion by Robert Lowry. The theme of the hymn and the sustained energy of the tune sets the tone for the overall message of the book.

1. Come, we that love the Lord,/ And let our joys be known;/ Join in a song with sweet accord,/2x/ And thus surround the throne./2x Refrain: We’re marching to Zion,/ Beautiful, beautiful Zion;/ We’re marching upward to Zion,/ The beautiful city of God.

2. Let those refuse to sing,/ Who never knew our God;/ But children of the heav’nly King/2x/ May speak their joys abroad./2x (Refrain)

3. The hill of Zion yields/ A thousand sacred sweets/ Before we reach the heav’nly fields,/ Or walk the golden streets./2x/ (Refrain)

4. Then let our songs abound,/ And every tear be dry;/ We’re marching through Immanuel’s ground/2x/ To fairer worlds on high./2x (Refrain)

Text: Isaac Watts, 1707; Refrain: Robert Lowry, 1867; Music (Marching to Zion) by Robert Lowry.

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Cornerstone Bible Verses

These three Bible verses should be read at the start of every study session. Readers are encouraged to memorise them before completing the book.

Matthew 7:13-14. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction—and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life—and there are few who find it.

1 Peter 2:11. “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims—abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.”

Hebrews 11:13. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”

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PART ONE

Chapter 1: The Man and His Burden

Overview

John Bunyan was imprisoned in Bedford Jail for 12 years, between 1660 and 1672. It is believed that he wrote most of Pilgrim’s Progress during this incarceration. In 1677, he spent an additional 6 months in jail.

In this chapter, John Bunyan refers to a dream he had in a den, a metaphor for the Bedford jail where he probably got the inspiration for this book.

This opening chapter introduces a man who reads a book that causes him to feel the weight of a burden on his back. He is troubled and restless, desperately desiring to find a way to get rid of the burden. Finding no help from his family, the man becomes a praying and Bible-studying recluse until Evangelist finds him.

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Study Arrangement

  • Begin with the Study Hymn and an opening prayer.
  • Chorus-read the Cornerstone Bible verses
  • Appoint 3 Readers
    • Narrator (Reader 1): Reads the main text of the chapter, excluding dialogue or quoted scripture.
    • Scripture Reader (Reader 2): Reads the Bible passages included in the chapter.
    • Reader 3: Reads the Takeaways and Food for Thought.
  • Read the chapter in its entirety before engaging with the quizz, and discussion questions.
  • Close the session with the hymn, I am Resolved written by Palmer Hartsough followed by a closing prayer.

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The Man and His Burden

As I journeyed through the wilderness of this world, I came upon a particular spot where a den[1] was located. I settled down there to sleep, and during my slumber, I had a dream. In my dream, I saw a man clothed in rags standing in a certain place, his back turned towards his own home. He held a Book in his hand and a heavy burden was on his back.

My guilt overwhelms me— it is a burden too heavy to bear. Psalm 38:4

I watched as he opened the Book and began to read. As he read, he wept and trembled. Unable to hold back any longer, he erupted in a sorrowful cry, exclaiming, “What shall I do?”

Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do? Acts 2:37

Faced with this predicament, the man went home and tried his best to hide his distress from his wife and children. But his silence couldn’t last long because his burden only grew heavier. Finally, he could hold it in no more and revealed his heart to his family. “Oh, my dear wife,”he began, “and you, my precious children, I, your devoted friend, am utterly undone by a burden that weighs heavily upon me. Furthermore, I have been reliably informed that our very city will be consumed by fire from heaven. In this terrifying destruction, both I, myself, along with you, my wife, and you, my sweet children, will perish miserably. There is no escape, at least none that I can see, unless a way of escape can be found.”

When they heard this, his relatives were utterly bewildered. Not because they believed his words, but because they feared some sort of mental breakdown. As night fell, they hoped sleep would clear his head. They rushed him to bed, but the night was just as tormenting as the day. Instead of sleep, he spent it filled with sighs and tears.

By morning, they checked on him, only to hear from him that things had worsened. He tried talking to them again, but their hearts grew hard. They believed harsh treatment would cure his “distemper.”They mocked him, scolded him, and even ignored him completely. So, the man retreated to his room, praying for them and pitying their blindness. He also spent time lamenting his own plight. He found solace in solitary walks through the fields, reading and praying for guidance. Days turned into weeks as he continued in this manner.

One day, while he was out walking in the fields, just as he always did, I saw him reading his Book. He looked deeply troubled. As he read, he suddenly cried out, just like before, “What must I do to be saved?”He looked frantically around, as if searching for an escape route, yet remained frozen in place. It seemed he couldn’t decide which way to turn.

Then, I saw a man named Evangelist[2] approaching him. The stranger asked, “Why are you crying out?”

The man replied, “Sir, as I read this Book, I understand that I’m destined to die and face judgment afterwards. But the thought of dying fills me with dread, and I fear I’m powerless to face that judgment.”

“…each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment,” Hebrews 9:27

“I need someone to mediate between God and me, as a person mediates between friends. For soon I must go down that road from which I will never return.” Job 16:21-22

“How strong and courageous will you be in my day of reckoning? I, the LORD, have spoken, and I will do what I said.” Ezekiel 22:14

Evangelist then asked, “Why are you afraid of dying? After all, this life is filled with so much suffering.”

The man replied, “Sir, I fear that this burden on my back will drag me down even lower than the grave, into Tophet, a place of utter destruction. If I’m not fit for prison, then I surely cannot face judgment and the punishment that follows (like being sent to execution). These thoughts bring me to tears.”

“Topheth—the place of burning— has long been ready for the Assyrian king; the pyre is piled high with wood. The breath of the LORD, like fire from a volcano, will set it ablaze.” Isaiah 30:33

Evangelist said, “If that’s the situation you’re in, why aren’t you moving? Why are you just standing there?”

The man answered, “Because I don’t know where to go!”

Then Evangelist gave him a rolled-up piece of parchment. Unfurling it, the man saw a message written inside: “Flee from the coming wrath!”

But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, he denounced them. “You brood of snakes!”he exclaimed. “Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? Matthew 3:7

The man read the message carefully, then looked intently at Evangelist. “Where should I flee to?”he asked.

Evangelist pointed with his finger across a vast field. “Do you see that narrow gate over there?”

The man squinted in the direction Evangelist was pointing. “No, I don’t see it,”he replied.

“Well, then,”the other man said, “do you see that shining light in the distance?”

The man hesitated. “I think I might see something,”he said uncertainly.

“Excellent!”said Evangelist. “Keep that light in your view and head straight towards it. That will lead you to the gate. Once you knock there, you’ll be given instructions on what to do next.”

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” Matthew 7:13-14

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105

Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. 2 Peter 1:19

In my dream, I saw the man begin to run. He hadn’t gotten far from his doorstep when his wife and children spotted him and started crying out for him to come back. But the man covered his ears and kept running, shouting, “Life! Life! Eternal life!”He didn’t dare look back and fled towards the center of the plain.

“If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26

“When they were safely out of the city, one of the angels ordered, “Run for your lives! And don’t look back or stop anywhere in the valley! Escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away!” Genesis 19:17

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Quick Quiz

Fill in the blanks to test your recall of key details from this chapter. Use these answers in the Discussion Questions.

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  1. The man was wearing _________ and holding a _______ in his hand.
  2. He had a _____________ on his back.
  3. His back was turned to ______________.
  4. After reading the book, the man cried out, __________________.
  5. The man’s relatives believed he was having a ___________________
  6. The man found solace in ____________ and _____________.
  7. Where was the man and what was he doing when Evangelist found him?

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Discussion Questions

To explore the depths of Bunyan’s allegory, engage these questions thoughtfully and scripturally, aiming to translate your answers to practical steps for your Christian walk.

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1. What do the following represent? Explain the reason(s) for your answers:

  1. The rags on the man. (Zechariah 3:2-4)
  2. The Book (Hebrews 4:12)
  3. The man’s positioning while reading the book. (Jeremiah 29:13)
  4. The burden on the man’s back. (Psalm 38:4)
  5. The fields where Evangelist found the man. (John 4:35)
  6. The character, Evangelist. (2 Cor. 5:18-19)
  7. Is the man’s response to the Book strange? Any similar account(s) from the Bible? Does the Book still make people respond in that way?
  8. Are spiritual convictions typically difficult to explain to explain to others? Give examples.
  9. How did the man react to his family’s ill treatment? What can we learn?
  10. Is an Evangelist always required to point the way? Do you recall any Evangelist who helped in your own Christian walk? Have you ever been asked to ‘show the way’?
  11. The man could not see the narrow gate but could see the ‘shining light.’ What is the shining light and its role in a Christian’s journey?
  12. How are evangelists commissioned? Was it by chance that the Evangelist appeared to the man in distress? What lessons can we learn from the Evangelist?
  13. Was it out of love that the man’s wife and children called him to come back? Why didn’t he dare look back?
  14. What are the typical challenges to following a spiritual conviction? How can we overcome them?
  15. How many characters from this chapter are you adding to the Characters’ Table and under which category?

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Key Takeaways & Food for Thought

  1. No sinner can resist the effectual call of God. That sinner will not have rest until he/she heeds the call.
  • Food for thought: Are you praying for God to open the anyone’s ear to hear the irrestible, effectual call of God?
  1. The man’s wife and children dismissed his uneasiness and concerns, characterising them as indications of a mental imbalance.
  • Food for thought: Are you often concerned that your Christian convictions seem like madness to unbelieving friends and relatives? Don’t be offended or discouraged. Remember that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
  1. Christian, burdened and lost, sought answers in his Book, crying out to God for salvation.
    • Food for thought: In what ways do you seek God’s guidance and provision when facing challenges in your own spiritual journey? What advice do you give to those seeking spiritual insights?
  2. God, in His mercy, sent Evangelist, a faithful servant, to guide Christian.

Food for thought: Are you open to the guidance and support of fellow believers who may be sent by God to help you on your path?

  1. Evangelist, like a laborer in the field, offered compassion, encouragement, rebuke, and instruction.

Food for thought: How can you extend compassion, encouragement, and gentle correction to those who are struggling in their faith?

  1. Evangelist, representing faithful ministers like John Gifford, was a gift from God to the church.

Food for thought: Do you appreciate and support the ministry of pastors and teachers in your church community?

  1. God equips His church with apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, all working together to build up the body of Christ.

Food for thought: What is your unique role in the body of Christ, and how can you use your gifts to serve and uplift others?

  1. All believers are called to share the hope of Christ and guide others towards Him.

Food for thought: Are you actively sharing the love and truth of Jesus with those around you, both in word and deed?

  1. Let us pray for God to awaken hearts and send laborers into the harvest, making us sensitive to the needs of those around us.

Food for thought: How can you be more intentional in praying for the lost and seeking opportunities to share the gospel with those who need it?

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Closing Hymn: I am Resolved

1. I am resolved no longer to linger,/ charmed by the world’s delight;/ things that are higher, things that are nobler,/ these have allured my sight. Refrain: I will hasten to Him,/ hasten so glad and free;/ Jesus, greatest, highest,/ I will come to Thee.

2. I am resolved to go to the Savior,/ leaving my sin and strife;/ He is the true one, He is the just one,/ He has the words of life./ [Refrain]

3. I am resolved to enter the kingdom,/ Leaving the paths of sin;/ Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me,/ Still will I enter in./ [Refrain]

4 I am resolved, and who will go with me?/ Come, friends, without delay;/ taught by the Bible, led by the Spirit,/ we’ll walk the heavenly way. [Refrain]

Text by Palmer Hartsough (1896); Music, Resolution by James H. Fillmore (1896)

(Before the closing prayer, check the study arrangement for chapter 2 and prepare ahead).

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Chapter 2: Obstinate and Pliable

Overview

At the close of Chapter 1, the wife and children of the man entreats him to return home to the city. (Pay attention to the name of the man and the city he fled from.)

In this chapter, we learn that his neighbours also joined in the desperate pleas to the man. Two of the neighbours caught up with him. The names of the two neighbours reflect their respective characters. One of them becomes the man’s first companion on his pilgrimage.

As you read, give thoughts to these: Have you met anyone like the neighbours? Have you ever behaved like any of them? What is notable about the man’s robust responses to the enquiries of the neighbour who chose to go with him on the pilgrimage?

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Study Arrangement

  • Begin with the Study Hymn and an opening prayer. Choose any member of the class to summarise the story and lessons from the previous chapter.
  • Chorus-read the Cornerstone Bible verses
  • Appoint 6 Readers.
  • Narrator (Reader 1): Reads the main text of the chapter, excluding dialogue or quoted scripture.
  • Scripture Reader (Reader 2): Reads the Bible passages included in the chapter.
  • Christian (Reader 3): Reads all of Christian’s dialogue.
  • Obstinate (Reader 4): Reads all of Obstinate’s dialogue.
  • Pliable (Reader 5): Reads all of Pliable’s dialogue.
  • Reader 6: Reads the Takeaways and Food for Thought.
  • Read chapter in its entirety before engaging with the quizz, and discussion questions, Takeaways, and Food for Thought.
  • Close with the hymn, I Have Decided (attr. Simon Marak) and a closing prayer.

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Obstinate and Pliable

Seeing the man run, his neighbours came out to watch. Some of them jeered, others threatened him, and a few even yelled after him to return.

_______

“I have heard the many rumors about me. They call me ‘The Man Who Lives in Terror.’ They threaten, ‘If you say anything, we will report it.’ Even my old friends are watching me, waiting for a fatal slip. ‘He will trap himself,’ they say, ‘and then we will get our revenge on him.’” Jeremiah 20:10

Two neighbours, in particular, were determined to forcefully bring him back. One was named Obstinate, and the other Pliable.

By this point, the man had put a good distance between himself and his neighbours. However, they were persistent in their pursuit and soon caught up to him.

“Neighbours,”the man called out, “why are you following me?”

“We’re here to persuade you to come back with us,”they replied.

“That’s absolutely impossible,”the man declared. “You live in the City of Destruction, the very same place I was born and has now escaped from. I can see clearly that if you die there, you’ll end up even lower than the Grave, in a place consumed by fire and brimstone. Please, good neighbours, take my word for it and come with me.”

Obstinate scoffed, “What? Leave our friends and comfortable lives behind?”

“Yes,”replied Christian (for that was the man’s name), “because everything you’d give up pales in comparison to a glimpse of what I’m seeking. And if you join me and hold fast to this goal, you’ll be rewarded just as I will. Where I’m going, there is more than enough for everyone. Come with me and see for yourself what I mean.”

_______

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!” Luke 15:17

Obstinate: “Alright, but what exactly are you looking for that makes you abandon everything else?”

Christian: “I’m seeking an inheritance that’s imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It’s reserved in heaven and securely stored there for those who diligently search for it. You can even read about it in my Book, if you’d like.”

__________

“…and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,…” 1 Peter 1:4

“Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:16

Obstinate: “Bah! Nonsense with your book. Are you coming back with us or not?”

Christian: “Absolutely not. I’ve already set my hand to the plow. There’s no turning back for me.”

______

“Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’” Luke 9:62

Obstinate: “Fine then, Pliable. Let’s just head back home without him. There are a whole bunch of these crackpot fools who get fixated on some idea and think they’re smarter than seven wise men put together!”

Pliable: “Hold on now, don’t be insulting. If what Christian says is true, then what he’s looking for must be better than what we have. I’m actually starting to feel inclined to go with him.”

Obstinate: “What? More fools joining the parade? Listen to me and turn back. Who knows where this crazy fellow will lead you? Go back, go back, and be sensible!”

Christian: “Come with me, Neighbour Pliable. There are not only the things I mentioned, but also many more glories to be found. If you doubt my word, then read this Book. The truth of what’s written here is confirmed by the very blood of the One who created it.”

____________

Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-22

Pliable (thoughtfully): “Well, Neighbour Obstinate, I’m starting to see the point. I think I’ll go along with this good man and join forces with him.”(turns to Christian) “But my dear friend, do you know the way to this special place?”

Christian: “I’m following the instructions of a man named Evangelist. He directed me to a small gate ahead, where we’ll get directions for the way.”

Pliable: “Then let’s go, good neighbour! We’re off together!”

Obstinate: “As for me, I’m heading back home. I won’t be a companion to such misguided, fantastical[3] fellows.”

Now, in my dream, I saw that after Obstinate left, while Christian and Pliable continued talking as they crossed the plain. Here’s how their conversation began:

Christian: “Welcome, Neighbour Pliable! I’m glad you decided to join me. If even Obstinate himself had felt the power and terror of what’s yet to come, he wouldn’t have turned back on us so easily.”

Pliable: “Alright, Neighbour Christian, since it’s just the two of us now, tell me more about these things you mentioned. What exactly will we find, and how do we enjoy them in this place we’re going?”

Christian: “It’s easier for me to grasp these things in my mind than to express them with words. But since you’re eager to know, I’ll read about them from my Book.”

Pliable: “And do you truly believe the words in your book are absolutely true?”

Christian: “Absolutely! Because it was written by the one who cannot lie”

___________

in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,” Titus 1:2

Pliable: “Well said. What are these things, then?”

Christian: “There’s an endless kingdom to inhabit, and everlasting life to be given to us, so we can dwell in that kingdom forever.”

__________

And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. John 10:28

Pliable: “Sounds good. What else is there?”

Christian: “There are crowns of glory to be given to us, and garments that will make us shine like the sun in the heavens.

_________

Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8

“You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.” Revelation 3:4

“Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Matt. 13:43

Pliable: “This is amazing! What else?”

Christian: “And there will be no more crying or sorrow. The one who owns that place will wipe away every tear from our eyes.

________

“He will swallow up death forever, And the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces;” Isaiah 25:8a

“They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:16-17

Pliable: “That sounds incredible! And who will be our companions in this place?”

Christian: “We’ll be with seraphim and cherubim. These are creatures so magnificent they’ll take your breath away! You’ll also meet countless others who came before us to that place. None of them are harmful, but loving and holy; every one living in God’s sight and forever accepted in his presence. In short, we’ll see the elders with their golden crowns. We’ll see the holy virgins with their golden harps . We’ll see people who were brutally killed for their love of the Lord – cut to pieces, burned, eaten by beasts, drowned in the seas Yet, they’ll all be well and clothed with immortality, as if with a garment.”

____________

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.Revelation 5:11

Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.Revelation 4:4

Pliable: “Wow, hearing this is enough to fill my heart with joy! But can we really enjoy these things? How do we become part of it?”

Christian: “The Lord, the ruler of that land, has documented it in this Book. The message, in essence, is that if we truly desire it, He will freely give it to us.”

“He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.’” Revelation 21:6

The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.Revelation 22:17

Pliable: “Well, my good companion, I’m thrilled to hear about all this! Let’s pick up the pace!”

Christian: “I can’t go as fast as I’d like because of this burden on my back.”

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Quick Quiz

Fill in the blanks to test your recall of key details from this chapter. Use these answers in the Discussion Questions.

  1. Christian was born in, and escaped from the city named ________________.
  2. List the three ways Christian’s neighbours reacted to his deseetion to flee the city?

_______________________ _______________________ _______________________

3.To be obstinate is to be ______________. Another word for Obstinate is ___________.

4. To be pliable is to be ____________. Another word for Pliable is _____________.

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Discussion Questions

To explore the depths of Bunyan’s allegory, engage these questions thoughtfully and scripturally, aiming to translate your answers to practical steps for your Christian walk.

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  1. Is the reaction to Christian’s resolve by his family and neighbours exaggerated?
  2. How would you rate Christian’s responses to the questions from Obstinate and Pliable. What’s unique about the responses?
  3. Consider the significance of the characters Obstinate and Pliable in relation to the importance of companionship and influence on our spiritual journey. How can we ensure we surround ourselves with positive influences and avoid being swayed by negative ones?
  4. Pliable has no burden on his back yet still follows Christian. Why would someone do this? Have you met anyone like that? What kind of “churches” appeal to people in this condition?
  5. Which other Bible verses are you reminded of in this chapter? How do they amplify the message(s) in this chapter?
  6. How many characters from this chapter are you adding to the Characters’ Table and under which category?

Key Takeaways & Food for Thought

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  • Reflect on the chapter’s main spiritual lessons and how they apply to you personally.
  • Feel free to add your own takeaways as they come to mind.
  1. Christian warned Obstinate and Pliable of their impending doom, urging them to turn away from the world and seek eternal life.
    • Food for thought: Do you boldly share the truth of God’s judgment and the hope of salvation with those who are still lost in the world?
  2. Christian relied on the Bible as his authority, appealing to God’s Word to persuade his companions.
    • Food for thought: How often do you turn to the Scriptures for guidance and wisdom in your conversations with others?
  3. Obstinate rejected the gospel as foolishness, demonstrating the natural man’s resistance to spiritual truths.
    • Food for thought: Have you encountered people who scoff at the message of the cross? How can you respond with grace and wisdom?
  4. Pliable made a superficial profession of faith, swayed by Christian’s zeal and drawn more by the promise of rewards than genuine conviction.
    • Food for thought: Are your motivations for following Christ rooted in genuine love for Him, or are you simply seeking the blessings He offers?

Closing Hymn: I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

I have decided to follow Jesus;/3x no turning back, no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me;/3x no turning back, no turning back.

Though none go with me, I still will follow;/3x no turning back, no turning back.

Will you decide now to follow Jesus;/3x no turning back, no turning back.

Text and music attributed to Simon Marak

Before the closing prayer, check the study arrangement for chapter 3 and prepare ahead.

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Chapter 3: Swamp of Despond

Overview

As Christian and Pliable journeyed on with enthusiasm, they stumbled into a swamp! This unexpected difficulty reveals much of the nature and depth of the convictions of both men. Their peculiar circumstances also affected their different experiences in the swamp.

Another character makes an appearance in this chapter. Try to figure out who this character symbolizes. Will this difficulty end Christian’s and Pliable’s pilgrimage?

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Study Arrangement

  • Begin with the Study Hymn and an opening prayer. Choose any member of the class to summarise the story and lessons from the previous chapter.
  • Chorus-read the Cornerstone Bible verses
  • Appoint 4 Readers.
  • Narrator (Reader 1): Reads the main text of the chapter, excluding dialogue or quoted scripture.
  • Scripture Reader (Reader 2): Reads the Bible passages included in the chapter.
  • Help (Reader 3): Reads all of Help’s dialogue.
  • Reader 4: Reads the Takeaways and Food for Thought.
  • Read chapter in its entirety before engaging with the quizz, and discussion questions, Takeaways, and Food for Thought.
  • Close with the hymn, How Firm a Foundation (attr. George Keith) and a closing prayer.

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Swamp of Despond

In my dream, I saw that just as they finished their conversation, they approached a very muddy swamp in the middle of the plain. Being careless, they both stumbled right into it. This swamp was called the Swamp of Despond.

They wallowed in it for a while, getting covered in filthy mud. Christian, especially, began to sink deeper because of the burden on his back.

“Hey, neighbor Christian, where are you now?” Pliable cried out.

“Honestly,” Christian replied, “I have no idea.”

Pliable grew frustrated and angrily said to his companion, “Is this the happiness you’ve been talking about all this time? If things are this bad at the very beginning, what can we expect for the rest of the journey? If I can just get myself out alive, you can have that glorious land all to yourself for all I care!”

With that, Pliable made a few desperate struggles and managed to climb out of the mud on the side closest to his own house. He then turned and walked away, and Christian never saw him again.

Left alone in the muck of the Slough of Despond, Christian struggled forward. Despite the weight on his back, he pushed himself towards the side of the swamp farthest from his house, the side closest to the narrow gate. He reached it, but the burden held him fast, preventing him from climbing out.

Then, in my dream, I saw a man approach him. The man’s name was Help.

Help: “What are you doing here?”

Christian: “Sir,” Christian said, “a man named Evangelist instructed me to come this way. He directed me to that gate over there so I could escape the coming wrath. But as I was heading towards it, I fell in here.”

Help: “Why didn’t you look for the stepping stones?”

Christian: “Fear was chasing me so relentlessly that I just ran blindly and ended up here.”

Help: “Well, then, give me your hand.”

Christian extended his hand, and the man pulled him out. He set Christian on solid ground and instructed him to continue on his way.

_________

He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. Psalm 40:2

Then, I turned to the man who had pulled Christian out and asked, “Sir, since this place is on the path leading from the City of Destruction to that gate over there, why isn’t it fixed? It would make things much safer for weary travelers.”

Help: “This swamp is impossible to repair. It’s a natural low point where all the scum and filth associated with the conviction of sin constantly drain. That’s why it’s called the Swamp of Despond. As sinners become aware of their lost state, a flood of fears, doubts, and discouraging anxieties arise within their souls. All these feelings gather and settle here, making the ground treacherous. That’s the reason for the terrible state of this place. The King actually desires this place to be improved.”

_________

“Strengthen the weak hands, And make firm the feeble knees.  Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you.” Isaiah 35:3-4

Help: “For over sixteen hundred years[4], his workers have followed the royal surveyors’ instructions, trying to fix this patch of ground. They’ve poured countless resources into it – millions of helpful teachings brought from all corners of the King’s domain (and experts say these are the best materials for repairing the ground). But it remains the Slough of Despond, and it will stay that way even after they’ve done everything they can.

“It’s true, there are good, solid stepping stones placed right through the middle of this swamp, built by order of the Lawgiver. But whenever the swamp churns out a lot of filth, like it does during bad weather, these stones are almost invisible. Even if you can see them, people get so disoriented that they misstep and get stuck in the mud anyway, despite the stones being there. But once you get through the gate, the ground becomes solid again.”

_________

“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.” 1 Samuel 12:23

Now, in my dream, I saw that Pliable had finally reached his house. His neighbors came to visit him. Some called him wise for returning, while others called him a fool for taking a risk with Christian. Still others mocked his cowardice, saying, “If I started venturing out, I wouldn’t be such a wimp to give up over a few difficulties.” Pliable just sat there, shrinking back from their comments. Eventually, he gained some confidence, and then they changed tunes and began bad-mouthing poor Christian behind his back. And that’s the story of Pliable.

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Quick Quiz

Fill in the blanks to test your recall of key details from this chapter. Use these answers in the Discussion Questions.

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  1. Christian and Pliable fell into the Swamp of Despond because _______________.
  2. Suggest two words of your own to describe the Swamp of Despond. ___ ___
  3. What peculiar challenge did Christian face in the swamp? 
  4. As they wallowed in the swamp, Pliable moved towards _______________ , while Christians moved towards ______________.

Discussion Questions

To explore the depths of Bunyan’s allegory, engage these questions thoughtfully and scripturally, aiming to translate your answers to practical steps for your Christian walk.

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  1. Help came to Christian’s aid during his struggle in the Swamp of Despond. How did he help him and what does this teach us about overcoming spiritual challenges?
  2. Help referred to “instructions” given to fill the swamp and “steps” Christian ought to have taken to avoid falling into the swamp? What are these?
  3. Why does Help think that the swamp will always be there despite the efforts made to fill it? Do you agree?
  4. How does the Swamp of Despond symbolize the challenges and struggles faced by believers in their spiritual journey?
  5. Can you identify additional biblical references or verses that are connected to Christian’s experience in the Swamp of Despond?
  6. How many characters from this chapter are you adding to the Characters’ Table and under which category?

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Key Takeaways & Food for Thought

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  • Reflect on the chapter’s main spiritual lessons and how they apply to you personally.
  • Feel free to add your own takeaways as they come to mind.
  1. Obstinate and Pliable, despite their initial differences, both ultimately returned to their old ways, highlighting the importance of true repentance and a firm commitment to Christ.
  • Food for thought: Have you ever wavered in your faith or been tempted to turn back to the world? What lessons can you learn from the examples of Obstinate and Pliable?
  1. Pliable, initially enthusiastic, appeared more spiritual than Christian, but his faith lacked depth and commitment.
  • Food for Thought: Is your faith driven by genuine love for God or merely by the allure of the rewards He offers?
  1. Pliable was drawn to the joys of heaven but unwilling to face the suffering and obedience required to reach it.
  • Food for Thought: Are you prepared to embrace the challenges and sacrifices that come with following Christ, even when the path becomes difficult?
  1. Unlike Christian, who bore the weight of his sin, Pliable lacked conviction and remained unburdened by guilt.
  • Food for Thought: Have you truly confronted your sinfulness and recognized your need for a Savior?
  1. Pliable’s faith, like seed sown on stony ground, withered under the first sign of difficulty.
  • Food for Thought: How deep are the roots of your faith? Will it withstand the trials and tribulations that may come your way?
  1. Pliable’s return to the world and subsequent ridicule highlights the dangers of shallow faith and the importance of perseverance.
  • Food for Thought: Are you committed to following Christ no matter the cost, or are you easily swayed by the opinions and temptations of the world?

Closing Hymn: How Firm a Foundation

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,/ is laid for your faith in God’s excellent Word!/ What more can be said than to you God hath said,/ to you who for refuge/3x to Jesus have fled?

In ev’ry condition—in sickness, in health,/ In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,/ At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—/ As thy days may demand/3x so thy succour shall be.

“Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,/ for I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;/ I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,/ upheld by my righteous,/3x omnipotent hand.

“The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,/ I will not, I will not desert to its foes;/ that soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake,/ I’ll never, no, never,/3x no, never forsake.”

Text attr. George Keith

Before the closing prayer, check the study arrangement for chapter 4 and prepare ahead.

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Chapter 4: Mr. Worldy Wiseman

Overview

Shaken and even more desperate after escaping the Swamp of Despond, Christian is vulnerable to Mr. Worldly Wiseman’s false counsel. What was responsible for Christian’s lapse in this chapter: desperation, lack of knowledge, or Mr. Worldly Wiseman’s persuasiveness?

Also, in this chapter Evangelist reappers and engages with Christian. Why would Evangelist be on a path outside the narrow way? How robust and appropriate is Evangelist’s tone and message?

This chapter introduces one of the many profound sermons or discourses in this book. It equips you to identify false teachings and their spiritual dangers.

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Study Arrangement

  • Begin with the Study Hymn and an opening prayer. Choose any member of the class to summarise the story and lessons from the previous chapter.
  • Chorus-read the Cornerstone Bible verses.
  • Appoint 6 Readers.
  • Narrator (Reader 1): Reads the main text of the chapter, excluding dialogue and the centralised quoted scriptures.
  • Mr. Worldy Wiseman (Reader 2): Reads all of Mr. Worldy Wiseman’s dialogue.
  • Evangelist (Reader 3): Reads all of evangelist’s dialogue.
  • Christian (Reader 4): Reads all of Christian’s dialogue.
  • Reader 5: Reads the centralised and italicised Bible passages.
  • Reader 6: Reads the Takeaways and Food for Thought.
  • To allow for a robust discussion of the lessons, this chapter has been presented under two sections.
  • After reading Section 1, engage with the quizzes and questions under Section 1. Then, read Section 2 and engage with the quizzes and questions for Section 2.
  • Conclude the chapter with the Takeaways, and Food for Thought.
  • Close with the hymn, Trust and Obey and a closing prayer.
  • Remember to check the study arrangement for chapter 5 and prepare ahead.

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Mr. Worldly Wiseman

SECTION 1: Mr. Worldy Wiseman Persuades Christian

As Christian walked alone, he spotted someone approaching him from across the field. Their paths happened to cross just as they reached the middle. The man coming towards him was Mr. Worldly Wiseman. He lived in the large and influential town of Carnal Policy, which was also quite close to Christian’s hometown.

Mr. Worldly Wiseman had heard rumors about Christian (news of his departure from the City of Destruction had spread far and wide, not just in his own town but in others as well). Recognising Christian by his determined yet weary pace, his sighs and groans, Mr. Worldly Wiseman decided to strike up a conversation.

Mr. Worldly Wiseman: “Greetings, friend! Where are you headed, looking so weighed down?”

Christian: “Weighed down indeed, sir, more than any poor soul I can think of! You ask where I’m going? I’m headed for that narrow gate ahead. I’m told that’s where I’ll find a way to be rid of this heavy burden I carry.”

Mr. Worldly Wiseman: “Do you have a wife and children?”

Christian: “Yes, but this burden is so crushing that I can’t enjoy their company like I used to. It feels like I don’t even have them (see 1 Corinthians 7:29).”

Mr. Worldly Wiseman: “Would you be open to some advice?”

Christian: “Absolutely, if it’s good advice. I could definitely use some.”

Mr. Worldly Wiseman: “Then I would strongly advise you to get rid of that burden as soon as possible. Until then, you’ll never find peace of mind. You also won’t be able to truly appreciate the blessings God has bestowed upon you.”

Christian: “Getting rid of this heavy burden is exactly what I want. But I can’t do it myself, and there’s no one back home who can take it off my shoulders. That’s why I’m on this journey, as I told you, hoping to find a way to be free of it.”

Mr. Worldly Wiseman: “Who told you to come this way to get rid of your burden?”

Christian: “A man who seemed very important and honorable. I believe his name was Evangelist.”

Mr. Worldly Wiseman: “Blast that advisor of yours! There’s no more dangerous or troublesome path in the world than the one he sent you on. You’ll find that out for yourself if you follow his advice. Look at you already – you’re covered in dirt from the Swamp of Despond! That swamp is just the first of many troubles you’ll face on that road. Listen to me, son. I’m older and wiser. You’ll encounter exhaustion, pain, hunger, danger, lack of resources, violence, wild animals, darkness – basically, death and everything else you can imagine. These are all true dangers, confirmed by countless experiences. Why would you throw yourself away so recklessly by listening to some stranger?”

Christian: “Sir, this burden on my back is far more terrifying than anything you’ve listed. In fact, I don’t care what challenges I face along the way, as long as I can find a way to be free of this burden.”

Mr. Worldly Wiseman: “How did you get this burden in the first place?”

Christian: “From reading this Book I’m holding.”

Mr. Worldly Wiseman: “That’s what I figured. This happens to other weak-minded people too. They mess with things beyond their understanding and suddenly fall into these mental confusions. These confusions not only weaken people, as yours clearly has done to you, but they also drive them to take reckless chances in pursuit of who-knows-what.”

Christian: “I know exactly what I’m after: relief from this heavy burden.”

Mr. Worldly Wiseman: “But why seek ease through such a dangerous path? Especially since, if you’d just be patient and hear me out, I can show you how to get what you want without all the risks you’ll face on this road. Yes, the solution is right at hand! And what’s more, instead of dangers, you’ll encounter safety, friendship, and contentment.”

Christian: “Sir, please share this secret with me.”

Mr. Worldly Wiseman: “Well, in that village over there (called Morality), there lives a gentleman named Legality. He’s a very wise and well-respected man, skilled in helping people take off burdens – like the one you’re carrying. In fact, I know he’s helped many people this way. Plus, he can even cure those who are a bit unbalanced because of their burdens. You can go to him and get immediate help. His house is less than a mile from here. And if he’s not home, his very courteous young son, Civility, can handle it just as well. There, I say, you can be relieved of your burden. And if you don’t want to go back to your old life (which I wouldn’t recommend), you can send for your wife and children to move here. There are empty houses available for a reasonable price. Food is cheap and good quality. But the best part is, you’ll be living among honest neighbors, with a good reputation and a comfortable lifestyle.”

Christian was unsure what to do. But then he thought, “If what this gentleman says is true, then following his advice is the smartest thing to do.” So, he spoke up again.

“Sir,” Christian asked, “which way leads to this honest man’s house?”

Mr. Worldly Wiseman pointed. “See that tall hill over there? By that hill you must go. The first house you come to is his.”

Convinced, Christian turned off his original path to seek help from Mr. Legality.

_____________

Quiz and questions for Section 1

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SECTION 2: Evangelist Teaches and Warns Christian

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However, as he approached the hill, it seemed impossibly high. The side closest to the road jutted out so much that Christian feared the whole thing would collapse on him. He froze, unsure how to proceed. On top of that, his burden felt heavier than ever. Flashes of light erupted from the hill (like something out of Exodus 19:16, 18), terrifying Christian. He began to sweat and tremble (Hebrews 12:21). Now he deeply regretted listening to Mr. Worldly Wiseman.

Just then, he saw Evangelist approaching. Christian blushed in shame at the sight of him. Evangelist came closer, his expression stern and serious. He addressed Christian directly.

“What are you doing here, Christian?” he asked. Christian didn’t know what to say. He stood speechless before him.

Evangelist continued, “Aren’t you the man I found crying outside the walls of the City of Destruction?”

“Yes, dear sir, that’s me,” Christian stammered.

“Didn’t I point you towards the narrow gate?”

“Yes, dear sir,” Christian confirmed.

“Then how come you’ve strayed so quickly?

You’re completely off track now.”

“I met a gentleman right after I crossed the Swamp of Despond,” Christian explained. “He convinced me that I could find someone in the village ahead who could remove my burden.”

“Who was this man?”

“He seemed well-respected and spoke quite eloquently. He eventually persuaded me, and that’s how I ended up here. But when I saw this hill and how it overhangs the path, I suddenly stopped, afraid it would crush me.”

“What did this gentleman tell you?” Evangelist pressed.

Christian recounted their conversation, explaining his destination and his desire for relief from the burden. He mentioned how Mr. Worldly Wiseman offered a supposedly easier and faster way, leading to a gentleman skilled at removing burdens. Christian admitted to believing him and taking this detour, hoping for a quicker solution.

“But when I reached this place and saw things as they really are, I stopped because of the danger, like I said,” Christian finished. “Now I’m completely lost.”

Evangelist: “Hold on a moment, Christian. Let me show you what God’s word has to say.”

(Christian stood there, trembling. Evangelist then quoted scripture:

Evangelist: “‘See that you don’t reject the One who speaks. For if those who refused the one speaking on earth didn’t escape punishment, how much worse will it be for us if we turn away from the One speaking from heaven?‘ (Hebrews 12:25).” He continued, “‘The righteous will live by faith; but if anyone pulls back, my soul will have no pleasure in him(Hebrews 10:38).”

Evangelist: “Here’s how these verses apply to you: You’re the one running headfirst into this misery. You’ve begun to reject the advice of the Most High and turn away from the path to peace, almost putting your salvation at risk.”

Hearing this, Christian fell to his feet like a dead man, crying, “Woe is me, I’m doomed!” Evangelist, seeing this, grabbed his right hand and said,

Evangelist: ‘All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men’ (Matthew 12:31). ‘Be not faithless, but believing‘ (John 20:27).”

Christian slowly regained some strength and stood up again, trembling as he had before Evangelist. Evangelist continued,

Evangelist: “Pay close attention to what I’m about to tell you. I’ll explain who misled you and where he sent you. The man you met is called Mr. Worldly Wiseman, and the name suits him perfectly. Partly because he only favors worldly teachings – that’s why he always goes to church in the town of Morality – and partly because he prefers those teachings because they spare him the most suffering Because he’s so worldly-minded, he tries to twist my righteous ways.

(1 John 4:5)

(Galatians 6:12).

Evangelist: “Now, there are three things in this man’s advice that you must completely reject:

1) Turning you away from the road to the Narrow Gate;

2) Attempting to make the Cross seem repulsive to you; and

3) Leading you on the path to destruction.”

Evangelist: “First, you must completely hate the fact that he led you astray, and that you went along with it. This is because you chose the advice of a worldly man over God’s counsel. The Lord says, ‘Strive to enter in at the narrow gate‘ (Luke 13:24), the gate I was directing you to. ‘For narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it‘ (Matthew 7:13, 14). This evil man turned you away from that narrow gate and the path leading to it, nearly bringing you to destruction. So, hate his detour and despise yourself for listening to him.”

Evangelist: “Second, you must hate his attempt to make the Cross seem repulsive to you. You should value it more than the treasures of Egypt.”

(Hebrews 11:25, 26).

Evangelist: “Remember, the King of Glory Himself told you that whoever tries to save his life will lose it. And whoever wants to follow Him must hate his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes, even his own life. Otherwise, he cannot be His disciple. So, I say, any teaching that tries to convince you that something that is essential for eternal life, according to the truth, will lead to your death – that teaching you must hate and reject.”

(Mark 8:38; John 12:25; Matthew 10:39; Luke 14:26)

Evangelist: “Third, you must hate the fact that he set you on a path that leads to death. To understand this, consider who he sent you to and how incapable that person was of relieving you of your burden. The man you were sent to for relief, named Legality, is the son of the slave woman who is now in bondage with her children. He symbolically represents Mount Sinai, the very mountain you feared would collapse on you. Now, if she and her children are in bondage, how can you expect them to set you free? Legality, therefore, cannot free you from your burden. No one has ever been relieved of their burden by him, and no one ever will be. You cannot be justified by the works of the law; for by the deeds of the law no living person can be rid of their burden.”

(Galatians 4:21-27).

Evangelist: “Therefore, Mr. Worldly Wiseman is a deceiver, and Mr. Legality is a fraud. And as for his son Civility, despite his courteous appearance, he’s nothing but a hypocrite who can’t help you either. Believe me, all the nonsense you’ve heard from these foolish men is just a scheme to trick you out of your salvation by turning you away from the path I set you on.”

After this, Evangelist called out to the heavens for confirmation of what he had said. And with that, there came booming words and a flash of fire out of the mountain beneath poor Christian, making his hair stand on end. The words proclaimed: “For all who depend on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do all things which are written in the book of the law‘” (Galatians 3:10).

Christian was utterly hopeless. He cried out in despair, cursing the day he met Mr. Worldly Wiseman. He called himself a fool a thousand times over for listening to the man’s advice. Shame burned in him for letting such worldly arguments lead him astray from the right path. Finally, he approached Evangelist again.

“Sir,” Christian pleaded, “what do you think? Is there any hope left for me? Can I go back and try the narrow gate again? Won’t they reject me and send me away in shame? I deeply regret listening to that man. Can my sin be forgiven?”

Evangelist: “Your sin is serious, Christian. You’ve done two bad things: you abandoned the good path for a forbidden one. Yet, the man at the gate will still receive you. He’s kind and welcomes people. However, be very careful not to stray again, ‘lest you perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little’ (Psalm 2:12).”

Quick Quiz for Section 1

Fill in the blanks to test your recall of key details from this chapter. Use these answers in the Discussion Questions.

  1. How many people were with Christian when he met Mr. Wordly Wiseman?_____________
  2. Christian’s ______, ___________, and _______ gave him out to Mr. Worldly Wiseman as the man from the City of Destruction spoken of by many.
  3. Who started the conversation?
  4. Mr. Worldy Wiseman established common ground with Christian by agreeing that __________________
  5. Mr. Worldy Wiseman greeted Christian as a ____________ and described Evangelist as a ____________, advising aChristian not to be ____________ by listening to him.

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Discussion Questions for Section 1

To explore the depths of Bunyan’s allegory, engage these questions thoughtfully and scripturally, aiming to translate your answers to practical steps for your Christian walk.

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  1. Was Christian’s encounter with Mr. Worldly Wiseman preventable? Could their extensive conversation have been avoided?
  2. Do you think Mr. Worldly Wiseman was seeking to meet and deceive Christian, or was it a coincidence?
  3. Identify four factors that made Christian so vulnerable to Mr. Worldly Wiseman.
  4. On what truth did Mr. Worldly Wiseman base his deception? Can you identify similar biblical accounts where deception was built on truths?
  5. Examine each of the statements, assertions, or claims in Mr. Worldly Wiseman’s dialogue beginning from “Blast that advisor of yours…” to “by listening to a stranger?” Is any of them false?
  6. What made Mr. Wordly Wiseman’s advice appealing to Christian?
  7. How should a Christian respond to ungodly counsel from a person who is ‘older and wiser’?
  8. Outline Mr. Worldly Wiseman’s argument against the Bible.
  9. How would you describe Mr. Worldly Wiseman’s greeting and his portrayal of Evangelist as a stranger?
  10. Go to the Characters’ Table to classify Mr. Worldly Wiseman

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Quick Quiz for Section 2

Fill in the blanks to test your recall of key details from this chapter. Use these answers in the Discussion Questions.

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  1. The hill that Mr. Worldly Wiseman advised Christian to climb seemed ______ when Christian eventually got to it.
  2. Christian’ burden became ________ when he looked up at the hill.
  3. Christian ______ when he sighted the Evangelist.
  4. Evangelist’s expression was ________ and _________ when he addressed Christian.

Discussion Questions for Section 2

To explore the depths of Bunyan’s allegory, engage these questions thoughtfully and scripturally, aiming to translate your answers to practical steps for your Christian walk.

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  1. Which of Mr. Worldly Wiseman’s assertions proved immediately false as Christian approached the hill? What is the message here?
  2. Discuss what the metaphors of the Hill, Morality, Legality, and Civility represent.
  3. Why would the town of Morality have been more dangerous than the City of Destruction?
  4. Evangelist himself must have been off the narrow road to have met Christian there. Should the Evangelist have been there?
  5. How robust and appropriate is Evangelist’s tone and message? Identify the sentence by which Evangelist indicated the authority for his teaching.
  6. Outline Evangelist’s rules for identifying false teachings and their spiritual dangers.
  7. How would you describe Christian’s disposition to Evangelist’s intervention? Is it worthy of emulation?
  8. Reconcile the theme of hope and warning in Evangelist’s message in this chapter. What specific lessons can we learn from Evangelist’s methods and interventions?

Key Takeaways & Food for Thought

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  • Reflect on the chapter’s main spiritual lessons and how they apply to you personally.
  • Feel free to add your own takeaways as they come to mind.

Christian was alone and vulnerable when he encountered Mr. Worldly Wiseman, a representative of worldly wisdom.

  • Food for Thought: How can Christian fellowship help guard against the allure of worldly wisdom, which often contradicts God’s truth?

Worldly Wiseman offered seemingly helpful advice but ultimately sought to lead Christian astray from the true path.

  • Food for Thought: Are you discerning enough to recognize when seemingly good advice might actually be leading you away from God’s will?

Worldly wisdom cannot be trusted, as it often leads to false solutions and ultimately to destruction.

  • Food for Thought: In whom or what do you place your trust? Are you building your life on the solid foundation of Christ, or on the shifting sands of worldly philosophies?

The world seeks to draw believers away from the narrow path of righteousness by offering seemingly easier alternatives.

  • Food for Thought: Are you willing to endure hardship and persecution for the sake of Christ, or are you tempted to compromise your faith for the sake of comfort and acceptance?

Worldly Wiseman offered Christian a seemingly easy solution to his burden: the Village of Morality, a place where outward goodness was prioritized over true faith.

  • Food for Thought: Are you tempted to rely on your own good deeds or moral standing instead of trusting in Christ’s righteousness?

The Village of Morality represents those who seek to avoid the appearance of evil and rely on works righteousness for salvation.

  • Food for Thought: Do you recognize the danger of self-righteousness and the need for genuine repentance and faith in Christ?

The inhabitants of Morality, under the guidance of Mr. Legality and Civility, believe that being a good person is enough to secure their salvation.

  • Food for Thought: Have you ever fallen into the trap of thinking that your own efforts can earn you God’s favor?

The Village of Morality, despite its outward appearance of goodness, is a place of greater danger than the City of Destruction, as it offers a false sense of security and leads people away from the true path to salvation.

  • Food for Thought: Are you aware of the subtle deceptions of the enemy that can lead you astray from the truth of the gospel?

Let us reject the lie that we can save ourselves through our own efforts and embrace the truth that only Christ’s sacrifice on the cross can cleanse us from sin and grant us eternal life.

  • Food for Thought: Have you fully embraced the grace of God offered through Jesus Christ, or are you still trying to earn your way to heaven?

Evangelist’s corrections, warnings, and admonitions were all from the Bible.

  • Food for Thought: Study the scriptures to be well suited to correct, admonish, preach, and encourage others.

Evangelist warned and encouraged Christian.

  • Food for Thought: Have you learned to do both when you encounter struggling Christians?

Closing Hymn: Trust and Obey

1. When we walk with the Lord / in the light of his word,/
what a glory he sheds on our way! / While we do his good will,
he abides with us still,/  and with all who will trust and obey. Refrain: Trust and obey,/ for there’s no other way/ to be happy in Jesus,/ but to trust and obey.

2. Not a burden we bear, / not a sorrow we share,/ but our toil he doth richly repay;/ not a grief or a loss,/ not a frown or a cross,/ but is blest if we trust and obey. [Refrain]

3. But we never can prove / the delights of his love / until all on the altar we lay; / for the favor he shows, / for the joy he bestows, / are for them who will trust and obey. [Refrain]

4 Then in fellowship sweet/ we will sit at his feet,/ or we’ll walk by His side in the way; / what he says we will do, / where he sends we will go; / never fear, only trust and obey. [Refrain] (Text attr. George Keith)

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Characters’ Table

Exemplary: Demonstrates positive qualities Christian can learn from.Divine: Represents God or godly beings.Cautionary: Serves as a warning to Christian.Deceptive: Misleads or tries to trick Christian.Dangerous:

Threatens Christian’s physical or spiritual well-being.

Friendly:

Offers help or support to Christian

      

Notes

  1. The Bedford Jail where the author was imprisoned.
  2. Evangelist is the first non-family member that the man meets in this book. Make a note of all the characters that the man meets in his journey.?
  3. Fantastical: so strange or extreme that it does not seem to be true or reasonable (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/fantastical accessed on May 23 2024)
  4. “Sixteen hundred years” because John Bunyan wrote this book c.1678AD. What year are you reading this book? Back to Table of Contents