Celebrating a Pilgrim's Progress

Today marks the 332nd anniversary of the publication of John Bunyan‘s classic The Pilgrim’s Progress, the best-selling book in history (aside from the Bible).

First published on February 18, 1678, The Pilgrim’s Progress tells the tale of Christian, “a man clothed in rags…with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back,” on a journey to the Celestial City. This allegorical tale of the Christian life has been a powerful influence on believers throughout the last 300 years.

What The Pilgrim’s Progress taught me is that blessing comes with perseverance. The difficulties of Christian’s journey, the temptations that threatened to ensnare him, the despair he felt as he made his way through the Valley of Humiliation and Death, persecution he faced in Vanity Fair—all of these made his arrival at the Celestial City that much sweeter, where the King of Kings would welcome him home.

Now I saw in my dream, that these two men went in at the gate; and lo, as they entered, they were transfigured, and they had raiment put on that shone like gold. There was also that met them with harps and crowns, and gave them to them; the harps to praise withal, and the crowns in token of honour. Then I heard in my dream that all the bells in the city rang again for joy, and that it was said unto them, “Enter ye into the joy of your Lord.” I also heart the men themselves, that they sang with a loud voice, saying, “Blessing, honour, glory and power be to him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb, for ever and ever.”

The Pilgrim’s Progress, p. 197, (Whitaker House edition)

Is this your goal? To be welcomed home to the Celestial City, and hear those words, “Enter into the joy of your Lord”? To sing alongside those who have entered before us, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Rev. 5:13)

Is this the cry of your heart? To join Christ there because,

“…it is there that I hope to see alive my Savior who hung dead on the cross. It is there that I hope to be rid of all those things that to this day are an annoyance to me. They say that in that place there is no death, and I will dwell there with the company that I like best. For, to tell you the truth, I love Him because He eased me of my burden. I am weary of my inward sickness. I desire to be where I will die no more, with a company that will continually cry, ‘Holy, holy, holy!’”

The Pilgrim’s Progress, p. 77, (Crossway edition)

I hope it is. My hope for us all is that we do not grow weary of persevering. I want to be there alongside Bunyan and all the saints who have come before and will come after me, singing, “Holy, holy, holy!”

And I want to see you there, too.

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