12/21/14: Pilgrim’s Progress (4) — Christian Enters The Narrow Gate
After his near-fatal detour to visit Mr. Legality, Christian — thanks to Evangelist’s faithful intervention — gets back on the right path and reaches the narrow gate. Ashamed at his tendency to rely on human wisdom (and the legalistic advice of Worldly Wiseman), Christian pleads for entrance. To his delight, the gatekeeper Goodwill is eager to admit him despite his past failures: “In spite of everything people have done before they come here, we make no objections against anyone. No one will ever be driven away.” After some conversation about Christian’s encounter with Worldly Wiseman, Goodwill points him down the path and sends him on his way to the Interpreter’s house.
This segment of the story provided a wonderful opportunity to stress four things.
First, legalism is a lie — it promises we can earn God’s favor by dutifully keeping all his commands, but it actually makes the burden of our sin even heavier. As Scripture states so clearly, “No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin” (Romans 3:20).
Second, though we have an enemy of our souls who seeks to kill our faith with his “flaming darts” (Ephesians 6:16), we also have a lover of our souls — the Great Shepherd — who takes initiative to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).
Third, a genuine Christian will be humble about his sinful nature and grateful for the mercy of God. He will understand that he deserves God’s judgment for his sins…and consequently will be amazed at the “goodwill” of a God who throws the gate open wide. These are “birthmarks” of a true believer.
Fourth, though numerous false paths (wide and crooked) will intersect the Christian’s journey, he can press on with confidence that he has a reliable map (the Bible) and personal Guide (the Holy Spirit).
Parents, please refer to the discussion questions on the back of this week’s student outline. The content of this week’s lesson provides such a rich opportunity to speak with your son or daughter about deep spiritual issues. Make the most of it!
Our annual “Carols, Cookies, and Cocoa” event was a lot of fun. About 35 students (and several brave parents) gathered at the Flower Hill Community Center to sing carols. We visited 500 condominiums in Flower Hill, passing out gospel tracts and invitations to the Christmas Eve services. The choral performance may not have always been professional, but it was loud and enthusiastic. Afterwards we returned to the church for games, homemade snacks (with three students earning $10 gift cards for their prize-winning entries), and a showing of the movie “God’s Not Dead.”
Our Lord Jesus is very much alive. Enjoy your celebration of his birth this week!
FOR DISCUSSION WITH PARENTS
- Are you convinced God wants to save you?
- Who is the enemy of your soul? What kind of “flaming darts” does he use to harm you?
- What are the two “birthmarks” of a believer? Do you see these qualities in yourself?