1/4/15: Pilgrim’s Progress (6) — Freedom At The Cross!
This past Sunday we celebrated Christian’s glorious deliverance at the cross when his burden fell from his back and tumbled into the tomb, never to be seen again. Having labored under the weight of his sin, Christian wept for joy when it was removed. He was amazed by grace!
That was the main theme of our class this Sunday. Until we understand the seriousness of our bondage, we will not appreciate the freedom that Christ offers. Who throws a party because he’s gotten over a cold? Nobody! On the other hand, if you survive heart transplant surgery and get fifty years added on to your life, you’re going to want to celebrate!
Christian literally jumped for joy at the good news of his salvation. So should we! “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy…” (Isaiah 35:5-6).
Soon after his deliverance Christian encountered three men — Simple, Sloth, and Presumption — sleeping by the side of the path with their feet in chains. He sought to warn them of their danger and free them from their shackles, but they dismissed his offer of help. Sadly he continued on, surprised by their lack of concern. This final scene provided a perfect opportunity to warn the students that some of them are equally unconcerned about their spiritual condition. Every week I seek to warn them of sin and spur them on toward grace…but some appear indifferent at best. May the Lord wake them from their spiritual slumber and set them free to journey with us toward Mt. Zion!
As he traveled along the path, Christian met two other questionable characters named Formality and Hypocrisy. Though they had taken a shortcut by jumping over the wall, they assured Christian that this was a long-standing tradition in their town. As long as they were going through the same motions as he was, they did not consider it necessary to enter by the Narrow Gate or receive a new coat (as he had) in exchange for their filthy rags. He reminded them that “he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber” (John 10:1). They merely laughed, so he continued alone.
There is no shortcut to salvation. Unless we enter by the blood of Christ and are covered by the righteousness of Christ, we are “Christians” in name only.
This year we will be joining the rest of the church in studying the New City Catechism each week. The rich theological content of this catechism makes it well worth the effort to memorize, but…don’t be surprised if students who can recite these answers perfectly win themselves a trip to the candy jar! Sunday’s question and answer are below:
- Q: What is our only hope in life and death?
- A: That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and in death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.
That may be our only hope, but it’s a strong hope. I pray that you and your families experience this with increasing conviction and joy throughout 2015.
FOR DISCUSSION WITH PARENTS
- What caused Christian’s burden to come off? Why did this surprise him?
- Does the good news make you jump for joy? Why or why not?
- What does God want us to learn from the three sleeping ones?