ch3     Pilgrim's Progress Chapter 3               
Updated: December 28, 2014

The Soul Under Conviction

First Read scene 1 p 27-29

The opening words of The Pilgrim’s Progress show the narrator lying in a certain place (in the original version, it is called “a den”). That place is the Bedford jail, where Bunyan was imprisoned for twelve years. There he began the story as he dreamed of a man clothed in rags, holding a book in his hands, and carrying a heavy burden on his back. His first words are, “What will I do?” Later, he cries out again, “What can I do to be saved?” Thus, we see the condition of a lost soul who is burdened about his condition.
In this state, he goes home and at last tells his wife and children of his distress. The fact that he does not do so right away is a striking parallel to John Bunyan’s own life when he first started searching for the way of salvation. However, when the pilgrim tells his family, they think that he is crazy or insane. Later, they become hardened. Then they begin to tease and mock him. Sometimes they simply pay no attention to him. Here we see the condition of those who are just as lost as that pilgrim, but they do not realize their danger.
Finally, we see a man named Evangelist, who has the answers for the pilgrim and points him toward a wicket–gate by way of a shining light, toward which the pilgrim hurries.
We can see the following three scenes in the opening moments of our drama.


Watch Pilgrim's Progress Scene 1 Soul Under Conviction 8 min video

Watch Protestant Reformation c 6min video


For the Teacher:

Scene 1: The Burdened Sinner (TCA 3)
All Are Burdened, but Only One Is Concerned
It is interesting to contrast the pilgrim with his family and neighbors. They all live in the same city. The pilgrim is not the only one who is doomed; they all are.
Note his words to his family: “My insides are in turmoil because of a burden that lies heavy on my heart. To make it even worse, I’ve learned from a reliable source that our city is going to be burned with fire from heaven. In this destruction, all of us are going to be ruined unless we find some way to escape.”
The whole town is doomed, but only one person is concerned about their impending fate.
God says that all have sinned (Rom. 3:23), yet not everyone is concerned about that condition.
God says that all must die (Heb. 9:27), yet not everyone is burdened.

God says, “That they all might be damned who believed not the truth” (2 Thess. 2:12), yet few people care.
The Reason Only One Is Burdened
The reason for the burden shows why only one person is burdened.
Q: Why is the pilgrim burdened?
A: He has been reading the Word, and what he reads creates his burden.
As we noted in our first lesson, only the Word can burden a man for his sinfulness. Although all of the citizens are in rags, and although all of them are doomed to die and suffer the flames of hell, only one of them really believes it because only one has been exposed to the Word.
Scene 2: The Light–Hearted Sinner
As in the story, the vast majority of the world’s population, although facing the same fate as the pilgrim, is either totally unaware of their condition or are unconcerned about it. Note what the Bible says about the majority of the lost.
They Are Blinded (2 Cor. 4:3–4)
“The god of this world,” Satan, has blinded man with false religion, false security, and ignorance.
They Are Hardened (Prov. 29:1)
Many people who have never heard the gospel are blind to their condition. However, millions of men and women have heard the gospel time after time, and many of them have become hardened (as were the pilgrim’s family members). Some people have heard of hell and judgment so much that it no longer bothers them. Some of them have heard of Christ’s love and death so much that it no longer moves them.
Thus, we see the kind of people who mock and deride true believers and persist in their sin. The Word of God, when given to a blind sinner, will either open his eyes and cause him to run toward Christ or harden him and cause him to run farther from Christ.
Scene 3: The Wise Evangelist
At this point, one of the most important figures in the story appears. Although we see this man only about three times in the entire allegory, without him the story would have no happy ending. He is the one who starts the pilgrim on the right road.
A Sunday school teacher pointed a young shoe salesman to Christ and thus gave the world D. L. Moody.
A poor layman sat in church one cold Sunday morning and, seeing that the preacher could not make it because of the heavy snowfall, stood to his feet and delivered an impromptu sermon to a handful of people. At the conclusion, he spotted a young boy huddled under the balcony and called out to him that

he was a sinner and that he must “look to the Lamb of God.” That young boy looked that morning, and Charles Haddon Spurgeon was saved!
So it has gone throughout history. Unknown soul winners have been used around the world to point countless thousands of people to Christ and create the great Christian dramas that are recorded in heaven.
Note the following two facts about Evangelist in our story.
He Appears at the Right Time
We can learn two things from this fact.
1. God leads saints and sinners together.
• When a Christian is right with God and filled with the Spirit, God either leads him directly to unsaved people who are “ripe,” or He leads these “ripe” people to the prepared soul winner.
• If you find yourself constantly running into hungry souls, it is a sign that God has accepted your spiritual condition and is using you. If you never seem to find people who are ready to be saved, it is probably because you are not suitably prepared.
2. The man who finds the hungry souls is the man who is hunting for them.
• Fishermen have a saying: “The man who catches the fish is the man who fishes.” So it is with soulwinning. No doubt, Evangelist was scouting for burdened sinners when he happened upon the pilgrim. If you never go soulwinning, you will never win sinners to Christ.
He Knew the Right Approach
We can also learn two lessons from the way that Evangelist deals with the pilgrim.
He Asked Questions
Note in reading the story that Evangelist asked the pilgrim five questions. One of the best methods of soulwinning is to probe the soul and conscience of a man. Questions make a man think and lead him to condemn himself. Evangelist did not fly upon him and rebuke him for his sin. Instead, he lovingly led the man into a consideration of his condition without so much as once accusing him. The pointed questions direct the man’s thoughts to his need. Such questions set a man to thinking. “Where would you go if you were to die tonight?” “What of your soul’s destiny?”
Dawson Trotman, founder of the The Navigators, used to ask simply, “Are you a Christian?” If the answer was “I’m a church member,” he would reply, “I didn’t ask if you were a Churchian but if you were a Christian!”
He Knew Where to Point Him
The wicket–gate represents Jesus Christ. The pilgrim did not know enough of the Word to know that Christ is the Way. Evangelist perceived this fact immediately. Thus, he pointed him to a shining light, which speaks of the Word of God. He thus directed the pilgrim to study the Word concerning Christ.

Perhaps it was the book of John to which he directed him, for, as he ran toward the gate following the light, he shouted the key words of John’s Gospel: “Life! Life! Eternal life!”
As we meet burdened sinners, if we detect that they are not yet instructed well enough to be saved, we must keep them in the Book, and the best book to lead them to the wicket–gate is John’s Gospel.
Everyone should face two questions that Evangelist asked the pilgrim:
“Why aren’t you willing to die? Isn’t this life filled with more than enough evils to make anyone want to die?”
Q: Why do men not want to die? What about you, teenager? Are you ready to die? If death were to seek you today, would you be afraid? Would you be ready?
The pilgrim was not willing to die because he was not ready to die. He knew that death meant hell for him. What about you?
“If this is the situation you’re in, what are you doing just standing there?”
Q: If you are afraid to die or if you are not ready to die, why are you doing nothing about it? Why should a man stand still all of his life when he knows that he must die and suffer in hell?
Perhaps your answer is like that of the pilgrim: “Because I don’t know where to go.” If you do not know what to do, then listen to Evangelist Paul: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
Application Activities
Refer to the last page of this chapter in the student textbook for a list of optional application activities that may be used in conjunction with this lesson.

Third: Go over Student Work p 30-33

The Condition of Graceless

The condition of Graceless is a perfect picture of all lost souls. Read the following verses in the Bible and place beside each reference the statement in the first para-graphs of the reading assignment for this lesson that illustrates the corresponding condition of the lost soul.

Isaiah 64:6   a man who was dressed in dirty, ragged clothes, all our righteousness 

Psalm 38:4   a heavy pack, or burden, on his back, mine iniquities

Acts 24:25   made him cry and tremble, Felix trembled 

Acts 16:30   What shall I do? What must I do to be saved?

The Conviction of Graceless

Graceless is broken and burdened over his and his family’s condition. According to the reading, what causes this conviction and burden? what he was reading in the book

• What does this book represent? the Bible, God’s Word

When Evangelist comes, he asks why Graceless is crying. In his answer, Graceless reveals three things that contribute to his conviction. Beside each of the following items, place the statement from the reading that best reveals its part in convicting Graceless.

• The Word of God   this book I’m reading says that:

• Death     I’m condemned to die

• Hell    and then to be judged

When a person is lost, he cannot be saved unless he first comes under conviction, and that conviction can come only through the Word of God. As the person reads the Word or hears it preached, he becomes aware of his sinful condition and realizes that he must die and suffer in hell for his sin if he is not saved. This knowledge becomes a great burden upon his back; it will allow him no ease until it is removed at the Cross.

• What does Hebrews 9:27 say?And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement.

• What does Isaiah 30:33 say that evidently worried Graceless?  Tophet is old, deep, and large; God's breath is like brimstone

• What do you think Tophet is? tophet is the lake of fire in the Old Testament, hell

The Confrontation with His Family

• Graceless comes home with a heavy heart. For a while he tries to hide his burden, but, at last, he has to share it. What does he first inform them that he has discovered in 2 Peter 3:10 ? that the city will be burned (destroyed) by fire  

• What does he say to his family that might remind you
of Hebrews 2:3the city and its inhabitants would be destroyed by fire unless some way of escape was found  

• What is their reaction to his statement? they were amazed, not that they believed him, but that they thought he was crazy, insane, and mentally imbalanced.

• The more he talks to them, the more Proverbs 29:1 applies. What hap-pened? they were hardened to his message, and then they begin to treat him rudely, scold him harshly, and ignore him.

The lesson: A person who hears the gospel will either become convicted (as was Graceless) or he will reject it and become hardened.

The Continuing Concern of Graceless

• Graceless cannot find ease from his conviction, so he wanders daily in the field, reading his Bible. How is this a perfect picture of Bunyan’s own experience?  he, too, often wandered aimlessly in the fields, seeking a way to find peace for his lost soul

• How is Acts 8:26–31 parallel to the situation of Graceless?  the Ethiopian eunuch was sitting in the desert in his chariot reading the Word of God (Isaiah) and wondering about its meaning

The lesson: A searching sinner is every preacher’s dream. Few people today are burdened about their sin and searching for an answer of how to ease that burden. The preacher’s job is to preach on sin, hell, and judgment such that men become burdened and start seeking relief for their souls’ burdens.

The Conversation with Evangelist

Evangelist met Graceless and pointed him in the right direction. Every Christian is to be like Evangelist. We should always be looking for graceless people with burdens on their backs to whom we can give directions to Christ. Note that Evangelist used one of the best techniques of witnessing—he asked questions! He got Graceless to think about and then admit his burden. Too many soul winners do all of the talking and thereby cause the sinner to clam up and refuse to talk.

• What were the questions that Evangelist asked?

1. Why are you crying?

2.  Why are you not willing to die seeing that life is filled with so many problems?

3.  If this is your condition why are you simply standing still?

4.  Do you see the wicket-gate?

5.  Do you see the shining light?

Such questions are aimed squarely at causing the lost soul to reach the following conclusions:

1. I have a problem.

2. I have to die and go to hell.

3. I can’t stand still but must do something about it.

4. I must go through a narrow gate, a way that the crowd isn’t going.

5. I must follow the light of God’s Word to reach the gate.

• Why is Graceless crying? He knew from the Word that he must die and then face judgment and he's neither willing nor able to do so

• Why is Graceless unwilling to die despite the fact that his present life is miserable?  He was afraid that his burden would sink him lower than the grave and that he would end up in Tophet, and he wasn't ready for that!

• Why is Graceless standing still? He didn't know which way to go for his salvation

The Cry of His Neighbors and Family

When a person begins to show a real desire and keen interest in spiritual things, he will face the taunts and jeers of his unsaved friends and family members. They will tease him, mock him, and even threaten him because his sudden change in attitude makes them look bad. Similarly, Graceless hears the cries and taunts of his family and friends as he hurries toward the wicket–gate.

• How does Luke 9:62 apply to Graceless? Once he (and the plowman) starts, he can't turn back again

• In Genesis 19:15-17, how does Lot’s experience parallel the story of Graceless?  Both of them were told to leave their respective cities with their families and not to look back lest they be consumed with the cities when they were destroyed  

• In Jeremiah 20:1 , what were Jeremiah’s enemies anxious to see happen to him?  They wanted to see him fall to enticements, etc., so that they could rejoice in his downfall and could get revenge against him.


The lesson: The world does not like to see one of its own get caught up in spiritual things, so it puts even more pressure on the sinner who is under conviction, thereby making it even harder for him to come to Christ.

• When his family calls after him, what does Graceless do that a sinner must do if he is to make it to Christ? He ran the other way, stopped his ears against their cries, and repeated to himself his goal of eternal life.  He refused to look back.

notes from the teacher’s lesson

The Burdened Sinner

• All Are Burdened, But Only One Is concerned

• The Reason Only One Is Burdened

• He is the only one that really believes his condition because he is the only one that has been exposed to  the Word of God.


The Light–Hearted Sinner

• They Are Blinded

• They Are Hardened

The Wise Evangelist

• He Appears at the Right time

• God Leads  Saints and sinners Together

• The Man Who Finds Hungry Souls Is the Man Who Hunts For Them

• He Knew the right approach

• He Asked questions

• He Knew Where to point him

Memory Verse #1 from Creation lesson #1

 Memory Verse # 2 from Creation lesson # 3

Hebrews (11:6) But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Memory Verse # 3 from Creation lesson # 5

1 Corinthians 13:12  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

Memory Verse # 4 from Creation lesson # 6

Genesis 1:1–2 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”

Memory Verse # 5 from Creation lesson # 7

1 Corinthians 15:21–22

For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive .

Memory Verse # 6 from Creation lesson # 9

Romans 3:4 ....let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written:

“That You may be justified in Your words,

And may overcome when You are judged.”

Memory Verse # 7 from Pilgrim's Progress lesson ch1 Don't worry

Matthew 6:25 Therefore I say to you,do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?...

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Memory Verse # 8 from Pilgrim's Progress lesson ch3

Proverbs 29:1 Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy


Quiz—Lesson 3    The Soul Under Conviction
Name____________________________________________ Date ______________ Score_________

True–False              Circle the T or the F to indicate your answer.

T F 1. Tophet is another name for depression.

T F 2. The Pilgrim’s Progress is told in first person with the narrator being Christian.

T F 3. The pilgrim’s family members were sympathetic of his distress and tried to encourage him and lift his spirits toward positive, spiritual thoughts.

T F 4. Pilgrim’s wife and family did not understand his distress over his burden.

Matching     Match each character on the right with the role on the left that he played in this lesson.

_____5. Pointed the pilgrim toward the wicket–gate and the light

_____6. Thought that the pilgrim was temporarily insane

_____7. Was greatly troubled and burdened of soul
A. Graceless
B. Evangelist
C. The pilgrim’s family

Short Answer

8. What reason did the pilgrim offer to Evangelist when Evangelist asked him why he was simply standing still in the field?________________________________________________________

9. What does the book that the pilgrim is reading represent?_______________________________

10.What were two things that the pilgrim did in response to his family members’ cries for him to return to the city of Destruction?________________________________________________


11. Why do unsaved friends and family members taunt or argue with one who begins to show a real desire and interest in spiritual things?

12. Explain why the pilgrim is unwilling to die and not able to be judged.

13. Explain the meaning of the pilgrim’s manner of dress; the burden on his back; and his trembling and crying out, “What can I do?”



Lesson Objectives:

1. To describe the anguish of the soul convicted of its sin
2. To emphasize the importance of the soul winner’s method
3. To encourage the students to consider their eternal destiny

1. read p 27-29

2. watch scene 1 video

3. go over student work p 30-33


Student Book PDF
World view study guide

Text PDF

Video whole movie:

1st Part
2nd Part