For the Teacher:
We have already answered the question of whether he is saved at the wicket–gate or later, when he reaches the Cross. However, one further word should be added here. In Part II of The Pilgrim’s Progress (not included in this study), Christiana, the pilgrim’s wife, gets saved at the wicket–gate. She is then sealed with the Spirit (an event that occurs only after salvation) at the Interpreter’s house. Then, at the Cross, she receives full knowledge of the power of the Cross and the doctrine of justification.
Thus, we see that different people have different experiences regarding salvation. If the pilgrim was saved at the wicket–gate (which we cannot completely rule out), he then had no assurance of that salvation until he came to the Cross. There, at last, the burden left him forever.
In the preceding lesson, we studied two of the lessons that the pilgrim learned at the Interpreter’s house. In this lesson, we will study five other lessons that he learned. However, rather than looking at those lessons now, we want to consider further the matter of the teaching ministry of the Interpreter, the Holy Spirit.
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The Holy Spirit’s Teaching Ministry (TCA 7)
The Scriptures Were Inspired by Him
1. Second Timothy 3:16
This reference says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.” The word inspiration means “God–breathed.” That is, God breathed into men’s hearts what He wanted them to say in the Scriptures.
Q: Is the inspiration of the Bible the same as when a person says, “I feel inspired to draw” or “I feel inspired to write a poem”? (Discuss various student responses.)
A: No. There are two types of inspiration: natural and supernatural. Natural inspiration is caused by tangible things and circumstances on earth. Supernatural inspiration occurred when God actually breathed into the minds of chosen men the message that He wanted them to write.
Q: How did God inspire writers? Did He give them every word, or did He give them only the raw ideas and concepts and let them put those into their own words? (Discuss.)
A: Certainly the second of these two alternatives cannot be true. If God allowed men to choose their own words, we could not truthfully say that “all Scripture is given by inspiration.” We would not know which word was the one that God wanted and which was only a man’s own idea. If that were true, the Bible would lose its authority, for we could teach only in generalities. We could not be specific and say, “This is exactly what God said and it is exactly what God meant.”
Q: However, did God give men every word so that the writers were only mechanically recording His message? (Discuss.) If that were true, how can we account for the different styles of writing in the Bible? (Discuss.)
A: God spoke through each man exactly what He wanted to say, but He stayed within the bounds of that man’s vocabulary, personality, and writing style.
2. 1 Peter 1:10–13
In this passage, we see that the prophets did not even fully understand what they were writing as they were moved by the Spirit to write. What confused them was the seemingly conflicting words of the coming of a glorious Messiah who would reign forever as Israel’s king, and at the same time He would suffer persecution and be crucified. They wondered, How could He reign as our king forever, and yet suffer death on a cross? They searched their minds, wondering at the meaning of their own prophecy.
Thus, we see further proof of the inspiration of Scripture. Although the men who wrote the Old Testament did not understand what they wrote, it all came true exactly as they had written.
Someone has raised the argument that the Bible could not stand up as a true witness in a court of law on the grounds that it is hearsay. According to the law, anything heard second hand is unacceptable as evidence. Thus, they say, we cannot accept the Bible as anything but hearsay, for it first came from God to the prophets (firsthand information), and then from the prophets it came to us (making the information second hand and thus hearsay). However, 1 Peter 1:10–13 states that although the words were given to the prophets, they weren’t intended so much for the prophets as for us. God speaks directly to us through His Word! The prophets only recorded the words for us to read. When you read the Bible, you are receiving the message firsthand from the mouth of God to your soul.
There Is No Understanding Apart from Him
The natural man cannot understand the Bible. First Peter 1:10–13 tells us that even the prophets who recorded God’s Word could not understand it, for it was not for them, and 1 Corinthians 2:14 states that the natural man cannot understand the Word. That is, man, in his natural state and without God, cannot understand the Bible.
For example, a dog or a cat cannot understand a ball game on television (or anywhere else, for that matter!). Why not? Because they are of a different nature than man. The Bible is a supernatural book, and only those who have a supernatural spirit can understand it.
Spiritual Truths Are Taught by Him
Only by the Spirit can one understand the Word. First Corinthians 2:9–13 reveals that what the prophets did not understand and what the unsaved cannot understand, the saved man can understand—but only as the Holy Spirit teaches him.
1. He Teaches Us All Things (John 14:26)
2. He Reminds Us of Forgotten Things (John 14:26)
The disciples who were to record Christ’s life from memory several years later especially needed this reminder. How could they remember verbatim every conversation of Christ and the words of every sermon He preached? Only by the Holy Spirit. This point also shows the importance of Scripture memorization. If His Word is not in us, we can never recall it. But once we memorize it—even if we forget it—the Holy Spirit can bring it back to our memories when we most need it.
3. He Reveals the Future (John 16:13)
This fact was especially true for John, who would write Revelation at the age of 90! And it is true in us as God’s Spirit enlightens our eyes to understand prophecy and to see it unfolding in daily events around the world.
4. He Teaches Us Especially of Christ (John 16:13, 14)
Some people who claim to have had a special charismatic experience say that they seek to glorify the Spirit. But God’s Word teaches that when we are truly filled with the Spirit, we will glorify Christ, and our knowledge of Him will increase.
The Sign of Salvation
Two of the greatest evidences of salvation are (1) a sudden hunger to know God’s Word and (2) the ability to understand things that before were unintelligible to us.
Q: Do you have a peculiar desire for God’s Word? Does it speak to your heart? Do you learn from its pages alone, or do you know it only intellectually as someone else explains it?
Challenge the students to read God’s Word regularly, to meditate upon it, and to memorize it so that the Holy Spirit can bring it to their remembrance when they need it most.
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.
The Interpreter in The Pilgrim’s Progress almost certainly was inspired by the influence of John Gifford upon John Bunyan’s life. Undoubtedly, the Interpreter represents both the Holy Spirit and the minister of the gospel who guides the seeking soul to that final meeting with God at Calvary. For Bunyan, that man was John Gifford.
On June 1, 1648, the Parliamentary forces defeated the Royalist army, ending the bloody English civil war. The Parliamentarians were Puritans and were literally fighting for their religious freedom. In one night, the Puritan armies stamped out the Royalists and took hundreds of them prisoner.
Among the prisoners was a Royalist major named John Gifford. As a Royalist, he now had no prospect but the gallows. On the night before his execution, his sister was allowed to visit him. But the soldiers, exhausted from battle and weary with lack of sleep, did not notice Gifford and his sister as they slipped past the guards and escaped. For several days, he hid in ditches and thickets until he could escape to London and, from there, to Bedford. In Bedford, as soon as it was safe for him to do so, Gifford began to serve as a doctor, putting to use the medical training he had received in the Royalist army.
But Gifford’s life in Bedford was disgraceful. He became a gambler and a drunkard. He hated Puritans and so persecuted and tormented them that his name became infamous and filled men with fear. His life of dissipation did not satisfy him, and he was near suicide. But then Gifford heard the gospel, and God saved his soul.
The change in his life was dramatic. His face radiated the glory of God. He redirected his energy into bold witnessing, and he immediately joined those whom he had formerly persecuted. Soon, his zeal and knowledge of the Word propelled him into the pastorate of the Puritan church in Bedford.
At this point, his life and that of Bunyan’s crossed paths. As we’ve already learned, in his search for the truth, Bunyan met three ladies who introduced him to their pastor, John Gifford.
Although Bunyan was then inside the wicket–gate, he still had not arrived at the Cross. Gifford served as the Interpreter. Bunyan said that Gifford “took occasion to talk with me, and was willing to be well persuaded of men though I think on too little grounds. But he invited me to his house, where I should hear him confer with others about the dealings of God with their souls. . . . At that time also I sat under the ministry of holy Mr. Gifford, whose doctrine, by the grace of God, was much for my stability.”
Bunyan was the man in rags, the pilgrim, and Gifford was both the Evangelist and the Interpreter.
A Closer Look
• The Interpreter has seven lessons to teach the pilgrim, the first of which we studied in the preceding lesson. In the private room with the picture, Christian learned the kind of man to follow.
• In the large parlor with the dust, the pilgrim learned the only way to remove sin
In this lesson, we see Christian as he moves through the rest of the house. Note the following lessons that he learned.
Two children named Passion and Patience sit in a room. The one child is discontented and agitated, but the other child is very calm and quiet. The passionate one wants his benefits now; the patient one is willing to wait. The first one has his wish but soon uses up his treasure. The second one in time receives his treasure, which lasts forever.
Answer the following questions, which reveal some important lessons for us:
• Who does Passion represent? men of this world
• Who does Patience represent? the men of the world that is to come
• What is Passion’s key word? Now!
• Of what person in Luke 15 does he remind you? the prodigal son
• What is the ultimate end of those who live only for the here and now? When they get their desire, they find that it turns into nothing and no longer satisfies them
• What three lessons does Patience teach us?
1. He stays (waits) for the best things.
2. He will have the glory of his treasures when the others have only rags.
3. The glory of the next world will never wear out or be used up.
• The pilgrim summarizes what he learned from seeing the two children by saying, “It is not best to covet things that are now but to wait for things to come.”
• In the next room, the pilgrim finds a fire burning (where?) against a wall. A man is standing beside it continually throwing water on it, but the more he throws on it the higher and hotter the fire burns.
• What does the fire represent? the work of grace in one’s heart
• Who is trying to put out the fire? the devil
• What causes the fire to blaze higher and hotter? Christ, who is on the other side of the wall, is continually pouring oil on the fire.
• What does the oil represent? the grace of Christ
• What is the meaning of Christ’s hiding behind the wall? It is hard for those who are tempted to see how the work of grace is maintained in their soul.
• How does 2 Corinthians 12:9
relate to this issue? God’s grace will always be sufficient for us because His strength is made perfect in our weakness, so we should glory in our infirmities because we can then see the power of Christ resting upon us.
Inner Struggle for Salvation
As strange as it might seem, this lesson is the only lesson in the Interpreter’s house that is not explained for us. It is also the only one that is hard to understand. What was Bunyan trying to show or teach by this scene of valiant men trying to conquer the stately palace? Surely he was not saying that one gains salvation by his own efforts. We have already learned that Bunyan emphasized salvation by grace through faith, not of works or human efforts at reform.
What, then, does the stately palace represent? Who are the armed men? Who are the fearful people? What is the book, and who is the valiant man who charges the palace gate?
Evidently, Bunyan was trying to describe the inner struggle that goes on in a man’s soul. Many people desire to be saved, but the demons of hell, man’s own doubts and excuses, and peer pressure cause them to remain timidly “outside the gate.” They struggle with conflicting emotions. Those who do trust Christ will endure an inner struggle. Only by the power of the Word (the sword in this illustration) and the earnestness of the heart (the man’s stoutness) can a person conquer his doubts, fears, and conflicting emotions and trust Christ.
• How does Acts 14:22
speak of this result? It speaks of this result by confirming the souls of the disciples and exhorting them to continue in the faith. It warns that we must go through tribulaton to enter the kingdom of God
Sinning Away the Day of Grace
• Next, the Interpreter leads the pilgrim into a dark room. What does he see (once his eyes adjust to the dark, we assume!)?a man in an iron cage
• Who is this man? a man of despair
Once he was a fair and flourishing professor, that is, he once professed to be saved, and in his own eyes he thought he was, and in the eyes of others he was. But now he is a man of despair.He is shut up in the cage and he cannot get out. That is, he is lost and cannot be saved!
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• How did he get in this condition?
• He _sinned_ against the light of God’s Word.
• He _grieved__ the Spirit
.• He _tempted_ the devil.
• He _provoked_ God to anger.
• He _hardened_ his heart
• According to Hebrews 10:28, 29
, the man considered Christ’s blood to be an unholy thing.
• He had done despite to the Spirit of Grace. Therefore, according to Hebrews 9:26, 27
, what remains for him? death and judgement
• What does Proverbs 29:1
say about the "Man in the iron cage" who does what this man did? He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
The Bible seems to indicate that a man can reject Christ so often that he eventually hardens his heart and cannot trust Christ. He has sinned away his last chance to be saved and is therefore helpless to trust Christ!
• For what three things did the man in the cage reject Christ? for the lusts, pleasures, and profits of this world
How tragic! For the “pleasures of sin for a season” the man is now doomed to a Christless eternity, and he sits dreading the day of his death because he knows that he will slip into hell with no hope of escape.The
Second Coming of Christ
• The last lesson that the pilgrim learns at the Interpreter’s house is taught in a chamber. What does Christian see in that chamber? He sees a man getting out of bed and trembling with fear because of a dream he’s had of judgment.
• What did he see in the dream that caused such fear? He saw the return of the Lord and the Great White Throne Judgment.
Bunyan seems to combine both the Rapture of the church and the revelation of Christ in this one illustration. Certainly he wanted to portray the Great White Throne Judgment. Although Bunyan seems to have been somewhat confused about the two aspects of Christ’s Second Coming, the point that he made is clear—the Lord had come and the man in bed had not been ready.
The Interpreter used this scene as his final lesson because he wanted it to be a goad to prod the pilgrim to hurry along to the Cross lest he, too, not be ready at Christ’s coming.
What about you? Are you saved? If Jesus Christ returned today, would you be ready to meet Him? If not, why not accept His free offer of salvation today?
Notes from the Teacher's Lesson: (TCA 7)
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
Memory Verse # 9 from Pilgrim's Progress lesson ch5
Memory Verse # 10 from Pilgrim's Progress lesson ch7