Great idea. I would agree…and still use the Bible of course. My friends Art, Paul and I read the book in our Study a number of years back. Highly recommend it or any of the old or new films based on it.
How I use the Pilgrim’s Progress in Evangelism
I’m a big proponent of using the Bible in evangelism. I want the book open with me when sharing the Gospel. I want the unbeliever to be looking down in the Bible, I want them to be hearing the Bible, If possible I want them to be able to quote some of the bible by the end of our conversation.
I believe with all my heart that faith (only) comes from hearing and hearing from the word of God. (Rom. 10:17)
But over the years I have found myself using the pilgrim’s progress at some point during an evangelistic encounter.
Early on at the end of a long gospel conversations, I found myself not knowing what to do next. Of course, I’m not going to lead someone in a sinners prayer. As a believer in God’s sovereignty in salvation I didn’t want to manipulate someone into making a false profession. At the same time I wanted them to understand the urgency of what they heard and the importance of what had just occurred in their life. So, I always had this dilemma, how do I finish this conversation?
How do I lead them to realize the importance of going home and thinking about what we talked about?
Many of people I’ve talked to over the years simply did not care. They were apathetic. Especially college students.
I usually explain to them the urgency about responding to what they heard. I tell them that they could die on their drive home. That they could get a brain aneurism. Not to manipulate them or to scare them into salvation but to challenge the observable indifference to the words they heard.
On many occasions the person, sensing the gravity of what I was saying, asked me how do I get to the point where I care about what you told me today? How can someone generate concern for the things you told me today?
I was encouraged by this question. It means that I had conveyed the gravity of the situation well. And over the years I found myself using the pilgrim’s progress more and more.
After explaining to them that you can’t drum up faith on your own, I would quote Romans 10:17 and tell them about Christian in the Pilgrim’s Progress.
I would explain to them that John Bunyan wrote the pilgrim’s progress 400 years ago. His goal was to explain what the Christian life was like. And that the book starts off with the main character, Christian, who lives in the city of destruction, and who happens to pick up a book, which turns out to be the Bible.
I go on to emphasize with the unbeliever the fact that the more Christian reads the book the more worried he gets. The more he reads God’s word the more he realizes how sinful he is and how desperate his situation is. He slowly realizes that he has a big weight on his shoulders and the more he reads the heavier it gets. I tell them that the weight he is carrying is his sin.
Then I emphasize the people who live near him. His wife sins a lot as well, but she doesn’t see or feel her burden. His coworkers, his neighbors, are all constant sinners and yet they don’t have a burden about it.
The only difference between them and Christian, is that Christian is reading his Bible and the others are not.
When you open God’s word you can’t lie to yourself anymore. Because the Bible is constantly emphasizing how sinful, how broken and how unworthy you are of salvation. It is impossible to believe in works-based righteousness if someone solely believes and reads the Bible.
That’s why everyone encourages Christian to stop reading the book. “If it makes you feel bad stop reading it”, they shouted. But it is his reading that led him to the cross. In fact, it is a man named evangelist who sees him reading and tells him about the cross and how he can have his burden taken away in an instant.
I go on to tell them that that’s why I am here today and that’s why I am sharing with you this message, because you have a burden and its heavier than you could ever imagine, and if you die with it on, you will spend eternity in hell, but Christ can take the burden away from you in an instant if you would only repent of your sin and place your faith in him.
The only way to hate your sin is to see it, and the only way to see it is for God to show it to you through His Word. So, go home and read it!
I then give them some suggestions of what to read and where to start.
I have found this to be an effective way to illustrate the importance of reading the Bible to an unbeliever. And I’m curious as to what you do in your evangelistic conversations.
I pray that, no matter what, we would all grow in confidence in God’s word and remember that in evangelism the barrier between unbelief and belief is repentance and not a lack of evidence. (2Tim 2:24-26) We must always push people to read God’s word because it is only through His word that a soul can be saved.
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