The One Book: The Pilgrim’s Progress

There are so many things one might say about this book so let me pull from the obvious.

These are just some of the lessons that any Christian needs while walking the narrow path.  Bunyan’s little book simply articulates and illustrates what we will experience along the way. It is as much a coach as it is an entertaining tale that hits close to the home of any believer.  Take up and read.


I was once asked what I considered the best theology text.  I took a breath and as I did the person reiterated, “The best.” Their emphasis on the definite article reminded me that they wanted one and only one.  It brought me up short as does the question before me.  What one book has made a singular impact on my Christian experience?  What one book would I commend to others?  It is The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.  There are so many things one might say about this book so let me pull from the obvious, the lessons Christian learns at the House of Interpreter.  Here they are:

  1. As Christian enters the house he is shown a portrait of a man who is described as “very grave.”  According to the Interpreter, this grave man is a pastor and “He is the only man, whom the Lord of the place whither thou art going hath authorized to be thy guide…”
  2. The second lesson is learned watching a man sweeping.  All his sweeping simply stirs up dust until water is sprinkled about the room.  The lesson is that the law has no power to subdue our sin.  Only the gospel of grace applied through faith can reign over our corruption.
  3. After watching two children named Passion and Patience interact with one another and with earthly treasures Christian learns that it is best to wait contentedly for the best things in the next life.
  4. The fourth lesson is a dual lesson.  Not only does Christian learn that the Devil continually seeks to devour the pilgrim but also that Christ is the One who maintains the good work that is begun in the heart of a believer.
  5. The fifth lesson comes to Christian while watching a valiant man fight his way through wicked men in order to attain entrance to a beautiful palace.  The lesson is not explained but Christian says, “I think verily I know the meaning of this.”  Perhaps a study of Matthew 11:12 will help us to know too.

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