The book itself is an allegory. An allegory is a story that uses symbolic references to expose general truths. In The Pilgrim’s Progress, the main character is a man named Christian, who lives with his family in a town named “City of Destruction” who one day chooses to leave his town and embark upon a pilgrimage to the “Celestial City”. Here is the opening paragraph:
“As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place, where was a den; and I laid me down in that place to sleep: and as I slept, I dreamed a dream. I dreamed, and, behold, “I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back.” I looked, and saw him open the book, and read therein; and as he read, he wept and trembled; and not being able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry, saying, “What shall I do?”
The book is the Bible, and the burden upon his back is his sin. The City of Destruction is this world. This reminds me of the Prophet Isaiah who stood in the presence of a Holy God and cried, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” (Isaiah 6:5).
A man then approaches Christian whose name is Evangelist. Evangelist asks him why he is crying. Christian responds, “Sir, I perceive, by the book in my hand, that I am condemned to die, and after that to come to judgment, and I find that I am not willing to do the first, nor able to do the second.” Upon hearing Christian’s plight, Evangelist responds by giving him a parchment role that states, “Fly from the wrath to come.” And what does Christian do?
And as Christian runs, his wife and his children call out to him, but he puts his fingers in his ears and cries out “Life! Life! Eternal life!”… and Christian never looks back.
As I read the news, as I listen to people talk, as I watch people live their self-centered Christless lives, I cannot but help see them doomed as a citizen of the City of Destruction. Biding their time until death and judgment comes knocking…which it will.
If you are Christian and therefore a pilgrim progressing to the Celestial City, then I urge you to become Evangelist and warn those with a burden of sin upon their back. If you are a citizen of the City of Destruction then I would encourage you to become Christian and “Fly from the wrath to come.”
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” – John 3:36