Today we continue our series “Scenes of Grace – Lessons from The Pilgrim’s Progress.” The book, The Pilgrim’s Progress was written by an uneducated pastor named John Bunyan. Although he was uneducated, he had the power of God upon his life and preaching. He worked as a “tinker” or a metal worker. If he was going to preach at 7:00am before work, he could draw crowds upward of 1,200 to hear him preach the Bible. John Owen, the great intellectual preacher of his day would often go and hear John Bunyan preach. When asked by King Charles why he would go hear a mere “tinker” preach, he responded, “I would willingly exchange my learning for the tinker’s power of touching men’s hearts.”
He was held in a Bedford, England jail for 12 years for his uncompromising resolve and call to preach the gospel. During his time in jail, he could receive visitors and he was given freedom to read and write. It was during this time in jail that he took time to write this allegory of the Christian life in a masterful way that has literally touched hearts and lives around the world. This book, written by an uneducated metal worker and Baptist pastor has been translated into over 200 languages and is considered the most famous and best-selling book of world history – other than the Bible!
Law & Grace
The scene that we look at today is where Christian is on his way to the place of deliverance and with his burden still upon his back, is led to the home of a man named Interpreter. It was through this time with Interpreter that he showed him many things that he needed to know about life. In once scene in the home of Interpreter, he was led into a parlour that was full of dust. This room had never been swept. The Interpreter called for a man to come and sweep the floor and it stirred up so much dust in the room that Christian was choked. At that point, Interpreter called for a damsel to come and sprinkle the room with water and it removed the dust from the air and the room was able to be swept clean!
Christian immediately wanted to know the meaning of what he had experienced in the dust filled room. Interpreter answered:
This parlour is the heart of a man that was never sanctified by the sweet grace of the Gospel; the dust is his original sin and inward corruptions, that have defiled the whole man. He that began to sweep at first, is the Law; but she that brought water, and did sprinkle it, is the Gospel. Now, whereas thou sawest, that so soon as the first began to sweep, the dust did so fly about that the room by him could not be cleansed, but that thou wast almost choked therewith; this is to show thee, that the law, instead of cleansing the heart (by its working) from sin, doth revive, put strength into, and increase it in the soul, even as it doth discover and forbid it, for it doth not give power to subdue (Rom. 7:6; 1 Cor. 15:56; Rom. 5:20).
Again, as thou sawest the damsel sprinkle the room with water, upon which it was cleansed with pleasure; this is to show thee, that when the Gospel comes in the sweet and precious influences thereof to the heart, then, I say, even as thou sawest the damsel lay the dust by sprinkling the floor with water, so is sin vanquished and subdued, and the soul made clean, through the faith of it, and consequently fit for the King of glory to inhabit (John 15:3; Eph. 5:26; Acts 15:9; Rom. 16:25, 26; John 15:13).
What can we learn from this scene in Christian’s journey? I believe we should pay close attention to a few things in this conversation and scene.
- Interpreter connects the parlour with the heart of man.
- Interpreter connects the dust with man’s original sin.
- Interpreter connects the sweeping man with the Law of God.
- Interpreter connects the water with the gospel.
In this scene, we see how Christian was chocked by his sin once it was brought to his attention through the sweeping of the Law of God. It was through that process of stirring up his sin in his face that Christian was overwhelmed by it to the point of chocking. It wasn’t until the gospel was sprinkled in his heart that the dust was able to be removed which caused his heart to be fit for the King of glory to inhabit.
From this scene, we should learn that prior to the work of the gospel, we are born with original sin – connected to our forefather Adam. Our hearts are like the parlour in this scene – never before swept. The Law of God reveals that we are sinful and points to our need for cleansing. It’s only through the gospel – nothing other than the gospel – that our heart can be cleansed. Our sin should cause us to be chocked. At the point of salvation we should be brought to the point of detesting our sin. Yet, through the cleansing power of the gospel, our heart is made clean and fit for the King of glory – Jesus Christ.
This scene is a fresh reminder that good works will not cleans our sinful hearts. Good works and moral uprightness is only a rearranging of the sin in our heart. We must have a complete cleansing. That comes only through the gospel of King Jesus.
Ephesians 5:25-26 - Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,  that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word
Pastor Josh Buice