Notes and Commentary on
The Pilgrim's Progress
by Ken Puls
17. Pulled Inside the Gate
So when Christian was stepping in, the other gave him a pull: Then said Christian, what means that? The other told him, A little distance from this Gate there is erected a strong castle, of which Beelzebub is the captain; from thence both he, and them that are with him, shoot arrows at those that come up to this Gate, if haply they may die before they can enter in. Then said Christian, I rejoice and tremble.
Notes and Commentary
As soon as Goodwill opened the Gate to welcome Christian, he wasted no time and "gave him a pull." Goodwill understood that those who seek at the Gate are in grave danger. They escape the darkness of Destruction only to find that they are still within the shadows of a dark castle.
According to Scripture, in our natural state we are dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). We do not seek after God (Romans 3:11). The Gospel seems foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18). Apart from God's grace, we do not even understand that we are in danger and need a Savior (1 Corinthians 2:14). By ourselves we are in rebellion against God, under His wrath and condemnation; yet unwilling to change and utterly helpless to do so. Were it not for the love and initiative of God, we would all still be captive to our sins and bound for Destruction.
But if our own sins, lusts, and ignorance were not enough to weigh us down, Satan and His dominion have also declared war on the Sovereign Creator. They hate God and are bent towards thwarting His plan to save a people for Himself. As Paul tells us:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12).
At the Gate Christian learns that seeking after Christ means drawing the attention of Christ's enemies. Goodwill warns his brother of the arrows shot at those who would heed the call of the Gospel. Satan would like nothing better than to kill (or at least wound) those in whom the Holy Spirit is at work. He and his demons watch and target those who are drawn to Christ and come knocking at the Gate.
C.H. Spurgeon wrote a helpful commentary on this portion of The Pilgrim's Progress. Take a few moments this week and read through "Christian and the Arrows of Beelzebub." In this address he vividly describes the nature of Satan's attack and elaborates on the kinds of "fiery darts of the wicked one" (Ephesians 6:16) cast in our direction, that we might be wary and careful to avoid them.
Continue reading 18. Shown an Open Door
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