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A book like no other!

Pastor Russ Gaar

I love to read! As a boy, a good book was my escape and often brought me great joy. Reading books shaped who I am today. Recently, I have been reading a book about a man reading a book. It’s a wonderful read! The experience of this man is actually quite stunning. As the fictional character began to read this particular book, he became almost despondent; he was overcome with grief and sorrow…even crying out: “What shall I do?” The name of the book I’m reading is Pilgrim’s Progress, written in 1684 by John Bunyan. Pilgrim’s Progress is one of the most widely read books in English literature. It is a classic tale of a man named Christian, who begins a life-changing adventure when he picks up a book and begins to read.
Christian’s adventure began when he read a book. As he read the book, Christian began to notice a great burden on his back. He was filled with sorrow and though he tried to hide his despair, he could not.
He would go out into the fields, taking his book, and as he read on, he cried out again and again: “What shall I do to be saved?” Christian looked this way and that, but did not know where to go to find relief.
Bunyan’s depiction of Christian is a masterful description of a man’s frantic search for salvation, for some kind of relief from his burden of guilt.
It’s at this point in the story, Christian meets a man named Evangelist.
Evangelist asks him why he is crying out. Christian answers: “Sir, I perceive, by the Book in my hand, that I am Condemned to die, and after that to come to Judgment.” Evangelist, fortunately, showed Christian a path, which if followed would lead Christian to a shining light, to a cross on a hill, and to salvation. Christian takes his book and with his burden weighing him down, sets out to find relief.
Pilgrim’s Progress is an amazing story of a man named Christian who goes through the Slough of Despond, the Village of Morality, Vanity Fair, and the Delectable Mountains.
It is full of danger and adventure and most importantly, truth. John Bunyan wrote this wonderful tale to be a mirror of the Christian life.
The character Christian represents all Christians who see their burden of guilt and shame and go to Jesus Christ to be saved from their sin. But it all started with a man reading a book.
There is a book like no other! It is the Word of God, the Bible. And, if you dare to read this book, you will find that life is much more serious and weightier than you ever imagined. Upon first reading the Bible, you may even find that, just like Christian, a great burden weighs down your soul. You may discover, to your shame that you also are weighed down with the burden of your own sin.
You may read Hebrews 9:27—“It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” This may even prompt you to cry out for relief!
The Book like no other may help you see that you are carrying a great burden just like the man in Bunyan’s tale discovered; but, this Book will also reveal the hope that is found in a merciful God.
Romans 6:23 reminds all of us there is not only a great burden we bear called sin, but also, there is hope for those who feel this burden and trust in God’s salvation. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The same Book which reveals our sin, reveals a Savior, who will rescue us from our heavy burden! The same Book which tells us of the great weight of sin that all of us bear, tells us of a Savior who will relieve us of our heavy guilt.
The Bible is a Book like no other! I commend it to you! May you read it and discover the burden of sin, the weightiness of life, and the great need you have.
May you also read and discover the great hope you will find in Jesus, who bore our sins on the cross that we might have abundant and eternal life. I pray that you will pick up this Book, which is like no other, and begin to read until you find rest for your soul.
Christian’s story, his adventure, didn’t truly begin until he picked up an old book and began to read.