For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
The title for today’s word of encouragement is a play on words from John Bunyan’s classic Christian allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress. After the Bible, it is one of the most important Christian writings for strengthening the faith of all of us who truly are “pilgrims in progress” as we make our way to the Celestial City. The story is a powerful dramatizes the trials, tests, and tribulations that Christian (the pilgrim in progress) faces as he journeys to his home in heaven.
Life places one demand on all of us: that we make measurable progress in reasonable time. How are you doing at that? Are you a pilgrim making progress?
Let me be clear on one very important point at the outset: The progress I am speaking of is not progress toward perfection. We will never be perfect until we reach the other side of the grave and enter into the presence of our Savior. Our progress will always be a mixture of both highs and lows, steps forward and steps back; but nevertheless, it should indeed be progress as we journey toward our home in the new heavens and the new earth.
Like Christian in The Pilgrim’s Progress, we will face countless challenges along the way as we walk with Christ: Worldly Wiseman, Giant Despair, Talkative, Ignorance, and the demons of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. But God has promised to take us through all of them as we progress on our way toward home. And along the way, we will leave a trail of “good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Christian, please remember that we are not saved by our good works, but rather we are saved to do good works, which are the clear and present evidence of our salvation at work within us.
And I hope you’ll hold onto this thought also: God does not need our good works, but everyone else in our lives certainly does! Our sanctification should cause us to lead a life of progress in service to others. We are saved to serve, and that service moves in two directions: vertically toward God and horizontally toward everyone else.
So, regardless of where this message finds you today, you are God’s handiwork; you are a work in progress who is to be making progress throughout your Christian life.
Where in your life right now do you need to be making a bit more progress? What is holding you back from being all God is calling you to be today? Remember, pilgrims make progress until they arrive at their final destination.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!