Heb 11:13-14 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. (14) For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.
It is vital that we clearly understand the nature of this present life. If we fail to do so, we open ourselves up to all kinds of attacks and discouragements. We are going somewhere. We are on a pilgrimage. For the Christian, the destination is Heaven, the Kingdom of God, the New Heavens and Earth.
Listen to this introduction to The Pilgrim’s Progress, written by the editor of the 3-Volume set of John Bunyan’s works: [I have edited the wording a bit to help us better get through some old English language] –
The pilgrimage of life is a deeply-interesting subject…every individual of our race is on pilgrimage, from the cradle to the grave. It is the progress of our soul through time to the entrance to eternity. And it is beset on all sides and at every moment with spiritual foes of the deepest cunning. We travel through enemy country, all the while uncertain of how many years the journey will take, only certain that it must terminate and usher us into eternity – either of exquisite happiness, or awful misery. How natural then that every person’s life be called by this appropriate name – a pilgimage.
1Pe 2:11-12 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. (12) Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
These are instructions to every Christian throughout the world; all are warned of the necessity of sobriety and vigilant watchfulness, ‘because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour….He shall cast some of you into prison, so that you might be tested; be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life.’
All mankind are pilgrims; all are pressing through this world: the Christian willingly considers that his life is a journey, because he is seeking a better country. But the majority of human beings are very anxious to suppress any thought that this present time is a preparation for eternity, and, in consequence of this neglect, they shudder when approaching the brink of the grave, into which they irresistibly plunge.
Although this world is filled with examples that warn them that suddenly, in a moment when they least expect the fatal catastrophe that may befall them, still they behave as if they were intoxicated and make no inquiry at all into the Holy Scriptures to find how they might escape the second death. Instead, they take and accept the miserable advice of some “worldly-wise man” and seek a refuge in lies, all of which death will one day sweep away.
Every person is traveling and advancing. Time hurries on those who insist on remaining in the foul, fascinating and alluring streets of the ‘city of destruction’ (this present world)…and they do so to their eternal doom.
Every person, except…those whose anxious prayers lead them to Christ. These press on in that narrow and difficult way that leads to the heavenly Jerusalem.George Offor, 1861
This pilgrimage is very difficult and hard many times for Christ’s people. If you know Christ and He knows you, then you know at least some of this difficulty. Numbers of you are in it now, dealing with the persecutions from some evil person – a spouse, a family member, or just people of this world in general. But here is the point I want to direct you to – this pilgrimage has a termination point. It has a destination. The trip doesn’t last forever. Christ is waiting for us and in fact, He has promised to travel with us the whole way. There may be no present quick remedy for the trials you are in right now, but there is One who can enable you to press on and make it through. Ultimately, Jesus Christ is our strength and our hope and life. By faith in Him, we overcome…and we will surely get to that Celestial City Bunyan’s Christian pilgrim had his eyes set upon.
One final note: Satan wants to convince you that your pilgrimage has no destination. That it is itself eternal. That there is no end to your troubles. This is a lie from the Father of Lies. In fact, the truth is that our earthly lives are but a vapor that soon passes away. A few years or perhaps even a few more days, and we will have arrived. Believe these promises from the Lord and take comfort in them.
1Co 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.