Ignorance at the Gate of Heaven
May 30, 2018 | Andrew Davis
The Pilgrim's Progress
John Bunyan’s great allegory of the Christian life, Pilgrim’s Progress, ends with Christian and Hopeful being escorted right into the Celestial City (Heaven) with an angelic entourage, with fanfare, and with great jubilation. However, after they have got into the city, behind them came a man they had met along their pilgrimage named Ignorance. Ignorance had not entered the “straight and narrow” path by the wicket gate (i.e. he had never come to personal repentance and faith in Christ), but had trusted in his own heart, which told him that he was a Christian. He cared little for the testimony of scripture, but relied on his feelings and intuitions, a sense of God’s love for him. The following is some of the dialog that Christian and Ignorance had had earlier while they walked along the road together:
Christian: Why, or by what, art thou persuaded that thou hast left all for God and heaven.
Ignorance: My heart tells me so.
Christian: The wise man says, He that trusts his own heart is a fool.
Ignorance: This is spoken of an evil heart, but mine is a good one.
Christian: But how dost thou prove that?
Ignorance: It comforts me in hopes of heaven.
Christian: That may be through its deceitfulness; for a man's heart may minister comfort to him in the hopes of that thing for which he yet has no ground to hope.
Ignorance: But my heart and life agree together, and therefore my hope is well grounded.
Christian: Who told thee that thy heart and life agree together?
Ignorance: My heart tells me so.
Christian: Ask my fellow if I be a thief! Thy heart tells thee so! Except the Word of God beareth witness in this matter, other testimony is of no value.
It is clear that Ignorance knows nothing of true salvation, for he relies only on the feelings of his heart, and not upon the testimony of the written word of God. So many today follow a similar course. They “feel certain feelings” in their hearts, and because of that they convince themselves that they truly know Christ. But they have almost no interest in the Bible, nor do they have any sense of their natural sinfulness apart from Christ. They are living in a false world. Ignorance’s false world came crashing down when he tried to enter the Celestial City:
Now while I was gazing upon all these things, I turned my head to look back, and saw Ignorance come up to the river side…; so he, as the other I saw, did ascend the hill, to come up to the gate (of the Celestial City), only he came alone; neither did any man meet him with the least encouragement. When he was come up to the gate, he looked up to the writing that was above, and then began to knock, supposing that entrance should have been quickly administered to him; but he was asked by the men that looked over the top of the gate, Whence came you, and what would you have? He answered, I have eat and drank in the presence of the King, and he has taught in our streets. Then they asked him for his certificate, that they might go in and show it to the King; so he fumbled in his bosom for one, and found none. Then said they, Have you none? But the man answered never a word. So they told the King, but he would not come down to see him, but commanded the two Shining Ones that conducted Christian and Hopeful to the City, to go out and take Ignorance, and bind him hand and foot, and have him away. Then they took him up, and carried him through the air to the door that I saw in the side of the hill, and put him in there. Then I saw that there was a way to hell, even from the gates of heaven, as well as from the City of Destruction.
Take care and be certain that your hope of salvation is based on the sure testimony of the perfect Word of God, not on the mere feelings of your heart.