300 years ago, an imprisoned English preacher named John Bunyan wrote a book called Pilgrim’s Progress.

It’s the story of a man named Christian who sets out from the City of Destruction to go to the Celestial City – that is Heaven.

The book tells of all the hardships along the way, of people who tried to stop Christian from getting to the Celestial City – such as Apollyon and Giant Despair.  Others, such as Evangelist, Interpreter and Faithful help Christian on his way.

Since Bunyan wrote the book, it has been translated into more than a hundred languages.  For a long time it was the best-selling book in the English world, next to the Bible.

It’s nothing new to portray the Christian life as a journey or pilgrimage, by faith, through the adversities of this life to the eternal joys of heaven.

Old father Jacob referred to the “few and difficult” years of his life as “the years of my pilgrimage”  (Genesis 47:9).     All of the old heroes of faith, says the Bible, “admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth…they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11).

That’s the way Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey depicted the life of believers too, as a pilgrim’s progress of ups and downs, saying:  “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”

On Paul’s first journey THE ADVENT GOSPEL ADVANCES TO the three cities of Iconium, Lystra and Derbe, THROUGH hardship – and then returns all the way back to Syrian Antioch where the first journey began.