Tag Archives: John Bunyan

3GT Episode 71: Man in the Iron Cage (No, Not the MMA Kind)

Talk about a man in an iron cage today, and people will think of mixed martial arts. But there was a time when all that would have come to mind is the scene of a character in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.

The man was trapped in an iron cage because, as he said, “I have so hardened my heart, that I cannot repent.” So the 3GTers discuss this mysterious character. Who is he and what does he represent? To answer, they turn to the Scriptures for help. Tough passages such as Hebrews 6:4-6 and Matthew 12:31-32 are raised. Concepts such as reprobation and the unpardonable sin are defined. Characters such as Judas and Esau are referenced. Warnings are issued.

Wow – a heavy topic! Yet tune in and hear also the gracious hope it brings!



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Browse Worthy: Tim Challies’ Visual Theology

Little by little over the past few years, Tim Challies, with the assistance of a graphic artist, has been building an impressive array of visually sharp diagrams, charts, and displays of Biblical truth. Called Visual Theology, these products range from quotes by famous Christians to lists of the Kings of Israel to a blueprint for the Old Testament tabernacle. These graphics are great for teaching or placing on a wall to remind others of God’s truth. They are available for downloads and he also has a book he published last year with many of them in it.

Tim caught my attention recently with a new one called The Order and Causes of Salvation and Damnation: An Infographic. As you can see below, It is a beautiful reproduction (the chart is offered in much higher resolution in different formats at the website) of John Bunyan’s original “ocular catechism” that traces the decrees of election and reprobation out in believers and unbelievers’ lives with Bunyan’s typical rich use of Scripture. I first learned of Bunyan’s drawing a few years ago while sitting under Derek Thomas, who led us through this work in an approach similar to the one found here. (I also learned that William Perkins had […]

Passing through the River

As the new year approaches, many will look ahead to 2016 and make resolutions. They will want to make changes to make this coming year a better one. Yet as this year ends, what about a sober reflection that truly looks ahead and plans for the future? How about a few resolutions that prepare you for the inevitability of your death?

Being the holiday season, some will view this as morbid, I know. Yet have you not seen one of those lists of celebrity deaths of 2015 that appear in the magazines? Seeing the passing of people who in your mind’s eye seem forever young, such as Kevin Corcoran, the child star of the movie Old Yeller, reminds you of how fleeting this life is. If we packed for a trip this holiday season, should we not also get ready to leave this earth?

John Bunyan reminds us in vivid ways in The Pilgrim’s Progress of the journey those in Christ are on. We travel through the difficulties of this world, headed ever onward toward the Celestial City. However, as Christian and his companion Hopeful found, one great obstacle to arriving there is a deep river, with no bridge to cross it – Bunyan’s picture of death. Christian […]


Having moved eight months ago (Can it be that long?), our family has dealt with many changes.  As I have chronicled before (here, here, here, and here), everything seems like it has been in transition.  Home, job, school, church, children’s marriages, and parental death are some of the major changes we have gone through.  

However, it is not the big changes that trip you up as much as the thousand, smaller ones.  Where do we keep the tape now?  When the car tire needs repair, where do we go?  What was the name of that family we just met in church?  Is there a post office nearby?  Where did I put that book?  Why did they not collect the recycling this week?  How long have we known about this school activity tonight?  What is this light switch for?  Where does Mom put this pan?  How do we get to that town from here on these curvy roads? (Oh, for the straight roads of Indiana!  North, south, east, and west mean little in hilly Western Pennsylvania.  One of the main roads I travel to Pittsburgh on says “East” though more than twenty miles of it is running “South.”  Likewise, from the north where I live […]

Gentle Answers: Revisiting the Iron Cage

A reader named Justin submitted the following question to our “Gentle Answers” feature found on the right sidebar.  My answer to him is below.


I just read your post on the unpardonable sin entitled the “Iron Cage“.  I have struggled with this particular topic for a few years now.  A few years ago I indeed had not be watchful and been somewhat lax in my spiritual walk.  Because of an awful thought I had a few years ago, during that time, while reading the unpardonable sin passage in Mark I have feared that I have committed the unpardonable sin.  Ever since then I have feared that all that awaits me is eternal punishment and this terrifies me.  I have earnestly prayed for God’s forgiveness over and over but still feel anxiety.  I feel as if because of what I’ve done and thought, the promises of God no longer apply to me and He has left me and I can’t be forgiven for the things I’ve thought; I can’t imagine standing before Him and those particular thoughts being brought up; I hate them!  I noticed you quoted J.I. Packer in your post and I read that portion of his book Concise Theology […]

The Iron Cage

In studying Hebrews with high school students in their New Testament Survey class, we looked at Hebrews 6:4-6 and discussed the unpardonable sin:

For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. (NASB)

In the Greek, the highlighted word “impossible” found in verse 6 in the NASB is actually the first word of verse 4 (the KJV and ESV render it this way) and is placed at the beginning for a warning emphasis.  Certain actions can render a person unable to repent.