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Monday, January 21, 2019

Pilgrim’s Journey: The Quest for Heaven: BOOK 1 (Chapters 5 and 6) (A Novel / Allegory)

This is a novel and an allegorical story about some knights who travel on a quest to reach a beautiful kingdom called the Kingdom of Heaven. As they go, they encounter giants, evil knights, swamps, perils, cliffs, dungeons, castles, evil Medieval lords, traps, dark forests, cunning enemies, and powerful weapons. They must fight for their lives and overcome all obstacles with the use of their weapons and armor, namely the Sword of the Spirit, and the Shield of Faith, and the power of God. 

Pilgrim’s Journey: The Quest for Heaven
- A Novel / Allegory -

By: Justin Brown (a pen name)
Date Created: Dec. 4, 2018

Chapter 5

Continuing the Journey

The travelers left the town of Worldly-Pleasure through a large, hardwood gate and continued on the narrow path which wound through farm fields. A castle perched on a distant hill watched over the town and fields like a cold-hearted dragon. Red and black flags snapped in the wind from tall poles on its towers. To Markus, the flags resembled the forked tongue of a serpent. He shuddered slightly as he thought of the evil that lurked within that fortress.

Before long, the farmland was now replaced by a dense forest. Birds chirped in the tree tops and sang cheerful melodies. Dappled sunlight fell on the path and sparkled off the silver-colored armor of the three travelers. After five miles had passed, the forest gave way to farm fields. And, a walled town in the center of a valley caught their attention. Within the middle of the town rose a high hill with a small castle atop it. And, surrounding the town, imposing and solid, a wall with crenellations, towers, and catapults rose high into the air. 

The sun was now starting to set, and purple and orange colors soon highlighted the darkening clouds. As Markus, Andrew, and Henry drew closer to the town, they could see soldiers with whips shouting at villagers to keep working. Some male villagers were digging a ditch in a field with small, wooden shovels. A pile of dirt rested against one side of the ditch. Close by, soldiers roared at them to work faster. Crack! Whips snapped over the heads of the workers threateningly. The cruel guards had helmets with closed visors, and their faces were concealed.

“Keep working, you slaves!” a deep, harsh voice boomed from the helmet on an average-sized soldier. He had a shield, sword, and whip, and wore dark-grey armor. Markus could see the phrase ‘False-Works painted, in red, on his helmet.

The men digging grunted and continued shoving dirt as fast as they could with sweat beading on their foreheads. As Markus drew near to them, he could see red welts on some of their faces and necks. He felt pity for them. They were being harshly and cruelly treated by their taskmasters. They needed to be liberated.

“Hey,” a soldier said, turning toward the men, “who are you strangers?”

“We are pilgrims heading toward the Kingdom of Heaven,” Markus said boldly.

“Why are you equipped with armor?” the soldier said. “Don’t you realize this town belongs to Count Claus the Covetous, the ruler of Greed?

“No,” Markus said, wondering what would happen next. “What town is this?”

“This is the town of Self-Preservation,” the soldier said. “And, you need to leave your armor behind if you wish to enter this town.”

Adventure in the Town of Self-Preservation

“We cannot remove our armor,” Markus said. “It was given to us because we trusted in the blood of Jesus Christ for salvation and made Him our Lord and Savior.”

“You are not welcome here since you are knights who belong to our enemy,” the soldier said menacingly. “We have archers with high-powered crossbows on the wall. The bolts will pierce through your armor. Turn around and leave if you wish to live.”

To reinforce the soldier’s words, an archer atop the wall poked his upper body through a gap in the crenellations and fired a crossbow bolt toward the ground. With a ‘thwap,’ it struck the dirt just five feet to the left of the three pilgrims. The bolt had buried itself deep into the dirt, and was hidden from view.

“The path to the Kingdom of Heaven takes us through times of testing and trials. And, that path goes through this town. Your name is ‘False Works,’” Markus said calmly. “Like your name, you are bent on getting people to trust in their own works instead of in what Jesus accomplished at the cross of Calvary long ago. We cannot bend to the will of ‘False Works’ if we want to walk the narrow way of faith in Jesus Christ.”

The soldier growled with anger. Then, he said, “So, you want to fight then?”

“Archers,” the soldier shouted, looking toward the crenellated walls, “attack them!”

The soldiers with the whips, dropped them, and drew swords from their scabbards. They quickly bent down and picking up their shields from the ground. Then, they formed a line and waited.

Meanwhile, Andrew, Henry, and Markus drew their swords and closed their helmet visors. Just as they did, crossbow bolts began to fly from the wall of ‘Self-Preservation.’ Like swarms of insects seeking to sting the Christians, the bolts came in thick waves. But the three travelers held up their shields and waited it out. Bolt after bolt bounced off their shields, causing them to ring, as archers atop the wall and in the towers fired at the pilgrims.

“Let’s run forward,” Andrew suggested presently. “There is no sense turning back now. The arrows of the enemy would hit us in the back.”

“You’re right,” Henry said. “I am praying and trusting that God will give us the power to overcome these attacks.”

“God is with us,” Markus said, “since we are following Him.”

“Let’s go,” Andrew said just before he started charging forward.

As he did, the two others followed close beside him amid the volley of crossbow bolts. Bolts struck the ground and buried themselves into the dirt with ease, but they just glanced off the pilgrims’ armor as if they were hitting granite.

The gate was now starting to be shut, but a gap was open wide enough for the men to fit through, and they did, passing through it quickly. They were now inside the walled town and running toward a street filled with houses and multi-storied shops. Markus turned back and saw soldiers shoving the heavy, wooden gate closed behind him. The gatehouse towers rose high into the air and issued longbow arrows and crossbow bolts toward them. The missiles bounced off of cobblestones and sunk between gaps in the pavement. Thatched-roofed shops, houses, and other structures followed a convoluted grid of twisting, crooked, cobblestone streets.

[Convoluted (adjective): intricate and complex.
Missile: A projectile. It is a weapon that is launched or thrown.]

The three pilgrims agreed to have two men facing the towers with raised shields. These two would walk backward toward the center of the town while one of them walk forward directly in front of the other two. The three men would form a triangular formation, facing away from the center of the triangle.

As he walked backward, Andrew said, “This is quite amazing. I haven’t received a single wound from an arrow or bolt.”

Walking backward beside him, Henry glanced at him and said, “God is protecting us, but I want to get out of this town fast. We never know what kind of trouble we might meet here.”

Markus, walking forward a couple feet in front of his friends, said, “I can see three people coming from a building to my left, just up ahead--a man, a woman, and a teenage boy. They look like villagers.”

The rain of arrows and bolts stopped after half a minute, and the two in the rear turned around to face the villagers who were approaching them. Yellow lights were starting to appear in the windows of people’s homes, and villagers were beginning to shutter their windows as the sun sank toward in the west. ‘Soldiers likely could be advancing toward us now, beyond our view,’ Markus thought with concern as he raised his visor to see his surroundings better.

His two friends followed his example and raised their visors.

When the three armed men had gotten within thirty feet of the family, the man of the house said quietly, “You men, come over here.” And, he motioned for them to come.

Markus and his friends walked over to them quickly and he said, “What is it?”

The small family was standing near the entrance to a narrow, dirt street that intersected the cobbled street the pilgrims were on. The man who spoke to them was burly and dressed in a long tunic, trousers, and boots. His hair fell down to his ear lobe, and a curly, black beard sprouted from his face.

“We saw you being attacked by the archers,” the villager said. “Would you like to stay with us for the night?”

“Let me seek God about that,” Markus said after a brief moment.

A few moments later, he said, “God is showing me it would be fine to stay the night with you.”

“Come with us, then,” the burley man said as he turned and guided his family along the narrow, dirt street. It was lined with half-timbered, thatched houses and shops. Rotting vegetables and slop decayed in small piles in the street, giving it a less-than-desirable appearance, but it was common for a Medieval town.

The villager directed his band toward a half-timbered, three-story house that rose above a couple two-storied homes on either side of it. A wooden, painted sign hanging above the front door read, “The Ringing Hammer Smithy.”

Reaching the house, Markus looked up. ‘That is quite tall for a residence,’ he thought. The first floor was a smithy, and the two floors above it were for the living space of the family. Their hosts led them through a back door that opened into a short hall. A door on the right opened into the smithy. Before them, a set of creaky, wooden stairs ascended toward a blue door. Passing through the blue door, the people entered a living room on the second floor.

The Blacksmith’s House

The plastered walls of a fairly spacious living room were nicely decorated with paintings of forests and scenery. A hazel cat, curled up by a brick fireplace, looked up as the people entered its sanctuary.

As they entered, the man of the house turned to face his guests and smiled. He reached out a hand and said, “I am James Blacksmith. This is my wife Isabel and our son Martin. We are believers in Jesus. About 1 out of every 300 people in this town is a true Christian, from what I’ve seen. So, we are a small minority.”

A woven rug covered part of the hardwood floor and softened their footsteps as they approached some beech-wood chairs, which were cushioned. The brick fireplace occupied the middle of one wall. Within the fireplace, a hot, flickering flame slowly licked away at some logs.

“I’m Markus Christian, this is Andrew Strong-heart, and this is Henry Willow,” Markus said, smiling politely. “We are believers in Jesus and pilgrims.”

“Why don’t you folks come into the dining room and have some soup my wife just finished preparing,” James Blacksmith said cheerfully as he walked toward a wide entrance to a kitchen area.

The kitchen was to the left of the living room. In it, a table with eight chairs appeared. In one corner of the kitchen, a fireplace sat with an iron kettle hanging from a hook above the crackling flames.

“This is my favorite soup recipe,” Isabel said as she walked over to the kettle and slipped oven mittens over her hands.

In a few minutes, the family and their guests were enjoying the soup along with thick slices of freshly-baked bread.

“So, you folks came from a long distance,” Isabel said.

“We did,” Andrew replied. “Markus and I came from the town of ‘Mankind’ and Henry came from the town of Turn-ridge. We found Henry in the dungeon of Baron Deception’s castle. We and some other good knights were able to rescue him and his fellow prisoners.”

“So, you are knights then?” Martin, a 16-year-old, said.

“We are,” Markus said, looking at the young man with a kind expression.

“That sounds fun. I want to be a knight,” Martin said with excitement in his voice. But a few seconds later, he looked a little downcast as he said, “But, I was born into the family of a middle-class blacksmith. We are not nobles. Knights are of the nobility. You must have been born into a noble family.”

“You’re a believer in Jesus Christ, aren’t you?” Markus said.

“Yes,” Martin said, nodding. “I received Jesus as my Savior and Lord, and chose to forsake the world’s ways, and to not live for myself.”

“Then, you are a prince in God’s Kingdom, for you’ve been adopted into God’s family,”  Markus said with a smile. “You are a knight, and so is your mother and father, for God has no respect of persons. Romans 2:11 says, ‘[11] For there is no respect of persons with God.’ [End quote.] So, God has no favorites.”

“Where in the Bible does it say that I am a knight?” Martin said, curious.

Markus replied: “In 2 Timothy 2:3, Paul wrote to Timothy and said, ‘[3] Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.’”

Andrew piped up and said, “In Revelation 1:6, John said this about Jesus Christ making us kings for God the Father’s purpose: ‘[6] And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father ; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.’”

“In Ephesians 6:10-20, Paul wrote how we need to put on the whole armor of God,” Henry Willow added. “Some notable verses in that passage are verses 10 through 12:

‘[10] Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
[11] Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
[12] For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’ That’s Ephesians 6:10-12.”

“I want to do that,” Martin said.

“I do as well,” his father said.

“We need that armor of God,” his mother chimed in.

Markus Christian said: “From Ephesians 6, we find that there are 6 items needed by a soldier of Jesus Christ : [1] The belt of truth; [2] the "breastplate of righteousness"; [3] the shoes of "the preparation of the gospel of peace"; [4] the "shield of faith"; [5] the "helmet of salvation"; and [6] the "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God". In that same chapter of Ephesians, we see that prayer goes along with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Holy Bible.”

“So, prayer is a weapon too?” Martin said.

“It certainly is,” Markus Christian replied. “The first part of Ephesians 6:18 [a.] says: ‘Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,…’”

“I want to pray,” Martin said suddenly. “I want to put on the same armor that you, Andrew, and Henry are wearing.”

“Just take the armor and put it on by faith,” Markus said. “You take it from God, who freely gives it, and put it on by praying it on. Since you’re a believer in Jesus, you just pray to Abba (Daddy) God as a child talking to his kind Father.”

The young man closed his eyes and began praying silently. And, his parents did too. Seeing the family praying, Markus and his friends excused themselves from the table and began seeking God, through prayer, in different corners of the living room.

As he sought God, Markus felt God putting on his heart the town of ‘Self-Preservation,’ where he was visiting. So, he began interceding for it. Then, a minute into his prayer, he heard an exclamation come from the kitchen, and he turned around and opened his eyes.

“I have a suit of armor on,” Markus exclaimed. “And, so do my parents!”

The young man was wearing a suit of armor that fit him perfectly. It contained all the pieces of armor that Markus and his two friends were wearing. A shield on his left arm concealed part of his armor. In his right hand, he gripped a broadsword. He shouted, “Praise God for this gift! Now, I am a knight in shining armor!”

Behind him appeared two other harnessed knights. They opened their visors, revealing Martin’s parents, James and Isabel.

“It is a miracle,” James Blacksmith said as he entered the living room in his armor. “We were praying with our eyes shut one moment. Then, the next moment, we found that we were wearing armor.”

“Praise God!” Andrew said, smiling. “You’ll need that knight’s harness. It will protect you from the attacks of the devil and his footmen.”

Just as they were rejoicing, a loud knocking sound suddenly came from a door downstairs.
“Martin, take the men upstairs to the attic,” James said with concern in his eyes. “Hide them as best as you can.”

[Harness: The armor and equipment worn and used by a knight in battle. ‘Harnessed’ refers to being equipped as a knight for battle. Note: This is an older definition of the word.]

Encounter with Human Soldiers

“Come this way,” Martin said, glancing back toward his guests. “We have to hide you in case soldiers are looking for you.”

Martin found a candle with a candle holder and lit it using a burning sliver of wood from the fireplace. Then, he led the three pilgrims down a hallway that connected into the living room. A staircase at the end of the hall led up to the third floor.

The four quickly scrambled up the steps and reached the next floor. In the dim candle light, the men could see a hallway which passed down the length of the third floor. On either side were doors leading into bedrooms. Martin led the pilgrims to the end of the hall and reached up to grab a thin rope that hung from the ceiling. Pulling it, he caused a large wooden panel to hinge downward, and a set of oaken folding steps appeared. After he unfolded the stairs, Martin climbed up the steps and motioned for the others to follow.

When all three pilgrims were standing on the hardwood floor of the attic, the young man whispered, “We have to be quiet because the men might hear us if we are too noisy.”

Below them, in the second story, Isabel Blacksmith had seen her husband descending the staircase that led to the first floor. She was praying and interceding for her family and for the three pilgrims that had come to their home. She knew that if the pilgrims were caught they would be locked in the municipal prison and would await a trial in a biased, Medieval court. And, she was certain that she and her family would be placed in prison for aiding the pilgrims. She knew that in her country all followers of Jesus were to be arrested and imprisoned.

“Dear God, give my husband the right words to say,” she whispered.

As she prayed, James opened the front door leading outside. Standing in the street outside his house was a band of ten human soldiers. Their faces appeared in the flickering light of several torches.

“We are looking for three men who entered this town without permission from Baron Charles Yorkshire,” the nearest soldier said. “They were last seen heading toward this part of town. Have you seen them?”

Unlike the demonic soldiers guarding the town walls, the men’s faces were not covered by helmet visors. Instead, they had Norman-style helmets which had nose guards and peaked crowns (tops).

“Who are these men that you’re looking for?” James said.

Unlike the demonic soldiers the pilgrims had faced, these human soldiers’ surcoats were yellow and blue.

“They are dangerous bandits on a journey,” the soldier said. “They entered this town unlawfully and without permission. We are here to arrest them. Have you seen them?”

James’s suit of armor was now transparent, and his regular clothes were all that the men could see.

“I have not seen any dangerous bandits, sir,” James said truthfully, for he knew that his guests were not bandits.

“If you do, be sure to report them to any of our soldiers, and we will bring the matter to the Baron,” the soldier said, studying James’s face for a few seconds before he turned away.

“Let’s go,” he said to his men as he walked away from the house and down the street. And, his men followed.

Once James had shut the door, he sighed with relief. ‘That was close,’ he thought. ‘God must have given me the wisdom for how to respond to that human soldier.’

He bolted the door, turned, and hurried up the staircase leading to the second floor. As he entered the room, he saw his wife praying. She looked up at him and James revealed how his encounter with the soldiers had gone. His armor was now fully opaque as he told his wife about the exchange.

[Opaque: This refers to something that does not let light pass through it. It is not transparent.]

“God delivered us from the soldiers,” Isabel said after hearing his account of the past minutes. “Praise be to His Name. He answered my prayers!”

“I will get our horses hitched up to the wagon and hide the men in some barrels,” James said, scratching his black, curly beard as he thought. “And, I’ll take them out of town early in the morning. But, I’ll need to seek God to see if I should do that or not.”

“We must always depend on God,” Isabel said.

“Okay,” James said. “I’d like to pray. I’ll get the men to come down here so we can have a prayer meeting.”

In a short time, all three pilgrims and the small family were gathered in the Blacksmiths’ living room. James had informed Markus, Andrew, and Henry about his plan. Afterwards, the Christians began to pray and intercede for the town, including its leaders. Baron Charles Yorkshire was a subject of their prayers.

“Father God,” Markus prayed, “I ask that you will open the eyes of the leaders of this town, including Baron Yorkshire’s eyes, that they will understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that salvation, cleansing from sin, and eternal life are not by their own works. I pray that they will understand the truth about who Jesus Christ really is, and that He was not just a man. He was God in the flesh when He came to the earth, and He is God, and He forever is God--God the Son.”

“Yes,” several said, in agreement.

“Father God,” Markus continued, praying, “I ask that the people of this town will understand how the devil and his evil minions are deceiving them. May the power of the devil weaken and collapse, to a certain extent, in this town. May this be so that many will have their hearts opened to the Gospel. In Jesus Christ’s Name. Amen.”

Several more people prayed. Then, they had a Bible study, as a group. Two hours later, the group ended the meeting and prepared for bed. Martin led the three guests up to the attic and gave them some sleeping pads, pillows, and blankets. 

With a candle burning to provide some light, the three settled into their bedding material, situated about seven feet apart from each other. Exhausted from their adventures, they quickly fell asleep.

Some hours later, and shortly after the sun had risen, the pilgrims and their hosts ate breakfast. Then, James Blacksmith left the house and entered his stable where he kept a horse and a couple oxen. He soon hitched the oxen to a wagon. Then, with the help of his guests and son, he loaded three large barrels into the back of the wagon.

Markus, Andrew, and Henry stepped into the barrels and crouched down. Then, James placed lids on them and fastened the barrels together with rope so they would not wobble when the wagon would pass over rough ground.

Once everything was secure, James hopped onto the driver’s seat, took the reins, and got the oxen moving with a little flick of a long stick. Several minutes later, they neared an opened gate leading out of the town in the direction the pilgrim’s were desiring to go. Two human soldiers, wearing yellow and blue surcoats, stood on either side of the double doors. With curiosity, they studied the ox cart as it approached. Then, one abruptly stood right in front of the cart and held up a hand.

“Stop!” the soldier said gruffly.

James pulled back on the reins, and the oxen came to a standstill.

The soldier walked over to James and said, “Where are you going with those barrels?”

“I’m heading on an errand into the forest,” James said, looking at the soldier, who appeared to be strong and tough-looking. The soldier’s Norman helmet reflected the rays of the rising sun.

“Make sure you come back within an hour,” the soldier said. “They will be having a census today. Last night Baron Yorkshire ordered it to take place this morning before noon. If you are wondering why, it’s because three bandits were seen entering this town. We suspect they might be staying with someone. Every house will be searched to make sure no stowaways are there.”

“Okay. Well, I’ll definitely be back within an hour,” James said.

The soldier stepped back and said, “By the way, you’re one of the blacksmiths, aren’t you?”

“Uh. That’s right,” James said. He felt his skin begin to tingle with nervousness.

“Tomorrow, would you be able to repair a tool of mine?” the soldier said.

“Certainly,” James said, relaxing and smiling.

“I’ll talk to you more about it once you have returned,” the soldier said as he stepped to the side.

“That sounds good. I’ll see you later,” James said as he flicked his reins.

The oxen began to walk forward and brought the cart with its special cargo on its way.

Before long, the city and its surrounding farmland were receding into the distance, and the edge of a vast hardwood forest drew near. Once they were deep into the woods, James stopped the wagon and hopped down. Seeing that the coast was clear, and no one was to be seen, he faced the barrels in the back of the wagon.

“You can come out now,” James said.

The lids opened, one after another, and Markus, Andrew, and Henry stood up, groaned, and stretched. They stepped out of the barrels and hopped to the ground.

“That was a miracle we were able to get past that human guard,” Henry said, brushing some dust off his shield.

“Praise God,” Andrew said, rejoicing, with a bright smile. “He kept us safe!”

“James, I can’t thank you enough for your kindness,” Markus said as he approached his kind host.

He reached into a small, leather pouch fastened to his belt and drew out two silver coins.

“No, don’t pay me, my friend,” James said, chuckling. “It is a gift. I will do anything for my brothers in Christ.”

“Are you sure?” Markus said, holding out the coins.

“Yes,” James said. “You keep the money. Consider my hospitality as the least I can do for my brethren. I remember our Lord Jesus Christ once said, ‘[42] And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.’ [Matthew 10:42.]”

“You’re doing more than just giving us a cup of cold water,” Andrew said. “What can we do for you?”

James stepped closer to the three pilgrims and said, “If you want to do something for me, pray for me and my family. We are in a town that hates Christians. We have to be very careful when we talk to people about our faith. I need God’s help to stand strong for the truth and to not cave in to the pressure to conform with the world, or to lie to people to preserve myself. Pray for me that I will have wisdom and discretion but also stand strong for the truth, even if it costs me my life.”

“We certainly will,” Markus said.

“God will bless you for helping us,” Henry said, smiling.

“Oh, and pray for also for my town,” James added. “It is full of deception and ungodliness. We feel like we are one of the few Christian families there. This town needs Jesus. Pray for us.”

“We will certainly pray for you and for your town. Our prayer-answering God is going to do something wonderful, I believe,” Markus said. “I remember how God’s Word says this amazing truth in 1 John 5:14-15: ‘[14] And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us : [15] and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.’”

“So,” Andrew said, “then, that means that if we ask Abba God for anything that would agree with His will, He will do it. God will answer that request. So, all we need to do is find out Abba God’s will by asking Him, and then praying according to His will, and God will answer our petition or request.”

“That is right,” Markus said. “That is what the Bible teaches. And, praying to God is actually a blessing because we are fellowshipping with our Abba Father God.”

James said, “I remember studying a great passage from Romans chapter 8, verses 14 through 18. Do you want to hear it quoted?”

“Yes,” Markus said.

James Blacksmith cleared his throat and said, “Romans 8:14-18 says:
‘[14] For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
[15] For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear ; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
[16] The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God :
[17] and if children, then heirs ; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
[18] For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.’”

“That is a great passage of scripture,” Henry said when he had finished quoting it. “We Christians are joint-heirs with Christ Jesus. That is wonderful! Praise God for His gift!”

The men talked a little longer, prayed together, and then parted ways. James rode the wagon back toward the town, and the three travelers turned and started walking down the dirt road through the woods.

[Note: James Blacksmith’s suit of armor became clear or nearly invisible because it is the armor of Ephesians 6. It is spiritual armor. Human beings cannot see it. But, this armor is even more effective for the spiritual realm than the best physical armor is for the physical realm.

The knights wearing dark-grey armor, helmets with closed visors, and red and black surcoats represent evil spirits which Christians have to resist with the sword of the Spirit, God’s Word. In this story, soldiers with exposed faces are human soldiers with physical armor and weapons.]

Chapter 6

The Battle

The travelers had just gone three miles on foot when they saw an obstruction to their path. A high, stone wall ran across the path and into the forest on either side of the road. It had a wide, wooden gate which was shut. To the left of the gate appeared a closed narrow door. And, standing before the gate were two giants. They were taller and larger than any giant Markus had ever seen. Each carried a battle axe and a large hammer. And, both wore the dark-grey armor and red and black surcoats of the enemy.

Seeing the pilgrims coming their way, the two starting to walk forward toward the Christians. Markus and his friends were now in their sights. To make matters worse, four crossbow archers stepped out of the forest and took aim at the armored pilgrims as they steadily approached.

“It looks like we’re outnumbered,” Henry Willow said with a little nervousness as he drew his sword and shut his visor.

Drawing his sword, Markus said, “But, God is with us, and He will never forsake us.”

“We need His help about now,” Henry said.

“I believe God will come through for us,” Andrew said, entering the conversation.

On each archer’s helmet appeared the words “Lies of the devil.” None of giants’ or archers’ faces were visible since they had permanently closed helmet visors. And, this gave them menacing appearance.

“I know who you are,” the giant to the left bellowed with a guttural voice. “You are Markus, Andrew, and Henry. I am Sir Unbelief. You remember me, don’t you?”

His face was concealed by his closed visor, but Markus could now see the word “Unbelief” painted on his helmet. The other giant had the word “Pride” painted, in red, across his helmet.

“Yes,” Markus said evenly. “You seem larger than when I last saw you.”

“That’s because I have gained more power since you last saw me,” Unbelief said with a harsh chuckle.

“Who is the giant standing beside you?” Markus said.

“I am Baron Pride,” the other giant said with a deep, booming voice. “We are here to prevent you from passing through this wall on your journey to the Kingdom of Heaven.”

“Our God is for us!” Andrew shouted. “He will give us the victory over you.”

“You yourselves have the power to fight,” Baron Pride said. “You are men of might and excellent strength. Come and fight me.”

“I will,” Andrew said as he ran forward. “I will send you fleeing.”

Baron Pride stepped forward to meet the armored knight as Andrew sped toward him.

The giant studied him for a few moments as the man approached him. Then, with a powerful swing of his hammer, he struck Andrew in the shoulder plate--clang--and sent him flying into a bush on the side of the path. Andrew moaned as he stood to his feet. The hammer had struck a powerful blow against his shoulder plate, sending shock waves through his body. By a miracle, he was still in once piece, and no bones were broken.

“Andrew, you are better than even Markus at fighting. You just need to get warmed up,” Baron Pride said as he waited for Andrew to return to the road.

“I am a good fighter, but I don’t want to compare with other people,” Andrew said.

“Why you are even better than a king at fighting,” Baron Pride said. “I could see you defeat the champion of France in single combat.”

“I am not a champion, am I?” Andrew said.

“Of course you are,” Baron Pride retorted. “You are better than a champion.”

“I’m going to send you into a retreat,” Andrew said as he suddenly took courage and charged toward the giant’s armored legs. As he ran, giant Unbelief watched and chuckled quietly.

Andrew swung at Baron Pride’s large legs, but the giant blocked the swing with his huge sword. Then, he struck Andrew in the breastplate with his large hammer--clash, and the man went flying. His shield and sword flew out of his hands and he landed with a thump on the grass. Now, he felt humiliated and defeated.

“I am a giant,” Baron Pride said. “You are a man. This isn’t a fair match. But, I am sure you can defeat Markus in a game of single combat. Of course, with rules.”

“I don’t want to fight in a match with Markus,” Andrew said.

“You are very strong. Surely you can defeat him,” Baron Pride said as he stared down at the man who now stood to his feet.

“It isn’t about me. I need to get through this gate, and Markus and I work as a team. Besides, we are friends,” Andrew said.

“What I’m talking about is just a harmless game to see who is better,” Baron Pride said with a tone in his voice that sounded ‘kind,’ but was secretly full of malice.

“Andrew, that giant is trying to get you to be proud like he is,” Markus said. “Use the Bible and your sword, and attack the monster. But, make sure you are humble before God.”

“You’re right, Markus,” Andrew said. Andrew began praying silently, asking God for forgiveness for being proud, and he chose to forsake pride. “Father God, now that I’ve repented, I ask you to give me the wisdom and power to defeat this giant of pride who is trying to keep me from going on this path that leads to Heaven. Help me and give me the ability to conquer him. Apart from you, I can do nothing.”

Then, Andrew turned to look up at the giant and said, “Baron Pride, God’s Word says, ‘Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.’ [Proverbs 16:18-19.]”

Andrew added, “My security is in the Lord Jesus Christ. I belong to Him and not to you.”

“Ha! That is a silly notion,” the giant said, chuckling. “You will soon belong to me.”

Then, Andrew suddenly sprinted toward the giants legs and attacked. Clang. Clang. Clang. He repeatedly struck the giant’s armored left leg with his sword, and a dent began to appear in the armor. Before the giant could swing his hammer down, Andrew ran between his foe’s legs and was now behind him.

But, as he prepared to attack the giant from behind, Unbelief, the other giant, came up with his axe and swung the sharp, heavy blade toward Andrew. Andrew raised his shield to block the weapon just in time, and a loud clang echoed through the air.

“We have to help him,” Markus said to Henry as he suddenly charged forward.

“I’m with you,” Henry shouted as he broke into a run.

Now, the four archers began to unleash their crossbow bolts on the pilgrim knights. In response, Henry, Andrew, and Markus kept their shields up to block the crossbow bolts. And, the bolts glanced off with loud pings. Since crossbows are slow-loading weapons, the archers could not fire too many at once.

Then, Henry and Markus attacked Baron Pride while Andrew fought giant Unbelief. The battle was fierce. The giants gave the Christians a major challenge, especially with their hammers. At one point Unbelief was able to knock the shield out of Henry’s hands, but Markus quickly kicked it toward him. And, Henry put it on just in time to block a blow from Unbelief’s huge battle axe.

Some of the powerful swings of the giants’ hammers were able to knock Markus and Henry to the ground. But, with God’s help, they were able to stand up, recover their shields and swords, and continue the fight. All the while, they had to watch out for crossbow bolts that constantly flew toward them.

The crossbow bolts sometimes partially pierced into their armor, but the bolts only pricked the skin, causing very small amounts of bleeding. Thankfully, the damage was minor compared to what it could have been.

After half an hour, the giants both began to show weakness. One was their inability to stop the Christians from running between their feet and around behind them. From their position behind the giants, the pilgrim knights could attack the giants in the legs and weaken their leg armor. Before long, this tactic proved effective, and the giants were starting to notice their leg armor cracking.

When a piece of armor suddenly cracked open and slipped off Baron Pride’s lower leg, he realized that he could not continue the fight in this condition, so he retreated toward the gate. As he approached it, the gate was opened and he hurried through.

Giant Unbelief continued the battle for ten more minutes before his armored boot began to crack. Seeing the crack widening, the giant hustled toward the gate and passed through. And, it slammed shut with a loud, wooden boom. Giant Unbelief didn’t want to lose his armor, for without it, he could not hold back an armed Christian.

[Note: These crossbow bolts represent lies that Satan tells people. The bolts did not fully penetrate the Christians’ armor because Markus and his friends were mostly trusting in Jesus. Ephesians 6:16 says: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” {End quote.}

This means that as we place our trust in God, and in Jesus Christ, in the Holy Bible, we will be able to overcome all the attacks of the enemy. We Christians might not fully trust in God’s Word, and we may actually believe some of the devil’s lies for a time, but God will show us the truth, and He will help us to forsake the lies of the devil. But, we have to make the choice to obey God’s conviction and guidance, which agrees with the Holy Bible, God’s Word.]

The Wall

Breathing hard from their exertions, the three pilgrims held up their shields and formed a circle with their shields facing outward, and their bodies huddled in the middle of the circle. Crossbow bolts continued to fly, but they glanced off the shields with loud pings. After a few more minutes, the archers spent all their bolts and decided to retreat into the depths of the forest.

Relieved that the attack was over, the three travelers removed some metal water canteens from their belts and drank the fresh, cool water like men who hadn’t had the liquid in five hours.

“We need to pass through that narrow door in the wall,” Markus said, pointing at the small door to the left of the large, locked gate. “As you know, our Lord Jesus Christ said, ‘[13] Enter ye in at the strait gate : for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat : [14] because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.’ [Matthew 7:13-14.]”

“But, the door is shut,” Andrew said, glancing at the high, stone wall.

“We have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus,” Henry said. “And, we are new creations in Christ, as 2 Corinthians 5:17 says. I believe we will not have a problem getting through that door.”

“That’s a good point, Henry. Let’s see if the door is unlocked,” Markus said.

With their shields raised for protection, Markus and his friends cautiously walked toward the narrow door. Their swords were drawn and ready for anything. Thankfully, no more crossbow bolts were fired at the pilgrims. So, they quickened their pace until they reached the door. The men soon noticed a wide, metal slot in an iron box built into middle of the door. The men didn’t know what to make of the slot in the iron box, but then Markus touched his sword tip against the iron box, and an idea came to him.

“You can’t come through here, Christian,” a sneering voice suddenly said from the other side of the wall.

“I have the sword of the Spirit, which the Bible says is sharper than any two-edged sword,” Markus said boldly. “You cannot stop the Word of God!”

Then, he suddenly jabbed his sword through the slot in the metal box. A clicking sound came as Markus rotated the sword handle to the right. The clicking issued from a locking mechanism within the metal box in the door. Then, Markus pulled his sword out of the slot and pushed on the door with his shield. Almost effortlessly, the narrow door swung open.

Standing before the pilgrims, a large creature leered at them through its closed helmet visor. ‘This giant must be at least ten feet tall,’ Markus thought to himself with concern. On the giant’s dark-grey helmet appeared the phrase “Legalism and Hypocrisy.” 

“You will not be able to get past me, you humans. Look at all the wounds you received from the other giants,” Legalism said with a gloating tone in his voice.

After saying a quick prayer for strength, Markus looked up at the giant and pointed his sword at the creature. He said, “With God’s help, I will be able to defeat you. And, without God’s help, I can do nothing. I stand by God’s grace through faith. I cannot stand apart from God’s grace. And, I cannot have anything good, unless God gives it to me. Step aside, Legalism.”

“We trust in Jesus Christ alone,” Andrew said, chiming in.

“You will never be able to defeat me, Christians,” Legalism said, smirking at the men below. “I take Pilgrims off the path of life every day. I lead them into self-righteousness, pride, and hypocrisy. Many die and perish in Hell because of me. They forsake Jesus because I allure them with pride. You will fall like those other Christians have fallen, and you will perish.”

The Battle with Giant Legalism

Then, the monster stooped down and reached for a large hammer lying on the ground. But, just as he was stooping down to picked it up, Markus suddenly charged toward him and swung his sword at the giant’s armored gauntlet (a long glove). He struck the armored glove three times--clang, clang, clang. The giant quickly withdrew his hands and roared with anger and pain.

Then, the large creature tried to picked up the hammer again, but Markus and Andrew together attacked him, and whacked at his gloves. In seconds, the giant’s glove came off and he quickly withdrew his hand and shouted, “I will destroy you, you Christians!”

The giant drew a sword from his belt and attacked, but he was facing three knights who also had shields. And, in a couple minutes, they had managed to dislodge his sword--clang, sending it flying into the air. Seeing he was defenseless, the giant turned and ran toward a large bush.

As giant Legalism hurried toward the bush, he turned and said, “You haven’t seen the last of my power, Christians. I will get revenge on you yet!”

Then, they saw him stoop down and grab a metal handle in the ground. An iron trap door opened, revealing a set of stone stairs descending into the earth. The giant quickly scuttled down the stairs, and shut the hatch behind him. After a few seconds, the Christians could hear a clicking sound as the trap door was locked shut.

Recovering from the Battles

Now that the battle was over, they began pulling crossbow bolts out of their armor and dropping them on the ground. The bolts had made them feel somewhat like pincushions. As mentioned earlier, none of the bolts had given them serious wounds. They had just received scratches from the crossbow bolt tips.

“Praise God for giving us the victory over those giants!” Markus said with excitement as he drew out a bolt from where it had slightly pierced his breastplate. “We couldn’t have done that without God’s help, and without God’s Word, and without God’s grace. Only by God’s unmerited favor (grace), by faith (which God gives everyone), and by God’s Word did we overcome those principalities and powers of spiritual darkness.”

“And, God would give those same things to anyone who hears God’s call, which is for every man, woman, and child,” Andrew said dropping a crossbow bolt on the ground.

“I remember reading from John chapter 12,” Markus said. “Jesus was speaking something very profound in this passage about His love for the human race. Jesus in John 12:32-33 said: ‘[32] And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. [33] This he said, signifying what death he should die.’”

“So, Jesus said he would draw all men unto Himself,” Henry said with joy. “That is wonderful. God has no respect of persons, as Romans 2:11 says. He has no favorites. Our Abba Father God loves all people! And, He wants them all to be saved, as 1 Timothy 2:3-4 says.”

“Oh, I remember that passage,” Andrew said. “It says, ‘[3] For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour ; [4] who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.’ [1 Timothy 2:3-4.] It says ‘all’ men, meaning all people. God wants all people to be saved.”

Markus said, “I remember that 1 Timothy 2 goes on to say: ‘[5] For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus ; [6] who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.’ [1 Timothy 2:5-6.]”

“There is no other way of being saved than by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ,” Henry said.

“And, by making Him your Savior and Lord,” Andrew added.

“That’s right,” Henry said, nodding and smiling.

The Group of 14

The men saw the path continue on through the forest, so they started walking down it and talked as they went. Four miles passed under their feet. As they proceeded, the woods grew denser and denser, and the evening came as the sun lowered in the sky. Soon, they noticed a group of 14 knights in shining, silvery armor walking the trail ahead of them. Accompanying the knights and plodding beside them were several mules laden with haversacks, rolled-up blankets, and supplies.

Hurrying to reach them, the three travelers soon closed the distance between themselves and the next group. When they were now within earshot of the group of 14, Markus said loudly, “Hello. You there, we would like to join your group.”

Some of the 14 knights turned their way, and one said, “Who are you?”

“We are pilgrims traveling toward Heaven,” Markus replied.

The one who spoke to Markus tapped on the shoulders of his friends and said loudly, “Look behind you, we have visitors.”

The band of knights turned to face Markus, and some drew their swords. But then they relaxed, seeing Markus and his companions were wearing the same type of armor they had on.

“We are pilgrims making a journey toward the Kingdom of Heaven,” Andrew said.

“Oh, well, so are we,” one of the 14 said with a smile on his bearded face. “Come and join us.”

“You came through the narrow gate by putting your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation?” Markus said.

“Yes, we all did,” the man with the bearded face said. “By the way, I am Edmund
Green-rock. And, you are?”

“I am Markus Christian,” Markus replied, smiling.

“I’m Henry Willow,” Henry said, scratching his long, brown beard.

“Andrew Strong-heart,” Andrew said, nodding.

“It’s a pleasure to meet other Christians,” Edmund said, smiling. “I love to talk with people who like attending church and enjoy Christian activities.”

Turning to a man standing beside him, Edmund said, “William Castle-hill loves to travel. He has many interesting tales to tell. Don’t you, William?”

“I sure do,” William said, grinning. “I could make you laugh one moment and cry the next.”

“Tell us a story,” Henry said, curious.

William began to tell them of some of his exploits in a far off country while he was in search of a lost parchment which had been stolen from a nobleman. The three travelers visited with him and other members of the group for two hours, enjoying his company.

Presently, as William was just finishing his story, Markus noticed movement coming from the left. He turned to see two knights walking down a wide trail to his left. The wide trail connected to the trail Markus followed near a fallen tree. Both knights were wearing suits of armor that resembled the armor worn by the pilgrims, except for a small difference. The armor worn by the Christians was silvery and shiny. But, the armor worn by these two knights was a dull grey color.

Herod Blue-tree

One of the two knights walked over to William and Edmund. As he drew near, he said, “I think you gentlemen would like to come with me. I am Herod Blue-tree. I came here with Dathan Oak-hill. We also are pilgrims. The sun is close to the horizon, and it is quite late to be walking. I have been residing in a town just a mile from here: Hyper-Grace. It is a good town and is quite large in size. We have many fabulous inns, several large churches, and many places to entertain yourselves for the night.”

“But, I am supposed to walk this path to the Kingdom of Heaven,” William said. “It is the only way.”

“Oh, you’ll be able to continue on your journey toward Heaven,” Herod Blue-tree said, smiling. “Just spend a night at Hyper-Grace. There are plenty of fun pastimes and comfortable inns there. The Churches of Hyper-Grace are also great places to meet other believers who are like-minded.”

“Well,” William said, glancing at Edmund, “I guess I’ll go there just for the night. It is getting late. And, I am feeling rather tired of walking.”

“William,” Henry said with concern, “that town is not on the path of righteousness, which we are walking on. If you go that way, you will be harming yourself spiritually. You need to seek God and forsake this town of Hyper-Grace.”

“Please don’t tell me what I should do,” William said with annoyance in his voice. “I feel tired and I want to go there just for the night. I’ll be back in the morning.”

Turning toward Mr. Blue-tree, William said, “Herod, I’m ready to go.”

“Great, then come with me,” Herod Blue-tree said, patting William on the back. They began having a lively conversation as they walked away from the group of pilgrims.

Herod Blue-tree, Dathan Oak-hill, and William walked away, along with five other pilgrims who accompanied them. Markus, Henry, and Andrew watched them go and prayed that they would turn back to the truth.

A verse came to Markus’s mind as he watched them depart. It was Proverbs 16:25: “[25] There is a way that seemeth right unto a man ; but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

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