Stairway to Heaven There is a popular tune called Stairway to Heaven. We read of Jacob seeing such a thing (Genesis 28:11-22). A ladder reached to heaven. Each step took the angels closer to heaven. God gives us His commands, like steps to heaven. Each step is like a branch bearing fruit, each fruit sweeter than the last. The first steps lead us to salvation. The Lord Jesus gives us these commands. Let’s start the climb. Where do we begin? By hearing (Matthew 13:23 ). Many passages tell us to hear. Proverbs 8:34; Isaiah 28:23; Jeremiah 2:4; Matthew 7:24- 26; James 1:23 Matthew 13:23-“But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit. Some produce a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.” What do we add next? What would be the next step up? Faith (Mark 1:15), yes we are to believe in Christ. A work of God, is to believe (John 6:28,29). Mark 1:15-“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” What do we add next? We next are told to Repent (Luke 13:3). Repentance has always been something God requires. 1 Kings 8:47,48 ;Job 42:6; Ezekiel 14:6; 18:27; Matthew 3:8; Mark 1:15; Acts 2:38; 17:30; Romans 2:4. Luke 13:3-“I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” What do we add next? We next are told to Confess our Faith in Christ (Matthew 10:32). Other passages include Matthew 16:13-17 and Luke 12:8. Matthew 10:32 “Every one therefore that shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven.”
What do we add next? We next are told to Be Baptized (Mark 16:16). Other passages include Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38; 8:36-39; 9:18; 10:48 ;16:15; 16:33; Romans 6:3. We then enter the first stage as disciples of the Lord, followers of Christ, beginning a new life. It is not the end, as you can see the steps go on. Mark 16:16-“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. But those who do not believe will be judged guilty.” Once we enter His service, we're commanded to bear spiritual fruit, that by it we may grow. 1 Peter 2:2; Colossians 1:10. 2 Peter 1:3-8 gives us another group of steps. ”as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We add to the foundation of faith we first developed. Hebrews tells us much about Faith, especially Hebrews 11:1. First we add Moral Excellence, also known as Goodness, Righteousness, and Virtue. Several passages tell us more about this step. Philippians 4:8 ; 1 Timothy 6:11,1 Peter 2:9 .
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. We add to the steps, going up to developing Knowledge of God’s Word. We need to grow in the knowledge. Several passages help us to follow this pattern, and we are warned about those who were destroyed for lack of knowledge. Hosea 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:4; 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18 “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and for ever. Amen.” We next add to Knowledge the attitude or attribute of Self-Control, also known as Temperance, or Self Discipline. An athlete, a musician, even a soldier knows the value of Discipline. The Word of God tells us a Christian soldier is no different. 1 Corinthians 9:25-27. Other passages also tell us of Self-Control: 1 Corinthians 7:5, Galatians. 5:23 and Acts 24:25 . 1 Corinthians 9:25-27-25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we are imperishable. 26 Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; 27 but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. Proverbs 25:28 says a man lacking self-control is like a city without walls. What is the major means of a Christian’s self-control? Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:21; Hebrews 12:1-2 tell us it is in Christ. He is our strength . Prayer is a means of gaining that strength for self control.
We next add to Temperance, or Self Discipline the attribute of Endurance, also called Patience, Long Suffering, and Perseverance. God is patient with us (Numbers 14:18; Psalm 86:15; Romans 15:5). We read of Job’s patience (James 5:11). Christ endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). We are to endure trial, temptations, tests, and even persecution. (Matthew 10: 22; 24:13; Mark 13:13; Luke 8:15; 1 Corinthians 13:7; Hebrews 12:1; James 1:12; 5:11). James 5:11-Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. Endurance is necessary for salvation. Matthew 24:13; Luke 8:15; Romans 2:7; Hebrews 10:36-39. Matthew 24:13 says “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved” (NASB) We next add to Temperance the attitude of Godliness. Being Godly, or Holy, is a reflection of the Lord whom we follow. Leviticus 20:7. We are to live Godly (2 Timothy 3:12), and Holy (Leviticus 11:44,45; 1 Peter 1:16 ). Attributes of Godliness include prayer (Psalm 32:6) and forgiving as God forgives us (Colossians 3:13). Since we do stumble, we must have a repentant attitude (2 Corinthians 7:10. Other passages include 2 Peter 3:11; 1 Timothy 2:2, 10; 3:16; 5:4; 6:3; 2 Timothy 3:12; Titus 2:12. 1 Peter 1:16-In the Scriptures God says, “Be holy, because I am holy.” Consider Enoch (Genesis 5:21-24; Hebrews 11:5) whose “walk with God” was unique. His life was “focused” on God. Consider 2 Cor. 5:14-15 which tells us because of the love of Christ, we live for Christ. We develop a “thirst” for God. Psalm 42:1-2; 27:4; 63:1. This is true Godliness.
We next add to Godliness the attribute of Brotherly Kindness. God shows us kindness, and we should as well. Jeremiah 31:3, Acts 14:17, Romans 2:4. “Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” Consider Romans 12:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; Hebrews 13:1,2; 1 Peter 1:22. These scriptures tell us it is more than just a “feeling,” there is something more demanded of us concerning our brethren, our family in Christ. We should prefer one another over others. We are hospitable to each other, and grow in love for another. We next add to Brotherly Kindness the Final Attribute of Love. 1 Corinthians 13 is full of attributes dealing in love. Developing those attitudes produces fruit, as given to us in Galatians 5:22,23. We start with Love. Many passages tell of love including John 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 13. The next fruit on the ladder to Heaven, the next branch is Joy. As Christians we should rejoice. Psalm 5:11; Psalm 28:7; Psalm 47:1; Psalm 92:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16. “ Rejoice always,” The next fruit on the ladder to Heaven, the next branch is Peace. Peace unites. Peace comes from God. The world has a mistaken idea of peace, that it is merely an absence of conflict. It is deeper than that. I t is a peace with God. Peace is shown in daily living. Isaiah 9:6; 52:7; John 16:33; Romans 5:1; 8:6; 10:15; 14:19; 15:33; 1 Corinthians 14:33; Ephesians 2:17; 4:3; Colossians 1:2; 1 Timothy 2:2. John 16:33- “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
The next fruit on the ladder to Heaven, the next branch is Patience, also known as Long Suffering and Perseverance. God is patient with us so we should be patient with others. Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Psalm 86:15; Romans 2:4; 9:22; Ephesians 4:2 ; 2 Peter 3:9. Ephesians 4:2 “demonstrating all expressions of humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another in love”. The next fruit on the ladder to Heaven, the next branch is Kindness. Just like God is kind to us, we should be to others. Psalm 117:2; Luke 6:35; Ephesians 4:32. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” The next fruit on the ladder to Heaven, the next branch is Goodness. God has shown us His goodness, which leads us to repentance, our goodness can lead others to God. Our conduct, our attitude, our good works should reflect the light of our Savior. Exodus 34:6; Numbers 10:32; 1 Kings 8:66; Psalm 21:3; 23:6 ;25:7; 31:19; 107:8; Matthew 5:16; Romans 2:4; 11:22; 1 Peter 3:1. Matthew 5:16 “Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” The next fruit on the ladder to Heaven, the next branch is Faithfulness, also known as trustworthiness, being trusted, and steadfast. God can be trusted, so we should as well. Psalm 36:5; 40:10; 89:1; 92:2 ;112:7 ;119:90; Lamentations 3:23. Psalm 36:5- “Thy mercy, O Jehovah, is in the heavens; Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the skies.”.
The next fruit on the ladder to Heaven, the next branch is Gentleness, also known as meekness. This attitude is not easily provoked, but is ready to yield than to cause trouble, submissive. Moses was meek. Christ is meek. We are to teach using gentleness. Numbers 12:3; Psalm 25:9; 37:11; 149:4; Matthew 5:5; 11:29: 21:5;2 Corinthians 10:1; Galatians 6:11; Ephesians 4:2; 6:18;Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:7 ; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:24-25; Titus 3:2; James 1:21; 3:17; 1 Peter 3:15. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;” The last fruit on the ladder to Heaven, the last branch is Self-Control, also known as temperance. Acts 24:25; 1 Corinthians 9:25; Titus 1:8. Next, We build on our attitudes, like Christ tells us in Matthew 5:3-12. We start with being blessed for being Poor in Heart. When we recognize that we are weak, that our strength comes from God, we develop the right attitude. Next, we are told “Blessed are those that Mourn”. We are sinners, there are those who sin, and we need to mourn. The world does not want to think of anything but pleasant things. We should be balanced. Ecclesiastes 3:4; Isaiah 61:2,3. Next, we are told “Blessed are the Meek.” Humility before God is necessary. Pride is our downfall. Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6 “But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Then, we are told “Blessed are those Hungering and Thirsting for Righteousness.” We seek, we strive, we hunger, for God is our great provider. Isaiah 49:10; Psalm 107:9 ; Matthew 7:7,8. Psalm 107:9 “for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things”. Then, we are told “Blessed are the Merciful.” God is merciful to us, we should be merciful, forgiving to others. Other terms used are compassion, pity, and lovingkindness. Exodus 34:6;Numbers 14:18; 2 Chronicles 30:9; Psalm 23:6; 25:10; 37:26 ;86:3;100:5; 106:1; Proverbs 11:17; 14:21, 31; 21:21; Luke 6:36; 2 Corinthians 4:1; James 3:17. Luke 6:36 “ Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Then, we are told “Blessed are the Pure in Heart.” As God is pure, so should we strive to be as well. 2 Samuel 22:27; Psalm 12:6; 18:26;19:8; Proverbs 15:26; 22:11; Philippians 4:8; Titus 1:15; James 1:27; 3:17; 1 John 3:3 “Christ is pure. And every person who has this hope in Christ keeps himself pure like Christ.” Then, We are told “Blessed are the Peacemakers.” Barnabas was one, Acts 9:26, 27. The Apostles were during the dissension concerning Gentiles in Acts 15. We should strive to follow the examples from Christ and the Apostles. Proverbs 15:1; James 3:17; 1 John 2:1 “My little children, I am writing these things to you, so that you do not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One.”
The last blessing is leading us to be tested through Persecution. The heroes of Faith, like Moses in Hebrews 11, and Christ and the Apostles are our examples in enduring whatever form of trials and persecution we will face, whether ridicule, physical injury, loss of freedom, loss of possessions, or even death. Matthew 5:12; John 15:20; Acts 5:41; Romans 12:4; 2 Corinthians 4:9; Galatians 6:12; 2 Timothy 3:12; Hebrews 11:25,26; James 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” • We are always striving to reach the highest steps to heaven, as the two greatest commandments told to us in Mark 12:30-31. To love God completely, with all our heart, soul, mind and strength leaves out all selfish concerns. When we are able to love God, who loves us despite our weaknesses, we can then keep the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. • Each step up to those heights may seem impossible without God, who gives us the strength to go on. We may slip at times, but like Peter, we can cry out “Lord, save me” (Matthew 14:30). We may be tempted to follow the crowd going along what seems to be the easy way (Matthew 7:13-20), but we can see that the fruit of such a path is not as good. • Where are you on the stairway to heaven? Have you taken at least the first five steps commanded by the Lord? • to hear-Matthew 13:23, • to believe-Mark 1:15, • to repent-Luke 13:3, • to confess our faith in Him-Matthew 10:32, and then • to humbly submit to be baptized-Mark 16:16.
Have you slipped and stumbled on the stairway? God provides a way to get back up by repentance and prayer (Acts 8:22, 2 Corinthians 7:10, James. 5:15,16). If there is any need, we offer this opportunity as we stand and sing.