Help on the Upward Road
It was with special joy that I hugged and congratulated a young man who was baptized last Saturday night and entered the Lord’s spiritual family! I told him that I was his age when I made the same decision. That decision, for me, began a journey lasting almost seventy years now—a journey accompanied by great spiritual blessings from God and from His people. This article will mention some of those blessings Caleb may also expect to receive, and is an “open letter to our new brother in Christ.”
As a Christian, you now have unlimited access (24/7!) to the great God of the universe. You have this access because “…having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1, 2. You are a member of His kingdom because “…you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11
Frequently, you will think about what it means to actually have eternal life. Jesus, in a prayer for His disciples (and for us), said to God, “…Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:1-3. The apostle John was amazed that God would actually love us so much as to claim us as His children! Notice his words: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:1 2. Your name is in the “Book of Life” (Philippians 4:3) and God will help you to grow spiritually. You will develop knowledge and a keen appreciation for what God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are providing for you! God’s many promises are given to you to help you develop His divine nature (1 Peter 1:4).
Sometimes you will be privileged to suffer because you are a Christian. You are in very good company! The apostles rejoiced when they were “…counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.” Acts 5:41. God gives us a most unusual way to look at problems and trials we may have in this life because of our faith: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” James 1:2, 3. This means that we learn to think: “When this is all over and past, I’ll be much stronger than I am now.” God helps us, not by making our way always easy, but by helping us through every difficulty and trial in life. His everlasting love for us is described by Paul in Romans 8:31-39. Verse 35 asks the question, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Verses 38-39 answer the question for us: “…For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The “behind the scenes” work that is going on to assist us on our way to heaven include Christ constantly interceding (speaking up) for us before God in heaven: “…He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25
There is also the work of the Holy Spirit for us. Paul identifies the Spirit as a great Helper for us in the presence of God. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26, 27. While there are many things about the Holy Spirit’s work that I do not yet understand, I am aware that He is the revealer of the mind of God through the Scriptures, that He is presented to us as a divine Helper, and that He especially assists us in our prayers to God.
Finally, I love to think of the angels who help us and all of God’s people on our journey to Heaven. Angels are “…ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation…” Hebrews 1:14. Isn’t it a grand thought that we are accompanied by angels—these wonderful heavenly beings—as we travel the upward road?
In the year 1898 Johnson Oatman, Jr. wrote the words to the song “Higher Ground.” Almost one hundred years later (1989) the song was slightly changed with a new bass arrangement, but the message remains the same:
“I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I onward bound,
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on heaven’s tableland,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”