Godís Moral Law
 The Safeguard and Protection of the Home

The Ladder to Heaven 1

Here is made a revelation of Jesus Christ as the only connecting link between God and sinful man, that the repenting sinner may find pardon. Christ spoke words to Nathanael which had reference to this mystic ladder: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man" (John 1:51).

Here Christ associates Himself, as the Son of man, with the mystic ladder. The angels of God are ascending and descending on the one even as they did on the other. By means of this ladder a constant communication is kept up between heaven and earth, and all the actions and affairs of this earth are known in heaven. The counsels of heaven are executed on earth, and the doings of men are judged in heaven.

Providence does its work gradually. The ladder that man must climb is made up of successive steps heavenward like the rounds of a ladder--step above step, upward to the wisdom of God, whose glory is at the upper end of the ladder. Angels rest not day nor night from active service in the positions assigned them. They ascend to bear their testimony of record of what they have done and of the state of individuals, and to receive further orders; and they descend to execute the orders they have received.

Christ is the Ladder; the foot on the earth in His human nature, the top in heaven in His divine nature. His human arm encircles the race while His divine arm lays hold upon the Infinite. All the intercourse between heaven and earth since the fall is by the Ladder.

GRACE AND PEACE BE MULTIPLIED

"Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:1-4).

"Like precious faith . . . through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." This is a genuine faith. It is not a fruitless faith. True saving faith is a precious treasure of inestimable value. It is not superficial. The just lives by faith a truly spiritual, Christlike life. It is through faith that the steps are taken one at a time up the ladder of progress. Faith must be cultivated. It unites the human with the divine nature.

The life of obedience to all of God's commandments is a life of progression, a life of constant advancement. As the elect, precious, have increased understanding of the mediatorial work of Jesus Christ, they see and grasp the rich promises that come through the righteousness of Christ. The more they receive of the divine grace the more they work on the plan of addition.

"Grace and peace" will be multiplied "through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord." Here is the Source of all spiritual power, and faith must be in constant exercise, for all spiritual life is from Christ. Knowledge of God inspires faith in Him as the only channel to convey Heaven's blessing to the soul, elevating, ennobling, refining the soul, as--through the knowledge of God--it is brought up to the high attainments of glory and virtue. "According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." Here the Christian is encouraged by an assurance of divine help, if he will comply with the conditions.

GIVE ALL DILIGENCE

"And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue." There is no promise given to the one who is retrograding. The apostle, in his testimony, is aiming to excite the believers to advancement in grace and holiness. They already profess to be living the truth, they have a knowledge of the precious faith, they have been made partakers of the divine nature. But if they stop here they will lose the grace they have received. They must go forward. The apostle prayed that grace and peace might be multiplied to them. They were to climb the ladder of progression.

Without giving "all diligence" to make step after step upward to God above the ladder, there is no gaining ground in peace and grace and the work of holiness. "Strive," said Jesus, "to enter in at the strait gate" (Luke 13:24). The way of the believer is marked out by God above the ladder. All his endeavors will be in vain if he has not virtue of character, a practical knowledge of Christ through obedience to all His requirements. Those who have faith must be careful to show their faith by their works.

It is common for men and women to speak of themselves as Christians whose whole claim lies in the assuming of the name. They do not reveal that they are partakers of the divine nature. They do not reveal love for Jesus or for religious things. As far as their words and their spirit and their character are concerned, no one would suspect they were Christians. Their assent to the truth has no virtue. This counts for nothing in the sight of God.

FAITH

True faith works by love and purifies the soul. Truth is an active, working principle, molding heart and life so that there is a constant upward movement, climbing the ladder Jacob saw, to the Lord above the ladder. In every step of climbing, the will is obtaining a new spring of action. The moral tone is becoming more like the mind and character of Christ. The progressive Christian has grace and love which passes knowledge, for divine insight into the character of Christ takes a deep hold upon his affections. The glory of God revealed above the ladder can only be appreciated by the progressive climber, who is ever attracted higher, to nobler aims which Christ reveals. All the faculties of mind and body must be enlisted.

KNOWLEDGE

"Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge"--knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus, knowledge of the great plan of salvation. To be ignorant of God's commandments and laws will not excuse a soul. He will not dare to plead around the throne of God, "I did not know the truth. I was ignorant." The Lord has given His word to be our guide, our instructor, and with this heavenly enlightening there is no excuse for ignorance. Christ speaks of those who have eyes but see not, ears but they hear not. God has given them precious hours of probation. He has given them His truth. He has said plainly if they do His will they shall know of the doctrine. Therefore those that might be wise in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ but do not choose this wisdom will be banished from His presence when the judgment shall sit and the books be opened.

TEMPERANCE

To knowledge must be added temperance. "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" (1 Cor. 9:24-27).

They that run in a race to obtain a corruptible crown are careful in their diet. "Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things." The strict, severe habits of discipline are essential to give a full, healthful tone to all the nerves and muscles.

Athletes cheerfully comply with the conditions in order to be trained for the highest taxation of their physical strength. They do not indulge appetite, but put a constant restraint upon themselves, refraining from food which would weaken or lessen the full power of any of their organs. Yet they fight "as one that beateth the air," while Christians are in a real contest. Combatants in the games seek for mere perishable laurels. Christians have before them a glorious crown of immortality, incorruptible. And in this heavenly race there is plenty of room for all to obtain the prize. Not one will fail if he runs well, if he does according to the light which shines upon him, exercising his abilities which, to the best of his knowledge, he has kept in a healthful condition.

The combatants in the games used a spare, coarse diet, and denied themselves of luxuries in order to keep their muscles in a healthful condition. Should not Christians do as much? Paul says he was doing the same that he might win eternal life. The "body" which he kept "under" is the fleshly appetites and inclinations which need to be continually curbed. Any habit or practice which will weaken the nerve and brain power or the physical strength disqualifies for the exercise of the next grace which comes in after temperance--patience. Add "to temperance patience."

It was through intemperate appetite that Adam and Eve lost Eden, and it will be through habits of strict temperance and denial of hurtful indulgences that we shall have calm nerves and mental acuteness to discern good from evil. A man who is intemperate, who uses stimulating indulgences--beer, wine, strong drinks, tea and coffee, opium, tobacco, or any of these substances that are deleterious to health--cannot be a patient man. So temperance is a round of the ladder upon which we must plant our feet before we can add the grace of patience. In food, in raiment, in work, in regular hours, in healthful exercise, we must be regulated by the knowledge which it is our duty to obtain, that we may through earnest endeavor place ourselves in right relation to life and health.

PATIENCE

The apostle says we succeed in the grace of temperance that we may add patience. Patience under trials will keep us from saying and doing those things which will injure our own souls and injure those with whom we associate. Let your trials be what they will, nothing can seriously injure you if you exercise patience, if you are calm and unexcited when in trying positions.

Solomon places the control of one's self above the exploits of the bravest and most successful heroes. There is a moral grandeur in being patient under trials and provocations. "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city" (Prov. 16:32). It requires discipline and firmness of purpose not to give expression to passion but at all times to take care that no words shall escape the lips that will dishonor the Christian character. Self-control will be a valuable acquisition to the graces of the Spirit, and parents should teach their children, by precept and example, this precious lesson of patience and self-control.

Patience implies that we have difficulties to encounter, annoyances to meet. The Word of God says, "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger" (Prov. 15:1). "Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools" (Eccl. 7:9). The injunction of the inspired apostle is to "be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" (James 1:9). Anger provokes anger.

TEMPERANCE HELPS PATIENCE

We can see the wisdom of Peter in placing temperance to be added to knowledge before patience. This is one strong reason for overcoming the appetite for all stimulants, for as the nerves become excited under the influence of these irritating substances, how many and grievous are the evils that are done! But the healthful use of the unstimulating articles of food will not excite the nerves by irritating the stomach and debilitating brain nerve power. There is necessity for the Christian adding patience to temperance. There will need to be a firm principle and fixedness of purpose not to offend in word or action our own conscience or the feelings of others. There must be a rising above the customs of the world in order to bear reproach, disappointment, losses, and crosses, without one murmur, but with uncomplaining dignity.

It is easier to act the part of a martyr than to be patient under provocation and to control a bad temper. Sound religious principles must be brought into the life to repress anger rather than inflame it by giving vent to it. We feel very angry, but if we control that anger and are not betrayed into expressions of hasty feeling, we will not lose the respect of our brethren or respect for ourselves. The Pattern, Christ Jesus, is our example. Patience is a heavenly attribute, and Christians must cultivate it.

We must not ever keep before us the feeling that we are slighted. The very fact that we suspect evil will go a long way toward creating that evil which we allowed ourselves to suspect. Our feelings will sometimes be deeply hurt, our temper sadly tried, but the sooner we shall forget the cause of this disturbance the better will it be for us and all connected with us.

A lying tongue will stir us to make some sharp thrusts, but it is only for a moment that lies will have force. If we treat these falsehoods as they deserve--with neglect--others will soon see there is no foundation for them. We are to leave our reputation with God. Slander may be lived down but can never be talked down.

 

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