THE LADDER TO HEAVEN
The Holy Bible is clear about the one way to heaven. It is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Some people oversimplify by saying there is only one step in salvation, but the Scriptures reveal it is a continuous process. A good way to understand the steps of salvation is to think about it as the ladder in Jacob’s dream.
“Then he dreamed, and behold a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” (Gen. 28:12)
Our Lord pointed to Himself as the ladder. “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” (Jn. 1:51)
There are similarities between the ladder and the Lord Jesus Christ. The ladder was set up on the earth and its top reached to heaven. Jesus is the only way to get to heaven. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (Jn. 14:6) Both the ladder and Jesus have “the angels of God ascending and descending”. The ladder is an excellent symbol of the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as the ladder has many steps, so is the same with the salvation process.
STEP 1 - Accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ
The Gospel is the Good News that God had provided a way of salvation. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (Jn. 3:5) The Gospel of Jesus Christ is “the power of God to salvation” (Rom. 1:16) It is called “the Gospel of your salvation”. (Eph. 1:13)
STEP 2 - Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ
A frightened jailer asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’” (Acts 16:31) Jesus Christ declared, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (Jn. 8:24) Jesus was talking about His relationship with the Father (Jn. 8:25-27). Later on Jesus said it plainly, “I and My Father are one.” (Jn. 10:30) “God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit . . .” (1 Tim. 3:16). “Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone. Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12)
STEP 3 - Call upon the Name of the Lord Jesus
The name “Jesus” is in the Greek form. The original Hebrew name “YAHSHUA” consists of two words. The first word “YAH” is God’s Name. It means “I AM” (Ex. 3:14) “Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (Jn.8:58) The second word “OSHUA” means Savior. So the name “YAHSHUA” means “YAHWEH is Savior”. “For whoever calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved.” (Rom. 10:13) To call upon the name of the LORD means to pray in the name of Jesus (YAHSHUA).
STEP 4 - Confess with your mouth
It is important for Christians to openly confess their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” (Rom. 10:9-11) Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” (Mt. 10:32-33)
STEP 5 - Repentance and Confession of Sins
Repentance is necessary for salvation. Jesus asserted, “I tell you, no; unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Lk. 13:3,5). Realizing one’s sins and feeling sorry for them is only remorse. Repentance involves both a change of mind about sin, and a change of heart-attitude toward sin. The person who truly repents will renounce and confess sin, and also make a determination to live a holy life. In the Bible, confession of sin before God is recognized as a condition of forgiveness. The people were baptized by John “in the Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Mt. 3:6).
STEP 6 - Baptism into the Lord Jesus Christ
The salvation process had already begun with the acceptance of the Gospel and belief on the Lord Jesus Christ. The believer must take another important step. Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mk. 16:16) Baptism is included in God’s plan of salvation. Peter preached: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39). Our sins are washed away through baptism. (Acts 22:16; Col. 2:12-13) “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal. 3:27)
Baptism into the Lord Jesus Christ has seven truths that are revealed in the Scriptures.
1. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 8:12, 34-38; 16:30-34)
2. Baptism in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38; 8:12; 10:43, 48; 19:5)
3. Baptism in the Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 19:34-35; 1 Jn. 5:6-8; Rev. 1:5)
4. Burial with the Lord Jesus Christ by immersion (Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12)
5. Baptism in the likeness of Christ’s death with head bowed (Rom. 6:3-8; Jn. 19:30)
6. Baptism by Spirit-filled baptists who are sent by the Lord (Jn. 20:21-23; Acts 2:38)
7. Baptism in Living Water that is created by God (Mt. 3:5-6; Jn. 3:23; Jer. 2:13)
There is only one correct mode of baptism. (Eph. 4:5) Those who are incorrectly baptized should consider rebaptism (Acts 19:3-5)
STEP 7 - Baptism with the Holy Spirit
Our Lord Jesus asserted: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (Jn. 3:5) Our Lord further explained: “For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:5) Water baptism and baptism with the Holy Spirit are two separate experiences. (Acts 8:14-17) The Lord Jesus Christ is the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit. (Jn. 1:33) Every Christian who calls Jesus Lord has some measure of the Spirit. (Jn. 14:17; 20:22; 1 Cor. 12:3; Eph. 4:7) The Christian receives the full measure during the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4) The criterion to determine whether or not a Christian has received the Holy Spirit is speaking with tongues. (Acts 10:44-46; 11:15-18) Prayer in tongues cannot be understood (1 Cor. 14:4). It is called prayer in the Spirit. (1 Cor. 14:14-15) Every Christian must be baptized with the Holy Spirit because He “is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, . . .” (Eph. 1:13-14)
STEP 8 - Practice the Washing of Feet
It was the duty of the household servant to wash the feet of his master and guests. When Jesus washed His disciples’ feet He did something outside of the Jewish tradition. (Jn. 13:3-5) Out of deep respect for his Master, Peter refused to let Jesus wash his feet. "Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’” (Jn. 13:8) Washing of feet is more than a lesson on humility, servitude, love and forgiveness. It is to have a part with the Lord Jesus Christ. Being a Christian and yet not having a part with Jesus can be a very serious matter. Washing of feet must be practiced the way that is taught by our Lord, who said, “. . . If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. . . If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.” (Jn. 13:12-17) The newly baptized members have their feet washed only once by the church ministers and officers.
STEP 9 - Partake of Holy Communion
Our Lord Jesus Christ instituted Holy Communion during the Passover dinner. “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ Then He took the cup, and gave thanks , and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.’” (Mt. 26:26-28) Jesus used one unleavened bread and one cup of grape juice (“fruit of the vine” - Mt. 26:29) After receiving blessings the elements became the spiritualized body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 10:16) Every Christian must partake of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. Partaking of Holy Communion enables the Christian to have eternal life, resurrection and abidance in the Lord (Jn. 6:53-58). Holy Communion may be held in the Church as often as possible until the Lord Jesus Christ comes again (1 Cor. 11:23-26).
STEP 10 - Observe the Seventh-Day Sabbath
“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” (Gen. 2:1-3)
The Sabbath was created at a time when the world was in a perfect state, before the entrance of sin and death, therefore the crucifixion of Jesus Christ did not abolish the Sabbath. It was not given to the Jews only, as many falsely teach, because there were no Jews or Gentiles at the time of creation. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.’” (Mk. 2:27-28) The Sabbath was given to mankind.
When God created the Sabbath on the seventh day, the Garden of Eden was like a heaven on earth. Ever since the Fall of man, hell broke loose. God wants to restore the conditions of heaven by reminding mankind of His Commandment. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”. (Ex. 20:8-11) The Israelites had forgotten which day was the Sabbath, so God pointed it out to them. “This is what the LORD has said: ‘Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. . .” (Ex. 16:23) “So the people rested on the seventh day” (Ex. 16:30)
Our Lord had attended public religious services on the Seventh Day Sabbath throughout His earthly life. (Lk. 4:16, 31) The Sabbath was observed by the disciples of Jesus Christ after His death and burial. (Lk. 23:56) The early Apostolic Church had kept the Sabbath. (Acts 13:42-44; 15:21; 16:13; 17:2; 18:4) There is not a single verse in the Bible that indicates the Seventh-Day Sabbath had been abolished.
The Bible informs us that in the new heavens and new earth “from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me, says the LORD.” (Isa. 66:22-23) God has given us a very severe warning that in order to have the future Sabbath rest in heaven we must observe the Seventh-Day Sabbath now (Heb. 4:1-11).
STEP 11 - Keep all the Ten Commandments
Although salvation is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who gives us grace, but it does not mean that we can commit sin (Rom. 6:15). "Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness" (1 Jn. 3:4). Our LORD did not come to destroy but to fulfil the Law or the Prophets. He declared, "Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot and one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled" (Mt. 5:17-18).
All the Ten Commandments are continued in the New Testament, but the handwriting of ordinances were abolished when Jesus Christ died on the cross (Eph. 2:15; Col. 2:14-17; Heb. 9:8-10; 10:1). Every one of the Ten Commandments must be kept. “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” (Jas. 2:8-12) During the Old Testament time the people were unable to keep God's Laws because they were doing it by their own efforts. In the New Covenant God puts His Laws in the mind and write them on the hearts of His people (Heb. 8:10; 10:16). He helps them keep His Laws by putting His Spirit within them and giving them a new heart (Ezek. 36:26-27).
Jesus Christ taught that in order to have eternal life we must keep the Ten Commandments. (Mt. 19:16-19) “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil.” (Ecc. 12:13-14) “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” (Rev. 22:14 - NKJV).
STEP 12 - Live a Holy Life and Endure to the End
Holiness is one of the essential attributes of God’s nature. It indicates purity and absence of all that is sinful. Our Lord Jesus Christ is called the “Holy One” (Lk. 1:35). Christians are exhorted to become holy. “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Pet. 1:15-16) Heaven is called “the Holy City, New Jerusalem” (Rev. 21:1-2) “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” (Rev. 21:27) “Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:13).
Many are deceived into believing that they can continue in sin and still make it to heaven. (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Mt. 7:21-23) “We must through many tribulations enter the Kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22). Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”(Mt. 24:13) “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name before My Father and before His angels.” (Rev. 3:5).
Our Lord is returning to take us to Heaven
The Lord Jesus Christ gives us this wonderful promise, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” (Jn. 14:2-4).
After dreaming about the Ladder to Heaven Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it. And he was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the House of God, and this is the Gate of Heaven!” (Gen. 28:16-17) To take the upward journey to Heaven you must begin from the place where the Ladder is situated - the “House of God” and “Gate of Heaven”. You may begin by going to a Church that preaches the full truth.
May God bless you
Paul Wong is a Christian minister and the President of ARK International.
His ministry also serves as an architectural service company in Houston.
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