Commencement of the
Christian's Journey- Difficulties in the Way
"...where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue
in the faith, reminding them that they must enter into the Kingdom of God
through many tribulations." Acts 14:22
"Let us adore the grace that seeks
To draw our hearts above!
Attend, 'tis God the Savior speaks,
And every word is love."
No man begins the journey to the heavenly home, until by the gracious
influence of the Holy Spirit, his soul is attracted to Christ, the Living
Way, the Truth, and the Life. At that happy hour when the heart is opened,
and the understanding enlightened to discern spiritual things, the Savior's
love is the first to beam in mild, sweet, constraining influence upon the
soul of the renewed man. He wonders that he was not able before to discern
the beauty, the excellence and glory of Immanuel. Now, Jesus appears to him
as the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely. Now, he is ready to
exclaim, "My beloved is mine, and I his. Whom have I in heaven but you?
There is none upon earth that I desire besides you."
Thus enlightened by divine grace, the pilgrim turns from the City of
Destruction to the Heavenly Mansions. He leaves the crowded road which leads
to eternal darkness and woe, and enters on the narrow pathway that conducts
the weary traveler to realms of light and bliss. The star of Bethlehem is
his guide; the promises of God's word, his rod and staff; and heaven, his
everlasting, happy home. His views are now elevated above the decaying
objects around him. His affections are placed upon things above. He
contemplates with rapturous delight the bleeding glories of Immanuel, and
the shining abode of Zion's pilgrims in the celestial kingdom. He is risen
He has become a spiritually minded man. He lives and walks by faith in the
Son of God. Though in the world, he is no longer of it; but belongs to the
kingdom of Jesus Christ. As an heir of glory, as a traveler to the skies, as
an expectant of eternal bliss, he looks above and beyond the troublesome
scenes of a fleeting pilgrimage. He enjoys the charming and sublime prospect
beyond the precincts of time! He beholds in that brighter world, an ocean of
glory, without a shore, and without a storm! As the Christian pursues his
journey, with his eye fixed on the solemn realities of eternity, earth and
sublunary grandeur appear to him as transitory as the morning cloud and
early morning dew, compared with those immeasurable ages of bliss, which
roll before his transported vision.
A traveler on his journey, loves to cherish the endearing thoughts of home
and domestic happiness. Nothing is so dear to him in all his wanderings as
the fireside of his fathers– the land of his birth. In like manner, he who
has been constrained, by the Savior's love, to begin the blessed journey
from the wilderness of this world to the heavenly Canaan, will delight to
meditate on the riches and glory of his Father's house, in the pure,
unclouded realms of eternal day. The Jerusalem above will be dearer to him
than any earthly object. His language will be: "If I forget you, O
Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill upon the harp. May my tongue
stick to the roof of my mouth if I fail to remember you, if I don't make
Jerusalem my highest joy." In every stage of his pilgrimage, the Christian
loves to think of that better land, his true, abiding home, where he shall
sing triumphant songs of praise to his Redeemer, and his God.
We have thus hinted at the pleasing view which opens to him from whose eyes
the scales of unbelief leave fallen- who is enabled to look at eternal
things in the light of God's word; and who has set out upon the Christian's
journey, to the celestial city. We shall now notice a few of the
difficulties which lie in the way to glory; for no sooner does the pilgrim
enter on the path of the just, than he meets with obstacles. We mention
three sources from which the Christian may expect to meet with great
opposition in fighting the good fight of faith.
1. THE WORLD
The world with its sinful pleasures and enjoyments is calculated to
captivate the affections, enchain the heart, and impede the pilgrim's
progress to the heavenly rest. A thousand fascinating charms are thrown
around his pathway through this bewildering world. In city and in country;
on land and on sea- everywhere, the soldier of the cross is surrounded by
spiritual dangers and difficulties.
"Yet, the clear path to your abode,
Lies through this horrid land;
Lord, we would trace the dangerous road,
And run at your command."
Love of the world is one great means of retarding our journey to the skies.
O, how many have turned aside from following the blessed Jesus by placing
all their affections upon this present, fleeting scene, which in a very few
years at most, will profit them nothing! "Demas has forsaken me, having
loved this present world."
See to it, Christian, that you do not love the world. By faith in the cross
of Christ, and the bleeding glories of Calvary; this world with all its
riches and honors will become a dim and dying object in your view.
"Then, pilgrim, let your joys and fears
On time no longer lean;
But henceforth all your hopes and fears
From earth's affections wean."
Obey the warning voice of mercy if you would reach the blissful shore: "Stop
loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the
world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you."
Notwithstanding the Christian's endeavors to live above the world, and near
to God, how often is he compelled to cry out with the Psalmist: "My soul
cleaves unto the dust: quicken me according to your word."
"From earth, and all its empty joys,
Blest Jesus, set Me free;
How vain the worldling's gilded toys,
Compared with heaven and thee!
You are my hope, my way, my bliss;
My glory, and my crown;
Descend, O blessed Prince of Peace,
And make my heart your throne."
We must expect to meet with OPPOSITION FROM AN UNBELIEVING WORLD. Those who
have their part and portion here do not love those who have chosen a better
inheritance above. The world hates a true follower of the Lamb! Jesus was
himself the object of their hatred. No wonder then that his followers should
meet with the same reception from unbelievers. The Savior says to his
disciples: "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As
it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the
world. That is why the world hates you." It has been truly said that if we
are faithful, we must indeed expect reproach; if we boldly confess Christ
before men, and steadily maintain that marked distinction which forms the
line of separation between the church and the world, we must submit to have
our names cast out as evil.
2. THE DEVIL
The Christian pilgrim will meet with opposition from Satan. "For we are not
fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers
and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness
who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms." The
inspired writers give us directions how we are to meet and vanquish this
arch enemy of souls. "Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your
great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim
to devour. Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith.
Remember that Christians all over the world are going through the same kind
of suffering you are." "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you". "A
final word: Be strong with the Lord's mighty power. Put on all of God's
armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and
tricks of the Devil. Use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy in
the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm.
Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is
the word of God. Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the
Holy Spirit. " Let us follow this advice, and we shall win a glorious
victory, and receive an immortal crown. The God of peace shall bruise Satan
under our feet shortly.
In the arms of Jesus we shall be safe, eternally safe from the attacks of
our subtle adversary. Satan will never be able to pluck a single believing
soul from the hands of an Almighty Savior! Animated by such a consideration,
let us press forward in our pilgrimage, armed with the panoply of Heaven;
and in a little while the Satanic conflict will be over; then we shall take
up sweet, unending songs of triumph in that happy place, where the wicked
cease from troubling, and where the weary are at rest.
3. THE FLESH
Another enemy, with which the Christian will have to contend until this
mortal life shall have put on immortality, is the flesh. As the believer is
never perfectly sanctified in this life, the remains of corruption in his
heart must be a source of continual annoyance to him in coming up from the
wilderness to the land of perfection and bliss. Here, the flesh lusts
against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh. The Canaanites are
still in the land; and the soldier of the cross must be always on his guard,
lest they surprise and overcome him.
"The remainders of corruption require continual watchfulness and caution,
lest they increase and regain their former possession of the heart. Sin
still dwelling in the believer, causes that warfare, which must never cease
until this body is laid in the grave, never more to harm the disembodied
spirit, encircled with heavenly glory." How often has the remaining
depravity of the human heart made the good man weep and bend, as under an
unendurable load, and long to be freed from the bitter thraldom of sinful
flesh! This made Paul cry out in the bitterness of his soul, "Oh, what a
miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by
sin?" But almost with the same breath he exclaims, as he sees the Great
Deliverer, "Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord."
Here, then, is our strength and deliverance. Jesus is the salvation of
Israel. In Him we shall obtain complete dominion over the corruptions of our
nature. How reanimating to hear that sweet promise whispered in our ears,
while we are still in an enemy's land," My gracious favor is all you need.
My power works best in your weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my
weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me."
Then, if we would overcome all the difficulties which lie in our pathway to
immortal bliss- if we would reach the happy shores of Immanuel's Land- let
us follow the advice of the Apostle. "The night is nearly over; the day is
almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor
of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and
drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and
jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not
think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature."
What a glorious reward is held forth to him who is true to the cause of
Christ throughout his pilgrimage on earth! "Remain faithful even when facing
death, and I will give you the crown of life." O what unutterable bliss
awaits the faithful follower of Jesus in that eternal, glorious world toward
which they are daily advancing!
And how much is there in the Holy Scriptures to animate us in struggling
amid the sorrows and conflicts of the Christian course! They tell us that
all the riches and glories of the heavenly Canaan are to be enjoyed through
the ceaseless ages of eternity, by those who have overcome by the blood of
the Lamb. The cheering language of the Savior is– "To him who overcomes, I
will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise
of God." "He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death." "To
him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give
him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who
receives it." "He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will
never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name
before my Father and his angels." "Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in
the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the
name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which
is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my
new name." "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my
throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne." "He
who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my
"Oft as I look upon the road
That leads to yonder blest abode,
I feel distressed and fearful;
So many foes the passage throng,
I am so weak and they so strong,
How can my soul be cheerful?
But when I think of him whose power,
Can save me in a trying hour,
And place on Him reliance,
My soul is then ashamed of fear;
And though ten thousand foes appear,
I'll bid them all defiance.
The dangerous road I then pursue,
And keep the glorious prize in view,
With joyful hope elated;
Strong in the Lord, in Him alone,
Where he conducts, I follow on,
With ardor unabated.
O Lord, each day renew my strength,
And let me see your face at length,
With all your people yonder;
With them in heaven your love declare,
And sing your praise forever there,
With gratitude and wonder."