Come Up Higher
By Michele Bester
Eagle Christian Ministries International
Not too long ago, as I was worshipping the Lord in song during my quiet time, He sang to me:
Come up, come up, says the Spirit of the Lord, and I will show you the wisdom of the ages….
This morning, He has brought me back to that one stanza again. So I ask: Lord, what do you want to say about this today?
For us to come up means that we are lower to begin with. It means that we must ascend, and in the process of doing so we
elevate ourselves above our current position. If we think about this from a position of standing on the ground facing a ladder,
anything that is on the current level becomes put under our feet as we step up one rung higher.
This becomes philosophically quite interesting to think about. Let’s make a scenario. There are ten people in a group, all
with no education. The ladder is the ladder of education. Rung One is high school, Rung Two is college, and Rung Three is
graduate school. Eight of the ten people step up on to rung one and complete the curricula for a high school diploma. As
they step up, they are also stepping away from the other two people. They are now forever separate and above these others
educationally because of the step they took.
The eight who are in high school together become best friends. At the end of this season, a decision must be made to
educationally advance or not. Out of the eight, four decide to step up on to the next rung of college. These four must make a
decision to leave their current lives and friendships behind for the sake of something new and hopefully something better.
Four years later, these four students face the same decision again. Only one makes the decision to step up and away again,
going on to graduate school. This time, the decision comes at a greater cost, with much more study, dedication, and effort
required to obtain a Masters.
Each level requires its own level of dedication and effort on the student’s part to complete. In each case, to go to the next level
requires acquisition of a certain set of knowledge skills before advancement can be made. The acquisition is tested and
documented for its accuracy, reality, and practical application. In other words, the knowledge must be demonstrated. If one
does not obtain and demonstrate a certain required proficiency level, they will be held back while their friends move on.
How does this same concept or scenario apply to us spiritually? Before we became Christians, we were on the ground. That
is the good news about faith in God. We all start at the same place. It doesn’t matter your race, color, educational
background, family background, nationality, or standing in society: it’s all a level playing field with all being sinners,
separated from God. We are not born Christians, and being born into a pastor’s family or the like does not automatically put
us up on the first rung. We must all individually make and actively take the decision to step up onto the rung of eternal life
through faith in and confession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
When we take this step, we make a decision to separate ourselves out from the rest of the populace. In other words, we
make a quality decision to step up and away from the ground, which elevates us above those still standing on the ground. In
making this decision, we might have to step away from and leave behind lifestyles, thoughts, behaviors, friends, and maybe
even family. Once we step up, the training at Rung One begins.
So life as a Christian is much like that educational ladder. Every rung represents a season or cycle in our lives; a time
ordained by God during which Holy Spirit teaches us, advancing our knowledge, education, and understanding. He knows
what level we are on; He knows the techniques that He needs to use to impart wisdom and understanding and for learning to
take place; and He knows the knowledge base that must be obtained before we can move on to the next level.
A good question to ask ourselves personally then is: where are we on God’s ladder?
As Christians, we are to become more and more like Jesus Christ. There is a spiritual ladder that is reflected in the natural
with the feet being on the earth and the top rung being Jesus Christ. As born again Christians, our entire life here on earth
and afterward in heaven is based on climbing that ladder, how we climb it, and how far up it we get. The farther up we go, the
closer to Jesus we get. The closer to Jesus you get, the hotter the purifying fire and the deeper revelation of whom He is.
One of two things then will happen: (1) the fire gets too hot and you decide purity is in conflict with your desires, so you either
stop climbing and just stay on the rung you are on or you step back down a rung toward earth and away from Jesus, or (2) the
process of purification and burning away your flesh just creates an increased, indescribable, overwhelming desire for more.
This is what Holy Spirit is saying when He invited me to “come up, and I will show you the wisdom of the ages.” Our life
becomes the journey of coming up that ladder, so that Holy Spirit can show us and reveal to us Jesus Christ for the purpose
of revealing Jesus Christ in us and through us.
This is what Paul is saying in 1 Cor 2:7-13 (MKJV):
"But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, which God has hidden, predetermining it before the world for our glory;
which none of the rulers of this world knew (for if they had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory). But as it is
written, 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those
who love Him.' But God has revealed them to us by His Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God.
For who among men knows the things of a man except the spirit of man within him? So also no one knows the things of God
except the Spirit of God. But we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit from God, so that we might know the
things that are freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but
which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual."
Climbing up a ladder is not necessarily easy. In the natural, I don’t like heights very much. I get my feet too far off the ground
and I get a little nervous. I’m concerned about falling and hurting myself. So, in the natural, I tend to stick close to the ground.
Rung five or six of a twenty rung ladder is far enough for me!
How many of us are like this in the spiritual? The farther up we go, the farther we get from the ground, which we don’t like very
much. We end up staying where it is “safer” and where there are more people, and where, if we do fall, it’s not quite as
The farther up we go the more work is required on our part to complete each level. When we are babies in the Lord, on the
bottom rung, Holy Spirit feeds us and teaches us as infants. As we grow, climb, and mature, He expects, like any good
educational instructor, more diligence, effort, cooperation, and attention to detail on our part. In addition, the higher we go, the
higher the degree of personal discipline required. There is much more independent study and research required to get your
Masters than your Bachelors. How many of us stop learning and growing, simply because we don’t want all that work?
After “passing” or “graduating” from the season we are in, each of us must make the decision as to whether we will stay
where we are or take on the next challenge. If we think about school, there is always a break between semesters, but then
school starts again, and it’s time to go back to work. However, it is always a choice to continue or to drop out or to go on to
the next degree.
Climbing the ladder of Christianity only ends when we get to the top, which is when we die physically and go on to be with the
Lord. The journey of becoming Christ-like is on-going, but too many people think they have already arrived and have stopped
the climb. As humans, and imperfect ones at that, we can never say that we have learned enough, changed enough, or
become holy enough. To do so puts us in the place of Jesus, claiming that as humans we are god and have no further need
of His input, counsel, help, or advice.
Our life should be a continual process of moving from glory to glory, which is possible only if we step up rung by rung, moving
closer to the Wisdom of the Ages. In the Old Testament, God called Moses and the Children of Israel to come up the
mountain to meet with Him, yet the Israelites refused. Although they may have said with their mouths that they wanted
relationship with the Lord, their actions said otherwise. They were content to be on the bottom rung – being “saved” as we
would call it today – while still enjoying their lives. They wanted, as the proverbial saying goes, to “have their cake and eat it
How many of us are still like this today? As Christians, do we come up on the Rung of Salvation, yet never graduate to the
next rung? The process of holiness and sanctification is a difficult, challenging, and sacrificial one: terms that we as
humans often tend to shy away from. Each rung that we go up brings us closer to the Lord, which is what we cry out for in our
prayers and our worship. But each rung that we go up also brings us closer to the holiness and purity of the Lord, and we
often can’t or don’t want to stand the heat that comes along with that.
I can tell you from experience that the process of sanctification and holiness is not a comfortable, easy one. As humans, we
have many pre-conceived notions, ideas, and judgments that are not scripturally based. We have many habits and behaviors
that we have learned, adopted, or took on from our culture, from our family, from our friends, from the media, from demonic
influences, and even from our churches and pastors that are not of God. It often becomes a wrestling match with Holy Spirit
as His truth comes in full contact with the sin and deception in our minds and hearts. The strongholds that have been
established there do not give way easily. They will cause you to actively resist listening to and obeying the voice of Holy Spirit.
Notice that it is not that we can’t hear Him; the wrestling is over who we will listen to and obey in the end.
However, discerning the voice of Holy Spirit is also not always as easy as I would like it to be either. There are three sources
for the voices we hear: our flesh, satan’s kingdom, and God’s Kingdom. In the Gospels, it is evident that satan knows the
Word of God better than we do, so just because you hear something biblical does not mean it is from God. Satan also knows
your fleshly desires, and he has a tendency to take the Word of God, whether it is in the form of the Bible or prophecy spoken
to you, twist it just enough to make anything acceptable to you, and speak that to you. We can’t always go on whether
something “feels” right to us, because what we may be feeling is what our flesh wants, not what is God’s best for us.
In Galatians 5:16-18, Paul speaks about this same thing. He says, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the
desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the
sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” (NIV) This is quite interesting. Paul
says, you do not do what YOU want…in other words, what the flesh wants to do, which satan and his cohorts appeal to…but
you do what YOU don’t want to do, but what the Spirit wants. This is the true challenge of the Christian’s life, and one we face
every single day. This is one of the reasons why Jesus tells us that we must daily take up our cross and follow Him…daily
sacrifice our flesh and let the Spirit rule.
Again, this is not an easy thing to do, and it is not a pain free thing to do. Yet that is what we look for it to be. We want Father
God and Holy Spirit to come in and do all the work. For Jesus, the process of taking up His cross was terribly painful. His
flesh was ripped and torn apart. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He made a decision by an act of His will that no matter the
pain to His flesh, He would let the Spirit rule and obey Father God.
Now, many Christians might say, “well, Jesus’ flesh was ripped and torn so mine doesn’t have to be.” That would be a
misappropriation of scripture to justify no pain and no effort on their part. Jesus’ flesh was ripped and torn so that we can be
saved and restored back to right relationship with the Father. Man still has and always will have free will, and God expects for
us to fight against the evil in our own lives and triumphantly overcome evil ourselves through the indwelling power, wisdom,
and enablement of Holy Spirit. In Revelation, it is recorded that they overcame by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of their
testimony. As Christians, we are to reproduce and display the virtues of Jesus Christ to this world, which includes personal
testimonies, and which can only be gained through testing, trial, and overcoming personally. Paul states this same
sentiment in Galatians 5:24-25: “Those who belong to Christ have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Paul is clearly saying that Jesus did not crucify our sinful nature,
but that we must crucify it ourselves with the assistance of Holy Spirit.
David echoes this same importance of Holy Spirit in this process in his cry to the Lord in Psalm 51 after his unfaithfulness
with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah. When Nathan the prophet came and spoke with David, Holy Spirit came and brought
conviction to David of his wrongdoing. As a result, David was capable of coming to the Lord with a heart full of true
repentance and desire to change. Verses 6-12 (NIV) read, “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom
in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy
and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me
a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from
me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
God’s desire and aim and sometimes only seeming vision is to transform each one of us into the image of His Son. The
Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father: completely, wholeheartedly, unreservedly, obediently, perfectly. That is
the image that we are to be and are being transformed in to, and it only comes from coming up the ladder step by step. I
heard a saying once which is absolutely true in my book: God is more concerned about our character than our comfort.
God loves each one of His children, each one of His creation, but He sees us by looking through Jesus Christ to us. I
suppose it’s like looking through a magnifying glass so the image of what you see changes. He sees what He created us to
be as He imagined us, and He sees us the way we are every day of our lives. Thinking of the ladder with the feet on the earth
and the top at Jesus, the feet represents our fleshly nature, desires, and responses and the top represents life complete in
the Spirit. Every step we take up that ladder, then, represents another victory of stripping away the flesh and living more for the
Lord than for ourselves.
The problem is, as anyone who has climbed heights knows, that the higher you go, the steeper the climb. Jesus said that
the gate and the way to life is narrow, but broad is the gate and the path that leads to death. Many are those, unfortunately
even including professing “Christians”, who fall into the latter category instead of the former. It takes time, dedication,
strength, training, the right clothing, the right nutrition, and the right navigation to get from the foot of a mountain to the
Too many Christians are happy and content to play in the meadow’s pool at the foot of the mountain rather than work, sweat,
push, and stumble and get bruised, tired, hungry, hot, cold, wet, dry, and maybe even ticks and poison ivy to come up higher.
They think that what they have is great, not understanding the real reward that is in store for those who diligently push toward
To really climb that mountain, to come up the ladder to Jesus, part of ourselves must be left behind. Habits must change, as
well as ways of thinking. Many of our ways of thinking and being are a direct result of what is accepted within society or what
is passed down culturally, but many of these ways are not of God. If you decide to make the journey up the ladder, most
people in your life will not understand, because they themselves are not willing to “go for it.” They will discourage you, make
fun of you, entice you back to your old way of life, or even reject you. To go up, to come up higher, requires stepping up and
away from that life that you are living at that period of time. And this concept never changes. If you make the decision to climb,
there will always be those around you that are family and/or friends who don’t want to go the next step up. Many people
unfortunately never end up climbing, simply because they cannot stand the pain and isolation of rejection or the pain of
leaving loved ones behind.
In the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the angels of the Lord told Lot and his wife to flee for their lives, not look back, nor stop
anywhere along the way, otherwise they would be destroyed. Lot’s wife looked back and was destroyed. She really didn’t
want to step up and away from the life she had there. Too many times Christians are the same way. We want to co-habit the
Lord with our drinking, smoking, gambling, lying, cheating, stealing, sexual perversion, idolatry, witchcraft, etc. We want
eternal life, but we want our life while on earth our way.
God said, “Come up, come up and I will show you the wisdom of the ages.” We must not only be willing but take the
necessary steps to step up higher. If we will, Holy Spirit will meet us there and begin the training, equipping, changing,
removing, refining, and testing necessary for us to move on to the next step, and the next, and the next. The goal is to reveal
Jesus to us and in the process through us.
The higher we get, the purer the air. The higher we get, the farther removed we get from our life before, and eventually things
that used to be important no longer are. The higher we get, our vision changes, and we begin to see a beautiful landscape
as we rise above the trees. The eagle knows and understands that if he gets above the storm clouds, there is a place of
tranquility and peace.
“Come up, come up and I will show you the wisdom of the ages.” In the book of Proverbs, twenty-five out of thirty-one books
reference wisdom: the importance thereof and the difference between God’s wisdom and man’s wisdom. The Webster’s
Dictionary defines wisdom as “good judgment, that comes from knowledge and experience in life; learning, knowledge.”
In Acts 7:49, God says “heaven is my throne and earth is my footstool.” A footstool is at the bottom, so again we can see the
imagery of the foot of the ladder on earth with the top of the ladder being in heaven, ending at Jesus. I have referenced this as
the ladder of Christianity, but it can also be seen as the ladder of true wisdom, because Jesus is wisdom. Jesus is the Alpha
and Omega, the beginning and the end. He was there in the beginning and will always be. He has not just good judgment
(which is defined as wisdom), but the best and perfect judgment, because He is life, and no other being, including human,
can say the same thing.
God is calling us to come up higher, to step beyond mediocrity; to step beyond cultural beliefs, biases, and influences; to step
beyond ourselves; to step away from all that we’ve known or think we’ve known and seek Him. “Come up, come up and I will
show you the wisdom of the ages.” If we are willing to make the effort to come up, Holy Spirit will show us the Wisdom of the
Ages: Jesus Christ. We must be willing, when Holy Spirit comes with conviction of our sins – no matter how we have
understood what we have done in the past and why – to let that conviction penetrate our pride, arrogance, and self-
righteousness instead of letting that conviction bounce off us like an arrow bouncing off a shield.
Proverbs 1:20-33 (MKJV) says,
"Wisdom cries outside; she utters her voice in the streets; she cries in the chief place of gathering, in the openings of the gates;
in the city she utters her words, saying, How long will you love simplicity, simple ones? And will scorners delight in their
scorning? And will fools hate knowledge? Turn at my warning; behold, I will pour out my Spirit to you; I will make my words
known to you. Because I called, and you refused; I stretched out my hand, and no one paid attention; but you have despised
all my advice, and would have none of my warning. I also will laugh at your trouble; I will mock when your fear comes; when
your fear comes as a wasting away, and your ruin comes like a tempest when trouble and pain come upon you. Then they
shall call upon me, and I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me; instead they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of Jehovah. They would have none of my counsel; they despised all my correction, and they shall
eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own desires. For the turning away of the simple kills them, and the ease of
fools destroys them. But whoever listens to me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil."
There is a clarion call going out and it is time we listen to and seek the voice of Wisdom. Disaster upon disaster has been
increasing across the world. God has warned and warned again through the voice of His prophets, but the world – including
many churches and many Christians – have not listened. God promises that if we turn at His warning, He will pour out His
Spirit to us and He will make His Words – even Jesus, because He is the Word – known to us.
God promises in Proverbs 2:1-11 the following benefits of wisdom:
"My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to
understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it
as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives
wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to
those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and
fair – every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect
you, and understanding will guard you."
The benefits of gaining wisdom are conditional: if. If you accept my words...If you store up my commands…If you turn your
ear…If you apply your heart…If you call out…If you cry aloud…If you look for it…If you search for it, then and only then will you
understand and find. God has already made wisdom – made Jesus and made Holy Spirit – available to us. We just need to
do our part, which is all active action verbs.
It requires effort on our part, just as physically stepping up a ladder takes effort and conscious thought and action on our part.
It also takes the coordination of many body parts and functions to step up. We involve our brain to think about it; our nerves to
send impulses to the body part to move; muscles to relax and lengthen and opposite muscles to contract and shorten; blood
vessels to bring additional blood supply in and remove waste products from muscle usage; bones being strong enough to
bear the weight load; and so on. So it is in the natural; so it is in the spiritual. It is the combination of many actions coming
together that allow us to step up higher toward Christlikeness.
It takes diligence and perseverance, but the rewards are well worth it. For the Lord gives wisdom – gives Jesus – and from
Jesus’ mouth comes knowledge and understanding. Jesus holds victory. Jesus is our shield. Jesus guards our way. When
we seek and gain Jesus, when He enters our heart, only then do we understand what is right and just and fair. Not as the
world sees what is right and just and fair, but what God sees.
Let us today make the quality decision to come up higher, to seek the Lord while He may still be found, and find what awaits
at the end of the ladder.