The Fire of Hell, and the Gnashing of Teeth

The Fire of Hell, and the Gnashing of Teeth

Infernal fire or love comes from the same origin as heavenly fire or love, namely, from the sun of heaven or the Lord; but it is made infernal by those who receive it. For all influx from the spiritual world varies according to reception, or according to the forms into which it flows; not differently from the heat and light from the sun of the world. The heat flowing thence into plantations and gardens produces vegetation, and also brings forth grateful and delicious odours; and the same heat flowing into excrementitious and cadaverous substances produces putrefaction, and draws forth noisome and disgusting stenches. So the light from the same sun produces in one subject beautiful and charming colours, in another those that are ugly and disagreeable. It is the same with the heat and light from the sun of heaven, which is love. When the heat or love thence flows into goods,—as in good men and spirits, and in angels,—it renders their goods fruitful; but when it flows into the wicked it produces a contrary effect, for their evils either suffocate or pervert it. So with the light of heaven; when it flows into the truths of good it gives intelligence and wisdom; but when it flows in into the falsities of evil, it is there turned into insanities and fantasies of various kinds. Thus everywhere the effect is according to reception.

Infernal fire being the love of self and of the world is therefore every lust which comes of those loves; since lust is the love in its continuity, for what the man loves he continually lusts after. And it is likewise delight; for what the man loves or lusts after, when he obtains it he perceives to be delightful, nor is delight of heart communicated to the man from any other source. Infernal fire, therefore, is the lust and delight which stream forth from these two loves as their origins. (HH n. 569, 570)

Since by infernal fire is meant every lust to do evil which flows from the love of self, therefore by the same fire is also meant such torment as there is in the hells. For the lust from that love is a lust to injure others who do not honour, venerate, and worship them; and in proportion to the anger thence conceived, and the hatred and vindictiveness from anger, is the lust of venting their rage upon them. And when there is such a lust in every one, in a society where they are coerced by no external restraints,—which are fear of the law, and of the loss of reputation, of honour, of gain, and of life,—there every one, out of his own evil, rushes upon another, and in so far as he is able subjugates and subjects. the rest to his dominion; and with delight raves against those that do not submit. This delight is closely connected with the delight of tyrannous rule, insomuch that they exist in a similar degree; for the delight of inflicting injury is inherent in enmity, envy, hatred, and vindictiveness, which, as was said above, are the evils of that love. All the hells are such societies. Every one there bears hatredgainst others therefore in his heart; and as far as he is able, from hatred breaks forth into cruelties. These cruelties and the torments from them are also meant by infernal fire; for they are the effects of lusts. (ibid. n. 573)

The gnashing of teeth is the continual disputing and combating of falsities, and consequently of those who are in falsities, with each other, joined also with contempt of others, with enmity, derision, mockery, and blaspheming; which evils likewise burst forth into violent assaults of various kinds; for every one fights for his own falsity and calls it truth. These disputings and combatings are heard without those hells as the gnashings of teeth; and are actually turned into gnashings of teeth, when truths from heaven flow in there. In these hells are all those who have acknowledged nature and denied the Divine [Being]; those who have confirmed themselves in such acknowledgment and denial are in profounder hells. These, because they can receive nothing of light from heaven, and can therefore inwardly see nothing within themselves, are for the most part sensual-corporeal spirits, or such as believe nothing but what they see with their eyes and touch with their hands. Hence all the fallacies of the senses to them are truths; and it is from these that they dispute. It is from this cause that their disputes are heard as the gnashings of teeth; for in the spiritual world all falsities are grating, and teeth correspond to the ultimate things in nature, and also to the ultimate things in man, which are sensual-corporeal things. That there is gnashing of teeth in the hells may be seen in Matt. viii. 12; xiii. 42, 50; xxii. 13; xxiv. 51. (ibid. n. 575)

The Nature of Self-Love

The Nature of Self-Love

I wondered at first why it is that the love of self and the love of the world are so diabolical, and that they who are in those loves are such monsters to look upon; since in the world little thought is given to self-love, but only to that puffed-up state of mind [animus] outwardly manifest which is called pride, and which alone is believed to be self-love, because it appears to the sight. Moreover self-love, when it does not so inflate itself, is believed in the world to be the fire of life, by which a man is incited to seek employment, and to perform uses, in which unless a man saw honour and glory his mind would grow torpid. Who, it is said, has done any worthy, useful, and distinguished action, but for the sake of being celebrated and honoured by others, or in the minds of others? And whence is this but from the ardour of love for glory and honour, consequently for self? It is therefore unknown in the world that self-love in itself regarded is the love that rules in hell, and which produces hell in man.

The love of self consists in a man’s wishing well to himself alone, and to no others except for the sake of himself,—not even to the church, his country, or any human society; as also in doing good to them for the sake of his own reputation, honour, and glory; which unless he sees in the uses he performs to others, he says in his heart, What does it concern me? What does it concern me? Why should I do this? Of what advantage is it to me? And so he lets it pass. Whence it is evident that one who is in the love of self neither loves the church, nor his country, nor society, nor any use, but himself alone. His delight is only the delight of the love of self; and as the delight that comes from his love constitutes the life of a man, his life is a life of self; and a life of self is a life from a man’s proprium, and the proprium of man, in itself regarded, is nothing but evil. He who loves himself loves also his own; who in particular are his children and grandchildren; and in general, all who make one with him, whom he calls his own. To love these is also to love himself; for he looks upon them in himself, as it were, and himself in them. Among those whom he calls his are also all who praise, honour, and reverence him. (HH n. 555, 556)

Such indeed is the nature of the love of self, that in so far as the reins are given to it, that is, in so far as external restraints are removed,—which are the fear of the law and its penalties, and of the loss of reputation, of honour, of gain, of employment, and of life,—in so far it rushes on, until at length it not only desires to rule over the whole terrestrial globe, but also over the whole heaven, and over the Divine [Being] Himself. It has no limit or bound. This propensity lurks within every one who is in self-love, although it is not evident before the world, where the above-mentioned restrains keep it back. That this is so no one can fail to see in potentates and kings, with whom there are no such curbs and restraints; who, so far as they succeed in their purposes, rush on and subjugate provinces and kingdoms, and aspire after unlimited power and glory. That it is so is still more manifest from the Babylon of this day, which has extended its dominion to heaven, and transferred to itself all the Divine power of the Lord, and lusts continually for more. (ibid. n. 559)

Infernal Spirits are the Forms of their own Evils

Infernal Spirits are the Forms of their own Evils

Viewed in any light of heaven all the spirits in the hells appear in the form of their evil. Every one indeed is the image of his evil; for the interiors and exteriors with every one act as one, and the interiors visibly present themselves in the exteriors, which are the face, the body, the speech, and actions. Thus their character is reoognized as soon as they are seen. In general, they are forms of contempt of others; of menace against those who do not pay them respect; they are forms of hatred of various kinds; they are forms also of various kinds of revenge. Fierceness and cruelty from their interiors transpire through them; but when others commend, venerate, and worship them, their faces are contracted, and have an appearance of gladness from delight. It is impossible in a few words to describe all these forms such as they appear, for no one is like another. Only between those who are in similar evil and are therefore in a similar infernal society is there a general likeness, from which, as from a plane of derivation, the faces of the individuals therein appear to have a certain resemblance. Their faces in general are horrible, and void of life like corpses; those of some are black, of some fiery, like torches, of some hideous with pimples, warts, and ulcers; with many no face appears, but in its place a something hairy or bony, and with some only the teeth appear. Their bodies also are monstrous; and their speech is as the speech of anger, or of hatred, or of revenge; for every one speaks from his falsity, and the tone of his voice is from his evil. In a word, they are all images of their own hell. In what form hell itself is, in general, it has not been given me to see. I have only been told that as the universal heaven in one complex is as one man, so-the universal hell in one complex is as one devil, and may also be presented in the image of one devil. But it has often been given me to see in what form the hells or infernal societies in particular are; for at their apertures, which are called the gates of hell, there usually appears a monster, which in general represents the form of those that are within. The fierce passions of those that dwell there are at the same time represented by abominable and frightful [appearances], which I forbear to name. It should be understood however that such is the appearance of infernal spirits in the light of heaven; but among themselves they appear as men. It is of the Lord’s mercy, that their hideousness may not appear among themselves as it appears before the angels. But the appearance is a fallacy; for as soon as any ray of light from heaven is let in their human forms are turned into monstrous forms, such as they are in themselves, as described above. For in the light of heaven everything appears as it is in itself. Hence it is that they shun the light (lux)[See note, p. 152] of heaven, and cast themselves down into their own light (lumen); a light which is like the light from glowing coals, and in some places like that from burning sulphur. But even this light is turned into thick darkness, when any particle of light from heaven flows in there. Hence it is that the hells are said to be in thick darkness, and in darkness; and that thick darkness and darkness [in the Word] signify falsities from evil, such as are in hell.

From the contemplation of those monstrous forms of spirits in the hells,—which, as was said, are all forms of contempt of others, and of menace against those that do not pay them honour and respect, and forms of hatred and revenge against those that do not favour them,—it was evident that in general they were all forms of the love of self and the love of the world; and that the evils of which they are the specific forms derive their origin from those two loves. (HH n. 553, 554)

All in the Hells are in Evils and Falsities

All in the Hells are in Evils and Falsities

All who are in the hells are in evils and thence in falsities; and no one there is in evils and at the same time in truths. Very many of the evil in the world are acquainted with spiritual truths, which are truths of the church; for they have learned them in childhood, and then from preaching and from reading the Word, and afterwards have discoursed from them. Some have even induced others to believe that they were Christians in heart, because they knew how to discourse from truths with simulated affection, and also to act sincerely as if from spiritual faith. But such of them as have thought within themselves contrary to these truths, and have abstained from doing the evils agreeable to their thoughts only on account of the civil laws, and for the sake of reputation, honours, and gain, are all evil in heart, and are in truths and goods only as to the body, and not as to the spirit. When therefore the externals are taken away from them in the other life, and the internals which were of their spirit are revealed, they are entirely in evils and falsities, and not in any truths and goods; and it is then evident that truths and goods resided only in their memory, no otherwise than as things known; and that they brought them forth from thence in discourse, and made a pretence of good as if from spiritual love and faith. When such men are let into their internals, and so into their evils, they can no longer speak truths, but only falsities, since they then speak from evils; for to speak truths from evils is impossible, since the spirit is then nothing but his own evil, and falsity proceeds from evil. (HH n. 551)

The Lord casts no one into Hell, but the Spirit casts himself therein

The Lord casts no one into Hell, but the Spirit casts himself therein

An opinion has prevailed with some that God turns away His face from man, rejects him from Himself, and casts him into hell; and that He is angry with him on account of his evil; and by some it is still further supposed that God punishes man and brings evil upon him. They confirm themselves in this opinion from the literal sense of the Word, where such things are declared, —not being aware that the spiritual sense of the Word, [See pp. 141, 172, note] which explains the sense of the letter, is entirely different; and that therefore the genuine doctrine of the church, which is from the spiritual sense of the Word, [See p. 409, note] teaches otherwise; namely, that God never turns away his face from man and rejects him from Himself, that He casts no one into hell, and is angry with no one. This in fact any one whose mind is in a state of illustration when he reads the Word perceives, from this consideration alone, that God is Good itself, Love itself, and Mercy itself; and that Good itself cannot do evil to any one, and Love itself and Mercy itself cannot reject man from them,—because it is contrary to the very essence of mercy and love, thus contrary to the Divine itself. (HH n. 545)

Evil in man is hell in him; for whether we speak of evil or of hell, it is the same. Now since man is in the cause of his Sown evil, he therefore, and not the Lord, brings himself into hell; for so far is the Lord from bringing man into hell that He delivers him from hell, in the degree that a man does not will and love to be in his evil. All man’s will and love remains with him after death; he who in the world wills and loves an evil, wills and loves the same evil in the other life; and then he no longer suffers himself to be withdrawn from it. Hence it is that a man who is in evil is bound to hell, and even, as to his spirit, is actually there; and after death he desires nothing more than to be where his evil is. A man therefore casts himself into hell after death, and not the Lord. (HH n. 547)

The wicked thrust themselves into hell not instantaneously, but successively. This fact originates in a universal law of the order established by the Lord; that the Lord never casts any one into hell, but that evil itself, or an evil man thrusts himself into hell; and this he does successively, until his evil is consummated, and there no longer appears anything of good. So long as anything of good remains he is lifted out of hell; and when there is nothing left but evil he is plunged by himself into hell. The one must first be separated from the other, for they are opposed to each other; and to hang in suspense between the one and the other is not permitted. (AC n. 1857)

A Search for the Truth

A Search for the Truth

Posted: 24 Jan 2014 04:00 AM PST

Don’t take the truth for granted. Keep looking for it and living it. Doug shares the story of how he came to find the work of Emanuel Swedenborg and the truth he found there. He encourages everyone who has these truths to use them and share them – you never know whose life will be changed by them. -Editor

Christianity has over the centuries been corrupted by false doctrines and traditions. As it is now, much of it is based on false premises: there is a tritheistic definition of God, where He is divided between three persons, many are taught that they just have to believe and do nothing, many do not believe in an afterlife and await some future resurrection, and there is no logical foundation for defining what portions of scripture are Divinely inspired or not. The Church is divided. Anyone who examines this will see the problem, and most churches are unable to address it. The end result is that many have left the Church. They either become a “spiritual independent,” or become a secular materialist, or if they keep looking will be tempted by other false ideologies or religions. This is what I discovered when I first started asking questions and not accepting to believe things blindly. There is a lot of darkness and uncertainty out there.

For those who follow the theology of the New Church, they experience none of this spiritual uncertainty: the new revelation explains the doctrines of Christianity in a logical and rational manner, and explains where the major denominations have erred. However, for those who are unaware of the revelations given to Emanuel Swedenborg, when one begins to see the problems with Christianity it can lead to doubt, uncertainty, and even outright denial. And this does not just apply to the congregations, it applies to even ministers who secretly harbor these doubts. I went through this period of doubtful searching for many years, and at times it was very distressful. When I was twelve, I had been a Christian for a while, but when I asked the question, “Exactly how did Jesus Christ save humanity?” I did not have an answer. The theology of salvation by vicarious atonement not only did not make any sense, it was irrational and immoral. So at that time I opened the Bible, and came up with a similar doctrine to what is taught in the New Church—how Jesus conquered sin, until the Holy Spirit became available to humanity. Not as detailed as what Swedenborg describes, but enough of it is there in the New Testament.

Later, I looked at the closed Bible on the shelf, and thought, I better start reading it more to determine what the Church is teaching is correct. I had at one time decided to read the entire Bible, but when I hit the book of Leviticus, my thought was, “this has got to be the most incredibly boring book I have ever read.” This book was weird—why such detail in how to sacrifice an animal? I then skipped to the book of Revelation, and fell in love with the symbolic imagery of that book. But as I started to take a look at the Bible, the first problem I started to address was how do we prove this is Divinely Inspired? I wanted a strong logical and rational foundation. If you ask the Catholic Church, they will say, “Because we told you so.” And that is what we know as a logical error as “Argument from Authority” (Argumentum ab auctoritate). I knew the Bible was not completely correct, as the apostle Jude made a scriptural quote from the apocryphal book of Enoch. This was not a problem I could completely solve.

At this point, I thought let’s move on and try to prove the existence of God. That was a bit of a bigger problem. Where to start? The problem was with any logical proof, you must begin with a set of assumptions that can never be proven. Those assumptions must be taken based on “faith.” So I decided, let’s start with a proof that has some physical or witness evidence. There are two things that modern science denies: there is no such thing as prophecy, where one knows the future, and there is no such thing as the afterlife. I would periodically scan bookstores, diving into the New Age section. I had also gathered books on ancient symbolism. Here my research had a bit of success. There is documented proof that periodically some people have had visions of the future. Ordinary people have precognitive dreams every day. For the afterlife, I discovered the Near Death Experience (or NDE), and research in this is ongoing. One of the books was Life After Life, by Raymond Moody, M.D. And in a brief chapter, he mentioned this person I never heard of, Emanuel Swedenborg, who had described the NDE in the 18th century. At that time there was no internet. So I made a mental note to check up on this person when I had access to a bigger library. Around this time I had also started to keep a journal of dreams. In one dream, I had asked God to just show me what was the real truth. I was in darkness, and a door began to open. Behind the door this tremendous light was beginning to shine through, behind it I felt was heaven. But just as the door began to open, I awoke.

I began to question myself—with all the divisions within the Christian Church, where is the “one true” Church? Why in the past two millennia has there been no revelation? A trinity of three persons was an obvious error. And the thought came to me, that all people assume that the religion they were born in is the one truth, and do not question it. So I decided to not make that assumption: instead, I decided to assume that most everything I knew was false, and to search for the truth wherever it led me. This led to me leaving the Church, and several years of searching, and there were many, many dead ends and disappointments. I was no longer willing to box my mind in with teachings for which we did not know the validity. Many should know this is a hard step to take: we all like to think we know everything, that we are always right. Few will take the step that what they know or believe might be wrong. A willingness to admit that what we know or do is wrong is distressful. But it is a necessary step to take in order to reach the truth. To a certain extent, I would say it is always healthy to maintain a certain sense of agnosticism and not be so fixed on a particular mindset.

This uncertain search continued until the day I was in a university library, and remembered that reference to Swedenborg. I decided to look up that author and pick up his book. To my amazement, the list of books went on for several pages in the library catalog. One, True Christian Religion, was readily available so I decided to pick that one up and start reading it. I thought, for sure, as with many New Age religions Swedenborg was going to say that Jesus Christ was just a “good teacher” of some sort. Once he made that error I was going to close that book. To my surprise, not only did he declare that Jesus was Jehovah in human form, but he also solved the problem of the Trinity. I was totally shocked. It is very hard for me to describe that moment, for a great weight had been lifted. There was also sadness, because for many years I did not properly acknowledge Jesus for who He was—because without this knowledge, people pray to the Father for the sake of the Son, sort of bypassing Jesus. It reminded me of the passage, “They shall look on him whom they pierced” (John 19:37). My reaction was, this book is worth more to me than its weight in gold. I felt that I had discovered a great treasure, something kept secret from many. A host of other issues were resolved, and after further research, there was just no conceivable way he thought of this on his own. He was being guided to reveal these spiritual truths, to show us who God is: it is important to love, for He is love itself, and came to us in human form.

And that was just the beginning. I have encountered many other surprises along the way. I know people who still have visions and dreams similar to what Swedenborg describes, but they typically keep this private. The symbolism that Swedenborg describes is universal, and I often use it to interpret dreams. After I began to study Swedenborg I had another dream: I saw a doorway in front of me. I then heard a booming voice: WELCOME MY CHILD, TO THE MIRROR OF TRUTH. The doorway then changed into a full length mirror, and I saw a true reflection of myself. The mirror shimmered and turned into liquid, and I walked right through it. Behind the mirror was a huge labyrinth of stone walls, with many passageways and directions. On the walls were endless passages of writing – different letters, which I thought was from the Bible, revealing certain secrets. As I started to read the letters I then awoke. I have been wandering in the labyrinth ever since.

My point is here, do not take the truths that you know for granted. Try to live them, for then they become life changing. They have great value, and many are still seeking for these answers. Share with others. Many will reject them, but here and there a light bulb will turn on for those who are ready.

Doug Webber
Doug is an IT Director for a U.S. financial company, and in the past has been a contractor for the U.S. military. He has a degree in Near Eastern Studies from U.C. Berkeley, as well as another degree in Software Engineering. He is the author of the book The Decoded Prophecies of Nostradamus, and in 1994 appeared as a subject matter expert on the CBS documentary, Mysteries of the Ancient World. He has published the entire works of Emanuel Swedenborg in a digital e-book, The Divine Revelation of the New Jerusalem, where all the references are hyperlinked for easy reference (standard edition:, expanded edition: His blog on spiritual topics can be found at


The Lord governs the Hells

The Lord governs the Hells

It shall be briefly stated how the hells are governed by the Lord. The hells in general are governed by a general influx of Divine good and Divine truth from the heavens, whereby the general effort issuing forth from the hells is checked and restrained; and likewise by a special afflux from each heaven, and from each society of heaven. The hells in particular are governed by angels, to whom it is given to look into the hells, and restrain the insanities and disturbances there; sometimes also angels are sent thither, and being present moderate them. And in general all who are in the hells are governed by their fears; some by fears implanted and yet in them from the world; but as these fears are not sufficient, and also by degrees lose their force, they are governed by fears of punishment. By these principally they are deterred from doing evils. The punishments in hell are manifold, more gentle and more severe, according to the evils. For the most part the more malignant, who excel in cunning and artifice, and are able to keep the rest in submission and servitude by punishments and the terror of punishments, are set over others. These rulers do not dare to pass beyond the limits prescribed to them. It should be known that the fear of punishment is the only means of restraining the violence and fury of those who are in the hells. There is no other means.

It has hitherto been believed in the world that there is some one devil who presides over the hells; and that he was created an angel of light, but afterwards became rebellious, and was cast down with his crew into hell. This belief has prevailed because in the Word mention is made of the Devil and Satan, and also of Lucifer, and the Word has been understood in these passages according to the sense of the letter. When yet by the Devil and Satan hell is there meant; by the Devil the hell which is behind, and where the worst dwell, who are called evil genii,’ and by Satan the hell which is in front, where they are not so malignant, and are called evil spirits; by Lucifer they are meant who are of Babel or Babylon,[See p. 611]—who are those that extend their dominion even into heaven. That there is no one Devil to whom the hells are subject is evident indeed from the fact that all who are in the hells, as all who are in the heavens, are from the human race; and that, from the beginning of creation to the present time, there are myriads of myriads there, and every one of them is a devil of such character as he had acquired in the world, by opposition to the Divine. (HH n. 543, 544)

The Origin of Evil and of Hell


The Origin of Evil and of Hell

IT is plain from the first chapter of Genesis,–where it is said (v. 10, 12, 18, 21, 25), “God saw that it was good,” and finally (v. 31), “God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good,”—and also from the primeval state of man, in Paradise, that everything that God created was good. And it is plain from the second state of Adam, or that after the fall,—in that he was cast out of Paradise,—that evil arose from man. From these facts it is clear that if man had not been gifted with free will in spiritual things, God Himself, and not man, would have been the cause of evil, and thus that God must have created both good and evil. It is impious to think that He also created evil. That God did not, because He endued man with free agency in spiritual things, create evil, and that He never inspires any evil into man, is because He is good itself; and in this God is omnipresent, and continually urges and entreats that He may be received. And if He is not received yet He does not withdraw; for if He should withdraw man would instantly die, nay, would lapse into nonentity; for man’s life and the subsistence of all things of which he consists, is from God. The cause of the fact that God did not create evil, but that man introduced it is, that man turns into evil the good which continually flows in from God, by turning himself away from God and turning to himself; and when this is done the delight of good remains, and this then becomes the delight of evil. For without a remaining delight, apparently similar, man could not live; since delight constitutes the life of his love. (TCR n. 490)

The author gives the following further explanation of the origin of evil, in a conversation with certain angels from. the heaven of innocence, who, having been removed from the world in infancy, were ignorant of and doubted the existence of evil. Being asked by them to explain, how a love could exist which not only was not from creation, but is contrary to creation, he says:—

I rejoiced in heart that it was given me to speak with angels of such innocence, . . . . and I opened my mouth and said:—”Do you not know that there is good and evil, and that good, and not evil, is from creation? And yet evil in itself regarded is not nothing, although it is nothing of good. Good is from creation, and there is good also in the greatest and least degree; and when the least becomes none, on the other side evil arises. There is therefore no relation nor progression of good to evil, but a relation and progression of good to more and less good, and of evil to more and less evil; for in each and all respects they are opposites. And since good and evil are opposites there is an intermediate, and an equilibrium there, in which evil acts against good; but as it does not prevail it abides in effort. Every man is nurtured in this equilibrium; which, as it is between good and evil, or what is the same, between heaven and hell, is a spiritual equilibrium, which brings liberty to those who are in it. From this equilibrium the Lord draws all to Himself; and the man who from freedom follows is led out of evil into good, and so into heaven.” . . . . The two angels asked, “How could evil arise when nothing but good had existed from creation? That anything may exist it must have an origin. Good cannot be the origin of evil; for evil is nothing of good. It is in fact privative and destructive of good. And yet it exists, and is felt. It is not nothing, but is something. Say, then, whence arises this something after nothing?” To this I responded:—”This mystery cannot be explained, unless it be known that there is none good but the Lord only; and that there is no good, which is good in itself, except from God. He therefore who looks to God, and desires to be led of God, is in good; but he who turns himself away from God, and wishes to be led of himself, is not in good. For the good that he does is either for the sake of himself, or on account of the world; thus it is either for the sake of reward, or it is simulated, or even hypocritical. From which it is plain that man himself is the origin of evil; that this origin was not introduced into man from creation, but that he introduced it into himself, by turning from God to himself. This origin of evil was not in Adam and his wife; but when the serpent said, “In the day that ye eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil ye shall be as God,” and they then turned away from God, and turned them to themselves as to a god, they made in themselves the origin of evil. To eat of that tree signified to believe that one knows and does good from himself, and not from God.” But the two angels then asked, “How could man turn away from God and turn to himself, when yet man can will, think, and therefore do nothing except from God?” But I answered, that man was so created that what he wills, thinks, and does, appears to him as in himself, and so from himself. Without this appearance man would not be man; for he could not receive, retain, and as it were appropriate to himself, anything of good and truth, or of love and wisdom. Whence it follows, that without this, as it were living appearance, man would have no conjunction with God, and therefore no eternal life. But if on account of this appearance he induces upon himself a belief that he wills, thinks, and therefore does good, from himself, and not from the Lord, —although in every appearance it is as from himself,—he turns good into evil within him, and so causes within himself the origin of evil. This was the sin of Adam. (CL n. 444)

Remembering the Lord’s Life

Remembering the Lord’s Life

Posted: 31 Jan 2014 04:00 AM PST

Coleman offers a critique for organized followers of the New Church to consider. Perhaps we under-emphasize a key part of the gospel. We may be much better equipped to “take up the cross and follow” if we reflect more often on the Lord’s work as He took up that cross and led. -Editor.

Go into any Baptist church this Sunday and I can virtually guarantee that you’ll hear about what the Lord did for you 2,000 years ago. In the New Church, we tend to focus much more on what the Lord does for us now. But I think we might be missing out. Because for whatever faults there might be in that Baptist church’s theology, there is one fundamental truth that will be taught there that has immense power: the Lord Jesus Christ loved the world enough – loved you and me enough – that He willingly laid down His life to make our salvation possible.

And how much more powerful is that truth within the context of the truths revealed in the Heavenly Doctrine: that that Jesus is the only God, that there is no angry Father behind Him, but that He and the Father are totally and completely one, that He wants nothing more than to forgive us – and that the problem that separates us from Him is not His unwillingness to look on us, but that we have turned our backs on Him. Listen: the universal faith of the New Church is that “the Lord from eternity, who is Jehovah, came into the world to subjugate the hells and to glorify His humanity; and that without this no mortal could have been saved, and those are saved who believe in Him” (True Christian Religion 2). The universal faith is almost entirely about what the Lord did for the human race 2,000 years ago – and because of that, what He can do for us now.

So let’s dedicate ourselves to spending more time in reflection on the Lord’s life. I speak to myself first and foremost. All religion is of life, and it is easier to see the practical application of truths that have to do with what I should do now and what the Lord is doing now. But the angels of heaven love to reflect and talk about the Lord’s glorification – the process by which He united His humanity with His divinity (see Arcana Coelestia 4259). They speak too about His kingdom, about the regeneration of man – but they do not lose sight of the fact that this event was the essential thing, and that our regeneration is only an imperfect reflection of it. We need that acknowledgment. We need the Lord’s life for our lives.

This perspective opens up the Word. Try reading the Psalms, and instead of putting yourself in the place of the psalmist, put the Lord there. Think of His struggle, His temptations – and His faith that because He fought from the infinite Divine Love that He called “Father” He could not fail:

“My power is dried up as a potsherd; and my tongue sticks to my jaws; and Thou hast set me on the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded me; the congregation of evildoers have encircled me; they pierced my hands and my feet…. But Thou, be not far, O Jehovah; O Thou my power, hurry to my help.” (Psalm 22:15,16, 19)
Those words are powerful when we think of them as applying to our own lives – but how much more powerful to know that the Lord Himself experienced those things, and overcame.

Think of what the Lord did: he underwent the worst temptations, worse spiritual pain than we can imagine. He conquered every time. And He did all of that, not at all for His own sake, but for you and me.

“In all His combats of temptations the Lord never fought from the love of self, or for Himself, but for all in the universe, consequently, not that He might become the greatest in heaven, for this is contrary to the Divine Love, and scarcely even that He might be the least; but only that all others might become something, and be saved.” (Arcana Coelestia 1812).

Think of the Lord’s life – that life of constant battle, but also that life of constant victory. Every minute, every second, battling back hell and putting it in its place, saying, “No!” to evil so strongly that even at the end, death had no power over Him. And then ask yourself – do you really think that if He was able to defeat death itself, to conquer every corner of hell, that He is not able to save you from your evil? If He was willing to say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” as He was being nailed to the cross – how could He not give you the power to forgive the guy who just cut you off in traffic? When we are fighting against evils, praying to Him for help, let’s pray specifically with a remembrance of how He lived, so that we can walk in His footsteps – that we carry our cross as He carried His, with the knowledge that in reality, it is He who is carrying ours, too.

Every day, we can take up our cross again, dying to selfishness, with the joy of knowing that the Lord will raise us up into life, because He has become life itself. Think of His life, think of His battle, think of His victory, and worship Him – who Has taken up all power and reigned. How great is the Lord! He has done great things for us, and we shall be glad.

Coleman Glenn
Rev. Coleman Glenn is the pastor of the Dawson Creek Church of the New Jerusalem in Dawson Creek, BC, where he lives with his wife Anne Grace and their two-month-old son, Samuel. He maintains a blog (when he manages to find time for it) at


Antichrist… but not as we’ve known it

Antichrist… but not as we’ve known it
by Lynette Woods
“The love of Christ controls and urges and impels us, because we are of the opinion and conviction that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, so that all those who live might live no longer to and for themselves, but to and for Him Who died and was raised again for their sake. Consequently, from now on we estimate and regard no one from a human point of view.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-16a)
The term “Anti-christ” when looked at in the Greek simply means any thing or any one who is in place of Christ or instead of Him in your life. The word ‘anti’ in the Greek does not just mean the opposite of something as it does in English, it also means INSTEAD OF, or IN PLACE OF – in other words, antichrist is not only that which is against Christ, but is also that which SUBSTITUTES itself for or instead of, Christ the Anointed One.
John was the only writer in the New Testament to use the phrase “antichrist” and he wrote that the spirit of antichrist was already here (1 John 2:18, 4:3). It seems that John’s concept of antichrist was not just of a person (THE antichrist) as he spoke of antichrists (plural) and the spirit of antichrist. The spirit of antichrist is that which opposes or places itself in the place of, or instead of The Anointed (Jesus Christ), usurping the role and functions which are His alone. This is idolatry, for idolatry is anything and everything that takes the place of, or is instead of Christ in a person’s life: “For as far as this world is concerned, you have died, and your new, real life is hid with Christ in God… So kill, deaden, deprive of power the evil desire lurking in your members – those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry, the deifying of SELF and other created things instead of God.” (Colossians 3:3,5).
So long as we are looking warily at others who may or may not be “antichrist”, we may be ignorant and blind to areas in ourselves which may be anti-Christ. It is a most devious and cunning deception to cause us to focus on someone or something “out there” while remaining completely blind or myopic when it comes to seeing the same sin in ourselves.
Anything that is in the place of or instead of something, is a substitute for the real thing, in other words: a counterfeit. We cannot see or know the real and genuine until we let go of the substitutes and illusions we cling to. Substitutes are normally not recognized for what they are until the real has been encountered. We can often be quite satisfied with a substitute, because it IS a substitute. “Trouble” only seems to arise when we encounter the real and genuine, because then the substitute is revealed for exactly what it is and will no longer suffice. When we know the real, then the substitute IS no substitute! We need to discern not whether something is a good thing (“from now on we estimate and regard no one from a human point of view”)but whether it is a God thing because there can be a world of difference between the two. Many of the natural “good things” which we may value, may in fact be antichrist – in place of Christ.
Compromise is Antichrist
One example is compromise and love. Compromise can be the substitute of divine Love (which includes bearing one another’s burdens, longsuffering, forbearance, endurance, lovingkindness). We may think that we are very loving of someone or something because we tolerate much which we do not condone and yet we may not realize that it is not God’s love at all, but a substitute: fleshly compromise. Compromise is encouraged these days as being Politically Correct, but compromise is based on the love of Self or others more than and rather than a deep love of God. We compromise when we fear man and so may not speak out about something because we do not want to offend or be maligned or rejected or thought ill of. Compromise is chosen because it looks good and feels good to our flesh. Divine Love, on the other hand, is based on love for God and of Godand so has mercy only on what He has mercy on. Love desires only what the Beloved desires, to the exclusion of its own desires. While divine Love lays down and sacrifices Self and its will in favor of God and His will, compromise has the opposite effect; it puffs up Self by making it think that it is acting in love when in reality it is acting from self-love which is only a substitute and counterfeit of God’s love.
Divine Love comes from God and cannot come from us; it is from Him and of Him and for Him. God hates compromise because it is an unholy mixture which does not and cannot distinguish, discern and separate between what is holy and what is unholy; what is of the flesh and what is of the Spirit; what is of God and what is of ourselves. Instead it cloaks itself in pseudo-spirituality, religion and good works in order to deceive and blind us and others to the fact that it is a mere substitute and not the real thing. Divine Love is not blind; it sees very clearly and will see the unholy and because God’s Love is holy, there is no compromise.
Natural Man is Antichrist
Perhaps one of the most devious substitutes in our lives is simply the natural man or Self; it is Self that wants to be in control and do things and make decisions, judgments, plans, methods, ways… even for God. Our intentions may be admirable but God is not impressed with anything that originates from Self. He sees and knows the motivations of our hearts even when we do not. Often it is OUR knowledge from OUR head that is ruling us and is anti (in place of) Christ in our life. We may not see this simply because it is idolatry; it is the idolizing of Self, and idolatry always blinds. The Bible is very clear that those who trust in idols, even unknowingly, become like them: blind, deaf and dumb. “The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the WORK of MEN’S hands. Idols have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; they have ears, but they hear not, nor is there any breath (spirit) in their mouths. THOSE WHO MAKE IDOLS ARE LIKE THEM; SO IS EVERYONE WHO TRUSTS IN AND RELIES ON THEM.” (Psalm 135:15-18). Closely related to worshiping the idol of Self is worshiping the idol of someone else. It may be someone who has much of Christ evident in their lives, it may be someone who has much wisdom and maturity. We so naturally and easily look towards others for those things which God wants to provide for through His Son and His Life, NO MAN must take the place of Christ in our lives.
Religion is Antichrist
One aspect of this idol of Self is religion, which includes self-righteousness and religiousity. It is a substitute that appeals to our flesh because it is again clothed in what appeals to us (things WE can do, say or help with and which may look good to others), and until and unless God unveils these things to us, we will not be able to see that they are a mere substitute in place of a vital, living, real relationship with our Father. The false is only revealed for what it is when the Real has been encountered. If you do not know the Real, then the false will seem perfectly adequate! Religion is a devious substitute because it LOOKS good, it looks as though God would be pleased with it, and it is all done in His name and ostensibly for His glory. But God’s ways are not our ways and He is interested in our hearts before He is ever interested in what we do, because if your heart is right, then your “doing” will also be right. Religion is antichrist because it claims to be for Christ and yet takes the place of Christ. It is for man rather than for God and it results in bondage which takes the place of our freedom in and with Christ.
Pride is Antichrist
When God through grace unveils Himself to us, He also begins to unveil who we are because both revelations are necessary and go hand in hand. If we have just a revelation of God and not of ourselves, then we are in danger of pride; and if we have just a revelation of who we are and not Who Christ is, then we are in danger of false humility (which is just another form of pride) because we don’t yet see ourselves through God’s eyes as redeemed and loved in Christ. Both of these unveilings are necessary and they balance one another.
We discover that there is only One Thing about us which satisfies the heart and will of our Father and that is Christ as Head of our lives and substituting HIS Life in place of ours. And this One Thing in our lives is not brought about by anything we have done but by everything HE has done so that none of us can boast or take pride in ourselves. You cannot have two lives. You cannot have two heads. You cannot have two hearts. You cannot have two bodies. We must die to ourselves in order to truly know Life in Christ and to have His Head, His heart and His Mind and His Life. This is resurrection Life; we die and yet we truly live!
Our Knowledge is Antichrist
We are so used to having Self and our life in place of Christ and His Life that we automatically rely upon ourselves and our own knowledge; even good, Biblical, spiritual knowledge. Our knowledge and reasoning and judgments can again be mere substitutes which take the place of the full knowledge of Christ. He does not want us just to know things about Him, but to truly KNOW Him intimately and we cannot begin to know Him until we understand that in and from ourselves we know nothing! We might be very sure that we are right and that we know something; but if that something has not come to us personally through Christ and our experience in intimate relationship with Him, then that knowledge may simply be from our flesh and therefore highly suspect.
Our enemy is so deceitful that he will not hesitate to use truth as well as lies to accomplish his purpose of bringing bondage and death. Using truth is far more deceptive to both us and others because we may see only the truth which we already know and in seeing only that, we lose sight of He Who is Truth personified! Truth given as a law brings death. The Truth will only live and bring Life when it is given IN the Life and IN the Way – Christ. He is Love and His Truth will always bring Life and Liberty. When Truth is shared and received in His time and in His Way then it is Life.  The three must go together, the Truth, Life and Way of Christ Who is Love.We are truly dumb, blind and deaf except for when Jesus touches us and heals us and causes us to see, speak and hear from His heavenly perspective, and then all that knowledge is of Him, from Him, and for Him!
Looking for Christ
While many may look for outward miracles of the deaf and blind being healed, let us never overlook the great unseen miracle of internal eyes being made to see, ears to hear and people being brought from death to Life in Christ! We are truly dead and lost until He finds us and resurrects us and then, and only then, do we truly live and know Life and know that we have been found! And in this finding and seeing and hearing, we find that in His amazing Love, He reveals and deals with the unholy mixture which has been so much a part of our natural lives…
“Pergamum… Here we have an awful state of mixture, contamination, compromise, entanglement with evil things. If we seek for the cause, we find that the church in Pergamum has not discriminated between the things that differ, between what is of the Lord and what is not. It has compromised by reason of defective spiritual sight, and so the issue here, the matter of first love, is that first love is a discerning love. There is much about that in the Bible. Paul is rich on the matter of discerning love. “…having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (Eph. 1:18). “The eyes of your heart enlightened” discerning love. Love is as far removed from blindness as heaven from earth. “Love is blind”? No – not true love. The fact is that true love sees everything, but transcends everything. The love of Christ for His disciples was not blind love that did not know His men, love that was duped, deceived, misled, but eventually found out that they were not the men He thought they were. No, “he… knew what was in man” (John 2:24). His love saw everything, could tell them beforehand exactly what they would do; but love persisted in face of it all. Love is a great seeing thing. If you are consumed with a burning love for the Lord, you will be very quick of scent as to what is doubtful and questionable. You will not need to be frequently and continuously told when a thing is not right. No, love for the Lord will bring you quickly to see and to sense there is something that needs to be adjusted. You may not know what it is at the time, but you have a sense that all is not well. Love will do it. All the instruction in the world will not bring you to it. You may have the Word of God brought to you on all such points, and you might even say, “All right, because you say so, because it is in the Bible, I will do it, I will be obedient.” Do you think that is good enough? Such a thing has never come to you through the eyes of your heart. But mark you, if this love, this discerning love, has really filled your heart by all the intelligence of the Holy Spirit indwelling you, you will sense it without being told; or if it should be brought to you from the Word, that within you will say, “Yes, I know that is right, the Lord tells me that is right.” Do you not think that is the kind of Christian that is needed, and what the Lord needs at the end? That is what He has had in mind from the beginning and He calls that first love that is quick of scent to see what needs to be cut off or added, what adjustments are necessary, and does accordingly. You do not have to follow round and say, “Please do this; have you never taken note that you might be helpful in this way?” You do not have to do that where there is devotion, love watchful all the time, aliveness, alertness, perception, readiness to do without being all the time told to do it. Real devotion to the Lord is something that far outreaches legality. First love is discerning love.”
(From Chapter 6 of “His Great Love” by T. Austin-Sparks, at
This Love and this Life are completely different to anything we’ve known before. We grow up learning how to “discern” from the tree of good and evil and we learn to judge and reason with our minds what is good and what is evil. What we do not realize, is that in that state we are placing ourselves in the place of God; it is antichrist because it is the Spirit of Christ Whose role it is to judge and discern and reveal those things to us rather than US trying to see and decide things for ourselves. There is just no substitute for eating the fruit of the tree of Life and knowing God from the heart; the head cannot fathom it, the mind cannot understand it, but the heart KNOWS it to be Life and Truth! The heart is intimately involved, because it is a life and love issue. Love knows and recognizes its Loved One, always! Let us give up and look away from ALL that would distract and look only for the Real and accept no substitutes for Jesus the Christ! Instead of being motivated by fear of antichrist, let us be motivated by love for THE Christ!
God is Love and Love is not something you can know in your head, it is something which must be experienced in your heart. When we begin to know Him as Love and begin to apprehend just how much He truly does love us, we discover that not only have we reached the End to our search, but the Journey has also only just begun! Love only wants what the Beloved wants. Love is always looking and listening for the Beloved anywhere, in anyone, at any time; it does not matter who it is that He is recognized in or heard through because that person is never the focus and cannot take His place. Only this Beloved One is the focus because truly knowing Him and His Love deals forever with all mere substitutes. There can be NO substitute for Him in our lives! The eyes of our hearts have been opened and our eyes are ever looking for only One: looking away from everything and everyone else, looking always for just this One… And finding Him, the eyes and heart no longer wander, nor do they search any more because they have found their Love and Life!
“Let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance and that sin which so readily (and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, looking away to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith and is also its Finisher, bringing it to maturity and perfection.” (Hebrews 12:1b-2a)

The Power to Act Righteously

The Power to Act Righteously

Posted: 28 Feb 2014 04:00 AM PST

It can feel overwhelming to try and understand Jesus’ life and all of the implications it has in our lives. This week Joel looks at one powerful element that can help us see one kind of daily impact. -Editor

We are told many times in the Writings that the Lord’s life on earth is essential to our salvation. That somehow, what He accomplished thousands of years ago on this earth still has ramifications on our own lives today. Certainly, as a historical event, it is important that the Lord conquered the hells. He conquered them then, and so they remain conquerable in our time.

But we might start to wonder why we are told so many things about the Lord’s process. Surely the Lord does not simply want us to know about His life as a history lesson. Knowledge of what He did contains an infinite amount of truth about who our God is, the same God who is with us even now.

We could not possibly cover all of the Lord’s life in so short an article; but if we explore even just one aspect of His life, we can learn much about how He works with us today. Take for instance the teaching that the Lord, in His lifetime, became righteousness itself. This is a powerful teaching, yet it can be hard to see what it means for us. So let’s take a closer look.

First of all, the Writings inform us that for the Lord, being righteous was

“doing everything in accordance with Divine order, and restoring everything which had slipped out of order” (True Christian Religion 95).
The Lord took these actions by separating the evil and the good, creating a new hell and heaven for them to dwell in, and establishing a new church on earth. In other words, the Lord led a righteous life, because He did everything in His power to bring the world, both spiritual and natural, into order, that is, into a structure in which people could make true spiritual choices.

Every righteous choice the Lord made along the way made Him that much more righteous. Since He is omnipotent, He was entirely righteous; and since He fulfilled every righteous act possible, He became the definition of righteousness, or righteousness itself. If something we do is in any way righteous, by definition the Lord is present in that act.

Now, there is an idea out there that we cannot do anything that is righteous, or that fits with God’s order; only the Lord could do that. The idea is that unlike us, the Lord was actually able to live up to God’s expectations. In this mindset, which the Writings say is false, the Lord gifts us some of His righteousness. And He gifts it to us not when we try to be righteous and fail, but when we believe in Him. It’s the mindset we adopt when we start to think that we don’t even have to try, because the Lord will work everything out in the end. In some sense, it’s the feeling that we’ve accomplished something when we’ve succeeded only in understanding it.

And wouldn’t that be nice if it worked? It would be like saying, “I’m a righteous person because I know how to treat people well.” Or, “I’m good, because I can see what others need.” Or, “I have insights into who the Lord is and how powerful His love is, so I am wise.”

The problem, as the Writings point out, is that all these ideas imply that we can be righteous people without ever doing anything that is right. The Lord did not live a righteous life so that we wouldn’t have to. He lived a righteous life so that we would be able to as well. This is where it becomes so important to understand that the Lord became righteousness itself.

True Christian Religion presents it this way:

“Living in accordance with order is living in accordance with God’s commandments. When a person so lives and acts, he acquires righteousness for himself, not the righteousness that comes from the Lord’s redeeming, but the Lord Himself as righteousness” (96).
We are not righteous because we know about the Lord’s process of redemption. We become righteous when we live a righteous life. When we live righteously, we receive the Lord Himself as righteousness. That is what makes us righteous: the presence of the Lord in our choices, because any righteous choice we make must by definition have the Lord in it.

Here is the crux of the matter. It is true that we cannot be good, or righteous, apart from the Lord. But we also cannot be good apart from doing good things. We don’t store up goodness. It does not work to imagine, as we so often do, that those kind words we said so many months ago make us a good person today. We are good today if what we say and do today is good:

“righteousness is acquired the more a person applies it, and he applies righteousness, the more the love of what is right and true inspires his dealings with his neighbor. Righteousness dwells in the actual good, or the actual service, which he performs” (True Christian Religion 96).

So the Lord, in all His life, chose to act righteously. And He did so to such an extent that He became righteousness itself. And because of that process, and that result, we too can be righteous. Not because we store it up or earn it in our good deeds: but because when we choose to do what is right, for the sake of the Lord, He is present, and so too is His righteousness, guiding us further and further into a love of serving our neighbors.

Joel Glenn
Joel is a second year theolog at the Bryn Athyn College Theological School. He is looking forward to graduation in 2015 and the many opportunities to teach and share the ideas of the New Church in the coming years.


For there are three that bear record in heaven:

For there are three that bear record in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost;
and these three are one.” – I John 5:7. (The Spirit, water and the blood “agree in one,” are
“to the point.” – Greek – I John 5:8.) “The Lord God hath sent me, and His spirit. Thus saith
the Lord, thy redeemer, the Holy one of Israel. – Isa. 48:16, 17. God’s Spirit is not separate
from Himself. Some one has said: “God the Father is that manifestation of God who is on
the throne of the universe. God the Holy Ghost is that manifestation of the same Spirit
everywhere present. Jesus Christ is that manifestation of the same Spirit who takes on a
visible appearance.” Man was made in the image of God, spirit, soul, and body.
The theme of the O. T. is one God. “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.” –
Deut. 6:4.
Saul was addressing the Jehovah of his fathers, on the way to Damascus. “Who are Thou,
Lord?” He did not know that God was “manifest in the flesh.” Hear the Lord’s own testimony
and answer: “I am Jesus.” – Acts 9:4, 5. That knocked Saul out. “In that day shall the Lord
be one, and His name one.” – Zech. 14-5, 9. To the Jews Jesus said: “Except ye believe that
I am, ye shall die in your sins.” – John 8:24. The whole purpose of God in the O. T. was to
inculcate the idea of one God. This the Jews, after the Babylonian Captivity, which they
suffered for their idolatry, never got away from. The “mystery of godliness,” is the Incarnation.
“God in Christ.”
Those who deny that Jesus Christ is God, the absolute Deity, Deity the alone revelation
and manifestation of the Father, are in line for the great Apostasy. Antichrist is battering at
the walls of the church for a breach in the absolute Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. If God
can be known apart from Jesus Christ, or as a separate Person or Being from Jesus Christ,
then we are bound to throw down the walls and embrace these anti-christian forces in one
universal Fatherhood of God. And there must be two Gods, or Jesus Christ is not God. But
Jesus Christ is God. There is no other saving manifestation of God. – Acts 4:12.
Spiritualists, Theosophists, Christian Scientists, etc., claim a knowledge of God outside
of Christ. “Ye know neither me nor my Father. If ye knew me ye would know my Father
also.” – John 8:19. “Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever
the Son will reveal Him.” – Matt. 11:27. Jesus is the full and only revelation of God to man.
The more we come to know Jesus in the Spirit the fuller revelation we receive of His
Deity. “No man can say Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Ghost.” – I Cor. 12:3. At first we see
Him as our Mediator, our Sacrifice and Intercessor. Later we come to realize His absolute
Deity, Godhead, oneness with the Father in essential being. Not simply oneness in accord.
That is but a human proposition. He is both the Son of God, and God. – Luke 1:35, “ Christ
is the visible representation of the invisible God,” – Col. 1:15-19, Weymouth. “For it is in
Christ that the fullness of God’s nature dwells embodied, and in Him ye are made complete.”

So, Your Awakening Cost You Some Friends

So, Your Awakening Cost You Some Friends

So, Your Awakening Cost You Some Friends


Have you noticed a change in your relationships with other people lately?  Is it sometimes difficult or awkward to talk to others about spiritual topics?  Do you, at times, feel alone in your beliefs?   Have you lost contact with any long time friends recently?  You are not alone!

I’m fortunate to have a lot of Facebook friends who post similar types of links. Too many times, I see a lot of people who talk the talk but are afraid to walk the walk, due to being ridiculed for their thoughts and posts (GROUPTHINK). I’ve lost some longtime friends because of this but have made many, many new ones. Once the ego is released, you no longer worry about conformity and peer pressure.

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that structures various belief systems within a group of people while discouraging individual creativity and independent thinking.  Even within a group of individuals who are spiritually awakened, you will find groupthink. 

If you look at the recorded history of mankind, you’ll find that this history is merely someone’s interpretation of a landmark event or evolutionary process, backed by eyewitness testimonial, scientific data, video or faith.  The actual truth may be hidden or distorted for many reasons, but mostly for control and power.  Look no further than the origins of mankind and you’ll find a plethora of creation myths from all cultures with varying dates of our existence.  Who’s right? 

When you talk to people about these topics, they tend to remain inside the box with a belief system that supports religion’s story of creation, which dates mankind back to 4000 B.C.  If you raise questions about our true origins, it tends to separate people and relationships between those who think outside the box versus those who think inside the box.  When these topics arise within relationships, they often create dissention.  It’s hard for anyone to admit they’ve been deceived for so long and even more difficult to admit they were possibly wrong in their assumptions. 

This is a prime example of how our educational systems keep us locked inside the box without questioning anything about what we’ve been taught.  Those who remain inside the box are afraid of what others might think if they venture outside the box, so they remain complacent and subservient while conforming to what society dictates rather than relying on their own discernment and judgment.  People could live their entire lives pretending to be what society expects them to be and not even know it!

From an ego perspective, our thoughts are basically cultivated by what we’ve learned from our family, friends, educational systems and religious beliefs, but what have we truly been taught?  What can we say about anything that wasn’t regurgitated to us by someone else?   
As evidenced by past life regressions, our previous lives and soul history remain dormant in our cellular DNA and can be recalled through our subconscious minds through hypnotherapy.   Within your cellular DNA, you actually remember being back with the Source along with all of the things you wanted to accomplish during this incarnation, as well as all of the challenges you wanted to overcome and all of the people who would lead you to where you are.  This includes the people that have come and gone from our lives.

Sometimes, we project to be someone that we expect others to see in us.  In psychology, this is referred to as the shadow self, where we project an identity that conforms to how other people may perceive us versus being true to who we really are. Some people may find out that they never knew who they were because they lived their lives through the expectations of how others will perceive them. 

Those who have begun their spiritual journeys may also be confronting these issues, which initially creates cognitive dissonance.  Cognitive dissonance occurs when you get an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously.  This is the transition period that many of us have gone through, where our beliefs have changed, yet we’re unsure about relating these new ideas to our friends and family, due to fear or rejection.  

As our spiritual journeys continue, we become more comfortable within our own beliefs and less concerned about how our friends and family view this awakening.  This is when the ego becomes separated from the self and fear is dissolved by love.  At this juncture, we begin to talk to acquaintances, as well as friends and family, about spiritual and metaphysical topics, with less regard about what they might think of us or how we may be perceived by others.

In time, spirituality will be the predominant frame of mind and it’s likely that those who have strayed from us will be the first in line to ask for help in adjusting to the new paradigm.

Remember this:  You are not alone!  Those who truly love you will stand by you, no matter what.  Those people who are no longer part of our lives have already played their role in helping us find out who we truly are.  Sometimes, it takes polarity to be able to differentiate who we are and where we’re going.  This is where the unawakened help immensely, by providing that contrast which allows us to see the differences.

Envision each awakened person across the planet holding a candle.  While your individual candle may not seem like a lot of light, it greatly contributes to making the world FULL of light and keeps us connected, no matter how far apart we may be.  While it may be painful to lose some dear friends, think about what they have brought to your life and why.
Chances are, you’ll end a few old relationships with people who were, at one time, very close to you, only to create new relationships with like-minded people.  Forgive yourself, as well as your friends, if you feel badly about this.  They came into your life for a reason a season or a lifetime:

Reason, Season, or Lifetime

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty; to provide you with guidance and support; to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share, grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.


From the spiritual sense of the “Word, which he was Divinely illuminated to perceive, Swedenborg has given us higher views than the Church has hitherto enjoyed, of the Divine nature and character. I do not now refer to his teachings concerning the unity of the Godhead in the person of Christ, of which I have already spoken, but of the moral perfections of the Deity. The knowledge of God is of fundamental importance in the Christian life. It lies at the basis of the whole Christian character. “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” (Jno. xvii. 3.) By Jesus Christ is signified the Divine Humanity. By His being sent from the Father, is expressed the truth, that the Humanity was unfolded from the Divinity within, just as a man’s body is unfolded from his soul. Our spiritual state, both in time and eternity, will be according to our knowledge of God. A false view of the Divine Being will derange the whole inner life. The presence of the Lord with us, and conjunction with Him, must be based upon proper views of Him. This presence and union is salvation. “Acquaint now thyself with Him, and be at peace.” (Job xxii. 21.) This is the law of our spiritual being. The character which men attribute to the God they worship, will have a reflex influence upon the character of tho worshipper. The human mind can never rise above the character of the Divinity it adores. Of idols and their worshippers, the Psalmist says, ” They that make them are like unto ‘them; so is every one that trusteth in them.” (Ps. cxv. 8.)
If there is to be a new dispensation of the Church, called the New Jerusalem, which is to be characterized by a higher spiritual knowledge and life, it must have as its unshaken basis a better view of the Divine nature and character. One will not read far in the writings of Swedenborg, before he will obtain more satisfying views upon this all-important subject. While the Church derives all its ideas of the Divine character from the letter of the Word, where God is spoken of as He appears to the natural man, and not as He really is in Himself, no higher Christian life is possible,—no advanced stage of the Church is attainable. It is a prominent idea in the older theologies, that the Lord acts for His own glory in everything He does, and not for our good, thus making Him an infinite Self-Love. Swedenborg declares that He does nothing for His own sake, but all from pure love to man. How difficult it must be for us to rise above our selfishness, the root of all evil, when we worship the Divine Being in a character of infinite selfishness. If God acts for His own glory, why may not we? Cicero, in his work on Moral Duty, never thinks of proposing his deities as objects of imitation. It is not too much to say, that some professedly Christian systems of theology give us such views of God as to render it quite improper, and even wicked to be like Him. How is it possible for us to love the Lord for His gifts, when we are taught that they proceed from a selfish desire for His own glory? Happily for the Church a better day has dawned. We are taught that God acts from love, because love is His very life. When we attain to the highest charity, the most self-forgetting love of others, we are only faint like­nesses of the Lord,—of His boundless love.
The knowledge of God is derived wholly from the Word. It has no other source among angels or men. The deeper our insight is into the inner senses of the Scriptures, the more exalted will be our conceptions of Him. Here is the fountain of those more excellent views of Him, which are seen on every page of Swedenborg’s writings. It was once a fountain sealed, but now in mercy laid open to all. Whosoever is athirst, may take the water of life freely. As the Divine Character is unfolded by Swedenborg, He is presented in such a light as to lead us to love and worship Him, not through fear, but from love. He is Love itself, and Wisdom itself. His inmost life is love. This is so intense, that it must be veiled and tempered before it can be received, even by the highest heavens. It is the necessary property of that love, to bless otkers out of itself, to desire to be one with them, and to make them happy from itself. These properties of the Divine love were the cause of the crea­tion of the universe, and of its preservation, which is but a continued creation.
In the writings of Swedenborg, one never meets with such views of the Divine Being as would make the Father an object of dread and aversion, while the Son is presented in a more amiable light. The old theologies have given us such ideas of the Divine character as to render obedience to Him possible only through fear. We are told that when the Father bestows a blessing upon us, He does it not for our sakes, but out of regard to another Divine Personality. What becomes, in this case, of the Divine love? Why should we love Him in return, if He has not first loved us? This second Person, for whose sake the blessing comes to us, we can love, but can entertain towards the Father no other feeling than aversion and dread. In the light of the New Age, we learn that the unity of the Godhead is in Christ, and beside Him there is no other Divine Being. He blesses us for our sakes, out of pure mercy to us. ” Herein is love.” We learn, also, that the Father and the Son are one. Christ is Jehovah made man, and all the amiable qualities we behold in Jesus, are but manifes­tations of God in the flesh. Such views are given us of the Deity as lay the foundation for a higher trust and a closer union with Him. An unfaltering confidence in Him, that preserves the soul in peace, is rendered spon­taneous. This intimate union with the Lord was to mark the New Jerusalem stage of the Church’s progress, so that it could be said, ” Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall dwell with them.” To dwell with another implies the most intimate conjunction and fellowship. I think there is to be found, in Swedenborg’s invaluable spiritual writings those higher teachings re­specting the character of God, which will render such a Divine union practicable to the Church. I confess that to my own mind this is one of the principal charms in his teachings. He has taught me more of God, and hence enabled me to love Him more. He who understandingly reads him, will no more see through a glass darkly, but face to face.

Is there really a hell of punishment?

Is there really a hell of punishment?



These days we are less likely to see good and evil; no black and white, only shades of grey. People say if human beings are inherently good, then just take them away from a bad social environment, treat disease, or give them what they need, and they will be happy and useful.
If doing bad things is caused by environmental circumstances rather than individual moral choice, then surely an eternal punishment after death would be unjust? And if you balk at the idea of evil then you may dismiss the idea of hell.
But who would disagree that there are villains around stealing, embezzling, and murdering? Is their crime always just as an uncomfortable complication in human relations rather than as an offence against a standard of right and wrong, good and evil?
There is some evidence about the afterlife in the remarkable similarities in the way the near death experience is told by many individuals. Also there are the accounts of modern mediums of what they have been told by spirit communicators about life after death.
This information tallies with the meticulously written up reports of the eighteenth century writer Emanuel Swedenborg about his own psychic experiences of what he termed “the spiritual world” which lasted during the last twenty-seven years of his life.
Swedenborg describes one of his psychic visions. He saw inside a building where there was a court for a judge. A certain person came along who is described as ‘a lover of self’ and sat on a kind of throne. He believed he was admitted into the place so he might be the judge.
There was a crowd of people there who went around the throne, some crawling underneath. As a consequence the spirit became invisible. The crowd made fun of him, by sitting near him and over him.
At length the judge came along and sat down. His cheeks became fiery and we are told that this was a sign not only that he was the judge but also that he would administer judgment.
He inquired whether anyone had committed evil. Some were arraigned and sentenced to punishment. The rest were commended and let go. The judge tolerated everyone making fun and having their jokes, only they must not do wrong to anyone.  They were afraid of him because of his power. If you treasure peace of mind, such a bedlam can perhaps be described as a hell.
This and many other experiences convinced Swedenborg that, in the next life, no-one suffers any punishment for crime done in the world. Punishment and the fear of punishment is only used when needed as a deterrent if spirits were to deceive, steal from or abuse their companions with more evil intent than they did before their bodily death.
Some religious writers have spoken about infernal torments in hell as the stings of conscience on the part of remorseful souls when they are convicted of sin. However Swedenborg says people who have led spiteful and selfish lives may have regret for getting found out but no repentance because they have no real sense of conscience about right and wrong, other than concern about how they are viewed by others.
Swedenborg compares a heavenly state of mind with a hellish one. The former is an attitude of ‘turning the other cheek’ and ‘loving one’s enemies’. However the latter is an attitude of ‘an eye for an eye’ and getting even with one’s foes. If, and only if, a malicious person does something horrid towards another individual beyond what has been done to him, he is immediately open to punishment or persecution from other spirits who do so with impunity.
Apparently fantasy can be a punishment. Swedenborg observed proud spirits filled with their own importance as academic scholars. They lived in underground libraries wanting to be left to their studies and to escape responsibilities of life. But as they read, the candles went out!
Another proud person had contempt for others and became inflated like a balloon that grew to fill the universe – until he had no place to go!
Swedenborg was repeatedly told by evil spirits that “they would rather a thousand times live in hell than out of it.” Nowhere else could they indulge in their sole delight, which was to see others suffer and thus boost their own sense of importance. Nowhere else could they escape the light of truth, which spoiled their selfish plans and dispersed their cherished fantasies. For them to be allowed to enter heaven would be more aversive and unpleasant than whatever punishments their hellish companions could administer.
Swedenborg claimed that punishments that are applied in the next life do not go on continually for ever. They are not retributions for sins committed on earth, but disciplinary reactions to criminal acts that selfish and cruel people commit in hell. Thus punishments in hell cease when external order has been restored.
Copyright 2011 Stephen Russell-Lacy
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