A Sermon by Rev. Geoffrey S. Childs
Preached in Toronto, Canada on June 22, 1986

“Why do you spend money for what is not bread? and your labor for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance” (Isaiah 55:2).

On June 20th, 1770, the twelve disciples proclaimed throughout the spiritual world the new gospel, the gospel that the Lord God Jesus Christ reigns.

This teaching is the great motto, the primary truth, of the second coming, for the doctrine of the glorification is the chief doctrine of the New Church. And the primary of this doctrine is that there is one only God of heaven and earth, who is the glorified Jesus Christ: Love itself in human form. He is now immediately present.

Within this proclamation of the disciples are embodied all the truths of the Writings, for all these new truths spring from the one great truth of creation. And it may be safely assumed that when the disciples went on their mission in the other world to proclaim the Lord’s final coming, they taught more than the motto gospel we have mentioned. TCR 108 speaks of the twelve already working many months after June 19th on this project, working with zeal. They also taught those truths that reveal the actual nature of heaven. For in the world of spirits a true concept of heaven had been destroyed: the imaginary heavens blocked insight into the true nature of heaven.

The mission performed over two centuries ago by the twelve disciples in the other world is still being performed here on earth. It is being performed by the Lord’s new Word and those who love and believe it — by new disciples on earth. These disciples are the ministers and laymen of the church who love the new truth and burn to share it with others.

The chief truth taught by the disciples of the church on earth is that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only God — love itself, wisdom and compassion — and yet we are also to give the priceless new truths about heaven to those who seek. For if life ends with the grave, existence is almost pointless; but it does not so end, and the teachings about the reality of heaven are among the most crucial in the new Word.

The fundamental truth about heaven is this: heaven is a kingdom of uses. Interior delight in use — not simply continuous worship nor paradise only — is the joy of the angels. For service to the Lord and the neighbor is in heaven conjoined with wonderful happiness. All in heaven are in the delight of creative love, full of life and light and warmth. In natural, selfish states we see nothing delightful in service to others. In such states, only those efforts which will bring us gratification seem worthwhile. It is when we are uplifted by the Lord into unselfish states that we can appreciate the new truth about heaven.

One difficulty in appreciating heaven as a kingdom of uses is that on this earth we so seldom seem to find a real delight in “use” to others. It may be that our idea of “use to others” is too abstract. We associate it with something above and beyond ourselves — an ideal of service apart from everyday living, something spiritual and entirely religious. We think perhaps of use to others as being spiritual acts of charity to the neighbor, acts which are separate in some way from our everyday work.

Yet the heavenly ideal — use to the Lord and neighbor – – can be embodied in our everyday work. In fact, it should be. For every person is gifted by the Lord with a love for a particular natural occupation. The delight of his or her life is centered in some natural use: it may be homemaking, farming, mechanics, carpentry, computer programming, teaching, or any other of the myriads of natural occupations. The Lord has gifted each person with such a particular love because through it he may serve the neighbor and the Lord.

In his earthly occupation everyone has a choice. Either he or she may work solely or primarily for himself, looking strongly to the honor or money such work brings, or he may awaken, from the Lord and the Word, to a different goal.

The Lord asks, “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently unto Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance” (text). To spend money for what is not bread is to work for the rewards of mammon only. Spending wages for what does not satisfy is to use wealth for selfish or hedonistic purposes, which bring passing delight but fail to satisfy the inward spirit that longs for love and charity.

The Lord continues: “Listen diligently unto Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.” This is to hear, from love, the words of the Lord as revealed in revelation. They speak to what is of innocence — to childhood remains and true adult resolutions. We open to such listening by loving the Lord, and showing this by shunning our leading evils as sins against Him. This asks us to be honest, to look deeply within — to find that specific form of love of dominion or greed that cripples our heart.

Sometimes it may take many years and many states to be open to such deep honesty. It is as the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda who had waited 38 years for some cure. It was only when he finally turned within — without bitterness or false defenses — and looked openly upon his heart that the Lord led him to see the evil he had been unwilling to admit. And this would come only with open, trusting prayer. He had seen this evil, admitted it to the Lord as a sin against Him, and started shunning it, and then he was fully prepared for a quiet miracle. Jesus Himself came up to him, knowing his change of heart. “Will you be cured?” When the man said, “Yes,” Jesus said, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And he found himself able to do this! Imagine his joy, his deeply moving joy!

In this state what happens is not some false rapture or euphoric, abstract elation. Rather, the spirit is touched with a new love of use, a wish from the heart to serve the neighbor. And this comes not as a duty but as a strong, quiet love, for one is then born of the spirit. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto you, you must be born again. The wind blows where it wills and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes; so is everyone who is born of the spirit.” This wind is the heart-moving breeze of heaven, and it sings into the heart as a love of use — a spiritual love of use.

Every particular natural use has a corresponding spiritual use. In fact, the natural occupation is caused by, and arises from, a spiritual occupation. This is true of every occupation that is in order.

After death a person who has loved his earthly occupation and has obeyed the Lord on earth finds in heaven a use that surpassingly delights him. His interest in his former natural occupation has died with the death of his body, and yet he finds himself a thousand times more delighted than man on earth, for delights in heaven far exceed delights on earth. And what is marvelous, if that person’s earthly occupation suited his dominant love, then in heaven he performs a use that exactly represents his former earthly work: a work that corresponds to it but is a thousand times more perfect and delightful, because it is on a more interior plane of the Divine proceeding — a discrete degree higher.

There are many examples given in Heaven and Hell 489 of this achieving a correspondent heavenly use. The earthly use is not given, but rather its correspondent in heaven. In one example, those in heaven are mentioned who find themselves to be predominantly in an “affection for truth itself” (HH 489:2). On earth this would include those who have a predominant love for the skills of their occupation, who love these skills above all else as a means to use, to help others.

Concerning such in heaven we read: they “dwell in the other life in light, in elevated places that appear like mountains, where they are continually in the light of heaven. They do not know what darkness is, like that of night in the world; they live also in a spring-like temperature; there are presented to their view fields filled with grain and vineyards; in their houses everything glows as if from precious stones; and looking through the windows is like looking through pure crystal. Such are the delights of their vision, but these same things are interiorly delightful because of their being correspondences of Divine heavenly things, for the truths of the Word correspond to fields of grain, vineyards, precious stones, windows and crystals” (Ibid.).

This external beauty exactly represents the heavenly uses these angels are performing. What is around them in spiritual nature corresponds to the love of use within them. In their interior uses, and the beautiful images around them, they find inexpressible delight.

This beauty of heaven, and its inward soul of use, is part of the new gospel. It is an essential part of our delight in the gospel proclaimed by the Lord’s twelve disciples on June 20th, 1770. For delight in use, on earth and in heaven, is what makes us spiritually alive. The love of the Lord is, in effect, the love of uses. To live the new gospel is to search out and sense spiritual uses. It is to fulfill the quotation of True Christian Religion 791: “Blessed are those that are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9). For the marriage supper is found most of all in the joy of heavenly uses.

The Lord directly invites us, He asks us, to partake of this delight: “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently unto Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.” Amen.

Lessons: Isaiah 55, Divine Love XIII:L

Divine Love XIII:L

So Far as Man Is in the Love of Use, So Far Is He in the Lord, So Far He Loves the Lord and Loves the Neighbor, and So Far He Is a Man.

From the love of uses we are taught what is meant by loving the Lord and loving the neighbor; also what is meant by being in the Lord and being a man. To love the Lord means to do uses from Him and for His sake. To love the neighbor means to do uses to the church, to one’s country, to human society, and to the fellow citizen. To be in the Lord means to be a use. And to be a man means to perform uses to the neighbor from the Lord for the Lord’s sake. To love the Lord means to do uses from Him and for His sake for the reason that all the good uses that man does are from the Lord; good uses are goods, and it is well known that these are from the Lord. Loving these is doing them, for what a man loves he does. No one can love the Lord in any other way, for uses, which are goods, are from the Lord, and consequently are Divine; yea, they are the Lord Himself with man. These are the things that the Lord can love. The Lord cannot be conjoined by love to any man, and consequently cannot enable man to love Him, except through His own Divine things, for man from himself cannot love the Lord; the Lord Himself must draw him and conjoin him to Himself; and therefore, loving the Lord as a person and not loving uses is loving the Lord from oneself, which is not loving. He that performs uses or goods from the Lord performs them also for the Lord’s sake. These things may be illustrated by the celestial love in which the angels of the third heaven are. These angels are in love to the Lord more than the angels in the other heavens are, and they have no idea that loving the Lord is anything else than doing goods which are uses, and they say that uses are the Lord with them. By uses they understand the uses and good works of ministry, administration, and employment, as well with priests and magistrates as with merchants and workmen; the good works that are not connected with their occupation they do not call uses; they call them alms, benefactions, and gratuities.


A Sermon by Rev. Frederick M. Chapin
Preached in Charlotte, North Carolina, March 24, 1996

“And God said to Moses, `I AM who I am.’ And He said, `Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you”‘” (Exodus 3:14).

One of the most basic of human needs is to feel worthwhile. Our lives would become unbearable if we felt there was nothing we could accomplish. We need to be assured that we can make a difference. The more we recognize how we can benefit others, the more we will value ourselves and the services we can provide.

Many who are in a state of depression feel as if their lives are of no value. It is not clearly evident to them how they can be a positive influence toward others. They see more of their negative faults than their opportunities and abilities that are good. For example, many of the elderly today feel an isolation and low self-worth. They are not able to do the things they once were able to do. Because they don’t see anything they can offer, nor do they feel appreciated, they just linger and become lonely, without hope. It can easily be seen that the more we recognize what our abilities are, and whom we can have a positive influence upon, the more appreciation and enjoyment we will have about ourselves and the services we are able to perform.

The Lord intends for every person to feel a sense of self- worth. We need the assurance that we can make a positive contribution to our neighbor, country, the church, and even the Lord’s kingdom in the heavens. We are to have the confidence that the Lord has created us with unique gifts that can support the efforts of others and add to the effectiveness of the Lord’s church upon the earth. In short, all of us can do wonderful things for others. Our reading about the call to Moses gives us the teachings on how the Lord makes an individual call to each one of us. The more we are faithful to our call, the more we are able to display the loves and the wisdom that exists in heaven. When we are able to display heavenly states in our lives, we will appreciate what the Lord has enabled us to do.

The story begins with Moses watching the sheep of his father-in-law, Jethro. One day Moses saw a bush burning with fire but not being consumed. He soon recognized that it was the Lord and had to take his shoes off his feet because he was standing upon holy ground. The Lord then revealed to Moses that he was to go to Egypt and lead the Israelites to the promised land. This seemed like an impossible task for Moses to accomplish. To assure Moses that he could do these things, the Lord spoke the words of our text that “I AM” has sent you. We do know that Moses did eventually lead the Israelites out of Egypt and he guided them to the promised land.

Like Moses, when we first hear what we are to do we may have doubts concerning our abilities to carry it out. We may feel unqualified to perform the task that the Lord has set out before us. How often do we convince ourselves that we are not able to perform a service when we are presented with an opportunity to do so? Quite often when we are confronted with an occasion to do something good there is a fear of taking a risk to do that good. We convince ourselves that we are hopelessly trapped in the results of our failures, with no hope of emerging out of them. Like Moses, we will remain stuck, watching sheep because of the murder he committed in Egypt, and Israel will forever remain in slavery in Egypt.

Nevertheless, we are given the same words as were given to Moses: I AM is with you. When the Lord referred to Himself as the I AM, He was alluding to His Divinity. He was telling Moses that His full infinite power would be with Moses as he set out upon his task. Likewise, the Lord gives us the same assurance. If we make the effort to take advantage of performing good services when the opportunities present themselves, the Lord will be with us in His full Divinity. The Lord’s infinite love and wisdom will be present with us as we perform our unique gifts.

The Writings for the New Church teach clearly that the Lord is in every detail of creation. This includes that the Lord is personally present with all of us. If all of a sudden you were the only person alive upon the earth, He would not be any closer to you than He is right now. The Lord is fully aware of our concerns and challenges. For the most part, we are not consciously aware of the Lord’s presence at every moment. This is so that we are in freedom which allows us to enjoy the life the Lord is providing for us. However, the Lord is intimately aware of our state, and how we can be of use to His kingdom. The Lord looks and regards each of us for what we can provide in making heaven more wonderful, more perfect, and more effective. While we are upon the earth, the Lord works in us so that we are able to manifest heaven and further establish heavenly principles. And the Lord unceasingly provides what we need to accomplish our task, which is so precious in His sight.

The Lord’s operation in our lives is the Holy Spirit. The teachings about the Holy Spirit reveal how the Lord works within us. It is because the Lord is unceasingly working within us that we can not only enter heaven, but make it better from our presence there. Everyone’s abilities and contribution are of equal value in the sight of the Lord.

Yet just having the Lord’s unceasing love and wisdom present with us does not automatically mean we will accomplish our God- given task. We also must cooperate with Him. The Writings teach that we cooperate with the Lord when our lives are in order. We have the proper loves and the proper priorities established in our lives when we simply comply with the teachings from the Word. As we obey the Word and remove the disorders in our lives that disagree with what the Word teaches, our lives are becoming more and more established in Divine order. This produces a living conjunction with the Lord. And the more our lives are in order, the stronger the bond with the Lord. It is then that we accomplish and enjoy the calling the Lord is leading us into. It is then that we escape from the consequences of our past evils and journey toward a state of freedom in the Lord’s kingdom.

There are three things to be aware of if we are to be motivated by a confidence that the Lord’s power is with us. First, we must recognize that it is the Divinity of the Lord that allows good services to be done. Just as Moses was powerless of himself to lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt, so too are we powerless to perform services that truly accomplish good and bring heaven to earth.

Secondly, we must be willing to face reality. If we are to have the discipline and the ability to perform services that help other people and bring heaven to the earth, we must be able to face reality. When we accept truth, we are dealing with realty. New Church doctrine teaches that the most fundamental reality is that all things are from the Lord. The more we are sincerely in that confession and cooperating with it, the more we are able to face and respond to what is real. The more we are able to face reality and not try to hide from it or cover it up, the more we are equipped to help others and provide services for them. Heaven is a state where we function in what is real. On the other hand, hell is a state where we fantasize what is real so that we can indulge in selfish desires or intentionally delude ourselves that a disorder is not really present. Facing reality prevents us from going through denial. Loving truth allows us to enjoy reality. The more we are content with what is real, the more we will find contentment with our lives on earth and what we will do in heaven.

And third, we must realize that it is the Lord that establishes the church. It was the Lord that led Israel out of Egypt. He accomplished it through Moses, but it was from the Lord’s power. Likewise, when we are able to display heavenly loves before others, the church is being established by the Lord through us. The good that we do is really the Lord’s work. We can make the church on earth more effective by our obeying the Lord’s commandments. However, it is the Lord that is making the church more prominent upon the earth. The Writings are clear that the Lord does not need the help of people or angels to bring good and peace upon the earth. However, he uses us so that we can find delight and fulfillment in this awesome work. The Lord can make our married partner happy and useful, but He works through us to make our partner content and spiritually effective. The Lord can guide our children to eternal life without our assistance, but He works through us to instruct each child in what is right and holy. The same is true of our friends, fellow workers, and others we come in contact with. The Lord has allowed us to have an integral part in bringing heavenly loves and truth to the world so that we can find heavenly contentment and peace in what the Lord is accomplishing on the earth.

When we receive the Lord, we can do marvelous things. When the Lord guides our lives, we can “cast the mountains into the sea.” A clear awareness is being developed of what is right and wrong, and we have the discipline and the strength to cast away that barrier to heaven. Also, we will have a sense of the Lord’s power present with us. We will be like Elisha’s servant who saw a host of fiery chariots surrounding him when a band of Syrian raiders was about to attack him. When we are confronted with the attacks from the hells, if we continue to look to the Lord our eyes will be open and we will see from within that we were always under the Lord’s protection and have the power to achieve great spiritual victories. Whenever we do something that is good and honorable from a desire and intent to obey the Lord, the Lord is conjoined to that good and can use it to bring heaven to the earth. For us to accomplish our calling, we must allow the Lord to establish in us a conscience of good. We must allow Him to establish in us a conviction that we want good and true principles to be accomplished within us and by us. Because the Lord is not limited to natural properties, He can be with us with His full and infinite Divinity in the minutest details of our lives. We can rejoice that when we are conjoined with the Lord, we are having an important and valuable role in the most important and wonderful work that we can be a part of. And we can rejoice in our opportunities where we can make the Lord’s church more visible upon the earth. We can do wonderful things in the name of the Lord. For the Lord tells each one of us: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). Amen.

Lessons: Exodus 3:1-14, John 8:48-59, AC 6880

Arcana Coelestia 6880

I AM WHO I AM. That this signifies the Being and Coming- forth of all things in the universe is evident from the fact that “I am” is Being, and because He alone is Being, it is said in the nominative case. That it is twice said “I AM,” that is, “I AM who I AM,” is because the one signifies Being and the other Coming- forth; thus the one signifies the Divine Itself, which is called the “Father,” and the other the Divine Human, which is called the “Son”; for the Divine Human comes forth from the Divine Itself. But when the Lord as to the Human also was made the Divine Being (Esse) or Jehovah, then the Divine truth, which proceeds from the Lord’s Divine Human, is the Divine Coming-forth from the Divine Being. From this it can be seen that the Divine Being cannot communicate Itself to anyone except through the Divine Coming- forth; that is, the Divine Itself cannot communicate Itself except through the Divine Human, and the Divine Human cannot communicate itself except through the Divine truth, which is the Holy of the Spirit: this is meant by its being said that all things were made by the Word (John 1:3). It appears to man as if the Divine truth were not such that anything can come forth by means of it; for it is believed that it is like a voice, which being uttered with the lips, is dissipated. But it is altogether otherwise: the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord is the veriest reality, and such a reality that all things have come forth from it, and all things subsist from it; for whatever proceeds from the Lord is the veriest reality in the universe; and such is the Divine truth, which is called the “Word,” through which all things were made.