The Affection for Truth

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon.  (LUK 16:13)

All of us here are engaged in a great struggle:  the struggle between the immediate delights that come from the things of self and the world, and the much greater delights that are promised in heaven if we turn away from the loves of self and the world during our natural life.

This is further complicated by the fact that many worldly things are in fact worthy of our attention, because when approached correctly, they are expressions of spiritual things, and are thus, in essence, spiritual.  Examples of such things are acts of charity and benevolence where we do things of genuine benefit to others less fortunate than ourselves by assisting with education or employment.

It seems almost too obvious to say that the main difference between the natural and spiritual person is manifested by the kinds of things that they think about and do, and even more importantly, by the reason why they do the things they do.  Those who love the pleasures of the world more than anything else, and to the exclusion of all else, are those who, in our text, are said to worship “Mammon” while those who turn away from self and the world to the Lord and the neighbor are those who look to God as their master.

Our purpose today is to hear how the doctrines of the New Church define the difference between the natural and the spiritual man for the sake of learning how from being natural by birth, we may, through our own efforts and with the Lord’s help, be reborn as spiritual beings.

We are all interested in truth — or at least truth in the form of information.  If that were not true, there would be no market for books, newspapers, magazines, television, radio, and we would spend far less time in conversation with each other.  The doctrines tell us that the reason that we are so hungry for information all the time is that there are spirits with us at all times.  Those spirits serve the important use of routing spiritual influx into our minds, both from heaven and from hell, and thus providing us with a great variety of ideas for us to examine and to choose between.  At the same time, because they are spiritual beings, they hunger and thirst not for food and drink, but for good and truth.  Therefore, the hunger that they feel for truth and its application is what we feel as curiosity and the desire to learn new skills and disciplines.[1]

The hunger for truth is then a faculty in all men, although obviously it is more developed in some than in others.  This hunger can be equally developed in the good and the evil, so the presence of the hunger for truth is not in itself an adequate test of a man’s spiritual quality.  We have to look farther.  We are taught that the natural, external man seeks truth for the sake of self and the world, rather than for the sake of truth itself.  Because they are primarily interested in what truth can do for their own pleasures of life, they do not see the good that it can do.  Such people do not know what good or charity is, nor do they know or care about heaven or hell.  In fact, those who attend church (and many do for any number or external reasons) do not understand the doctrines of their own church, nor do they care whether they are true of false.  They learn them for the sake of their reputation among others in the world, not for the good that they might do through them.  Such people, because they are, as to their spirits always looking down, will deny that there is an internal sense to the Word because since they do not seek truth for the sake of doing good, they have no enlightenment about the Word from the Lord.[2]  But even more serious than the fact that such natural people are not enlightened when they read the Word is the fact that those people who have no affection for truth for the sake of truth, but only for the sake of fame, honor and gain, do not live the life of charity and therefore they make one with hell.  Such people are those who are signified in the Word by “the dragon.”[3]

On the other hand, we are told that the spiritual man, or the person who truly desires to become spiritual, seeks truth for the sake of truth itself, not for personal gain or immediate pleasure.  Those who love to do truth for the sake of truth from an internal or spiritual affection rejoice when they hear the truth, and they immediately begin to think about ways that these truths can be incorporated into their lives.[4]  Such people also love the Lord, because they know that the truth that gives them such pleasure is from the Lord, and that He causes it to become good through their willing it and doing it, thus bringing them into harmony with the uses of heaven and the resulting delights which they then feel.[5]

Those who are in the love of truth for the sake of truth, rather than for the sake of personal gain, also serve the church in an important way, although they may not even be aware of it.  We read from Arcana Caelestia[6]

[2] But be it known that all the doctrine of the church must be from the Word, and that the doctrine from any other source than the Word is not doctrine in which there is anything of the church, still less anything of heaven.  But the doctrine must be collected from the Word, and while it is being collected, the man must be in enlightenment from the Lord; and he is in enlightenment when he is in the love of truth for the sake of truth, and not for the sake of self and the world.  These are they who are enlightened in the Word when they read it, and who see truth, and from it make doctrine for themselves.  The reason of this is that such communicate with heaven, thus with the Lord; and being enlightened by the Lord in this way they are led to see the truths of the Word such as they are in heaven; for the Lord inflows through heaven into their understandings, because it is the man’s interior understanding that is enlightened.  And at the same time the Lord flows in with faith, by means of the cooperation of the new will, a feature of which is to be affected with truth for the sake of truth.

Enlightenment becomes a key issue to those in the church, because it is through enlightenment that the cold truths of the Word begin to live and to bring conjunction with the angels of heaven and the associated delights.

Enlightenment is not a gift to the lucky few, but something that the Lord seeks to give to everyone who prepares themselves to receive it.  One prepares himself for enlightenment by searching the Word for its internal, spiritual sense as a means of improving his life.  Then, because such a person is in externals (the literal story) and at the same time in internals (the spiritual meaning of the literal story), and because the intention is to use such knowledge to do good to others, the person has put himself in the sphere and life of heaven itself.  The angels draw near and add their encouragement, and light from heaven is allowed to shine, ever so briefly, on the subject being studied, and that heavenly light is what “enlightens” the mind, leading it to see truth in its proper spiritual environment.[7]

The church takes a risk in teaching such an idea, however.  Those who are in the love of truth for the sake of truth may have faith in the doctrine of the church, but still they will search the Word for the sake of understanding what God had provided for man to know, and so form their faith and their conscience from the truths which they find there — not from the things dictated by church leaders.  This means that they believe some things that are in variance with the official doctrinal position of the church.  If any one then tells them that they ought to remain in the doctrine of their church, they may reflect that if they had been born in any church, the same thing would have been told them.  After all, almost every church declares itself to the be only right one, the only church that has the truth straight from God Himself!  One could take the cynical view and say that therefore no church was worth the effort — or one could take the approach that the although the Lord did not Himself form any church, He did provide us with the Word, and this being the case, it is the Word that should be searched with devout prayer to the Lord for enlightenment as to its meaning and application.  Such people, who are seeking truth for the sake of truth, do not disturb the church, but strengthen it when they share their ideas and discoveries with others.  They never condemn others for their beliefs, for they know that every one who is a church lives from his own faith derived from study of the Word and understood according to his own circumstances and needs.[8]

While it is true that we were born for heaven, it is also true that the attractions of the natural, the pleasures that affect our body and the lower parts of our minds, tend to pull us down.  On the other hand, our spirit is being continually lifted up and lead towards heaven, because the natural tendency of our spirit is to grow in wisdom and usefulness.

Both these tendencies are ours from birth, and it is our challenge in this world to avoid the one and encourage the other.  The Lord has given us the means to do so in the Word.  We study the Word to learn what is right, and we compel ourselves to do it, even though we don’t want to.  But the key concept that is stated so many times in the Word, is that we have to continually refer back to the Word as our source, our touchstone, and compare out thoughts and actions against it, rather than against the standard set by people in the world.

As mentioned a moment ago, the Lord never established a church:  He came into the world to teach the truth, and then men established the church for the twofold purpose of worship and instruction, because it was recognized that worship is essential to the acknowledgment of Jesus Christ as God and not just a man, while instruction is essential for everyone to live a life in this world that will be in accord with spiritual principles, and which will therefore prepare one for heaven.[9]  This is why the this church provides for both worship and instruction, and it should be a matter of conscience for each member to avail himself of both as often as possible.

To come around full circle, just as a person can wish to learn truth, and even love it, for the sake of personal profit and self-satisfaction, so a person can be a member of the church for purely selfish and external reasons.  Such people, who are not in the love of truth for the sake of truth, are said to be “in” the church, but not “of” it.

Those alone are of the church in whom the church is; and the church is in those who are in the affection of truth for the sake of truth, and in the affection of good for the sake of good, thus who are in love toward the neighbor and in love to God.… They who are not of this character are not of the church, no matter how much they may be in the church.[10]

Truth, even genuine truth from the Word, does not reform a person, because by his nature, man is able to learn truth, then talk about, and even teach them through his ability to elevate his understanding above the loves of his will.  But he can be reformed, and is, if he develops an affection for truth for the sake of truth; for this affection for truth apart from the pleasures of self and the world conjoins itself with the will, then further conjoins the will to the understanding; and this process is the beginning of  the Lord’s regeneration of the man.[11]

So, the Word tells us what we must do, and throughout our life we struggle to do it in spite of what our natural inclinations lead us to desire.  Eventually we find that it is not so difficult to refrain from our evils as it once was, and it actually becomes pleasant for us to do what is right.  But still, we wonder if we are progressing fast enough, and far enough, to be ready for heaven when our time comes.  The Heavenly Doctrines tell us that there are signs that we can perceive that give us an indication that we are getting ready for heaven.  We read from the Arcana Caelestia:—

The signs that sins have been forgiven are the following.  Delight is felt in worshipping God for the sake of God; in being of service to the neighbor for the sake of the neighbor; thus in doing good for the sake of good, and in believing truth for the sake of truth.  There is an unwillingness to merit by anything that belongs to charity and faith.  Evils, such as enmities, hatreds, revenges, unmercifulness, and adulteries, in a word, all things that are against God and against the neighbor, are shunned and are held in aversion.[12]

Even when we learn truth from the Word, we are engaged in the great struggle between heaven and hell.  Are we learning them for the sake of truth and of life?  Or are we learning them for the sake of personal gain?  We need to examine ourselves as to our intentions and our actions from the knowledge that the love of gain is an earthly affection, while the affection of truth is a spiritual affection and that one or the other must have the dominion in our minds, for we cannot serve two masters.[13]

No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon.  (LUK 16:13) AMEN.

1st Lesson:

(Luke 16:1-13)  He also said to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. {2} “So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’ {3} “Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. {4} ‘I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’ {5} “So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ {6} “And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ {7} “Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ So he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ {8} “So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. {9} “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. {10} “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. {11} “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? {12} “And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? {13} “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”  Amen.

2nd Lesson:  AC 5432

[2] They who have arrived at maturity, and still more they who have arrived at old age, and have not viewed with their own eyes the truths of the church, which are called doctrinal things, and seen whether they are true, and then been willing to live according to them, retain them merely as they do all other memory-knowledges; they are in their natural memory only, and thence on their lips; and when they utter them, they utter them not from their interior man or from the heart, but only from the exterior man and from the mouth.  Then a man is in this state he cannot possibly believe that the truths of the church are true, although it seems to him that he so believes.  The reason why it seems to him that he believes them to he true, is that he relies on others, and has confirmed in himself the teachings of others.  It is very easy to confirm things taken from others, whether true or false; for this needs nothing but ingenuity.

[4] …such persons seek nothing but faults in those who are in truths from good, in order that they may accuse and condemn them.… They ridicule and condemn the veriest truths, if any such are to he found; for they do not comprehend that truths are true.  The reason of this is that they have no affection of truth for its own sake, still less for the sake of life, but only for the sake of gain.  Moreover when such men read the Word they search it with the sole end of confirming doctrinal memory- knowledges for the sake of gain; and many of them search the Word that they may that the truths of the church are not truths, but only serviceable for persuading others that they are truths, for the sake of gain.

[5] But they who are in the affection of truth for the sake of truth and of life, consequently for the sake of the Lord’s kingdom, have indeed faith in the doctrinal things of the church; but still they search the Word for no other end than the truth, from which their faith and their conscience are formed.  If any one tells them that they ought to stay in the doctrine things of the church in which they were born, they reflect that if they had been born in Judaism, Socinianism, Quakerism, Christian Gentilism, or even out of the church, the same would have been told them; and that it is everywhere said, Here is the church! here is the church! here are truths and nowhere else!  And this being the case the Word should be searched with devout prayer to the Lord for enlightenment.  Such do not disturb any one within the church, nor do they ever condemn others, knowing that every one who is a church lives from his faith.  Amen.

[1]See AE 117

[2]See AC 9409:5

[3]See AC 757

[4]See AC 10683:3

[5]See AC 10683:4

[6]AC 9424:2

[7]See AC 7012, NJHD 35, AC 10105:2

[8]See AC 5432:5, TCR 231

[9]See White Horse 8

[10]AC 10310

[11]See TCR 589

[12]AC 9449 See NJHD 167

[13]See AC 5433:2

Miraculous and Saving Faith

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

March 14, 2004 — Mitchellville, MD.

And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. (MAR 16:17, 18)

The Lord promised in many places that those who believed in Him would have miraculous powers to heal the sick cast out demons, and even to move mountains.

We believe in the Lord. We read the Word. We follow the Ten Commandments as best we can – but we don’t seem to have these magical powers. About thirty years ago, several hundred “Born Again” Christians – men woman and children – drank Koolaid that had been mixed with cyanide as part of a prayer meeting. They all died. The press said that it was a “mass suicide” and blamed it on their charismatic leader. But was it suicide, or were these people innocently testing their faith, putting their faith in Jesus to save them, for He promised that if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them? (text) Is it possible that this was not so much suicide as a severely misguided attempt to prove their faith in the Lord?

Does the fact that those people died of self-inflicted poison, and the fact that we cannot ourselves do miracles mean that our faith in insufficient? Does it mean that we have failed as Christians and are doomed to hell? That’s what a literal reading of the gospels seems to be saying.

Jesus Himself frequently used miracles as a means of attracting attention to Himself, and teaching those who were drawn to Him about His powers. There is a very simple, yet profound reason for this: The first and primary thing of the Christian Church was to believe that Jesus Christ is Himself God Almighty, for unless that basic truth had been established with them, there could be no church based on a true worship of the Lord God Jesus Christ. Could He have convinced a single person that He was God by arguments from scripture? No. They were a purely external and natural people, and they had to be taught in a purely external and natural way so that they could be led to the spiritual truths within. And so Jesus showed that He was more than just a man by gradually revealing His Divine powers. As a result, at first their faith was miraculous, which in and of itself is not true faith because it is based on miracles, but it can lead to saving faith, and so it is acceptable to the Lord. For example we read in Matthew:

The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my boy will be healed.” When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his boy was healed that same hour. (MAT8:8,10,13)

Jesus Christ healed this person and others according to their miraculous faith, for the Lord was the God of heaven and the God of earth, and no conjunction with Him is possible unless there is an acknowledgment of His Divinity. And the acknowledgment of the Divinity of Jesus Christ is faith in Him. The centurion evidently acknowledged the Lord to be God Almighty, for he said,

Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my boy will be healed. (MAT8:8)

Jesus Christ did not come into the world solely for the purpose of healing natural diseases, otherwise He would have healed everyone. Rather, He used the opportunity of healing physical disease to show the Divine Power hidden within, and those had faith who had a glimpse of that power, accepted it, and so accepted that Jesus was not just a man, but the Son of God. We read again in Matthew:

And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment; For she said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.” But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour. (MAT 9:20-22)

The faith that was being demonstrated in this example was simply historical or miraculous faith. The people involved believed because they had seen something momentous that could not easily be explained away. Such a faith, does not endure, however, but begins to fade with the fading memory of the event and as the witness falls back into old habits and old beliefs. However, this faith through miracles served to introduce the essential idea, the foundation of true faith, that Jesus Christ was, or had the power of, the Almighty because He was able to do miracles of Himself.

The prophets of the Old Testament had sometimes done miracles. In fact, both Elijah and Elisha were credited with raising people from the dead. It was never permitted for them to be worshipped, because it was implicit that all their power was actually through them from God. It was always clear, both to the Jews and to the prophets themselves, that any miraculous power they had was from Jehovah, and so it was forbidden for anyone to worship the prophet. When Moses struck the rock in the wilderness and implied that it was he who caused the resulting flow of life-giving water, his punishment was that he was not allowed to cross the Jordan into the promised land because he had taken to himself that which was God’s. However, since the Lord was trying to teach that the power of God was in Him, not passing through Him like with the prophets, He allowed Himself to be worshipped.

The Lord’s acts of healing were only possible with those who already had miraculous faith and with those people, the miracles had the effect of confirming their belief. There are many such instances recorded in the New Testament such as this one:

Now one of (the ten lepers), when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.” (LUK 17:15,16,19)

There were three reasons why faith in the Lord healed such as these; first, because they acknowledged His Divine omnipotence, and that He was God.

Secondly, because they acknowledged that Jesus was God, and that he therefore had the power to heal and save, their minds were turned to thoughts about His spiritual qualities, and it is a law of the spiritual world that thought brings presence, so their faith and belief brought them spiritually closer to the Lord, and into a sphere of spiritual health.

The third reason was, that all the diseases healed by the Lord represented and thus signified the spiritual diseases that correspond to these natural diseases; and spiritual diseases can be healed only by the Lord, and in fact by looking to His Divine power and by repentance of life. This is why He sometimes said, “Thy sins are forgiven, go and sin no more.” This faith also was represented and signified by their miraculous faith. But the faith by which spiritual diseases are healed by the Lord can be given only through truths from the Word and a life according to them; the truths themselves and the life itself according to them make the quality of the faith.

And (the woman) stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. And He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.’ (LUK7:38,48,50)

In this case, the woman came to Him in a state of spiritual disease. She was overcome with the guilt that she felt about the course of her own life. But having seen His power to heal those with diseases of the body, this woman perceived in her heart the truth that He was also the source of healing the wounds of sin, and she approached him in a spirit of humility, begging forgiveness, which He was most willing to give. This passage demonstrates the similarity, in the Lord’s eyes, in healing and forgiving sins – in both cases it only works if there is faith in the Lord and that He has the power to do what is asked of Him.

Certainly we have seen enough confirmations from scripture to see how important it was for the Lord to perform miracles Himself, but we are still unclear as to why He often promised that those who had faith in Him would not only be healed, but would have the power to do miracles themselves. Why did He say, as He did in Mark,

And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover (text)?

Even a cursory examination of the Old Testament will show that the Jewish nation believed in Jehovah and obeyed Him solely because of the miracles that He performed in their presence. The Jews were external men, and external men of any era and any nation are moved to Divine worship only by external things such as miracles which inspire awe. We need to remember that at first, the Christian Church was considered to be a revival movement within the Jewish Church. The first Christians were all members the Jewish Church, and this was necessary so that the Christian faith could first be established in an external way with external men so that it could eventually flourish and become internal. This is also why, in the Divine Providence, that the Lord performed such miracles of healing, why they are recorded in the gospels, and why they are to be preached in the church even today – we need to picture in our minds the Lord doing these things as a foundation and confirmation of our faith and belief. Then, later, as we bring His truth into our life, this historical or miraculous faith can become saving with us.

But how shall we know when our faith becomes genuine, when our faith is sufficient to save us? We, like so many others in the scriptures, want a sign, some proof that the mysterious spiritual things are actually happening as promised. The Lord told the disciples what the signs would be, but like everything else in the Word, their true meaning is contained in their internal sense.

For instance,

that “they should cast out demons in the name of the Lord” signifies that the name of the Lord understood spiritually means everything of doctrine out of the Word from the Lord, and that “demons” mean falsities of every kind, and these are thus cast out, that is, taken away, by the doctrine out of the Word from the Lord.

That “they should speak with new tongues” derives its effect from this, that “new tongues” mean doctrinals for the New Church.

“They should take up serpents” was because “serpents” signify the hells in respect to malice, and thus they would be safe from infestation by it.

“They would not be hurt if they drank any deadly thing” meant that they would not be contaminated by the malice of the hells.

And “the infirm would become well by the laying on of hands” meant to be healed of spiritual diseases, which are called iniquities and sins, by communication and conjunction with heaven, thus with the Lord; the laying on of the hands of the disciples corresponding to communication and conjunction with the Lord, and thus to the removal of iniquities by His Divine power.

The Lord did these things because we need to know Him. It is not enough to just think of God as some benign “force” that is “out there.” We cannot love that which we do not know, and so we were given the New Testament so that we could see His Divine qualities as they presented themselves in the world of men. When we see and know the Lord’s qualities from these teachings, and when these qualities are loved, then we can be conjoined to the Lord. This is why it is said in the Word that those who believe in His name will have eternal life.

This shows how necessary it is that man should know the quality of faith and love, that is, the Lord’s “name;” also how necessary it is to love that quality, which comes by doing those things that the Lord has commanded. The names “Jesus” and “Christ” moreover involve this same quality, since Jesus means salvation, and Christ or Messiah Divine truth, which is everything of faith and love as to knowledges, doctrine, and life. When, therefore, these names are mentioned their quality must be thought of and they must live according to it. This is what is meant by the words of the Lord in Matthew:-

Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. (MAT18:19,20)

When we read the passages that tell us how hard it was for the Lord to be received by the Jewish Church, we need to remember that the point of such a passage is not to condemn the Jews, but to teach us to beware of the same kinds of mental and spiritual states in our own lives. Anyone in any age can delight in the idea that some hero is going to come to solve your problems and make you rich and powerful. Anyone in any age can be wholly natural and deny the reality of the spiritual realm. Anyone can use the Word to mislead and to justify the evils that they do to others.

But just as the Lord came bodily to present Himself to the Jewish Church, so He presents Himself to us now in the Word. We don’t actually witness His miracles, but we can see them in our mind’s eye as we read the Word. And, the miracle is, that as we are introduced to the Lord through the Word, as we begin to understand the Divinity within Him as it shone forth from His miraculous powers, we find that we are gradually healed of our own spiritual diseases. We begin to bring ourselves into order. We think of others. We try to be useful, and we find that the effort brings spiritual peace for the Lord has miraculously healed the diseases of our spirit. Jesus said …”Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (JOH20:29,28) AMEN.

First Lesson:

(John 11:1-45) Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. {2} It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. {3} Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” {4} When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” {5} Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. {6} So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. {7} Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” {8} The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?” {9} Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. {10} “But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” {11} These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” {12} Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” {13} However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. {14} Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. {15} “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.” {16} Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”

17} So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. {18} Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away. {19} And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. {20} Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. {21} Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. {22} “But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” {23} Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” {24} Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” {25} Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. {26} “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” {27} She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” {28} And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.” {29} As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him. {30} Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met Him. {31} Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.” {32} Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” {33} Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. {34} And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” {35} Jesus wept. {36} Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” {37} And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?” {38} Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. {39} Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” {40} Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” {41} Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. {42} “And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” {43} Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” {44} And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.” {45} Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him. Amen.

Second Lesson:

AE 815:7,8 The Lord called the disciples “men of little faith” when they were unable to do miracles in His name, and He was unable to do miracles in His own country because of their unbelief, for the reason that while the disciples believed the Lord to be the Messiah or Christ, also the Son of God, and the prophet of whom it was written in the Word, yet they did not believe that He was God Almighty, and that Jehovah the Father was in Him; and yet so far as they believed Him to be a man, and not at the same time God, His Divine to which omnipotence belongs could not be present with the disciples by faith. For faith presents the Lord as present, but faith in Him as a man only does not present His Divine omnipotence as present.

For the same reason those in the world at the present day who look to His Human alone and not at the same time to His Divine, cannot be saved. And for a like reason the Lord could not do miracles in His own country, for there they had seen Him from infancy like another man; and therefore they were unable to add to that idea the idea of His Divinity; and when that idea is not present while the Lord is present, He is not present in man with Divine omnipotence; for faith presents the Lord as present in man according to the quality of the perception of Him. Other things man does not acknowledge and therefore rejects; for in order that the Lord may operate any thing with man by faith the Lord’s Divine must be present in man, and not outside of him. Amen.

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