Salvation – the New Church perspective

The Bible tells us a great deal about what leads to salvation. It talks about faith, repentance, and living a good life (obeying the commandments).

The path to salvation is simple: live well, believe rightly, and you will be saved. We believe that all people who live good lives, no matter what their religion, have a place in heaven. Heaven is limitless in its capacity for angels, in fact, the more angels there are, the more heaven thrives. Everyone born on this earth has been predestined for heaven. The only reason someone would go to hell is because they have chosen to go there of their own volition.

In determining whether or not we have lived well, God leads us to assess the whole of our lives — the highs and lows, causes and effects, the mistakes made and genuinely good things done. If there is any possible way He can lead us into heaven, He will. In other words, it’s pretty difficult to go to hell. God’s greatest wish for us is that we find our highest happiness within the angel body. Those who choose hell are people who put themselves above all else, repeatedly indulging in things which are hurtful to others. The only reason hell exists is to preserve the freedom of choice which God grants to all His people.

Only the Lord saves, but we play a role

We play an active role in our salvation every day of our lives. When we look to the Divine and live according to what we believe is right, we move closer towards heaven. If we shun good, we move closer to hell. Thus, salvation and freedom of choice are inseparable from each other.

Salvation is not dependent on the doctrinal specifics of the religion you have followed on earth. As long as you have lived a life acknowledging God and refraining from evil because it is against Him, you will be saved. Acknowledging God does not necessarily mean recognizing Him by name. A person can be ignorant of religion and still acknowledge God by living a life of goodwill. This is because the choices that we make on a daily basis are what determine whether we end up in heaven or hell. Yes, worshiping God is essential for admittance into heaven, but we worship Him through the actions of our lives.

“The sum of faith is that one who lives well and believes rightly is saved by the Lord.” (True Christian Religion 340)

“Every person has been created to live to eternity in a blessed state.” (Divine Providence 324)

newchurch.org

How does Jesus REALLY save?

The New Church, based on the Old and New Testaments, with insights from the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, teaches how Jesus saves, consistent with our knowledge of a loving God.

God desires for us all to go to heaven. He doesn’t judge us, or condemn evildoers to hell. Those who choose evil condemn themselves to hell by choosing to withdraw from the Lord’s love and mercy. The Lord God Jesus Christ saved us by showing us how to live our lives. His entire life on earth was about overcoming evils and temptations, and his death was the conclusion of that struggle. Just as we are faced with evils and temptations in our lives, Jesus struggled against those same temptations as a human. In overcoming them, He taught us the way to live.

We are saved when we open ourselves to the Lord and his love, and draw nearer to the Lord; and we do that by living our lives loving him. What does that mean? It means obeying his commandments (avoiding evil), being of use and loving others. We may have been taught that believing in the Lord is enough to save. But belief (or faith) without actively living that faith is not truly believing. Certainly, we cannot earn our way to heaven by our works. But we only truly believe or have faith when we actively work to do God’s will. Love (or charity) must be united with faith in order for either to be real.

Jesus saved us, not through his death, but through his life. He overcame evil and restored a sense of balance in the world, leaving us in freedom to choose good or evil. He taught us how we should live our lives; in fact he showed us how to do it. It is only by so doing that we can be truly happy. When we die, we continue to make these choices, which determines whether we live in heaven loving God and doing his will, or turn away from him to hell. Jesus set the stage so that we are free to choose. We must do our part to choose good, which will draw us closer to the Divine. This is how Jesus saves.

This website contains a wealth of information about the New Church, and a practical, spiritual path to happiness.

newchurch.org

 

Parenting in Imitation of God

Swedenborg Foundation

By Coleman Glenn

Our early impressions of God are strongly intertwined with our early impressions of our parents. After all, when we are young children, our parents are the ones who clothe us, feed us, teach us, and sustain us—they act in some ways as surrogates for God. It’s no surprise that so many religious traditions, including Christianity, refer to God as a divine parent.

parenting_full

If it’s true that our ideas about parenthood shape our ideas about God, it’s also true that our understanding of God shapes how we raise our children. If we think of God as stern and dictatorial, we’re likely to be stern and dictatorial as parents. If we think of God as gentle and warm, we’re likely to act gently and warmly as parents (or at least try to!).

The Swedenborgian understanding of God comes from reading the Bible with the firm conviction that God is love and that Jesus is God. The picture of God that emerges in this reading is one of a God who loves each and every person in creation, who protects human freedom as the apple of his eye, and who always acts for the eternal welfare of all. Looking at those attributes, we can draw insights into how we might better imitate God in our parenting.

Here are three ideas that have been particularly valuable to me as a father of two young kids:

1.  Loving your child means loving everyone else’s children, too.

There are passages in the Bible that explicitly suggest acting in imitation of God. Several of them have to do with loving as God loves. This means loving not only ourselves, our own families, or people who agree with us, but loving even our enemies:

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:44–45)

What does this mean for parenting? Because we know our children’s hearts, we can be tempted to assume that in any conflict, they are in the right. But if we’re called to love as God loves, then we’re called to extend love to other people as much as we extend love to our own kids. Obviously, we will feel a stronger affection for our own children, but we are called to act as lovingly even toward strangers and those who seem to be our enemies.

This doesn’t mean we have to choose between loving our children with all our hearts and loving everyone else. One of my favorite Swedenborgian concepts is that in the long run, caring for an individual and caring for the good of all make for one and the same thing. For example, if we teach a child to care for the less privileged, we’re serving the less privileged and our child by creating the foundation for a life—an eternal life!—of joyful service. It’s not an either/or situation, so it’s a useful exercise to ask in any situation whether there is a course of action that will be best both for our children and for everyone with whom they are interacting.

2.  Protect your child’s freedom and sense of self—even if it’s easier not to.

My personality is such that I find it much easier to just do things myself than to try to help others do them. In some situations, this is a useful trait; in many others, though, it’s a failing. This is particularly true in parenting: it is much easier to pick up after my kids than it is to coax them to pick up after themselves. It is much easier to wrangle over my son’s head whatever shirt I choose than it is to patiently wait while he tries to choose between dinosaurs and robots.

It is significantly harder to offer a child freedom and a sense of self than it is to do everything for them. It takes much more work, but I remind myself often that the work is worth it. We do have to set limits, of course. But within those limits, it is vital that children be free to make choices and to have a sense that they are acting from themselves.

The book Divine Providence expresses just how much the Lord cares about human freedom. One of the Lord’s greatest gifts to us is heavenly freedom: the sense that we act from ourselves and that from this we have the ability to act with free will. According to Swedenborg:

The Lord protects our freedom the way we protect the pupil of our eye. The Lord . . . is constantly using our freedom to lead us away from our evils, and to the extent that he can do so through our freedom, he uses that freedom to plant good things within us. In this way, step by step he gives us heavenly freedom in place of hellish freedom. (Divine Providence §97)

It’s not easy to watch my kids make choices I don’t want them to make. But I remember that it’s not easy for the Lord to watch me make choices he’d rather didn’t make—and yet, he keeps giving me the freedom to make those choices. I think it’s important that I offer the same gift to my kids.

3.  Discipline with a purpose.

I firmly believe that there is no inherent value in punishment—it must always be for a purpose and never simply for payback. The prophet Ezekiel records God as saying, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live” (Ezekiel 33:11). If God allows punishment, it is never for its own sake; it is always so that the person may “turn and live”:

People have charity and mercy . . . when they exercise justice and judgment, punishing the evil and rewarding the good. Charity is present in the punishment they inflict, because zeal moves them to reform the wrongdoer and to protect others from the harm such a person might do. In the process they are looking out for the best interests of the wrongdoer, their enemy, and are wishing that person well. At the same time they are looking out for and wishing well to others, and to their country itself. (Secrets of Heaven §2417)

As parents, we are required to instill discipline in our kids. While discipline is much broader than consequences or punishments—involving other such things as establishing routines—it does still have to include these kinds of corrective actions. With all our choices in this area, we need to be asking ourselves the following questions:

  • How will this disciplinary action help my child make a better choice next time?
  • How will it help protect the child herself and the people around her?

So we should keep some things in mind:

  • Encourage our children to think about what they might have done wrong and what other choices they could have made.
  • Help them come to those conclusions themselves; but if they are unable to do so, always be very clear with them.
  • Demonstrate, when possible, a clear connection between consequence and behavior (e.g., “I am going to take away the baseball bat for a week because you had trouble stopping yourself from hitting the walls with it, and that hurts the walls.”)
  • Let them know they are still loved, and let them know you believe they can make a better choice next time.

There are thousands of different perspectives on exactly the right way to set up discipline. Find what works best for you and your family, but make sure it follows these guidelines: it will work to help the child in the long run, and it will work to keep the child and others safe. Remember the first principle mentioned above: from the eternal perspective, loving our children well and loving our neighbor well make for one and the same thing. This is the perspective of God, who desires what is best for all of his children.

Coleman Glenn is an author and a New Church minister currently working with General Church Outreach in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania.

http://www.swedenborg.com/

Finding Peace in a World of Violence

   Swedenborg Foundation

By Chelsea Rose Odhner

How do I find peace in a violent world?
So many answers come to mind,
but all of them could be written on a holiday card.
None invite breath. None don’t feel strained.

How do you find peace in a violent world
without clamping your jaw?
Answers are the packing peanuts
of what is really needed.

How do we find peace in a violent world?
I browse Facebook and stop to read others’ answers
that the recent winter holiday has inspired.
Though full of wisdom, none are a salve.
They are very good answers for finding peace,
though no peace is found.

How do I find peace in a violent world?
Rather than as an answer, it appears in my mind,
unexpected, weighted,
at the bottom, not hiding anything.

“It’s okay to be empty,” the words are there.

“It’s okay to be empty.”

When the Lord was being emptied out he was in a state of progress toward union; when he was being glorified he was in a state of union itself. . . . The reason why the Lord experienced these two states, the state of being emptied out and the state of being glorified, is that no other method of achieving union could possibly exist. Only this method follows the divine design, and the divine design cannot be changed. . . . This is the divine design we follow, and have to follow, to go from being earthly to being spiritual. (True Christianity §§ 104, 105)

For me to believe that we are either in a state of “union” or a state of “progress toward union,” whatever our circumstances might be, is a matter of trusting the Lord’s providence. When tragedies happen, especially violence brought on by human hands, life feels like it’s going backwards. It can feel like hell is winning. In the aftermath of tragedy, I know that I always strive to find ways to make sense of the broken pieces. But when the rug is ripped from beneath your feet and you’re shocked to realize that it looks like there was no floor below to begin with, that empty, free-falling state can be terrifying. Any patchwork effort by my own hands to create a sense of firmness in life lacks persuasion, and the last thing I am inclined to do is soften into the emptiness. And yet this “softening” is the message that came to me recently during one of these moments: “It’s okay to be empty.” We may feel that life is void of hope and feel that we are absolutely empty inside; and the Lord will still fill us. More precisely, he is still filling us, as we are never outside the care of the Lord’s providence.

“You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has [pain] because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world . . . These things I have spoken to you in figurative language . . . These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have [suffering]. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:20–21, 25, 33)

A “union” state is when we feel in step with God’s will for our lives, and we are at peace. The only other option is “progress toward union,” but our “progress” states rarely feel like they are moving us toward union in the moment. And yet they are. The analogy with labor in John 16 is apt; every moment of “progress toward union” is a labor leading to the birth of new life, even though the truth of that is most often hidden from us. While this truth is known to God himself, it was hidden from him while in the world in his own “progress toward union” states. In the most severe of them—while being crucified—God even believed himself to be utterly forsaken.

The truth is that surrendering even our deepest fears to the Lord in the midst of an overpowering sense of emptiness and aloneness is safe. I’ve found that when I do this myself, tears come. Sobs have a way of scattering anxious thoughts, dissipating the hovering fear, and rooting me in my body. And somehow, afterwards, the thinnest film of peace has condensed in my spirit, as mystifyingly as dew forms on the edges of night. In fact, Swedenborg writes that dew corresponds to the “truth of peace”:

“Dew” signifies the truth of peace because in the morning it comes down from heaven and appears upon the [vegetation] like fine rain, and has also stored up in it something of sweetness or delight more than rain has. . . . This truth . . . is . . . from the Lord, . . . for peace [affirms that] the Lord . . . directs all things, and provides all things, and that He leads to a good end. When a [person] is in this faith, [she] is in peace . . .” (Arcana Coelestia §8455)

Sometimes the best we can do is affirm this truth in our thoughts while being present to the hollowness of emptiness—breathing and crying through the cognitive dissonance this brings.

These two alternations of our spiritual path—union and progress toward union—are perhaps why the Psalmist remarks that, “Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You” (Psalm 139:12). Our nights, our stretches of feeling empty, while deeply unsettling to our minds, are far from dark to the Lord, because they are times of progress toward union. It is scary to feel empty. But it is enough for us to remember the Lord when we feel far from Him and allow Jerusalem (the abode, city, or foundation of peace) to come into our minds (Jeremiah 51:50). Perhaps it’s not about us finding peace in these moments but about peace finding us. And we can trust that peace will never stop finding us, no matter how empty life seems.

A Five Step Guide to Finding Peace (or for Allowing Emptiness to Lead to Peace) in the Midst of a Violent World

  1.    Lie down.
  2.    Let yourself cry.
  3.    Call or text a friend.
  4.    Sleep, if you can (watch a TV show or movie, if you can’t).
  5.    Remind yourself that there is a Love holding all the suffering.

The best trick up God’s sleeve is turning suffering into love. It’s not something that you can decide to do with your mind; it’s what you can allow to happen by following these five steps.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5–6)


Chelsea Rose Odhner is a freelance writer who contributes regularly to the 
Swedenborg & Life show on the offTheLeftEye YouTube channel

http://www.swedenborg.com/

The Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

 

New Christian Bible StudyNew Christian Bible Study

A new philosophy for a new church in a new world


Photograph of quill pen on desk by Ross Pollack

Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) was a Swedish scientist, engineer and philosopher who spent his last three decades writing theological works, both Biblical interpretation and more philosophical works on the nature of God, humanity, reality, and life after death.

We offer his major works here (see links in the left column. Or, if you would like to search/sort by language, here’s a link to help you do that. You will see translations in English, Portuguese, French, Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish, Dutch, German and Korean.

If you don’t see a particular work offered in your preferred language, make sure to check our More Swedenborg Translations page where we have collected an additional 70 translations in a wide variety of languages. The translations are readable and searchable here while they wait in the queue to be imported and connected to the site’s Scripture study features.

For Latin scholars and those interested in comparing and studying translations, the original Latin of each work is also available throughout the site.

Swedenborg wrote that he was allowed to visit heaven and hell and talk to people there, gaining insight into the spiritual plane of existence. He also said that what he wrote came directly from the Lord, and that it was revealed to him so that the Lord could establish a new Christian church in the world, correcting errors that had arisen in the Christian churches at that day. Despite these extraordinary claims, Swedenborg himself lived humbly, avoided public speaking, and stuck to publishing books, making no attempt to organize a church.

This site is being created to share those theological works and ideas drawn from them, so people can see and judge for themselves the nature of the insight Swedenborg had.

If you’re new to Swedenborg, here are some works you might consider tackling first.

“Heaven and Hell”: This offers a unique and detailed vision of life after death, with people choosing heaven or hell based on the things they love most in life.

“Arcana Coelestia (Heavenly Secrets)”: This 12-volume work offers a phrase-by-phrase analysis of the symbolic spiritual meaning of Genesis and Exodus. It’s a large undertaking, but if you want to understand the Old Testament, it is a treasure trove.

“Conjugial Love”: This describes how male and female minds and spirits are designed to interlock, creating a whole that is truly human. Some modern readers struggle with its being written from a male perspective, but one can see through the 18th-century language to embrace a vision of eternal marriage as the source of all joy in heaven.

“Divine Love and Wisdom”: If you’re into science, this could have definite appeal. The most philosophical book of the Writings, it starts with the premise that the Lord is love itself and traces the impact of that idea on spiritual reality, physical reality and the relationship of God and humanity.

“Divine Providence”: This work describes how the Lord operates into our lives, keeping us in freedom while working constantly to draw us toward love and heaven.

For a complete and detailed list of Swedenborg’s works and the translations of each that are available on this site, please take a look at our bibliography of Swedenborg’s theological works.

http://newchristianbiblestudy.org/

What the Bible says about… its Inner Meaning

New Christian Bible StudyNew Christian Bible Study

By Rev. John Odhner 


A frozen bubble shines with light.

What does the Bible say about it’s own inner meaning?

Some people take most of what the Bible says very literally. Others see the Bible as being largely symbolic with a deeper meaning. Sometimes a conflict arises between the two different points of view. One side insists that any search for a deeper meaning comes from a failure to believe what God plainly says. The other side claims that it is only by means of the symbolic interpretation that the Bible becomes meaningful and relevant for today.

The question of how to interpret the Bible is not only a matter of personal opinion. Regardless of whether we prefer a literal or symbolic interpretation, we should look at how the Bible interprets itself. How does God tell us to interpret His revelation? Does He indicate that we should look for a deeper meaning?

Jesus said that all the Law and the Prophets hang upon the Two Great Commandments, to love the Lord and to love the neighbor. But some parts of the Bible don’t seem to say anything about loving God and others. Do these parts of the Bible actually have hidden meanings that teach us how to love?

Jesus explained that the commandment about murder shouldn’t be taken just on a literal level. On a deeper level, it prohibits hatred and contempt. “You have heard that it was said to those of old,You shall not murder,’…But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” (Matthew 5:21, 22)

Likewise, the deeper meaning of the commandment against adultery prohibits lust. “You have heard that it was said to those of old,You shall not commit adultery,’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27, 28)

Jesus frequently showed that the Old Testament contained deeper meanings than were first apparent. For example, He told His disciples that the Old Testament contained many prophecies about His own life that they had not understood.

“Beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:27)

“He opened their understanding that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:45)

Jesus showed that stories in the Old Testament were symbolic of His own life, even when the symbolism was not apparent in the literal meaning. For example, the story of the manna is symbolic of Jesus as the bread of life: “Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.” (John 6:32)

Another story with an inner meaning referring to Jesus is the brass serpent: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” (John 3:14)

It is similar with the story of Jonah and the whale: “As Jonah was three days in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:40)

The temple in Jerusalem, which was the scene of many stories in the Old Testament, was also a symbol of Jesus. (John 2:19-22)

Paul also encourages us to go beyond the literal meaning of the Old Testament. He asks us to obey the spirit of the law, not just the letter. “He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter.” (Romans 2:29)

“We should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” (Romans 7:6)

“The letter kills, but the spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6)

Paul often pointed to deeper meanings in the Old Testament. For example, he took Adam as a symbol of Christ, (Romans 5:14) and his marriage with Eve as a symbol of Christ’s marriage with the Church. (Ephesians 5:31, 32)

He saw the story of Noah and the Flood as an antitype of baptism and regeneration. (1 Peter 3:20, 21)

The Tabernacle of Israel with its furnishings and all the rituals and sacrifices performed in it pictured Jesus’ work of salvation. These earthly things were the “copy and shadow of heavenly things…symbolic for the present time.” (Hebrews 8:5, 9:9, Colossians 2:16, 17) The story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar and their sons is also an allegory, in which Hagar’s son represented the Lord’s covenant with the Jews and Sarah’s son symbolized the New Covenant in Christ. (Galatians 4:22-31)

The Exodus story tells how the children of Israel escaped from Egypt, trekked through the wilderness for forty years, and finally made their home in the promised land. Many have seen this as symbolic of our spiritual journey out of slavery to sin, through trials and temptations and into heaven. But does the Bible itself suggest that this is a parable, or a story with an inner meaning? In fact, it does. Psalm 78 opens with the words, “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old.” (Psalm 78bb1).

The “parable” that follows is the story of the plagues on Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, bringing water from the rock, receiving manna from heaven, and other stories of the Exodus. Thus the whole story of Exodus is a parable.

The prophet Hosea wrote, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.” (Hosea 11:1)

Clearly, the “child” here is Israel as a young nation, and being called out of Egypt refers to the Exodus. But on a deeper level, it refers to Christ Himself—it is prophetic of what would happen in Jesus’ life. (Matthew 2:15)

We can see from this that many of the stories of the Old Testament are symbolic of Christ and His work of salvation. But what about the stories that are not directly explained in the New Testament? Do they also have inner meanings? Many people have seen a parallel between Joseph, the son of Israel, and Jesus. The table illustrates how Joseph was a symbol of Christ, even though this symbolism could not have been seen before Christ’s coming.

Joseph and Jesus Compared

Joseph was a shepherd; Jesus was our Shepherd

Joseph was a beloved son; Jesus was a beloved Son

Joseph was stripped of his tunic; Jesus was stripped of His tunic

Joseph was sold for twenty pieces of silver by Judah; Jesus was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver by Judas

Joseph was abandoned by his brothers; Jesus was abandoned by His disciples

Joseph was falsely accused of crime; Jesus was falsely accused of crime

Joseph was imprisoned with two criminals, one of whom would be released; Jesus was crucified with two criminals, one of whom would be saved

Joseph was became ruler of all the land; Jesus became King of heaven

Joseph provided food to hungry people; Jesus provided food to hungry people

Joseph was reunited with his brothers, who bowed down to him; Jesus was reunited with His disciples, who worshipped Him

Joseph was reunited with his father; Jesus was reunited with the Father in Him

The Bible itself never says specifically that the story of Joseph has an inner meaning relating to Christ. May we look for a deeper meaning even in places which the Bible does not specifically explain?

We have already seen that Christ fulfilled many prophecies that were symbolically hidden in Old Testament stories. Does every part of the Law and Prophets contain prophecies of Jesus life? Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” If Jesus fulfilled every jot and tittle of the Law and Prophets, then every jot and tittle must contain prophecies of His life, either symbolically hidden or clearly stated.

So far we have focused on the Old Testament. What about the New Testament? Does it also contain inner meanings? Jesus constantly spoke in parables: “Without a parable He did not speak to them.” (Matthew 13:34)

He told us that He would eventually reveal to us the inner meaning of His words.

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now…. These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language but I will tell you plainly about the Father.” (John 16:12, 25)

What about the Book of Revelation? Many things in this book seem obviously to be symbolic. For example, this book speaks of Four Horsemen, one on a white horse, one on a red one, one on a black one, and one called Death on a pale horse. Most people can see that these are not literal horses, but symbols of something else, such as war, famine and plague. (Revelation 6:1-8)

Most people realize that the holy city New Jerusalem is a symbol of heaven or of a new era on earth, and not a literal city a thousand miles high coming out of the clouds.

If the Book of Revelation is at all like the prophecies of the Old Testament, it must contain many prophecies hidden in symbolism that become clear only after the prophesied events have taken place.

The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself. As a Divine Revelation, the Bible contains infinite truth. In order to see that truth more fully, we must look for the deeper meanings to which the Bible itself points us. If we do this, the Lord will “open our eyes to see wonderful things from His law” so that we can more and more clearly see the Lord Himself revealed in “every jot and tittle.”

Author: John Odhner, reproduced by permission.

What is meant by “the tree of life,” what by “the tree of knowledge of good and evil,” and what by “eating” of them?

Lastchurch - The Eternal PurposeFrom Conjugial Love ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

A tree signifies man; and its fruit signifies the good of life. By the tree of life, therefore, is meant man living from God, or God living in man. And as love and wisdom, and charity and faith, or good and truth, make the life of God in man, these are meant by the tree of life, and from these man has life eternal. The like is signified by the tree of life of which it is given to eat, in Revelation 2:7:-  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

And Revelation 22:2 & 14:-  In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

By the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is signified the man who believes that he lives of himself, and not from God; thus, that love and wisdom, charity and faith, that is, good and truth, are in man, his own, and not of God, believing this, because he thinks and wills, and speaks and acts in all similitude and appearance as if from himself. And because from this belief man persuades himself that God has imparted Himself or infused His Divine into him, therefore the serpent said:- God doth know that in the day that ye eat of the fruit of that tree your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil (Gen. 3:5).

By eating of those trees is signified reception and appropriation; by eating of the tree of life, the reception of life eternal; and by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the reception of condemnation, and therefore also both Adam and his wife, together with the serpent, were accursed.

By the serpent is meant the devil as to the love of self and the pride of one’s own intelligence. This love is the possessor of that tree; and men who are in pride from this love are such trees. They therefore are in a monstrous error who believe that Adam was wise and did good from himself, and that this was his state of integrity; when in fact Adam was himself accursed on account of that belief, for this is signified by his eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Therefore he then fell from the state of integrity, in which he was by virtue of believing that he was wise and did good from God, and not at all from himself; for this is meant by eating of the tree of life.

The Lord alone when He was in the world was wise of Himself and did good from Himself; because the Divine Itself was in Him and was His by nativity. And therefore also by His own power He became the Redeemer and Saviour.

From all that had been said they formed this conclusion: That by the tree of life, and by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and by eating of them, is signified that life with man is God in him; and that then it is heaven to him and eternal life. And that death to man is the persuasion and belief that the life he has is not God, but himself; from which belief comes hell to him and eternal death, which is damnation.

(Conjugial Love 135)
March 23, 2017