Only One Fountain of Life

Lastchurch - The Eternal PurposeFrom Heaven and Hell ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in Me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without Me, ye can do nothing. John 15:4, 5.

… from that one fountain of life, which is the Lord, nothing proceeds except Divine Good and Divine Truth which affect each one in accordance with the reception. Those who receive them in faith and life find heaven in them, but those who reject and suffocate them turn them into hell, for they turn good into evil and truth into falsity, thus life into death. The fact also that everything of life is from the Lord … all things in the universe have reference to good and truth – the life of a man’s will, which is the life of his love, relating to good, and the life of a man’s understanding, which is the life of his faith, relating to truth. Therefore, since everything good and true comes from above, it follows that so does everything of life.

This being the belief of the angels, they refuse all thanks for the good that they do and are indignant and withdraw if anyone attributes good to them. They are astonished that anyone believes that he is wise from himself or does good from himself. Doing good for one’s own sake they do not call good because it is from self; but doing good for the sake of good, they call good from the Divine, and they say it is this good that makes heaven because this Good is the Lord.

Such spirits as have confirmed themselves during their life in the world in the belief that the good that they do and the truth that they believe are from themselves or are appropriated to them as their own – which is the belief of all who attach merit to good actions and claim righteousness to themselves – are not received into heaven. The angels avoid them, regarding them as stupid and as thieves, stupid because they continually have themselves in view and not the Divine, thieves because they would take away from the Lord that which is His. These are opposed to the faith of heaven that the Divine of the Lord present with the angels makes heaven.

(Heaven and Hell 9-11)
April 26, 2017

The Divine Ransom of Love

While I have never been an atheist, if I had not come across the unique concepts of theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, I would have rejected all official systems of belief. I certainly would have rejected, and still do, all ideas by the traditional Christian Church that faith trumps enlightenment.

There is something wrong when millions upon millions of hungry and curious neurons occupying the human brain are asked to have “faith” and “belief” at the expense of knowledge and rationality.

What really makes my neurons cringe is the doctrinal idea that God is “three Persons” and that Jesus ransomed His life to appease the wrath of His Father. Such doctrinal notions implore us to suspend all reasoning and blindly believe that by some kind of divine hocus-pocus (called a divine mystery) Jesus magically took all our sins and guilt to the cross with Him, and by dying on the cross, put the Father into the right mood and loving frame of mind to again be interested in human salvation.

Besides this scenario making Jehovah God look temperamental and subject to moods, I am at a loss as to how anyone’s bad behavior can be transferred and credited to Jesus, or how the Father can then credit us back with righteousness. This is “voodoo” redemption and implies that Christians are spared from living a life according to the Commandments.

It also suggests that God is glorified in the same way men wish to be glorified—by being served rather than serving, since good works play no part in our redemption.

Jesus was not a ransom for an angry Father-God. If this were so, then Jesus would not have started a ministry and gone to great lengths to share new teachings. While on earth, what Jesus did ransom was His human inclination to exercise command and dominate others. Instead, He choose to wash the feet of the seemingly unworthy. This self-induced humbling action is how God was glorified. The Lord attained greatness through humility rather than through a show of force or might.

“It shall not be so among you; but whosoever would be great among you shall be your minister; and whosoever would be first among you shall be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:26-28, Mark 10:44,45)

The Lord took human sin upon Himself by coming into the world and acquiring an imperfect physical body through a human female and real human ovum. In this way, He acquired humankind’s defects and hereditary inclinations towards evil. During the Lord’s life on earth He was given the medium through which He could be influenced by and defeat evil, until He succeeded in perfecting His human nature and uniting it with His divine nature (which was Jehovah). Jesus was Jehovah, and became the Alpha and Omega.

This process of the Lord uniting his human nature with His divine spirit, or Jehovah, was one of perfect humility (exinanition) that reached its ultimate intensity on the cross where the human flesh cried out to be spared from this indignity and be treated specially. Instead of coming down from the cross and showing His true power, he fought to stay on the cross. He brought His flesh under the complete control of the divine will. He showed His ultimate power that divine truth ruled over the selfish and anxious impulses of human flesh.

There is nothing more contrary to heavenly love than the love of self.  Therefore, what was ransomed by the Lord’s life on earth was the human compulsion to be served by others for the sake of self and demand obedience.

If the Lord had come off the cross and taken full control, He would have compelled humankind to worship Him. Only humans compel others and force them into submission.

But coercion is not the strategy of God’s Infinite wisdom.

Love is God’s strategy. This includes His first Advent and Second Coming.

Posted on December 9, 2008by thegodguy

 https://thegodguy.wordpress.com/

 

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How to Acquire Spiritual Faith, which is Faith ‘from’ Charity

Lastchurch - The Eternal Purpose

Selection from Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

It is known in the world that there is a natural man and a spiritual man, as also that the natural man is worldly and the spiritual man heavenly; but still it is not known what spiritual faith is, and how it differs from natural faith.
(1) That every man has two minds, one natural and the other spiritual; and as it is the mind that wills and thinks, every man has also natural will and thought and spiritual will and thought. The natural mind wills and thinks like a man in the world, and the spiritual mind wills and thinks like an angel in heaven. From this it follows that as faith is in man, it, too, is natural or spiritual; and that natural faith is according to man’s will and thought in the world, and spiritual faith is according to his will and thought in heaven. It is said the will and thought, because all things from which man is a man have relation to these two, for from the will he acts, and from the thought he speaks. And as a man acts and speaks either from self or from God, so he wills and thinks either from self or from God. From this it is clear, in the first place, that there is natural faith and spiritual faith; and that natural faith apart from spiritual faith is to think such things as are in the Word from self, while natural faith from spiritual faith is to think such things as are in the Word from God; although this also seems to the man to be from himself.

(2) As every man has two minds, a natural and a spiritual, and the natural mind is opened and formed by such things as are in the world, while the spiritual mind is opened and formed by such things as are in heaven, and as the things that are in heaven are all spiritual, so a man’s spiritual mind must needs be opened and formed by such things as are in the Word, in which all things are spiritual because they are Divine. In the Word there are truths that are to be known and thought, and goods that must be willed and done; therefore it is by these goods and these truths that man’s spiritual mind is opened and formed. From this it follows, that unless the spiritual mind is opened and formed by truths and goods from the Word it remains closed; and when this is closed the natural mind only is opened and formed by such things as are in the world, from which man, indeed, derives a natural lumen, but such as has in it no wisdom from heaven. From this it is clear, in the second place, that faith is not faith so long as the natural mind only is opened, but that if the thought that a thing is so is called faith it is historical faith, which is nothing but knowledge from which the natural man thinks.

(3) That the spiritual mind may be opened and formed it must have a storehouse from which it may draw its supplies; since unless man has such a storehouse he is empty, and in emptiness there can be no Divine operation. This storehouse is in the natural man and it is its memory, in which everything knowable can be stored up and can be drawn forth from it. In this storehouse for the formation of the spiritual man there must be truths that are to be believed and goods that are to be done, both of them from the Word and from doctrine and preaching from the Word. These man must learn even from infancy. But all these things, however abundant they may be, although they are from the Word, are natural until the spiritual mind is opened; for they are mere knowledge. Thought from this storehouse is what is called faith by those who separate faith from good works in doctrine and in life.

(4) The spiritual mind is primarily opened by man’s abstaining from doing evils because they are contrary to the Divine commandments in the Word. If man abstains from evils from any other fear than this the spiritual mind is not opened. The following are the reasons why this is what opens the spiritual mind: First, that the evils with man must be removed before communication and conjunction with heaven can be granted him; since evils, which are all in the natural man, keep heaven closed, and yet heaven must be opened, for otherwise man remains natural. The second reason is that the Word is from the Lord, and consequently the Lord is in the Word, even so that He is the Word; for the Word is Divine truth all of which is from the Lord. From this it follows that he who abstains from doing evils because they are contrary to the Divine commandments in the Word abstains from them from the Lord. The third reason is, that as far as evils are removed so far goods enter. That this is so can be seen by man from natural lumen alone, for when lasciviousness is removed chastity enters; when intemperance is removed temperance enters; when deceit is removed sincerity enters; when hatred and the delight of revenge are removed love and the delight of love and friendship enter; and so in other cases; and this for the reason that the Lord enters, and heaven with Him, so far as man from the Word abstains from doing evils, since he then abstains from them from the Lord.

(5) But this shall be illustrated by examples. Take for illustration the four commandments of the Decalogue, “thou shalt not commit adultery,” “thou shalt not steal,” “thou shalt not kill,” “thou shalt not bear false witness.” These commandments are Divine, since they are in the Word. When anyone shuns and averts himself from adultery because of the fear that it is against the Lord, against heaven, and against the spiritual life, to be in accord with which is eternal felicity, he loves chastity and loves his consort, because true conjugial love is chastity itself. When anyone shuns and averts himself from theft because of a like fear as from adultery, he loves sincerity, and loves the good of the neighbor as his own good. When anyone shuns and averts himself from murders or from deadly hatred from a like fear he loves the neighbor and is in charity. When anyone shuns and averts himself from false testimony because of a like fear he loves justice and loves truthfulness, and this from the Lord, because from the Word; consequently when after death he becomes a spirit he is like an angel of heaven, and therefore becomes an angel of heaven. But when one does not shun adultery from such a holy fear, but from a fear for his reputation, and thus of the loss of honor and gain, or from a fear of the law, or of disease, or because of weakness, he is still unchaste, since he merely fears the world and the loss of his prosperity in the world, and does not fear the Lord, and thus does not fear the loss of heaven and of eternal life. In like manner when anyone abstains from thefts, from murders or deadly hatreds, and from false testimonies, from natural fear only and not from spiritual fear, he abstains from these from self and not from the Lord; and he who does this from self still remains in them; and no one can be withdrawn from these except by the Lord. From this it can be seen that the spiritual mind with man is opened by this, that from the Word he abstains from doing evils; and that it is opened in the same degree in which he abstains from them by shunning and turning away from them.

(Apocalypse Explained 790:3-7)
April 14, 2017

The Hidden Agenda Of The Lord’s Ministry

Jesus was actually a double agent. All the time He was teaching, performing great miracles, and finally having to suffer on the cross, Jesus was also on a secret assignment from heaven.

This assignment was secret because it was kept hidden from our view. This secret part of His divine mission included dealing with special challenges both on earth and in the spiritual world. The Lord not only had to deal with disbelief and sin on an earthly plane, He had to directly confront the forces of evil coming from Hell.

Many Christian theologians believe that Christ took our sins upon Himself, gave his life as a ransom on the cross, appeased the Father through His death, and arose from the dead in order to broker a deal with the Father to remove our guilt—as long as we had the proper “faith.”

That is not how the Lord actually ransomed himself, or portrayed how He ultimately glorified the Father, and the Father, Him.

The Lord’s secret mission on earth can only be deciphered if one has access to the higher levels of meaning that are hidden within the literal words of Scripture. Thankfully, theologian Emanuel Swedenborg has provided us access to this rarefied knowledge.

You see, unbeknownst to most Christians, Jesus was actually Jehovah himself. The strategy of God taking on a human body was not just to provide the Romans with something solid to nail on the cross, but to strip hell of its power.

The forces of hell, while frightening, are still only finite forces. Nothing finite can ever challenge an Infinite God—unless God could take on a finite body giving hell a medium through which evil could attack. This required not only a physical body, it necessitated a body born of a woman. Hell attacks people through their inherited evils. Since God had no evil of His own, He needed to acquire humankind’s hereditary disposition towards evil by entering into the human gene pool.

The Lord did NOT gain “all power over flesh” by arising from death, but through a life on earth whereby He battled and successfully fought off all inclinations and sins of the flesh. It is this inner confrontation that is addressed within the deepest level of meaning contained within the literal words of Scripture.

This incarnation, furnished with real human genes, is how the Lord took the sins of humanity upon himself. The Lord conquered sin by resisting temptation from hell and subordinating his human essence to the will of the Father (the Lord’s heavenly essence) through a life of HUMILITY (called exinanition).

Crucifixion is designed for maximum humility. This was the Lord’s final and ultimate test of humiliation. If He had gotten off the cross to physically prove his authority and then demanded obedience, the flesh would have won. Jesus came into the world to serve us, not bring us to our knees through physical force. Giving up the physical force to compel people and sacrificing the human urge to dominate over others is what is meant by the Lord’s life being a ransom.

This battle between the Lord’s flesh and His divine spirit is even transparent in the literal words of Scripture describing Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane. Here is where the Lord is feeling so much pressure to go on with his deadly mission that he seeks a way out and begins sweating blood. Here, the big “squeeze” is being put on the Lord’s human nature. This is why Gethsemane means “olive press.”

By overcoming all these obstacles the Lord united His human essence (the Son) with His divine essence (the Father). In this “top-down” and “bottom-up” process, the Son glorified the Father and the Father glorified the Son. The Lord’s human was made fully divine.

But even this great event in history saved no one. The Lord came into the world to keep the possibility of salvation left open. Even traditional Christianity supports the notion that there is a caveat to salvation. A person is only saved if he or she has the proper “faith.” However, Swedenborg puts a different wrinkle on what constitutes proper faith. He maintained that only a faith conjoined with good works saves. Love is faith put into action. But this brings free will and human cooperation with God’s tenets into the equation of salvation.

Free will is given to men and women as a gift of God’s divine love. Love is meaningless without free will. And free will cannot be maintained unless a person can be kept in a balance between good and bad influences. The Lord appeared on earth at a time when human free will was being threatened by an overwhelming influence from Hell.

The Lord’s victory over the hells restored the cosmic balance between good and evil influences, and thus protected human free will.

Heaven is a choice.

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Why Faith Can Never Produce Charity

Lastchurch - The Eternal Purpose
Selection from Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
[The] will is formed out of goods, and from these man has love and affection … the understanding is formed out of truths therefrom, and from these man has intelligence and wisdom. And as truths are nothing but forms of good, it follows that the understanding is nothing but a form of its will. The only difference is that the understanding sees and the will feels. From this it is clear that such as man’s will of good is, such is his understanding of truth, or what is the same, such as man’s love is such is his intelligence. From this it is evident that although the will and the understanding are two faculties of life, still they act as one, and for this reason these two faculties of life are called one mind. This relates to the natural man.

In the spiritual man also there are a will and an understanding, but much more perfect; and these are also called one mind. This therefore is the spiritual mind, and the other is the natural mind. But these are such with the man whose spiritual mind has been opened and formed; but it is altogether different with the man whose spiritual mind is closed, and only the natural mind opened.

The same can be said of charity and faith as has been said of the will and understanding; for the will is the subject and receptacle of charity as it is the subject and receptacle of good, and the understanding is the subject and receptacle of faith because it is the subject and receptacle of truth; for charity derives all that it is from good, and faith derives all that it is from truth; and this is why it is said the good of charity, and the truth of faith. From this it follows that charity and faith act as one, like will and understanding; and that such as the charity is such is the faith. But these are in the natural mind; but in the spiritual mind there is the love of good in place of charity, and the perception of truth in place of faith.

That spiritual love, which is charity, produces faith, can be seen merely from this, that man after death, who is then called a spirit, is nothing but an affection which is of love, and his thought is from that; consequently the whole angelic heaven is arranged into societies according to the varieties of affections; and everyone in heaven, in whatever society he may be, thinks from his affection; and therefore it is affection, which is love, that produces faith, and such faith as the affection is; for faith is nothing but thinking that a thing is so in truth, while affection means love in its continuation. But at the present day man in the world does not know that his thought is from affection and according to it, for the reason that he sees his thought but does not see his affection, and as his thought is his affection in a visible formtherefore he knows no otherwise than that thought is the whole mind of man. It was otherwise of old with the ancients where the churches were. Because these knew that love produces all things of thought, therefore charity (which is the affection of knowing truths, of understanding them, and of willing them, and thus of becoming wise) was made by them the chief means of salvation. And as that affection makes one with faith they did not know what faith is.

From this it is evident not only how faith is formed with man but also that faith never can produce charity; but charity, which is spiritual love, forms faith as an effigy of itself, and in it presents an image of itself; and for this reason the nature of faith is known from charity and its goods, which are good works, as the nature of a tree is known from its fruit. By a “tree,” however, faith is not meant, but man in respect to his life; while its leaves signify the truths through which there is faith, and its fruits signify goods of life, which are the goods of charity. Besides these arcana respecting the formation of faith by the Lord by means of charity there are innumerable others; but still it is the Lord who works all these arcana, while man knows nothing about it; all that man needs to do is to learn truths from the Word and to live according to them.

(Apocalypse Explained 790:9-14)
April 18, 2017

 

Bible Meanings

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The Human Understanding – A Refining Vessel

Lastchurch - The Eternal Purpose

From True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

A man’s knowledge of God is his mirror of God, and that those who know nothing about God do not see God in a mirror with its face toward them, but in a mirror with its back toward them; and as this is covered with quicksilver, or some dark paste; it does not reflect the image but extinguishes it.

Faith in God enters into man through a prior way, which is from the soul into the higher parts of the understanding; while knowledges about God enter through a posterior way, because they are drawn from the revealed Word by the understanding, through the bodily senses; and these inflowings meet midway in the understanding; and there natural faith, which is merely persuasion, becomes spiritual, which is real acknowledgment. Thus the human understanding is like a refining vessel, in which this transmutation is effected.

(True Christian Religion 11:3)
April 20, 2017