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

Faith or Good Works?

There has been a long, ongoing battle between Christians as to whether one is saved by faith alone or with the augmentation of good works. Something as important as eternal salvation needs resolution.

An effective means for throwing light on a particular subject is through the use of analogy. Analogy lets us tie together something unknown with something known and experienced. So I would like to use the power of analogy to help us get to the bottom of this most important issue and settle the debate over faith and good works.

The difference between faith and good works is analogous to the difference between sowing seed and growing seed. Having faith and belief (along with its religious doctrine) is like God sowing spiritual seed in our mind – which is the soil of our spirit. But only having faith and belief in the Lord as savior is like leaving seeds sitting on top of the soil.

It is a scientific fact that the seeds of nature’s plant kingdom will not take root and grow until the soil conditions are favorable. Same thing with the seeds of faith, which remain as mere data in one’s memory, until the conditions of the heart and mind become favorable.

The “perfect” conditions that allow for faith to take root and grow have to do with spiritual love. It is a desire to be helpful to others from a spiritual principle. This state of the human spirit is called loving God and loving the neighbor (which are the two principles of religion that all the commandments hang on).

Love (like the vernal warmth of Spring) provides the spiritual warmth that releases the productive principle within the seeds of faith, allowing God’s lessons to take root and in our hearts and mind, where it then grows into living activity.

Growth is action. Likewise, faith must grow, blossom, and bear fruit. Faith has no life unless it grows and is productive. In other words, faith cannot reach its potentials without good works. Good works (spiritual love) are the very life and living activity of faith.

Love is faith put into action.

This is why the Lord said to “judge them by their fruits.” The Lord did not say to “judge them by their faith.” Good works are one’s faith manifested in the world, that is, finding concrete reality in action.

However, there is a caveat. Good works must be carried out with humility, be aligned to a true love of the Lord God, and an acknowledgment that God is the Gardener. Otherwise, we take merit for our charitable actions and good deeds.

What say you?

Posted on August 17, 2008by thegodguy

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