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.

Posted on

Posted in god, Inner growth, love, psychology, Reality, religion, spirituality, symbolism, unity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |Leave a comment

 

 

The walrus is Paul!

I am not referring to one of the Beatles. The gentleman I am referring to is the so-called “apostle” Paul, whose original name was Saul.

Paul is the walrus because he is the odd man out, and for several interesting reasons. One of which is that he was not a part of the Lord’s inner circle. Paul was not a part of the Lord’s original twelve apostles and plays no foundational role in the Holy City, the New Jerusalem.

“And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (Rev. 21:14)

So Paul is most definitely the walrus when it comes to the Second Coming or having special authority, even though many theologians put his importance above that of the other twelve.

According to theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, Paul’s writings are not a part of the inspired Word of God, either.

While Paul’s work was important to spreading the Christian movement abroad and he is now the “go-to” guy for fine-tuning Christian doctrine, his actual writings came from his own prudence and subjective estimation of things. His writings were not Sacred in and of themselves.

The reason why Swedenborg came to this conclusion is that Paul’s writings did not contain the deeper, sacred meanings that are contained within God’s true Holy Word. Remember, that the canonical Bible consists of stories that were decided upon by the judgment of finite human minds. Some of their choices were correct, and some were incorrect.

In other words, not all the stories in Scripture represent God’s true Holy Word. (See my post entitled “God’s Holy Word vs. The Canonical Bible.”) Since I have addressed the topic of higher meaning within the stories of Scripture in dozens of earlier posts, it would be too tedious to address this enormous topic here and now. Rather, I would like to address more urgent issues – a misfortunate outcome of Paul’s writings.

Paul is the walrus because he did not make it clear enough to his readers that LOVE trumps both FAITH and HOPE. Today much of the Christian Church is misguided because of a misinterpretation of Paul’s words “that man is justified by faith without the works of the law.” (Romans 3:28)

Swedenborg points out that Paul was not trying to tell people that they were no longer responsible to the Lord’s commandments, but that they no longer had to follow the numerous tenets of Mosaic law, such as circumcision or the law of the red heifer.

The Lord made it quite clear that one was to “love God” and “love the neighbor.” These are the two great commandments upon which all divine law hangs.

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me . . . and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him, and will make my abode with him.” (John 14:21, 23)

Furthermore, in Revelation 20:13 it states: “and they were judged every man according to their works.” So even after the Lord’s dying on the cross and His resurrection, He still demands more than “mind faith,” but faith put into action (which is love).

Paul supports this: “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” (Romans 2:13)

Merit, is not sought by those who sincerely place loving God and the neighbor above themselves. This is what makes good works selfless and truly spiritual.

So the doctrine of justification by faith alone is bogus. And, because of that, much of orthodox Christianity has become the walrus as well. (No wonder it has been like pulling teeth to convince people that Sacred Scripture also contains higher levels of meaning.)

Posted on November 17, 2008by thegodguy

http://www.staircasepress.com

Posted in god, Inner growth, Life after death, love, Reality, religion, spirituality, unity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Seeking answers: Life is full of questions

Am I going to hell?

aLife-is-full-of-questions Your Creator does not want you in hell, but in heaven. Some people think they are going to hell because they have been told that the Lord sends evil people to hell. In reality the Lord, our loving and merciful God, does not send anybody to hell because doing so is contrary to His Divine nature (Heaven and Hell 545). However, hell does exist, and the Lord will not prevent you from going there if you choose it. He has given you the freedom to choose good or evil, heaven or hell. If you continually choose to do evil, you will cast yourself into hell after death (Heaven and Hell 547). Thousands of years ago, the Lord said to the Israelites, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). I believe the same message is addressed to us today. The Lord is asking us to choose heaven over hell.

I have done some bad things in my life. Can the Lord forgive me?

There is nothing the Lord is unable to forgive. Remember, when Peter asked the Lord how many times he should forgive his sinful brother, the Lord said to him: “up to seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22). The Lord taught Peter always to forgive. Why wouldn’t He do the same thing? So, yes, the Lord can and will forgive every bad thing you have done in your life if you repent—that is, if you ask for forgiveness of your sins and you amend your ways and your doings.

There are so many religions that claim a path to salvation. Which religion is saved?

The Lord does not discriminate between Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Voodoo people, etc. All are His creatures and as a loving and merciful God, He wants to save every human being (Heaven and Hell 522). The New Church teaches that all human beings born into any religion can be saved, provided they acknowledge God and live according to the Ten Commandments (Divine Providence 253). Those who worship the Lord Jesus Christ and live according to His commandments are saved. Still the Lord leads not only Christians but also people from other religions according to their own precepts. He has provided that in every religion there should be precepts similar to those in the Ten Commandments (Divine Providence 254:2). So it is how people live their religious life which saves them, not their religion itself.

How do my works affect my salvation?

Our works affect our salvation in many ways. Secrets of Heaven 3934 states that works are what save a person and what condemn him, for the will of a person is in his work. Good works save us, while evil works condemn us. The Lord requires good works from us so that we can be saved: “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17).

Which is more important: faith or good works?

Jesus said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotton Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” From the words in John 3:16, some people may conclude that faith is more important than good works. This is not true. Faith and good works are equally important because they are the two essentials of salvation. A person’s faith can be seen in his work. And “good works are the fruit of faith” (Secrets of Heaven 1873).


The Rev. Guillaume Anato is the pastor of the New Church group in Cotonou, Benin. For more information, contact him at anatokgui@hotmail.com.

https://newchurch.org/

Full issue

Can You Contribute to Your Own Salvation?

 We have choices. We need to freely choose to live a life according to the Lord’s principles. The Lord can only approach us with His love and wisdom and mercy if we prepare ourselves to receive Him. We are taught that the Lord can only be present with us in what is His own. So we must acquire truth from the Word and attempt to live by it, shunning evils as sins. When we do this we create a place where the Lord can dwell. The power to do this of course is not ours, but comes from the Lord when we ask for it, and live in the light of the Word.

https://newchurch.org/


“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

What did Jesus Accomplish by His Death on the Cross?

Christ’s death was needed for our salvation; but it was not to appease an angry Father.

There are several theories in the Christian world about how Jesus Christ saved us from sin and reconciled us to God. Traditional Christianity teaches that the human race had turned away from God and God was angry and ready to destroy the human race. According to this view, Jesus interceded and offered the sacrifice of Himself, to die, to appease the wrath of the Father. This teaches that we are saved by acknowledging that Jesus, by dying on the cross, took upon Himself all the sins of the human race, and by a confession of belief in His sacrifice all of our sins are washed away and we are saved – made acceptable to God and able to enter into heaven. This is why an emphasis on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is stressed by traditional Christian theology. It is, in their eyes, the way, and the only way, to heaven.

New Christianity teaches that God saved the human race by coming on earth, but He didn’t come merely to die. He came to restore freedom to human beings so we could again be free to choose. He came so that we would have a clear understanding of who God is, and what He asks of us. Before the Lord came on earth, the influence of hell had risen to such a level that it was essentially choking off the life from God with the human race. It was like a completely cloudy and polluted atmosphere which needed to be purified. The Lord cleared the way by taking on the attacks of the hells with His vulnerable humanity, and by His own inner strength putting them under lock and key so that they didn’t over-extend their influence and cause an imbalance. The final battle was the one on the cross – it was not the only battle. When Jesus proclaimed on the cross, “It is finished,” He was declaring that all the work He came to do against the hells was complete. On Easter morning His body was no longer in the tomb because all that was human was unified with the Divine, and made Divine.

https://newchurch.org/

 

Who is saved?

by Rev. Dr. Ray Silverman

In the predominately Catholic neighborhood where I grew up, most of my friends went to St. Matthew’s Catholic School while the rest of us went to public school. But religious differences did not separate us. In fact, we never argued about, and hardly ever discussed, religion. What was most important to us was whether or not we could get enough kids together to have a baseball game in the summer or a football game in the fall. In the winter we wondered whether or not the ice at Roger Williams Park was thick enough for a hockey game. On Elmwood Avenue, in Providence Rhode Island, in the 1950s the world of sports was far more important to us than religion!

But I do remember one summer evening, under the street lights, when my friends and I were hanging out on the corner. We were probably around thirteen or fourteen years old, and someone said, “If you don’t believe in Jesus, you can’t go to heaven.” This was not spoken in an accusatory manner. It was a mere, offhand statement that someone had simply heard and was now repeating.

“If you don’t believe in Jesus, you can’t go to heaven.”

While it was no more than a casual utterance, that statement caught my attention. It just didn’t sound right to me. It did not ring true.

Looking back, I can vividly recall that moment in time. There we were, about six or seven of us, gathered together near John’s Market. Some of us were sitting on wooden steps, and some of us were standing. It was around eight in the evening, and the street lights had already come on. I don’t know why, but suddenly I found myself saying,

“If you are a good person you can go to heaven.”

No one argued with me. And that was the end of the discussion. We were on to other subjects…the Yankees…the Red Sox…the batting averages of Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams…. My words had already drifted off into the summer evening, like fading light, but the conviction behind them remains to this day as a firm belief.

Many years later I discovered the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, and to my great delight I found out that you could indeed “go to heaven” if you were a “good person.”

But what did it mean to be a “good person”?

According to Swedenborg one becomes a “good person” through a process called “regeneration”—a process through which we gradually become less selfish and more loving. This process is not mystical, mysterious, or instantaneous. Rather, it is, as Helen Keller says, “a change that comes over us as we hope and aspire and persevere in the way of the Divine Commandments.” Swedenborg puts it succinctly: “All can be saved, and those are saved who acknowledge God and live good lives” (Divine Providence 325).

It was clear, then, that good people could be saved.

But what about believing in Jesus? After all, my friend had said, “If you don’t believe in Jesus, you can’t go to heaven.” Are Christians the only ones who get into heaven? Is everybody else condemned? In her book Light in My Darkness, which is a tribute to the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, Helen Keller deals with this question eloquently:

I had been told by narrow people that all who were not Christians would be punished, and naturally my soul revolted, since I knew of wonderful men who had lived and died for truth as they saw it in the pagan lands. But in Heaven and Hell number 74 [by Emanuel Swedenborg] I found that ‘Jesus’ stands for Divine Good, Good wrought into deeds, and ‘Christ’ Divine Truth, sending forth new thought, new life and joy into the minds of men; therefore no one who believes in God and lives right is ever condemned (emphasis added).

These words capture the essence of what I was trying to tell my friends on that street corner in Providence on that summer evening so many years ago. And this is why the New Church, with its profound belief in Jesus Christ, and with its loving acknowledgement that all who strive to keep the commandments will be saved, has become my religion. As Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father” (Matthew 7:21).

If I were back on the street corner today with my friends I would tell them that they are right — no one comes into heaven if they do not believe in Love, which is what “Jesus” (the principle) represents and what Jesus (the Divine Human) came into the world to give.

I would also add that we do not get into heaven by merely confessing that we believe in “Love,” or that we believe in “Jesus.” We must prove this by living what Christ teaches — practicing loving-kindness, offering mercy, demonstrating courage, giving understanding, manifesting patience, dedicating ourselves to useful service and, in the process, being filled with every benevolent emotion and noble thought that we associate with a loving and wise God.

In 1957, when I was thirteen years old, I could not possibly have said all these things, nor would I or my friends have been able to understand them. So maybe it was best that the Lord led me to say, quite simply, “If you are a good person you can go to heaven!” And I still believe that this is true!

newchurch.org

Three steps to salvation

The entire ministry of Jesus Christ on earth speaks of salvation. For example, the Bible teaches that He is the Truth, the Way and the Life (John 14:6), He comes with His reward and with His work (Is 40:10), and He comes to save the World (John 3:16). Many readers of the Bible can see that the Lord wants us to be “saved,” and to enjoy the salvation He offers. The question, though, is how does the Lord “save” us? Why is everyone not automatically “saved”?

One of the wonderful things about the teachings of the New Church is that we now know being saved is not about following arbitrary rules or joining an exclusive club. Being “saved” means you come to want what the Lord wants. The Lord made us and we are capable of responding to the love that He is continually offering.

This does not happen all at once. Like building a home or a friendship, coming to love what the Lord loves is a process that takes time and effort. Many of us experience moments of insight and perhaps even profound happiness in our lives, but these moments are part of something greater and yet more subtle. Salvation is about the Lord making us into angels, slowly and quietly. The Lord knows us really well. He looks at us in our lives the way a loving parent watches his children. The love a mother feels for a newborn infant is one of the most tender and most powerful feelings, and every mother hopes her baby has a long, exciting and rewarding path through life—her baby has lots to see and do! The same is true when the Lord gazes upon us.

This process does require something of us. It does not happen by default; it is our choice to walk this path. Both in His Word and in the world around us, the Lord is continually showing us how to join Him in His heavenly kingdom. The Lord has a recipe of salvation: His truth, His love, and His work. We need to know what He wants, we need to decide to do it, and then we have to do it. This recipe is simple to follow, and each day is filled with opportunities to apply it in life. We can cooperate with the Lord in the thousand small moments of our day, whether we are answering the day’s e-mail, talking a friend through a tough time, or taking out the garbage.

To show us what He wants, the Lord gives us His Word. He wants us to love our neighbors and to love Him. He wants us not to steal, lie, and murder. He wants us to know that there is a way to be kind to every person we meet. He wants us to know that we don’t have to be evil or selfish. The Lord’s truth is the first ingredient, and it tells us how our happiness—and salvation—is achieved. The Lord’s love is the second ingredient. There is no more abundant resource in the entire universe. We are all alive because of His love, and we have to accept His love if we are going to be saved. Once we have an idea of what the Lord wants—no matter how small or basic—we have to align what we want with what He wants. This is how we accept the Lord’s love. While it may seem a daunting task to change what we want, the Lord makes this easy for us too. He does not demand that we magically change what we want—He only asks that we choose to do what He wants. The teachings of the New Church bring us the good news that we aren’t always responsible for our thoughts and feelings, but the Lord provides us with the power to choose what thoughts and feelings we nurture in our lives. We can choose to do what the Lord wants even when a part of us resists it; this is accepting the Lord’s love into our lives. A wonderful promise from the Lord is that if we decide to do His will, we will slowly come to enjoy doing His will.

The third ingredient to salvation is to put the first two (His truth and His love) together in action. If we think we know what the Lord wants, and decide to do it, all that is left is doing it. When we build a home, we must actually build something. When we build a friendship, we have to do more than think nice thoughts about our friend. We work at it. People are not saved by passing a multiple-choice test on what the Lord wants, and they are not saved by passionate pleas and praise. People are saved by the quiet, subtle, life-changing work of coming to love what the Lord loves. None of this can happen without the Lord’s cooperation. He is always ready to help in an instant—all He asks is that we try, and He will rush to our side.

But what about when we stumble? Can we make so many mistakes that we are hopeless? One of the comforting truths of the Word is that setbacks and failures are never the end of the story. We all stumble, we all make mistakes, and we are all human. Our loving Lord knows this too. When we are building a house, sometimes we make a mistake; we might even have to tear down a wall or two to fix the mistake. When we are building a friendship, we can say or do something that damages that friendship, but we can apologize and strive to make it right. With salvation, though, we are doing it with the Lord, and He never gives up and never withholds forgiveness.

The Lord does ask us to keep trying. Because His gift of salvation is a process, we can never truly say that we are done in this life. There is always more to learn, and we can always develop a deeper appreciation of His truth. We can always be kinder than we used to be and live the Lord’s love more than the day before. The more we learn and do, the more we love—which will let us learn and do even more.

We really shouldn’t worry about whether we are ‘saved’. There is no real ‘finish line’ to cross. Angels in heaven strive and work to be better people, just as we do on earth. They love their work, they strive to be better, and they live more and more in the Lord’s love to eternity. We will do the same thing after we die, so long as we have tried to live well according to the Lord’s Word. The Lord cares for two things more than our salvation: our freedom and our happiness.

The reason He wants us to be saved is because He knows that we will be happiest if we join Him in His heavenly kingdom. But He guards our freedom most carefully of all; without our freedom, without an ability to choose, we cannot come to love Him or be happy or be saved. From just His love He would save every person in the world, no matter what, but from His wisdom He knows this would not leave us in freedom. Instead, He gives us every tool in His Word, every moment in our lives, and every chance at forgiveness—all in the loving hope that we will choose happiness in the salvation He offers.

by Rev. Scott Frazier (from an article from New Church Connection magazine)

newchurch.org