False Promises

July 5, 2018 § Leave a comment

‘Why is this, that You have sent me?’ means when yet the law going forth from God seems to promise something different. This is clear from the meaning of ‘Why is this?’ as, Why is this so when something different is said? from the representation of Moses, who uses these words in reference to himself, as the law from God, dealt with just above in Arcana Coelestia 7164; and from the meaning of ‘being sent’ as going forth, dealt with in Arcana Coelestia 47106831. Consequently ‘Why is this, [that] you have sent me?’ means that the law going forth from God seems to promise something different. Because these words are spoken by one complaining about the molestation by falsities, the law from God appears to promise something different. This is why the expression ‘seems to promise something different’ is used, though in actual fact it does not promise anything different. For the law from God is the law of order, and the law of order so far as those passing through a state of molestations by falsities are concerned is that they must be molested until they reach the point of despair. Unless they reach the point of despair the final advantage to be gained from molestation is lost. The fact that temptation grows ever stronger until a person reaches the point of despair is plainly evident from the Lord’s temptation in Gethsemane, Matthew 26:3839Mark 14:33-36Luke 22:44, and also after that on the Cross, Matthew 27:46, when it was made to reach the state of despair. Now the Lord’s temptation is the pattern which the temptation of faithful believers follows, which is why the Lord says that those who wish to follow Him must take up their cross, Matthew 10:3816:24. For the glorification of the Lord is the pattern that the regeneration of man follows, Arcana Coelestia 313832123296349044025688; and regeneration is effected chiefly by means of temptations. (AC 7166)

The Lord promises us peace, happiness, and salvation. Life gives us depression, despair, and pain. It is no wonder that we sometimes feel that the Lord has mislead us, and that He has falsely promised us good when we experience evil.

The Lord has indeed promised peace, happiness, and salvation; but He has also instructed us that we must go through states of depression, despair, and pain to achieve these good things.

It is a temptation among the clergy to preach the good the Lord will provide us, and to ignore that evil we will experience. It is, after all, a lot more fun to give people good news, then it is to give them bad news and have to deal with unhappiness about it. These days, it seems, that many ministers would rather tell people what they would like to hear, that they should simply love the Lord and do good.

People do not want to hear that they should shun evils as sins, for that means they must confront themselves and acknowledge their evil desires, and shun them as sins against the Lord.

Good before repentance is spurious good; and also charity, for good is of charity. For evil is within the man inwardly; because it is not opened, and therefore is not healed; and genuine good cannot issue forth from evil. The fountain is impure. Good that flows forth from evil may appear good in the outward form, but the quality of the man is within it, as he is inwardly.  (Char 6)

This is why it said:

the first of Charity is to look to the Lord and shun evils as sins; and that the second thing of Charity is to do goods.(Char. 13)

When we shun evils as sins, which we must do if we are to be saved; we will come into states of temptation, vastation, and molestation. We will experience despair and depression, and pain.

Ministers need to present a balance. They need to preach both the positive and the negative, the good and the evil, the end and the means, the ideal and the reality. Such a balance will help us to deal the dark passages we must traverse to the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise of salvation, peace, and happiness. Without the balance we will inevitably blame the Lord for giving us false promises.

 

 

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Consolation and Death

July 4, 2018 § Leave a comment

A friend’s father passed away recently, and I shared some thoughts:

Sorry to hear about _____ passing. He is a good fellow. Now he ventures into a better world where he will be far more comfortable. We too, some day will join him, but for now, we must endure his absence.

     Therefore I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be buried in peace. (2 K 22.20; NIV)

      “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.
      I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may
      be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (Jn. 14: 1-4l NIV)

….when a person is divested of his body, he comes into the full exercise of a much more enlightened understanding than when living in the body, for the reason that while he is in the body, corporeal and worldly things occupy his thoughts, which induce obscurity; but when he is divested of the body, such things do not interfere, and it is with him as with those who are in the interior thought by abstraction of the mind from the things of the outward senses. From this they might know that the state after death is much more clear-sighted and enlightened than the state before death; and that when a person dies, he passes comparatively from shade into light, because he passes from the things of the world to those of heaven, and from the things of the body to those of the spirit. (AC 3957:2)

The Lord regenerates a person from Divine Mercy. This is done from his infancy down to the last of his life in the world, and afterward to eternity. Thus it is from Divine Mercy that the Lord withdraws a person from evils and falsities, and leads him to the truths of faith and goods of love, and afterward keeps him in these. And after this, in Divine Mercy He raises him to Himself in heaven, and makes him happy. (AC 9452)

This was followed up with these thoughts:

One of the beautiful things about the Heavenly Doctrines is their ability to comfort us in times of distress. While the teachings about life after death comfort us, they do not alleviate the pain and loss we experience when we loose a loved one. So we find ourselves filled with conflicting emotions. There is comfort and solace from the Lord. There is loneliness and heartache from our loss. With time there is healing. The healing, however, takes longer than most people realize. We have to experience the first birthday, the first Christmas, the first thanksgiving without our loved one. After that it gets a bit easier. Others, of course, will have moved on while we continue to go through loss and healing.

The road ahead will not be easy, but it will get better.

The Lord will bless you and keep you,
the Lord will make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you,
the Lord will turn His face towards you and give you peace (Num. 6: 24-26)

peace has in it confidence in the Lord, that He directs all things, and provides all things, and that He leads to a good end. When a man is in this faith, he is in peace, for he then fears nothing, and no solicitude about things to come disquiets him. A man comes into this state in proportion as he comes into love to the Lord. (AC 8455)

Marcia and I send our prayers an best wishes.

Seeing Divine Providence

July 3, 2018 § Leave a comment

The Heavenly Doctrines teach:

 ‘And you shall deliver the tally of bricks’ means the falsities which are to be introduced in abundance. This is clear from what has been stated above in Arcana Coelestia 7116, where similar words occur. Such then are the [arcana] which these verses contain in the internal sense, things which perhaps seem to man to be of little importance and also unconnected with one another. Nevertheless each one is essential to the subject that is being dealt with; and all hang together in a very beautiful way. Angels perceive this to be true, for they see in the light of heaven the ways in which things follow one another and are linked together, and they see countless arcana formed out of interior truths, which gives those things a very beautiful and very lovely appearance. Man cannot do the same thing at all because interior truths are hidden from him. Nor therefore can he connect together the details contained in these verses; it seems to him as though they are disjointed, which is why, as has been stated, they seem to him to be of little importance. (AC 7153)

As I read this, the thought occurred to me that this is true of Divine Providence. Lord’s Divine Providence governs every least detail of our lives; but in this life the details of His Providence seem disjointed and unconnected. In the other life they will seem wonderfully and beautifully connected.

Fear and Power

June 24, 2018 § Leave a comment

Previously we talked about fear of the Lord, being the fear of “acting contrary to Goodness itself.” Here we are going to talk about the fear of the loss of honor, gain, and reputation which are the means the Lord uses to prevent evil people from doing evil, or at least greater evil.

People in positions of power often have less fear of losing their honor, gain, and reputation because they can control others so control their losses. This is especially true if they have demanded personal loyalty and surrounded themselves with sycophants or yes people. Thus they create for themselves a situation where they have less outward fears, and so they are more prone to do evil.

. . .  the Lord leaves each person in freedom, for unless a person is in freedom he cannot be reformed at all. What a person does under compulsion does not reform him because compulsion does not allow anything to take root; for anything a person does under compulsion is not an act of willing, whereas what he does in freedom is an act of willing. What is good and true, if it is to be present in a person as his own, must take root in his will. What is outside the will is not the person’s own. And since everyone is for that reason left in freedom people are allowed to think what is evil and, so far as outward fears [such as the fear of the loss of horn, gain, and reputation] do not hold them back, to do what is evil; and – since everyone is in freedom – those who are not upright rejoice and glory in the world seemingly more than those who are upright. (AC 7007.2)

Politics and Fear of the Lord

June 24, 2018 § Leave a comment

I try to avoid political comments in this blog, but here is an exception. Most of our political leaders, regardless of party affiliation, it seems to me, lack fear of the Lord.

The Word attributes anger to Jehovah or the Lord because of the very general truth that all things come from God, thus the bad as well as the good. But this very general truth, which young children, older ones, and simple people need to have, must at a later stage be clarified. That is to say, it must be shown that bad things are assignable to man, though they may seem to be assignable to God, and have been declared to be so to the end that people may learn to fear God, so as not to be destroyed by wicked things they themselves do, and may then come to love Him. Fear must come before love in order that love may have holy fear within it; for when fear is instilled into love that fear is made holy by the holiness of love. Once it is made holy it is not a fear that the Lord will be angry and punish them, but a fear that they may act contrary to Goodness itself; for to do that will torment their conscience.  (AC 6997.2)

Hope for our Children

June 22, 2018 § Leave a comment

Many church people of my generation have tried to raise our children in our faith. On becoming adults, however, many of our children  have abandoned that faith. it did not matter if we had lived in a church community or elsewhere.

I am not going to speculate here as to why this has happened. It did happen. And being religious parents who cared not just for our children’s worldly and natural welfare, but also for their spiritual welfare, this is a matter of sadness for us. 

Here are some passages that I have recently come across in my daily reading that can give us some hope. 

In childhood, and after that in adolescence, those who belong to the spiritual Church possess faith in the things taught by their Church. But during those years the faith they possess is obtained from parents and teachers, not by their own efforts. If therefore they subsequently give up that faith they can profane truth only to a small extent, and Divine means can be used to remove that profanation, thereby freeing a person from guilt on account of it. (AC 6959.2)

A total inversion of state has also taken place in the natural when nothing but falsities are in possession of it. This rarely happens with a person while he is living in the world; but in the next life it is what happens with all who are cast into hell. The reason why it rarely happens with a person while he is living in the world is that during that time he is preserved constantly in a condition that enables him to be reformed, provided that in freedom he refrains from behaving in evil ways. (AC 6977)

The Church

May 27, 2018 § Leave a comment

A person without spiritual good, that is, the good of charity, and without spiritual truths, that is, the truths of faith, does not belong to the Church in spite of having been born within the Church. The whole of the Lord’s heavenly kingdom possesses the good of love and faith, and unless the Church possesses good like that it cannot be the Church since it is not joined to heaven; for the Church is the Lord’s kingdom on earth.

[2] The term ‘Church’ is not used because it is the place where the Word is and teachings drawn from it, or because it is where the Lord is known and the sacraments are celebrated. Rather it is the Church because it lives in accordance with the Word or with teachings drawn from the Word, and seeks to make those teachings its rule of life. People who do not live like this do not belong to the Church but are outside it; and those who lead wicked lives, thus lives contrary to that teaching, are further away outside the Church than gentiles who know nothing whatever about the Word, the Lord, or the sacraments. For since those people are acquainted with the forms of good that the Church fosters and with the truths it teaches they annihilate the Church within themselves, something gentiles cannot do because they are unacquainted with those things. It should also be realized that everyone who leads a good life, in charity and faith, is a Church, and is a kingdom of the Lord. He is for that reason also called a temple, and a house of God too. Those who are Churches individually, no matter how remote from one another they may be, constitute one Church collectively. This then is the Church meant by the expression ‘the children of Israel’ here and in what follows. (AC 6637)