Strong Words

September 7, 2016 § Leave a comment

The whole Christian church holds that justification and consequently salvation are effected by God the Father by imputing the merit of Christ His Son; and this imputation takes place by grace when and where God wishes, and so at His discretion. Those to whom Christ’s merit is imputed are adopted and numbered among the sons of God. Since the leaders of the church have not advanced a step beyond this concept of imputation, or raised their minds above it, their dictum about God’s discretionary choice has led them to fall into the gross errors of extremists, and eventually into the detestable heresy of predestination, as well as the abominable heresy that God pays no heed to what a person does in his life, but only to the faith he has written on the interiors of his mind. Unless therefore this erroneous belief about imputation is done away with, atheism would overrun the whole Christian world, . . . (TCR 628)

But the present-day concept of imputation rules out the power to act thus as fatal to faith and so to salvation, to avoid anything of one’s own entering into the imputation and so into Christ’s merit. The establishment of this doctrine has led to the spread of the satanic notion that a person is totally impotent in spiritual matters. This is like someone saying ‘Walk’, though you have no feet, not even one; ‘Wash yourself’, though both your hands have been cut off; or ‘Do good, but sleep’; or ‘Feed yourself’ when you have no tongue. (TCR 630)

How good do you have to be?

August 14, 2016 § Leave a comment

How good do you have to be to get into heaven. Perhaps you asked yourself:” Who could do all that the Lord commanded?”

As the Lord on earth said, “There is none good but one, that is God” (Mt. 19: 17, Mk. 10: 18).

Obviously, none of us can do all that the Lord commands. Truthfully, of ourselves we cannot do anything the Lord commands. This is because, like it or not, of ourselves we are nothing but evil, and everything we do is from evil and contaminated by evil. Even the apparent good we attempt is in its heart evil.

But, as if of ourselves (that is, when we allow the Lord to work through us), we can do some of what the Lord commands. And fortunately, we only have to do some of what the Lord commands. Notice what is said in TCR 520:

 Man is born with a tendency to every kind of evil, and if he does not partially remove evils by repentance, he remains subject to them, and if so cannot be saved.

We can be saved if we partially remove our evils by repentance. Realistically, this is all we are going to achieve in this life, and even in the next. What is important is that we acquire a habit of repentance. This allows the Lord to work in us and through us. It allows us to cooperate with the Lord.

TCR 522 goes on to explain:

 Every evil if not removed remains with a person; and if a person remains in his evils he cannot be saved. This is self-evident. What I have said before makes it obvious that no evil can be removed, except by the Lord working on those who believe in Him and love the neighbour.  …  But the question may be asked: how can a person enter into that union? The answer is that he cannot, unless he removes his evils, at least partially, by repentance. We say that the person should remove them, because the Lord does not bring this about directly without co-operation on the person’s part. This too was fully demonstrated in the same chapter, and in the following one on free will.

Further in TCR 523:

The saying goes that no one can keep the law completely, and this is even more difficult, because the person who breaks one of the Ten Commandments breaks them all. Yet this manner of speaking does not mean what it sounds like. For it must be understood to mean that a person who acts deliberately and from conviction against one commandment acts against the rest. This is because acting deliberately and from conviction is utterly denying that it is a sin, and if anyone else says it is, he dismisses his opinion as worthless. If anyone thus denies and dismisses sin, he pays no heed to anything which is called a sin. This is the position reached by those who are unwilling to be told anything about repentance. On the other hand, those who by repentance have removed some evils which are sins, reach the position of believing in the Lord and loving the neighbour. The Lord keeps them determined to abstain from further sinning; so if through ignorance or some overwhelming longing they sin, this is not counted against them, since they did not intend it nor convince themselves that it was allowable.

[2] I can support this statement by the following experiences. In the spiritual world I have met many people whose life in the natural world was no different from others’; they wore fine clothes, dined elegantly, engaged in business deals like other people to make profits, went to the theatre, joked about lovers as if lusting for them, and more of the same sort. Yet the angels held some of them guilty of sinful evils, and others they did not hold guilty of evils, declaring one group innocent, the other guilty. When they were asked why, when both groups had done much the same, they replied that what they looked for in all cases was the aim, intention or end in view, and they distinguished cases on this basis, so that those who were excused or condemned by their end in view, they themselves excused or condemned. All in heaven have good as their end in view, all in hell evil.

As you can see, if we are striving to cooperate with the Lord by repenting of some of our evils, then the Lord is holding us in the intention of keeping all the commandments.

It is worth remembering that people who die as little children and who have no actual evil in them, grow up and become celestial angels.  But even they are not perfect. They get so accustomed to being good that they begin to think that it is they and not the Lord who is good. So, from time to time, they are let down into the world of spirits and into their evils enough to see that without the Lord, they are nothing but evil. And when they regain their humility they are raised up again. (HH 342)

The spiritual angels wear cloths because of their lustifulness (SD 4719).

The angels in heaven both see and perceive the evils and falsities that sometimes arise in themselves (HH 487).

We are not good of ourselves. We are not perfect. And we most certainly have not kept all of the Lord’s commands. Still we can be saved and live in heaven. All we have to do persistently try to repent, that is:

  • Examine our intentions and thoughts and find some evil love
  • Shun that evil love by avoiding to act on it because it is a sin against God.
    • The sin against God is important.

As we strive to avoid acting on evil intentions, the Lord works in us reforming and regenerating our will and understanding. He saves us, and withholds us from our evils. We only ever partially repent of our evils. The important part is that we are trying to repent.

Now how much repentance constitutes “partial” repentance?

The answer, I believe is found in TCR 530:

If real repentance is practised from time to time, in fact as often as one prepares oneself to partake of the Holy Supper, and if one thereafter refrains from one or two sins one caught oneself committing, this is enough to start the process of making it real. Anyone at that point is on his way to heaven, for that is when a person begins to become spiritual instead of natural, and to be born anew under the Lord’s guidance.

It seems to me that partial repentance would be doing enough to start the process of making it real. It is the minimum need to be saved.

Or perhaps, the phrase partial repentance refers to easy repentance discussed in TCR 535-537. Easy repentance  is done by those who do good deeds for religious reasons. The motivation, religious reasons, is essential. Without the religious motivation the good deeds are natural and not spiritual.

Easy repentance does not involve self-examination and is described as follows:

TCR 535:

So I propose to describe an easier kind of repentance. When anyone is turning over in his mind some evil deed, and intending to do it, he should say to himself: ‘I am thinking about this and I intend to do it, but I shall not because it is a sin.’ This has the effect of blunting the thrust of hell’s tempting and preventing it from advancing any further.

 

 

Article in New Church Life

May 26, 2016 § Leave a comment

New Church Life (May-June) 2016 just published an article submitted by me. Their introduction to it is:

The Rev. William H. Clifford offers a theory that the Lord’s redemption is accomplished through a series borne out in the way the revelation is revealed to us in the successive volumes of the Writings – through the subjugation of the hells, the ordering of the heavens, and the establishment of a new church. (Page 254)

Here is the link to the magazine:

See More

New Church Life is a monthly magazine devoted to the teachings revealed through Emanuel Swedenborg. It is the official journal of the General Church of the New Jerusalem and has been published continuously since 1881.
NEWCHURCH.ORG

Mercy

May 9, 2016 § Leave a comment

Psalm 32: 2 says:

Blessed is the man
whose sin the LORD does not count against him
and in whose spirit is no deceit. (NIV)

 

In the True Christian Religion, paragraph 278 we learn that the spiritual meaning of this verse is:

The Lord is merciful to those who do evil.”

The Lord who is pure Divine love is, of course, merciful to everyone — the evil as well as the good. But not everyone, as strange as it may seem, wants the Lord’s mercy. To receive the Lord’s mercy, there must no deceit.

The Psalmist says that his sins were forgiven:

Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD”—
and you forgave
the guilt of my sin. (Ps. 32: 5; NIV)

By acknowledging his sins, by not covering up his iniquity, by confessing his transgression the Psalmist removed deceitfulness from his spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge our sins, cover up our iniquities, and keep silent about our transgressions, we deceive ourselves into think that our evils are good. There is nothing wrong with them. And so we remain in them.

We cannot deceive the Lord. He knows the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We can deceive ourselves, and perhaps others, but not the Lord.

If we remove our deceitfulness, the Lord’s mercy can flow into us, and He can reform and regenerate us. We must not only acknowledge our sins and confess our transgressions, we must also stop doing them. The Lord said to the woman taken in adultery, “Go and sin no more.”

If our acknowledgment of our sins and the confession of our transgression is of the lips only they are not genuine. There is still deceit in us, for we are saying one thing and doing another.

It is not enough that our words and our actions agree. Our heart must also be in them. As long as we lust, and hate, and lie, and steal in our hearts (even though we do not actually do them), we are deceiving ourselves.

The Lord can not change our loves, our desires, our lusts in a moment. For they are the only life we know. But as we continue and persist in examining ourselves and shunning our evils as sins against the Lord, He can and will remove those evil loves and desires. He will purify our hearts and remove all deceitfulness. His mercy will reign over us. Not in an instance, but “little by little.”

 

 

Temptation

March 15, 2016 § Leave a comment

True Christian Religion 126:

it is by means of temptations that conjunction is effected. For in temptations apparently man is left to himself alone, although he is not; for God is then most nearly present in man’s inmosts and sustains him; therefore when man conquers in temptation he is inmostly conjoined with God

As-If-Of-Self

March 5, 2016 § Leave a comment

 Divine order requires that a person should adjust himself to receive God, and prepare himself as a receiver and dwelling-place for God to enter into and live as in His temple. This a person must do of himself while still acknowledging that it is from God. He must make this acknowledgment, because he does not feel the presence and working of God, although it is God who by His intimate presence performs all the good of love and all the truth of faith in a person. Every person must and will advance in accordance with this order, if he is to become spiritual instead of natural. (TCR 105)

Righteousness and Redemption

March 3, 2016 § Leave a comment

TCR 96.[Chadwick] . . .Yet the truth is that the Lord’s righteousness, being of such a nature and origin that it is purely Divine, could not be linked with any person, so that it could not cause anyone to be saved, any more than the Divine life can, which is the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom. The Lord enters into every person with these, but unless that person lives in accordance with order, though he has that life within him, it contributes nothing to his salvation, giving him merely the ability to understand truth and to do good. Living in accordance with order is living in accordance with God’s commandments. When a person so lives and acts, he acquires righteousness for himself, not the righteousness that comes from the Lord’s redeeming, but the Lord Himself as righteousness. These are the people described by the following passages, as well as others.

Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of the heavens. Matt. 5:20.

Blessed are those who undergo persecution for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens. Matt. 5:10.

At the completion of the age angels will go forth and separate the wicked from out of the midst of the righteous. Matt. 13:49.

The righteous in the Word mean those who have lived in accordance with Divine order, since Divine order is righteousness.

[2] Righteousness itself, which by His redeeming acts the Lord became, cannot be ascribed to, impressed on, fitted on or linked with a person, otherwise than light to the eye, sound to the ear, will to the muscles of one who acts, thought to the lips of the speaker, air to the breathing lungs, heat to the blood, and so on. Anyone can see for himself that these things have an effect and are accessory without being linked to the organ. But righteousness is acquired the more a person applies it, and he applies righteousness, the more the love of what is right and true inspires his dealings with his neighbour. Righteousness dwells in the actual good, or the actual service, which he performs. For the Lord says that every tree is recognised by its fruit. We recognise another person by his actions, if we pay attention to the end and purpose of what he wills, and the intention or cause behind his actions. This is what all the angels observe, and so do all the wise people in our world. In general, every plant and shoot the earth puts forth is recognised by its flower and seed, and the service which its seed performs; likewise every metal by its worth, every stone by its quality, every piece of ground by its, every food by its, every land animal and every bird of the air by its. Why not man too? The quality and origins of a person’s actions will be disclosed in the chapter on faith [336-391].