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The Lord’s Forgiveness

The Lord’s Forgiveness

A few amazing teachings on how the Lord forgives:

“The Lord is never angry, never takes revenge, hates, condemns, punishes, throws anyone into hell, or tempts him.  Thus the Lord never does evil to anyone!” (True Christian Religion 650)

“There is in fact a sphere continually radiated from the Lord which raises all to heaven.  This fills the whole of both the spiritual and natural worlds.  It is like a strong current in the ocean, which invisibly draws a ship along.  All who believe in the Lord and live according to His commandments come within that sphere or current and are raised up.”   (True Christian Religion 652)

These are powerful teachings speaking to how hard the Lord is working for your salvation.   Because the Lord’s purpose is blessing people with heavenly life, He is always working to help people let go of their evils.   Another passage from the True Christian Religion says: “the Lord being mercy itself, forgives everyone his sins, and does not hold even one of them against a person.”  (TCR 539)  Wow!

Even so, forgiveness does not come in a moment.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  One is he complexity of the lusts that are attached to each evil.  In Divine Providence, we read: “There are thousands of lusts which enter into and compose each evil.” (Divine Providence 279 [5])  The practice of repentance gradually clips away these evil ties over time releasing the person from the addiction associated with that evil – that takes time!

A fascinating defination of ‘forgiveness’ is found in the Arcana Caelestia:  “being able to be maintained by the Lord in the good of love and the truths of faith and to be withheld from evils and falsities constitutes the forgiveness of sins”  (Arcana Caelestia 9448).

Really, that means that a person can’t forgive another person of their sins – only the Lord can do that.   There are tons of passages in the Bible directing us to forgive others.  How is this possible?  Rather than taking responsibility for another’s sins, the Lord teaches that true forgiveness is: “regarding someone not from the point of evil but of good” (AC 7697).  That is a bigger issue.  It involves letting go of resentments, hurt and anger related with a people who have caused you harm.   So ‘how many times should we forgive our brother who has sinned against us?  Seventy times seven – basically an infinite number because we are taught to train ourselves to view others from good rather than evil.  That is a high road that involves the discipline of repentance.

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New Website Called “NewChurchPerspective.com”

Here is some interesting news emailed to me by Brian Smith.  He writes: “I would like to plug an awesome new project called ‘NewChurchPerspective.com’. Its basically an online magazine about New Church topics. NCPerspective now has articles by over 10 writers on a wide variety of topics. This is designed to be a platform which allows people to express their ideas, questions and efforts to apply concepts from the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. As a reader have the opportunity to read and respond in the comment lines. You are also warmly encouraged to write and submit what ever New Church topics have been burning on your mind.”

To check out the website follow this link: New Church Perspective

Jesus Christ is the One God of Heaven and Earth

Biblical passages establishing Jesus Christ as the One God of Heaven and Earth.

That is a basic piece of New Church theology.  It is key because the Lord’s power and ability to work miracles in our spiritual life depends on it.  In short God, through His Humanity is able to engage the worst fiery blasts that hell can throw our direction and overthrow them.   So, in short, we need to recognize the Lord God Jesus Christ as the One God in our lives so that we can benefit from His power, protection, eternal love and peace.

Fundamentalist Christians often challenge this truth by saying that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three independent persons who are together one god.  They profess a belief that the angry Father was set to destroy the Human Race but the Son volunteered to go to earth to Sacrifice Himself in order to appease His anger.  This teaching was developed and articulated at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD.  Sadly, this approach does not rightly interpret the Bible, leading to all kinds of irreconcilable thoughts about God.

The following is a short list of passages cited in True Christian Religion clearly establishing the truth that Jehovah (the father) Himself was born on earth.  Truly “I and my Father are One” (John 10:30).  One Simply can not construe these passages to mean that Jehovah was separate from Jesus Christ when He was born on earth. The Oneness of God is the best context from which to understand the Bible.  My hope is that you can use these passages in your dialogues about who the God of the Bible is.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel (literally meaning ‘God with us’).  (Isaiah 7:14,  Matt. 1:22.23)

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

And it will be said in that day: “ Behold, this is our God; 
We have waited for Him, and He will save us. 
This is Jehovah; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” (Isaiah 25:9)

The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of Jehovah; Make straight in the desert, A highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; The glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of Jehovah has spoken.” (Isaiah 3-5)

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” says Jehovah. “Many nations shall be joined to Jehovah in that day, and they shall become My people. (Zechariah 2:10,11)

I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: JEHOVAH OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jeremiah 23: 5,6)

Who has told it from that time? Have not I, Jehovah? 
And there is no other God besides Me, A just God and a Savior; There is none besides Me. “ Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! 
For I am God, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:21,22)

I, even I, am Jehovah, And besides Me there is no savior. (Isaiah 43:11)

I would love to see passages that you might also use in this discussion

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An Open Letter Honoring Don Rose

Dear Don:

When I read a Facebook comment yesterday mentioning your transition into heavenly life, I admit, I felt stunned.   It is not that it came as a surprise, rather, its that I really do need to get used to the idea of life without you here as a mentor and guide for in the work we have shared in evangelization.

When you preached you didn’t ‘preach,’ you invited us go join you for a tour and adventure from the pulpit.  Often, the journey was so amazing, so fascinating that I would forget  the passage of time while you were guiding us.  It would be a bit of a jolt when we were brought back into the pews with your ‘Amen”.  No one preached like you.  Your style was unique bold and joyful.

For years, you were a voice for the New Church in the Delaware Valley through the radio broadcast, and through your writing in the papers.  Again that same sense of excitement through adventure and discovery shone in the lines of the subjects you tackled – always drawing the readers attention to the sacred texts from which your ideas came.   Through your enthusiasm, you became the most published clergy member of any faith in the Delaware Valley. I am certain that you have done more to shape the public perception of  the New Church, on your own, in the Philadelphia area than any of the rest of us combined.

More important to me, and the many you left behind was your friendship.   You were a constant positive advocate – for a lot of people.   In the clergy we experienced this often by receiving newspaper clippings and handwritten notes in the mail.  Constantly advocating outreach and the spreading of the truths we hold dear.  If things were rough, you would always lend a word of constructive encouragement – often with a twist of brilliant humor.

You were a man of the people.  No one could ever say that you, even had a shred of arrogance.  I remember how you frequently described your ministry as ‘a journeyman’s ministry’ -a service by one ‘average Joe’ to another.  Of course you were no average Joe, though I deeply respect your approach.  You respected all, were quiet about your disagreements, and never looked down on others.

I have often compared you to fine wine.  Wine that has been gradually aging and maturing, with sophisticated and brilliant flavors, nuances that come through a life of observation and reflection.  You could have come from the same grape, but you gave us something unforgettable and irreplaceable through your life.

I remember a sermon you preached years ago reflecting on ‘the patient expectation of Jesus Christ’ from the beginning of Revelation.   In it you spoke of wondering what joys one would really discover in the life to come.  Well now you are there.  I am sure you are blessed by what you are discovering and I guess it is, just as you said, ‘beyond anything you could imagine while here on earth’  I pray that you will continue to offer your mentorship and support for the establishment of this church from your new position in heavenly life.   I am certain we will get a good lift through your work there.   But I will miss you my friend.   It will take a while for it to sink in that you are not here.

With love,

-Dave

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How Bad Decision-making Can Bring Good Results

We can all think of times when we have done something for the wrong reasons, or made bad decisions that we reflect back on with embarrassment.   What is worse than the embarrassment, bad decisions create havoc in our lives and the lives of those whom we love.  Thankfully, the Lord can often work with bad decisions, using them, and the lessons we learn from them to lead toward good.  On the surface this seems obvious, but there is more depth to the concept than meets the eye.  The Lord is able to bring more good out of bad decisions than what simply comes from ‘learning from our mistakes.’ It seems that sometimes the situations created by the bad decisions are realigned to produce good.

The Heavenly Doctrines speak how the Lord draws good out of a bad situation that we can created in explaining “the Law of Unlawful Conjunction” in Arcana Caelestia 9184  (a long quote here but worth the read):

“In the spiritual sense an unlawful conjunction is the conjunction of truth with an affection from the delight of self-advantage or from the delight of being honored. In such an affection are they who learn the truths of the church for the sake of these delights. But this conjunction does no harm to those who are afterward regenerated by the Lord, for although these affections remain with them, they are subordinated under the affection of truth for the sake of the good of use and of life; and they serve, for they are in the last place, although at first they appeared to be in the first place. For while a man is being regenerated, the order of his life is inverted. In this manner is lawful conjunction made out of unlawful conjunction.

[2] That this is possible is because the truths which are of faith enter through the hearing, thus through the external man; and the external man relishes only those things which belong to the world and to self, and which are the delights arising from self-advantage and honors. But when the internal man has been opened by means of regeneration, good from the Lord then flows in through it, and adopts and conjoins with itself the truths of faith which have entered through the external man, and according to this conjunction the order is inverted, that is, what had been in the first place is put in the last. The Lord then draws to Himself all things in the man which belong to life, so that they may look upward. The man then regards as ends those things which belong to the Lord and to heaven; and the Lord Himself as the end for the sake of which are all things; and the former things, which are the delights of self-advantage and of honors, he regards as means to this end. It is known that the means derive their life solely from the end, and that apart from the end they have no life. Thus when the delights of self-advantage and of honors have become means, they then have their life from the life which comes from heaven, that is, through heaven from the Lord; for the end for the sake of which they exist is the Lord. When a man is in such an order of life, matters of self-advantage and honors are then blessings to him; whereas if he is in the inverted order, these things are curses to him. That all things are blessings when a man is in the order of heaven, the Lord teaches in Matthew:

Seek ye first the kingdom of the heavens and His righteousness, and all things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:33)”. (Arcana Caelestia 9184)

Certainly this passage and others like it (AC 8995) are food for thought and should temper our reactions when involved in a collective movement like a church.  While the passage certainly does not provide excuses for making bad decisions (I certainly have made my share), it does give insight as to how the Lord works with decisions that are made from motives that are less than pure.

I am grateful for a belief system that lays out some of the details like this about how the Lord works with us.  It is just one more sign of how much He truly cares.I am very interested in other ‘end justifies the means’ passages if you can contribute.

-Dave

A Church is Dead Without Innocence

When people are dialoguing about church health, how often does the word “Innocence” show up?  I throw that out there because the concept is vitally important if a church is going to be a church.

The Writings define “Innocence” as being “the acknowledgment that everything good comes from the Lord.”  From that, innocence is “the willingness to be led by the Lord.”   In heaven, where innocence is recognized as a critical practice, angels never take credit for anything good that they do.  They recognize that anything that is from self, is dead (even saying that it is cadaverous- yuck!).   (Heaven and Hell 278)

Since everything of self is dead, angels have no desire to lead themselves.  They realize that they do not know what is best for themselves.  That leads to an acknowledgment that the Lord is providing for their happiness in ways that they could not have imagined.

Here is an interesting list of “no’s” related to innocence that are drawn from different passages from the Writings.   Consider this:

There is no regeneration without innocence (AC 3994)

There is no wisdom without innocence  (HH 278)

Good is not good without innocence (AC 10133)

Charity is not charity without innocence (AC 430)

Worship is not worship without innocence (AC 10133)

The only way praise reaches the Lord is through innocence (AC 5236)

In the light of these statements, look at the church through the lens of innocence. What does the church without innocence look like? How does it operate? What are the risks for a church organization that gives “innocence” short shrift? -no regeneration -no wisdom -no good -no charity -no worship…. The cultivation of innocence is a defining factor in the church.  No wonder Jesus said “let the little children come to me for such is the kingdom of heaven.”

The footnote at the bottom of Heaven and Hell 278 says the following: “we have been so created as to become like infants as we approach old age, but with wisdom in our innocence.”   Those are words to ponder.

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A few passages from the Writings on Church Unity

Here are a couple of foundational passages relative to stability in the church.   I believe they are important to keep in mind when considering the subject of greater unity in the church.

One is Arcana Caelestia 9828.  This is one of my favorite descriptions about how the Lord brings people together in true unity.  “When every single thing has the same end in view all things are then held in uninterrupted connection and make one; for everything is then under the eye, government, and providence of the One who, acting in accord with the laws of subordination and association, turns everyone towards Himself, and thereby joins them to Himself. At the same time He turns all to face their companions, and thereby joins them to one another. This explains why the faces of all who are in heaven are kept turned towards the Lord, who is the Sun there, and so is the centre point in front of everyone’s eyes; and the marvel is that He is there in whatever direction angels turn round to face.”

This one from the doctrine of Faith sends chills down my spine: “There are two evil religious persuasions into which every Church degenerates in course of time, one which adulterates its good principles and the other which falsifies its truths. That religion which adulterates the goods of the Church derives its origin from the love of rule; and the other, which falsifies the truths of the Church, derives its origin from the pride of self- intelligence. The religious persuasion which derives its origin from the love of rule, is meant in the Word by Babylon; and the religious persuasion which derives its origin from the pride of self-intelligence, is meant in the Word by Philistia”  (Faith 49).

Next read this summary of who is a member of the church.  This comes from the small book “New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine passage 246.  You can read the references from Arcana Caelstia which back up the statements, but it is powerful reading as is. “The church exists specifically where the Word is, and where the Lord is thereby known, and thus where Divine truths are revealed (n. 3857, 10761). Still they who are born where the Word is, and where the Lord is thereby known, are not of the church, but they who are regenerated by the Lord by the truths of the Word, that is, they who live the life of charity (n. 6637, 10143, 10153, 10578, 10645, 10829). They who are of the church, or in whom the church is, are in the affection of truth for the sake of truth, that is, they love truth because it is truth; and they examine from the Word whether the doctrinals of the church in which they were born are true (n. 5432, 6047). Otherwise the truth possessed by everyone would be derived from another, and from his native soil (n. 6047).

The church of the Lord is with all in the whole world who live in good according to their religious principles (n. 3263, 6637, 10765). All who live in good wherever they are, and acknowledge one God, are accepted by the Lord and come into heaven; since all who are in good acknowledge the Lord, because good is from the Lord, and the Lord is in good (n. 2589-2604, 2861, 2863, 3263, 4190, 4197, 6700, 9256). The universal church on earth before the Lord is as one man (n. 7396, 9276). As heaven is, because the church is heaven or the kingdom of the Lord on earth (n. 2853, 2996, 2998, 3624-3629, 3636-3643, 3741-3745, 4625). But the church, where the Lord is known and where the Word is, is like the heart and lungs in man in respect to the other parts of the body, which live from the heart and lungs as from the fountains of their life (n. 637, 931, 2054, 2853). Hence it is, that unless there were a church where the Word is, and where the Lord is thereby known, the human race could not be saved (n. 468, 637, 931, 4545, 10452). The church is the foundation of heaven (n. 4060).

These are a few of the passages I equip myself with when entering into the dialogue about how our church is governed.

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Quotes from the Bible in “True Christianity Vol. 1”

What percentage of text in the book “True Christianity” is direct citation from the Bible?  The answer is somewhat more than 10%.   Another fun fact:  What percentage of text is narrative experience (memorable relations) or stories told by Swedenborg?   More than 50%!  Wow! That means that 30 something percent is doctrinal narrative (less than what I would have imagined).   For me the conclusion is that Swedenborg is writing a hard hitting doctrinal piece that is closely tied with the Bible and broadly illustrated with experience.  I can’t help wondering if imbedded in these stats is a very nice formula for tow to balance material in a sermon:  10+% scripture, 30+ teaching, 50+% illustration.   Hmmm,  any preachers out there have any perspective on this?

Here is a PDF of just the Bible quotes that my staff excised from the text of volume 1.  It is about 56 pages long and very interesting.

biblicalquotes True Christianity vol 1

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