Apocalypse Revealed #417

Apocalypse Revealed (Rogers translation)

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417. To this I will append the following account:

I saw in the spiritual world two flocks, one a flock of goats, and the other a flock of sheep. I wondered who they were, since I knew that animals seen in the spiritual world are not really animals, but are correspondent forms of the affections and consequent thoughts of the local inhabitants. Therefore I drew nearer, and as I approached, the likenesses of animals disappeared, and instead of them I saw people. It also became clear that those who formed the flock of goats were people who had confirmed themselves in the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and that those who formed the flock of sheep were people who believed that charity and faith are inseparable, as goodness and truth are inseparable.

[2] I then spoke with those who had looked like goats, and I said, "Why are you gathered together like this?"

They were mostly clergy, who vaunted themselves on account of their reputation for learning, because they knew the arcana of justification by faith alone. They said they had assembled to convene a council, because they had heard that the saying of Paul in Romans 3:28, that "a person is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law," was not rightly understood, since by deeds of the law Paul meant the deeds prescribed by Mosaic law, which existed for Jews.

"We see this clearly," they said, "also from Paul's words to Peter, whom he rebuked for Judaizing, even though Peter knew that no one is justified by the works of the law (Galatians 2:14-16). Moreover, Paul distinguishes between the law of faith and the law of works, 1 and between Jews and gentiles, 2 or between circumcision and uncircumcision; 3 and by circumcision he means Judaism, as he does everywhere else. He also then concludes with these words: 'Do we then abolish the law by faith? Not at all. Rather we establish the law.' He says all of this in one series of verses, in Romans 3:27-31.

"In addition, he says as well in the preceding chapter, 'not the hearers of the law will be justified in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified' (Romans 2:13). Furthermore, that God will render to each one according to his deeds (Romans 2:6). And still further, 'We must all appear before the judgment seat of the Christ, that each one may give an account of the things done in the body..., whether good or evil' (2 Corinthians 5:10). Not to mention many other statements in Paul's writing, which make it apparent that Paul rejected faith apart from good works, just as much as James (James 2:17-26).

(References: 1 Corinthians 2:6, 2:13; 1 John 2:17-26; Colossians 2:14-16; Romans 2:8, 3:13)


[3] "That Paul meant the deeds prescribed by Mosaic law, which existed for Jews - this we have further confirmed from the fact that all the statutes for the Jews in the books of Moses are called the Law, being thus works prescribed by the Law, which we see to be so from the following statements:

This is the law of the grain offering. (Leviticus 6:14ff.)

This is the law of the trespass offering... (Leviticus 7:1, 7)

This is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings... (Leviticus 7:11ff.)

This is the law of the burnt offering, the grain offering, the sin offering and trespass offering, the consecrations, and the sacrifice of the peace offerings... (Leviticus 7:37)

This is the law regarding animals and birds... (Leviticus 11:46f.)

This is the law regarding her who gives birth, to a son or a daughter. (Leviticus 12:7)

This is the law regarding a leprous plague... (Leviticus 13:59, cf. 14:2, 14:32, 14:54, 14:57)

This is the law regarding one suffering a discharge of fluid... (Leviticus 15:32)

This is the law regarding jealousness... (Numbers 5:29-30)

This is the law for the Nazirite... (Numbers 6:13, 21)

This is the law (regarding cleanness). (Numbers 19:14)

This is... the law (regarding the red heifer). (Numbers 19:2)

(The law for a king.) (Deuteronomy 17:15-19)

"In fact," the speakers said, "the whole five books of Moses are called the Book of the Law, in Deuteronomy 31:9, 11-12, 26, and elsewhere."

To this they added also that they saw in Paul that the law in the Ten Commandments ought to be lived, and that it is fulfilled by charity, which is love for the neighbor (Romans 13:8-10), thus not by faith alone.

They said that this was why they had come together.

(References: John 1:45, 7:22-23, 8:5; Leviticus 6:9, Leviticus 11:46-47; Luke 2:22-24, 2:22, 24:44; Romans 13:8-11)


[4] In order not to disturb them, however, I withdrew, and at a distance then they looked again like goats, sometimes like ones lying down, and sometimes like ones standing, but turned away from the flock of sheep. They looked like goats lying down when they were deliberating, and like ones standing when they drew conclusions.

But I kept my eyes on their horns, and I was surprised to see that the horns on their foreheads appeared sometimes as though extending forward and upward, and sometimes curving back to the rear, and finally to be completely turned backward. At that they suddenly all turned then to face the flock of sheep, though they looked like goats.

I went over to them again, therefore, and asked what was happening now. They said they had concluded that faith alone produces the goods of charity called good works, as a tree produces fruit.

But then we heard a clap of thunder and saw a flash of lightning from above; and presently an angel appeared, standing between the two flocks, who cried out to the flock of sheep, "Do not listen to them! They have not abandoned their earlier faith, which teaches that God the Father took pity for the sake of the Son. That faith is not faith in the Lord. Nor is faith a tree. Rather a person is a tree. Only repent and turn to the Lord, and you will have faith. Before then faith is not faith having any life in it."

The goats with their horns turned backward then tried to approach the sheep, but the angel standing between them divided the sheep into two groups and said to those on the left, "Attach yourselves to the goats. But I tell you that a wolf is going to come that will carry them off, and you with them."

[5] However, after the two groups of sheep had been separated, and those on the left heard the angel's warning, they looked at each other and said, "Let's confer with our former comrades."

So then the group on the left addressed the one on the right, saying, "Why did you leave your pastors? Are not faith and charity inseparable, as a tree and its fruit are inseparable? For a tree continues on through the branch into the fruit. Take away anything from the branch that flows by an unbroken connection into the fruit, and will not the fruit perish? Ask our priests if that is not the case."

So then they asked, and the priests looked around at the rest, who winked to tell them to speak well. And after that they replied that such was the case. "Faith is preserved by its fruits," they said. But they would not say that faith is contained in the fruits.

[6] At that one of the priests among the sheep on the right rose and said, "They replied to you that such is the case, but still they tell their own flock that it is not the case, as they think otherwise."

The group on the right asked, therefore, how those priests think then. "Do they not teach as they think?"

"No," the priest replied. "They think that every good of charity that is called a good work, that a person does for his salvation or for the sake of eternal life, is not good but evil, because by the work the person is trying of himself to save himself, claiming for himself the righteousness and merit of Him who is the only Savior. And this is the case, they think, with every good work in which a person is conscious of his own will. Consequently among themselves they call good works done by a person of himself not blessings but curses, saying that they merit hell rather than heaven."

[7] However, those of the group on the left said, "You are telling lies about them. Do they not clearly in our presence preach charity and its works, which they call works of faith?"

But the priest replied, "You do not understand their preaching. Only a clergyman who is present pays attention and understands. They think only of moral charity and its civic and political goods, which they call goods of faith, but which are absolutely not. For an atheist can do the same things in the same way and give them the same appearance. Therefore they unanimously say that no one is saved by any works, but by faith alone.

"But let us illustrate this with analogies. They say that an apple tree produces apples; however, if a person does good deeds for his salvation, as the tree does apples by an unbroken connection, then the apples are rotten inside and full of worms. They say, too, that a grapevine produces grapes; but if a person were to produce spiritual goods as a grapevine does grapes, he would produce wild grapes."

[8] At that those of the group on the left asked in response, "What then is the nature of their goods of charity or good works, which are the fruits of faith?"

The priest replied that they are unseen, being within a person from the Holy Spirit, of which the person is totally unaware.

Responding, they said, "If a person is totally unaware of them, there must at least be some connection. Otherwise how can they be called works of faith? Perhaps those unfelt goods are then insinuated into the person's volitional works by some mediating influx, as by some affecting, influencing, inspiring, prodding or spurring of the will, by a silent perception in the thought and a resulting admonition, contrition, and thus conscience, and so by an impulse, an obedience to the Ten Commandments and the Word, either as a little child or as a wise adult, or by some other means like these."

But the priest replied, "No, they are not. Even if their proponents say that it comes about by such means because good works come about by faith, still they sew these up in their sermons with words whose result is to deny that they originate from faith. Some of them still teach such means, but as signs of faith, and not as its bonds with charity."

Some of those on the left nevertheless conceived of a connection by means of the Word, and they said, "Is there not thus a connection, that a person acts voluntarily in accord with the Word?"

But the priest replied, "That's not what they think. Rather they think it is formed simply by hearing the Word, thus not by understanding the Word, lest something enter perceptibly through the intellect into a person's thought and will. For they assert that everything in a person's volitional makeup is merit-seeking, and that in spiritual matters a person cannot undertake, will, think, understand, believe, do or cooperate in anything any more than a log.

"Still, however, the case is different with the influx of the Holy Spirit through faith into the discourses of preachers, because these are actions of the mouth and not actions of the body, and because by faith a person acts with God, but by charity with men."

[9] But when one of those on the left heard that a connection is formed simply by hearing the Word and not by understanding the Word, he said irately, "Is it then by an understanding of the Word gained from the Holy Spirit only, when a person in church turns away or sits as deaf as a post, or when he sleeps, or gained simply from some exhalation from the Word, the book? What could be more absurd?"

After that a man from the group on the right, who excelled the rest in judgment, asked to be heard, and speaking said, "I heard someone say, 'I have planted a vineyard. Now I will drink wine till I am drunk.' But someone else said, 'Will you drink wine from your glass with your right hand?' And the first one said, 'No. I will drink it from an unseen glass with an unseen hand.' So the second one said, 'Then you surely won't get drunk!'"

Then the same man said, "Only listen to me, please. I say to you, drink wine from the Word understood. Do you not know that the Lord embodies the Word? Does the Word not come from the Lord? Is He not therefore present in it? If then you do good in obedience to the Word, do you not do it from the Lord, in obedience to His utterance and will? And if you then look to the Lord, He Himself also will lead you and do the good, and do it through you, so that you do it as though of yourself. Who can say, if he does something for a king, in obedience to his utterance and will, 'I do this of myself, in compliance with my own utterance or command, by my own will?'"

Following that the priest turned to the clergy and said, "Ministers of God, do not lead the flock astray!"

[10] Hearing this, a large majority of the group on the left went back and joined the group on the right. Some of the clergy also then said, "We have heard something we have not heard before. We are pastors. We will not abandon the sheep." And they went back with them and said, "That man spoke a true word. Who can say, if he acts in obedience to the Word, thus from the Lord, in obedience to His utterance and will, 'I do this of myself'? Who says, if he does something for a king, in obedience to his utterance and will, 'I am doing this of myself'?

"We see now the Divine providence in why the conjunction of faith and works acknowledged by the ecclesiastical body has not been found. It could not be found, because it cannot be imparted; for that faith is not faith in the Lord who embodies the Word, and so is not a faith derived from the Word."

But the rest of the priests went away, and waving their caps they cried, "Faith alone, faith alone! It will yet survive!"

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Footnotes:

1Romans 3:27.

2Romans 3:29; 9:24.

3Romans 2:25-27; 3:30; 4:9, 10

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(References: Leviticus 11:46-47)

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