True Christianity #154

Study this Passage

/ 853  

154. This point can also be illustrated by a number of parallels.

We all know that after the Lord bestowed the Holy Spirit on the apostles, they preached the good news across much of the world and publicized it through speaking and writing. They did this on their own initiative on behalf of the Lord. Peter wrote and taught one way, James another way, John a third, and Paul a fourth. Each of them used their own intelligence. The Lord filled them all with his spirit, but they each took a portion of it that depended on the quality of their perception, and they each exercised that portion depending on the quality of their own ability.

All the angels in the heavens are filled with the Lord - they are in the Lord and the Lord is in them. Yet for each of them, the speech and action depends on the quality of the mind. Some speak and act simply, and some wisely, with infinite variety. They all speak on their own initiative on behalf of the Lord.

[2] The same goes for all ministers in the church - those with false beliefs as well as those with true beliefs. They each have their own voice and their own intelligence. They each speak on the basis of their own mind, meaning the spirit inside them.

Consider the situation of all Protestants, whether they happen to be called Evangelical or Reformed. Once they have been taught the theological system handed down by Luther, Melanchthon, or Calvin, it is not that Luther, Melanchthon, and Calvin, or the theologies themselves, speak on their own initiative through the Protestants' mouths. Instead, the Protestants speak on their own initiative on behalf of their church founders.

Every dogma can be explained in a thousand different ways. It is like a horn of plenty. People take out of the dogma whatever is matched and suited to their character, and use their particular gifts to explain it.

[3] This point can also be illustrated by the action of the heart on and in the lungs, and the lungs' reaction on their own initiative on behalf of the heart. These are two distinct things, yet they are reciprocally united. The lungs breathe on their own initiative on behalf of the heart. The heart, however, does not breathe through the lungs. If it did they would both stop functioning.

The same applies to the heart's action on and in every internal organ in the body. The heart sends blood out in all directions. The internal organs draw on that blood. Each organ takes whatever it needs depending on how vital a service it provides. Its level of service also determines how it functions; different organs function in different ways.

[4] The same point can be illustrated by the following parallels as well. The evil we get from our parents, called hereditary evil, acts on us and in us. So does goodness from the Lord. Goodness comes from above or within; evil from below or outside. If evil were to act through us we could not be reformed, but we would not be responsible either. By the same token, if goodness from the Lord acted through us we could not be reformed. Because good and evil are a matter of our free choice we become guilty when we act on our own initiative on behalf of evil, and innocent when we act on our own initiative on behalf of goodness. Because evil is the Devil and goodness is the Lord, we become guilty if we act on behalf of the Devil, and innocent if we act on behalf of the Lord. The free choice that we all have makes it possible for us to be reformed.

[5] The same situation exists for all of us with our inner and outer selves. These selves are two distinct things, yet they are reciprocally united. Our inner self acts on and in our outer self, but not through it. Our inner self contains thousands of things. Our outer self takes from our inner self only what is suited for some useful purpose. In our inner self, the part of our mind that enables us to have volition and perception, there are arrays of concepts in enormous quantities. If these concepts flowed out through our mouths they would be like a blast of air from an industrial bellows. Our inner self, with its universe of contents, is comparable to an ocean, a large flower garden, or a park. The outer self takes from it just as much as it needs to get something done.

When the Lord's Word is quite thoroughly present in our inner self it too is comparable to an ocean, a large flower garden, or a park. In that case we speak and act on our own initiative on behalf of the Word. The Word does not act through us. The same is true in regard to the Lord, because he is the Word, that is, the divine truth and the divine goodness in it. The Lord acts on his own (or from the Word) on us and in us, but not through us, because we act and speak freely on the Lord's behalf when we act and speak from the Word.

[6] The point here can be more accurately illustrated by the mutual interaction between soul and body. The soul and the body are two distinct things, yet they are reciprocally united. The soul acts on and in the body but not through it. Instead, the body acts on its own initiative on behalf of the soul.

The soul does not act through the body in that the soul and the body do not consult and engage in decision making with each other. The soul does not command or request the body to do this or that, or say this or that with its mouth. The body does not call for or petition the soul to give it, or supply it with, something. Everything belonging to the soul belongs to the body, mutually and reciprocally.

The same is true for the divine and the human natures in the Lord. The Father's divine nature is the soul of his human nature, and the human nature is his body. The human nature does not ask its divine nature to tell it what to say or do. This is why the Lord says, "In that day you will ask in my name. And I will not tell you that I am going to petition the Father on your behalf, for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me" (John 16:26-27). "In that day" means after glorification, that is, after complete and absolute union with the Father.

The Lord himself is divulging this secret for those who will be part of his new church.

/ 853  
   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

True Christian Religion 167

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Nine Questions 7

   Swedenborg Research Tools

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

What can we learn from James?

  Spiritual Topics:


Glossary of Terms Used by Emanuel Swedenborg
Videos from the Swedenborg Foundation

The videos shown here are provided courtesy of our friends at the Swedenborg Foundation. You can find out more about them here:

How to Understand the Trinity - Swedenborg and Life

“The Trinity is well known to the Christian world, yet in other ways it is unknown.” Swedenborg asserts the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one the way our soul, body, and actions are one.

True Christianity #154 >> 18:35, 25:43, 30:25

Where Thoughts Come From - Swedenborg and Life

How does a thought come into existence? And who besides you may be involved in the creation of those thoughts?

How to Find Your True Self - Swedenborg and Life

What is our purpose in life, and how do we find it? How does life on Earth prepare us to flourish in the spiritual world?

Thanks to the Swedenborg Foundation for the permission to use this translation.