d. Nevertheless, No Faith, No Goodwill, and None of the Life within Faith or Goodwill Comes from Ourselves; Instead They Come from the Lord Alone

We read,

We cannot receive anything unless it is given to us from heaven (John 3:27).

And Jesus said,

Those who live in me and I in them bear much fruit, because without me you cannot do anything (John 15:5).

This has to be understood, however, in a particular way: On our own we cannot acquire any faith for ourselves except earthly faith, which is a persuasion that something is the case because a man in authority said so. On our own we cannot acquire any goodwill for ourselves except earthly goodwill, which is our working to gain favor for the sake of some reward. In both of them the self is present, but life from the Lord is not present yet. Nevertheless, with this earthly faith and goodwill we are preparing ourselves to be a vessel for the Lord. As we are preparing ourselves, the Lord comes in and turns our earthly faith into spiritual faith, does the same with our goodwill, and brings them from both to life. These things happen when we go to the Lord as the God of heaven and earth.

Because we have been created as images of God, we have been created as vessels for God. Therefore the Lord says,

The people who love me are those who have my commandments and follow them. I will love these people, come to them, and make a home with them (John 14:21, 23).

also,

Behold! I am standing at the door and knocking. If any hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and will dine with them and they with me (Revelation 3:20).

In Conclusion, as we prepare ourselves in an earthly way to receive the Lord, the Lord comes in and makes all the earthly things in us spiritual and therefore alive. On the other hand, however, the less we prepare ourselves, the more we distance the Lord from ourselves and do everything on our own; and what we do on our own has no life in it.

These points cannot be put in any clearer light before we come to the chapters on goodwill [Sections 392-462] and free choice [Section 463-508]. Similar points will also appear later on in the chapter on reformation and regeneration [Section 571-625].

from True Christianity, Section 359

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