Generally speaking, the divine actions and powerful effects meant by the Holy Spirit are the acts of reforming and regenerating us. Depending on the outcome of this reformation and regeneration, the divine actions and powerful effects also include the acts of renewing us, bringing us to life, sanctifying us, and making us just; and depending on the outcome of these in turn, the divine action and powerful effects also include the acts of purifying us from evil, forgiving our sins, and ultimately saving us. (Continued)

We read that when Jesus was baptized the heavens opened and John saw the Holy Spirit coming down like a dove (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32-33). This happened because baptism means regeneration and purification, and so does a dove.

Surely anyone can see that the dove was not the Holy Spirit and that the Holy Spirit was not in the dove. In heavens doves appear quite often. Every time they appear, the angels know that they correspond to feelings and thoughts in other angels nearby about regeneration and purification. As soon as the angels go to those other angels and start a conversation on a different subject than the one being pondered when the doves appeared, the doves immediately vanish.

The situation is similar with many things the prophets saw. John, for example, saw a lamb on Mount Zion (Revelation 14:1 and elsewhere). Surely everyone realize that the Lord was not that lamb and was not in that lamb. The lamb was instead a representation of the Lord’s innocence. This highlights the error of those who deduce the existence of three persons in the Trinity from the dove seen above the Lord when he was baptized and the voice heard from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son” (Matthew 3:16-17).

The Lord uses faith and goodwill to regenerate us. This is the meaning of John the Baptist’s saying, “I baptize you for repentance with water, but the one who is coming after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16). Baptizing with the Holy Spirit and with fire means regenerating through the divine truth that is in faith and the divine goodness that is in goodwill. The following words of the Lord also mean the same thing: “Unless you have been born of water and spirit you cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). “Water” in this passage, and elsewhere in the Word, means truth in our earthly or outer self, while “spirit” means truth connected with goodness in our spiritual or inner self.

from True Christianity, Volume 1, Section 144

The State of Innocence of Angels in Heaven (Continued)

It is much the same for everyone who is being regenerated. Regeneration is rebirth as a spiritual person. [When we are being regenerated,] we are brought first into the innocence of infancy, which is realizing that we know nothing of truth and are capable of nothing of good on our own, but only from the Lord, and that we long for and seek what is true and good simply because it is true and good. These gifts are granted by the Lord as we advance in age. We are led first into knowledge about them, then from knowledge into intelligence, and finally from intelligence into wisdom, always hand in hand with innocence, which is, as already noted, the recognition that we know nothing of truth and are capable of nothing of good on our own, but only from the Lord. No one can accept heaven without this belief and this perception. It is the prime component of the innocence of wisdom.

Since innocence is being led by the Lord and not by ourselves, all the people who are in heaven are in innocence, since all the people who are there love to be led by the Lord. They know that to be led by oneself is to be led by one’s self-centeredness, and self-centeredness is loving oneself. People who are in love with themselves are not willing to be led by anyone else. This is why angels are in heaven to the extent that they are in innocence; that is, to that extent they are absorbed in divine good and divine truth, for being absorbed in these is being in heaven. Consequently, the heavens are differentiated according to their innocence. People who are in the outmost or first heaven are in innocence of the first or outmost level. People who are in the intermediate or second heaven are in innocence of the second or intermediate level. People who are in the inmost or third heaven, though, are in innocence of the third or inmost level; so they are the very innocent of heaven, since they above all others want to be led by the Lord the way infants are led by their father. This is why they accept divine truth directly into their intent and do it, making it a matter of life, whether they receive it directly from the Lord or mediately through the Word and sermons. This is why they have so much more wisdom than angels of the lower heavens (see Sections 270–271).

Because this is the nature of these angels, they are closest to the Lord, who is the source of their innocence, and they are also distanced from their self-centeredness so much that they seem to live in the Lord. In outward form they look simple—even like infants or little children in the eyes of angels of the lower heavens. They look like people who do not know very much, even though they are the wisest of angels. They are in fact aware that they have no trace of wisdom on their own and that to be wise is to admit this and to admit that what they do know is nothing compared to what they do not know. Knowing, recognizing, and perceiving this is what they call the first step toward wisdom. These angels are also naked, because nakedness corresponds to innocence.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 279-280

Notes:

Previously Cited:6/19/2018

Sections 270-271: Published 10/22/2017-10/23/2017

The Wisdom of Heaven’s Angels (Continued)

We may gather how great angels’ wisdom is from the fact that in heaven there is a communication that involves everyone. The intelligence and wisdom of one individual is shared with another: heaven is where everyone shares everything of value. This is because the very nature of heavenly love is to want what is one’s own to belong to another; so no one in heaven regards his or her good as authentically good unless it is someone else’s as well. This is also the basis of heaven’s happiness. Angels are led into it by the Lord, whose divine love has this same quality.

I have also been granted knowledge, by experience, of this kind of communication in the heavens. Once some simple people were taken up into heaven, and after they had arrived, they arrived also at an angelic wisdom. They understood things they could not grasp before and said things they could not express in their former state.

Words are not adequate to describe the quality of angels’ wisdom—it can be suggested only by some generalizations. Angels can express in a single word what we cannot express in a thousand words. Further, in a single angelic word there are countless things that are beyond the capacity of human words to convey. In the details of angelic speech there are actually treasures of wisdom in unbroken connection, utterly beyond the reach of human knowledge. Then too, what angels cannot evoke with the words of their language they fill in with the sound, which embodies their sensitivity to the proper arrangement of things; for as already noted (Sections 236, 241), they express their affections through the sounds and the concepts derived from their affections through the words. This is why the things that people have heard in heaven are called ineffable.

Angels can also state completely in a few words the details that are written in a whole volume, giving each word something that raises it toward a deeper wisdom. Their language by nature agrees with their affections, and every word agrees with their concepts. The words actually vary in infinite shadings depending on the way they express in sequence things that are simultaneous in their thought.

The more inward angels can even tell a speaker’s whole life from the tone of voice and a few words. From the way the sound is differentiated by concepts into words, they actually perceive the speaker’s ruling love, in which, so to speak, the very details of life are engraved.

We can see from all this what angels’ wisdom is like. Relative to our wisdom, it is on the order of ten thousands to one. It is like the ratio between the motor energies of the body, which are countless, to some act that results from them, which to our senses seems like a single event. Or it is like the thousands of things we see through a perfect microscope compared to the one fuzzy thing we see with the naked eye.

I should also like to illustrate the matter with one example. An angel, out of his wisdom, described the process of regeneration and presented mysteries about it in their proper sequence, amounting to a hundred. He filled out each single mystery with concepts containing even deeper mysteries, and did this from beginning to end, explaining how the spiritual person is conceived anew; is carried in the womb, so to speak; is born; matures; and is gradually perfected. He said that he could multiply the number of mysteries into the thousands, and that the things he was talking about involved only the regeneration of the outer person.

There were countless more about the regeneration of the inner person. This and other things of the same sort that I have heard from angels have shown me how much wisdom they have and how much ignorance we have by comparison, with hardly any knowledge of what regeneration is and no awareness of a single step when we are being regenerated.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 268-269

Notes:

Previously Cited: 10/21/2017

Section 236: Published 5/3/2018

Section 241: Published 5/5/2018

The Word’s Inner Meaning

This, then, is the Word’s inner meaning, the true and genuine life in it, which does not reveal itself at all in the literal meaning. But the number of secrets hidden within is so large that volumes would fail to unfold all of them. I have offered just a few, of a type confirming that regeneration is the theme and that it progresses from outer to inner self.

That is what angels see in the Word. They know nothing whatever of the literal contents, or the most obvious meaning of even one word, still less the names of different lands, cities, rivers, and people that come up so frequently in the narrative and prophetic parts. All they picture are the things those words and names symbolize.

Adam in Paradise, for instance, brings the earliest church to their minds—and not even the church itself but its belief in the Lord.

Noah brings up the picture of that church’s remnant among its successors, lasting up to Abram’s time.

Abraham never makes them think of a man who lived long ago but of a saving faith, which he represented. And so on.

In sum, they see spiritual and heavenly realities in the Word, completely separate from the words and names.

Several people found themselves carried up into heaven’s outermost entry hall while I was reading the Word, and they spoke to me from there. They said that they had no inkling of a single word or letter there but saw only the things symbolized on the next deeper level of meaning.

These things, according to their description, were so beautiful, followed in such a perfect sequence, and affected them so deeply that they called it glory.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 64-65

Notes:

Previously Cited: 10/22/2018

3. Even if we are well informed and insightful, if we do not turn our backs on evil deeds because they are sins, we are not wise

This too is for the reason just given [Sections 21, 24, 25], that our wisdom comes from ourselves and not from the Lord. For example, if we know the theology of our church right down to the last detail and know how to support it on the basis of the Word and of reason; if we know the theologies of all the churches through the ages, along with the edicts of all the councils; in fact, if we know truths and see and understand them as well—if, for example, we know what faith is, what caring is, what piety is, what repentance and the forgiveness of sins are, what regeneration is, what baptism and the Holy Supper are, what the Lord is and what redemption and salvation are—we still are not wise unless we turn our backs on evils because they are sins. These are lifeless pieces of information, because they involve only our power of understanding and not at the same time our power of willing. Things like this perish in the course of time for the reasons given in Section 15 above. After death we ourselves actually discard them because they do not agree with the love that belongs to our will.

All the same, these pieces of information are absolutely necessary because they tell us how we are to behave; and when we do them they come to life for us, but not before.

from Life/Faith, Section 27

Notes:

Section 21:

This makes it very clear that to the extent that we turn our backs on evil deeds we are with the Lord and in the Lord; and to the extent that we are in the Lord the good deeds we do come not from ourselves but from the Lord. This yields the following general law: To the extent that we turn our backs on evil deeds, we do good deeds.

Section 24: Published 3/31/2019

Section 25: Published 4/1/2019

Section 19: Published 3/30/2019

Genesis 1:24-25 and Its Inner Meaning (Continued)

More evidence that these words enfold the mysteries of regeneration can be seen in differences between the present verse and the last. The last says that the earth produced the living soul, the beast, and the wild animal of the earth. The present one employs a different order, saying that God made the wild animal of the earth and then the beast. At first we produce results as if on our own, as we do later, too, before developing a heavenly nature. Regeneration, then, starts with the outer self and moves to the inner, which is why a change in the order occurs, and outermost things come first.

All this verifies the premise: In the fifth stage we speak with conviction (an attribute of the intellect) and in the process strengthen ourselves in truth and goodness. The things we then produce have life in them and are called the fish of the sea and the birds in the heavens. And in the sixth stage we act with conviction (an attribute of the intellect) and therefore with love (an attribute of the will) in speaking truth and doing good. What we then produce is called a living soul, an animal. Because this is the point at which we begin to act as much with love as with conviction, we become spiritual people, who are called [God’s] image—the very next subject.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 47-48

Genesis 1:11-12 and Its Inner Meaning

And God said, “Let the earth cause the sprouting on the earth of the tender plant, of the plant bearing its seed, of the fruit tree making the fruit that holds its seed, each in the way of its kind”; and so it was done. And the earth produced the tender plant, the plant bearing its seed in the way of its kind, and the tree making the fruit that held its seed in the way of its kind. And God saw that it was good. — Genesis 1:11-12

When the earth (a person) is so well prepared as to be able to accept heavenly seed from the Lord and to produce good and truth in some degree, that is the time when the Lord first causes the sprouting of something tender, called the tender plant or grass. Next he stimulates something more useful that reseeds itself—the plant bearing its seed. Finally he germinates something good, which reproduces fruitfully—the tree making the fruit that holds its seed, each of these in the way of its kind.

During regeneration we naturally suppose at first that the good we do and the truth we speak come from ourselves, when the reality is that all good and truth come from the Lord. If we imagine they come from ourselves, then, we are not yet in possession of the life force belonging to true faith (although we can receive it later). We cannot believe yet that they come from the Lord, because we are being prepared to receive the living power of faith. This stage is represented in the story by things that have no living soul; animate creatures represent the stage of living faith to come.

The Lord is the sower of seeds, the seed is his Word, and the earth is the human being, as he saw fit to say in Matthew 13:19–23, 37, 38, 39; Mark 4:14–20; and Luke 8:11–15. A similar description:

So God’s kingdom is like one who tosses seed into the earth and sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; how it happens, the person does not know. For the earth bears fruit readily—first a shoot, then an ear, then the full grain in the ear. (Mark 4:26, 27, 28)

“God’s kingdom” in its broadest sense means the whole of heaven. Less broadly it means the Lord’s true church. In its narrow sense it refers to everyone with true faith, which is to say, all who become reborn by living out their faith. Each of these people is also called a heaven (since they have heaven in them) and God’s kingdom (since they have God’s kingdom in them). The Lord himself teaches this in Luke:

Jesus was asked by the Pharisees, “When is God’s kingdom coming?” He answered them and said, “God’s kingdom does not come in an observable way, nor will they say, ‘Look here!’ or ‘Look there!’ because—look!—God’s kingdom is within you.” (Luke 17:20, 21)

This is the third step in our regeneration and the stage at which we repent. The process continues to advance from shadow to light, from evening to morning, and so it says:

Genesis 1:13. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Section 29

Genesis 1:1 and Its Inner Meaning

In the beginning, God created heaven and earth. — Genesis 1:1

The word beginning is being used for the very earliest times. The prophets frequently call them “the days of old.”

“The beginning” includes the first period of regeneration too, as that is when people are being born anew and receiving life.

Because of this, regeneration itself is called our new creation [2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15]. Almost everywhere in the prophetic books, the words creating, forming, and making stand for regenerating, though with differences.

In Isaiah, for example:

All have been called by my name, and I have created them for my glory; I have formed them; yes, I have made them. (Isaiah 43:7)

This is why the Lord is called Redeemer, One-Who-Forms-from-the-Womb, Maker, and Creator, as in the same prophet:

I am Jehovah, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your Monarch. (Isaiah 43:15)

In David: The people created will praise Jah. (Psalms 102:18)

In the same author:

You send out your spirit—they will continue to be created—and you renew the face of the ground. (Psalms 104:30)

Heaven, or the sky, symbolizes the inner self, and the earth, before regeneration occurs, symbolizes the outer self.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Section 16

Notes:

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! — 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. — Galatians 6:15 (NLT)

REFORMATION AND REGENERATION

Now that repentance has been treated, the next topic in order is our reformation and regeneration. These two both follow our repentance and are moved forward by it.

There are two states that we all inevitably enter into and go through if we are to turn from an earthly person into a spiritual person. The first state is called reformation; the second is called regeneration. In the first state we look from our earthly self toward having a spiritual self; being spiritual is what we long for. In the second state we become someone who is both spiritual and earthly. The first state is brought about by truths (these have to be truths related to faith); through these truths we aim to develop goodwill. The second state is brought about by good actions that come from goodwill; through these actions we come [more deeply] into truths related to faith.

To put it another way, the first state is a state of thought that occurs in our understanding; the second state is a state of love that occurs in our will. As the second state begins and progresses, a change takes place in our minds. There is a reversal, because then the love in our will flows into our understanding and leads and drives it to think in agreement and harmony with what we love. As good actions that come from love take on a primary role, and the truths related to faith are relegated to a secondary role, we become spiritual and are a new creation [2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15]. Then our actions come from goodwill and our words come from faith; we develop a sense of the goodness that comes from goodwill and a perception of the truth that is related to faith; and we are in the Lord and in a state of peace. In brief, we are reborn.

If we begin the first state while we are in this world, we can be brought into the second state after we die. If we do not begin the first state while we are in this world, we cannot be brought into the second state or be reborn after we die.

These two states can be compared to the increase of light and heat that occurs as the day progresses in springtime. The first state is like the early light before dawn, when the rooster crows. The second state is like the dawn and the morning. The further development within the second state is like the increase of light and heat as the day progresses toward noon.

These two states can also be compared to the growth of grain crops. In the first stage they are like grass; after that they develop ears or fruiting spikes; and finally the grain itself grows within those structures.

These two states can also be compared to the growth of a tree. It begins as a sprout growing out of a seed in the ground. This then becomes a shoot. Then branches form and are adorned with leaves. Then the tree blossoms and fruit begins to grow in the heart of the flowers. As the fruit grows and develops, it produces new seeds, which are in effect the tree’s offspring.

The first state, the state of reformation, can be compared to the state of a silkworm when it draws silky threads out of itself and wraps itself in them. After all its hard work [of transformation], it becomes able to fly in the air and feeds no longer on leaves as before but on the nectar of flowers. . . .

from Regeneration, Pages 49-50

Regeneration

Anyone who does not begin to live a spiritual life—that is, who is not born anew by means of the Lord—cannot come into heaven. This is what the Lord tells us in John: “Truly, truly I say to you, unless you are born again you cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

We are born by our parents into an earthly life, but not into a spiritual life. A spiritual life is loving the Lord above all and loving our neighbor as ourselves, and doing so by following the precepts of faith that the Lord has taught us in the Word. In contrast, an earthly life is loving ourselves and the world more than we love our neighbor, and in fact more than we love God himself.

We are all born from our parents with the evils of love for ourselves and for the world. Every evil that has become part of someone’s nature as a result of habitual indulgence is passed on to his or her progeny. Therefore we receive accumulated evil passed down from our parents, grandparents, and ancestors in a long chain going back into the past. The evil we derive from them has over time become so great that all our intrinsic characteristics are nothing but evil.

This continuous accumulation can be broken and changed only by a life of faith and caring from the Lord.

We constantly tend toward and lapse into what we have received by heredity, so we ourselves reinforce this evil in ourselves and also add even more to it.

These evils are absolutely opposed to a spiritual life. They destroy it. So unless we get from the Lord a new life, a spiritual life—unless, then, we are conceived anew, born anew, and raised anew (that is, created anew)—we are damned, because we want nothing and think about nothing but loving ourselves and the world, just as the people in hell do.

We cannot be regenerated unless we know the kinds of teachings that lead us to a new life, a spiritual life. What we must be taught in order to gain a new, spiritual life are the truths that we need to believe and the good things we need to do—the truths that need to become part of our faith and the good actions that need to become part of our caring.

There is no way any of us can know these on our own, because all we take in is what strikes our senses. From this input we gain the light that is called earthly, which makes it possible for us to see only what has to do with the world and with ourselves. It shows us nothing that has to do with heaven or with God. This we must learn from revelation.

It is only from revelation, for example, that we learn that the Lord who is God from eternity came into the world to save the human race; that he has all power in heaven and on earth; that everything that has to do with faith and caring, that is, all truth and goodness, comes from him; that there is a heaven and a hell; and that we are going to live forever—in heaven if we have led a life of goodness and in hell if we have led a life of evil.

These and much more are matters of faith that we need to know if we are to be regenerated, since if we know them we can think about them, then intend them, and finally do them, thereby having a new life.

For example, if we do not know that the Lord is the Savior of the human race we cannot have faith in him, love him, and therefore do what is good for his sake. If we do not know that everything good comes from him we cannot think that our salvation comes from him, let alone want it to be that way; so we cannot live from him. If we do not know that there is a hell and a heaven and an eternal life we can have no thought whatever about heavenly life, nor can we devote ourselves to receiving it. It is much the same in regard to the other points just mentioned.

Each of us has an inner self and an outer self. The inner self is called our spiritual self and the outer self is called our earthly self. If we are to be regenerated, each of these needs to be regenerated.

If we have not been regenerated, then our outer or earthly self is in control and our inner self is its servant; while if we have been regenerated our inner or spiritual self is in control and our outer self is its servant. So we can see that the proper order of life in us is inverted from birth—what ought to be in control is serving and what ought to serve is in control. This order has to be reversed if we are to be saved; and the only way this reversal can be realized is through our being regenerated by the Lord.

The following may illustrate what it means to say that the inner self is in control and the outer self is serving, or the reverse. If we make pleasure and money and our own pride our highest good, if we take delight in hatred and vengeance, and if we inwardly collect reasons in support of these attitudes, then our outer self is in control and our inner self is its servant.

If, though, we perceive it as a good thing and a pleasure to have thoughts and intentions that are benevolent, honest, and fair, and to have our words and deeds reflect these same qualities outwardly, then our inner self is in control and our outer self is its servant.

First the inner self and then the outer is regenerated by the Lord; and the outer is regenerated by means of the inner. The inner self is regenerated by thinking about what is involved in faith and caring, and the outer is regenerated by a life in accord with this.

That is the meaning of the Lord’s words: “Unless you have been born of water and the spirit you cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). “Water,” spiritually understood, is the truth that belongs to religious faith, and “the spirit” is a life according to that truth.

When we have been regenerated, our inner self is in heaven and is an angel among the angels we are going to live with after we die. Then we will truly be able to live the life of heaven, love the Lord, love our neighbor, have an understanding of truth, be skilled in goodness, and feel the bliss that all these bring.

from New Jerusalem, Sections 173-182