WELCOME TO TODAY'S WORSHIP SERVICE
June 3, 2012
For an all-text version, click here.
THIS YEAR'S THEME: The Year of the Lord
THIS MONTH'S TOPIC: What does the Lord require? Mercy
Open your Bible
Light a candle
From the Bible:
6 With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly[a] with your God.
First, though, let me state what Divine Mercy is. Divine Mercy is a pure mercy toward the whole human race with the intent of saving it, and it is constant toward every individual, never withdrawing from anyone. That means that everyone who can be saved is saved. However, no one can be saved except by divine means, the means revealed by the Lord in the Word. Divine means are what we refer to as Divine truths. They teach how we are to live in order to be saved. The Lord uses them to lead us to heaven and to instill heaven's life into us. The Lord does this for everyone; but he cannot instill heaven's life into anyone who does not refrain from evil, since evil bars the way. So to the extent that we do refrain from evil, the Lord in his divine mercy leads us by divine means, from infancy to the end of life in the world and they are after to eternity. This is the divine mercy that I mean. We can therefore see that the Lord's mercy is pure mercy, but not ion mediated; that is, it does not save people whenever it feels like it, no matter how they have lived. [H & H #522 NCE]
Our focus this month is mercy, as we develop the theme for our annual convention theme: What Does the Lord Require?
This is the first Sunday in the month, so we’ll look at Swedenborg’s perspective on this.
The quotation from Swedenborg cited above gives a solid view of Swedenborg’s perspective. Let’s look at it in detail.
Divine Mercy is a pure mercy toward the whole human race with the intent of saving it,
and it is constant toward every individual, never withdrawing from anyone.
MERCY AS LOVE
In other places, Swedenborg talks about mercy as a form of love. In Secrets of Heaven [#3036], he says:
‘And deal mercifully' means an influx of love. This is clear from the consideration that the essence of mercy is love. Love itself is converted into mercy and becomes mercy when anyone in need of help is regarded with love or charity.
In this quote, he continues with an emphasis on mercy as a form of social action in its external sense:He goes on to talk about mercy as a form of social action in its external sense:
Consequently mercy is the expression of love towards those who are needy and wretched.
In it’s internal sense, it is about love:
But here in the internal sense 'mercy' is used to mean love and 'dealing mercifully' an influx of love, since it was an influx from the Lord's Divine itself into His Divine Human.
MERCY AS ACTIONHis “social action” focus on mercy is developed in another section of Heavenly Secrets [#5132]
'And show, I beg you, mercy to me' means the reception of charity. This is clear from the meaning of 'mercy' as love, dealt with in 3063, 3073, 3120, 5042, in this case love towards the neighbour, which is charity, since the reception of faith is spoken of above in 5130; for on the level of the senses, when these are born again, faith and charity must make one. The reason 'mercy' means charity is that all who have charity have mercy, that is, all who love their neighbour are merciful towards him.
MERCY AS SALVATION
However, no one can be saved except by divine means, the means revealed by the Lord in the Word. Divine means are what we refer to as Divine truths. They teach how we are to live in order to be saved. The Lord uses them to lead us to heaven and to instill heaven's life into us.
The Lord does this for everyone; but he cannot instill heaven's life into anyone who does not refrain from evil, since evil bars the way. So to the extent that we do refrain from evil, the Lord in his divine mercy leads us by divine means, from infancy to the end of life in the world and they are after to eternity.
This is an important point to Swedenborg. Here is how he develops the topic in Heaven & Hell [NCE, #524]
If we could be saved by nothing but mercy then everyone would be saved, even the people in hell. In fact, there would not be any hell because the Lord is mercy itself, love itself, goodness itself. So it goes against his essential divine nature to say that all people can be saved directly and that he does not save them. We know from the word that the Lord intends the salvation of all and the damn nation of no one.
Swedenborg is making is essential point that salvation is not a matter of the crucifixion of Jesus or the forgiveness of God. It is not “mercy” in the sense that God’s gives us a “free pass” to live a life of evil and then expect to experience heaven. Our salvation – our ticket it heaven – is about living a life of charitable actions to others. Mercy is not just about God giving us mercy; it is about us doing acts of mercy towards others.
H & H 521, portion
If people have not been taught about heaven, the way to heaven, and the life of heaven for those on earth, they think that acceptance into heaven comes from a pure mercy extended to people of faith, people for whom the Lord intercedes, so that admission depends solely on grace. They therefore think that anyone at all can be saved out of goodwill; and some people even think that this includes the inhabitants of hell.
…no one could be saved from mercy unless they had received it by means of a life of good in the world –
This citation from Divine Providence makes the point with particular clarity:
DP 338 NCE
Instant salvation by direct mercy is impossible. I have just explained that the work of Divine Providence for our salvation begins at our birth and continues until the end of our life and then goes on to eternity, and that this work is constantly being done out of pure mercy and through means. It follows that there is no such thing as instant salvation or direct mercy.
MERCY AS WEEPINGSwedenborg also makes reference to weeping as a form of mercy, in Secrets of Heaven, #5480
'And wept' means mercy. This is clear from the meaning of 'weeping', when used in reference to the Lord, who is represented here by 'Joseph', as showing mercy. It is well known that weeping is an expression of grief and love; it is consequently an expression of mercy since mercy is love that is grieving. Divine love therefore is called mercy because left by itself the human race is in hell; and when a person recognizes within himself that this is the case he prays for mercy. Since in the internal sense 'weeping' also implies mercy, there are many occasions in the Word when Jehovah or the Lord is spoken of as weeping ....
He makes the same point in number 6034:
And wept upon his necks a long while. That this signifies mercy is evident from the signification of "weeping," as being mercy (see n. 5480, 5873, 5927).
MERCY AS REGENERATIONHere is an important quote from Secrets of Heaven, #9452
The Lord regenerates a man from Divine Mercy. This is done from his infancy down to the last of his life in the world, and afterward to eternity. Thus it is from Divine Mercy that the Lord withdraws a man from evils and falsities, and leads him to the truths of faith and goods of love, and afterward keeps him in these. And after this, in Divine Mercy He raises him to Himself in heaven, and makes him happy. All this is what is meant by the Forgiveness of Sins from Mercy. They who believe that sins are forgiven in any other way, are quite mistaken; for it would be the absence of mercy to see a multitude of men in the hells, and not save them, if it could be done in any other way. And yet the Lord is mercy itself, and wills not the death of anyone, but that he may live.
So, Swedenborg refers to mercy as: Love, action, salvation, weeping, and regeneration.
Can you see times in your life when you have shown mercy to others? When someone has shown mercy to you? When God has graced you with mercy?
What does the Lord require? Love Mercy.....this means what to you? This means to love compassion and kindness to me. The definition is simple, yet very profound if you meditate on it. What does it mean to be compassionate?
What is kindness? think about it, meditate on it, what does it mean...............?
"Holy One, creator of all Truth, teach us today to understand your words "Love Mercy". Help us to look deeply at this scripture, understand its meaning and implement it in our lives in a deeper way.
Give us the love of Mercy. Thank you for your daily Guidance . We ask for your Blessing on our denomination, our churches and our members. Help us to live your Truth, Love, Mercy, and Wisdom as we serve you in our daily lives. AMEN."
Israel and New Breed
Close the Bible
Go in peace, living a life of mercy to all.
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