Sermon: How Are You Protected By the Lord?
Pittsburgh New Church
September 22, 2019
Rev. Calvin Odhner
Text: Matthew 8:28-33
The kingdom of God cometh not with observation, neither shall they say, Lo here, or Lo there; for behold the kingdom of God ye have within you (Luke 17:20, 21).
Good morning and welcome to the Pittsburgh New Church! Was anybody here protected by your parents when you were young? Yes! So many of us felt protected! And how did they do it, they kept us out of harm’s way, right? The Lord, too, is an expert at keeping us out of harm’s way and today we are going to discover a few ways on how he does it! Let's read from Matthew chapter 8…
Many of us don’t spend much time thinking about it, but our minds are a phenomenal creation aren’t they? Think about it—this interesting “thing” gets you up and at’em every day. It makes a thousand different decisions every hour and those are just the ones you know about! So much is happening behind the scenes, our dream-life, our subconscious life, and our spiritual life. If we knew 1/10 of it we’d be exhausted!
The human mind is such a complex creation, the highest form of existence, it is truly a product of the Almighty! Consider all the emotions and feelings that come up every minute—if we are watching an exciting movie our mind is making our pulse rise and respiration increase. It controls every action of our body, what we say and how we act. Sometimes, what we are feeling we can’t even describe! Our own mind is a mystery even to ourselves!
And what’s even more incredible, our mind has extension. Our thoughts can think of our favorite place, extend to it, see it, all within our mind because our thoughts have this (HH 86) feature. All thoughts in heaven are shared with everyone else.
Our mind is said to be intelligent and we are taught “real intelligence" is knowing what the life of heaven is and living it. (HH 86 ) Not how much we know academically.
Abraham Lincoln once said,
"If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?" --President Abraham Lincoln
Our face is our mind—our spiritual world, presented to view in natural world (HH 91). All emotions that come to the face are first found in the mind and then exhibited on the face.
We have no trouble believing we have an internal man that shows itself in the external man or the face. But the Heavenly Doctrines ask us to stretch even farther than this and believe all our thoughts, all our delights, everything that exists in us first come about in the spiritual world. Our permanent existence here on earth can only come about from a pre-existing correspondence from the other world. Every part of our body—the nose, mouth, pancreas, all perform their uses first in the other world! Then they flow into those parts of us called influx to perform their uses (HH 96).
… the universe has been so created and formed by the Divine that uses may be everywhere clothed in such a way as to be presented in act, or in effect, first in heaven and afterwards in the world, thus by degrees and successively, down to the outmost things of nature. (HH112)
The way you look, your features, your beauty were given to you by your parents but don’t put too much stock in your physical beauty which doesn’t last! You need to be looking for internal beauty! This is the beauty only the Lord can give through temptation and the heavenly Doctrines make sure they mention that there were some really beautiful people on earth who are now in hell and don’t look too good!
What the form of a man’s spirit is I have been shown occasionally; and in some who were beautiful and charming in appearance the spirit was seen to be so deformed, black and monstrous that it might be called an image of hell,
not of heaven; while in others not beautiful there was a spirit beautifully formed, pure, and angelic.
Moreover, the spirit of man appears after death such as it has been in the body while it lived therein in the world. (HH 99)
So it is our spirit that we need to get excited about growing! It is our spirit that can take on the form of heaven and receive heaven according to the good that is within our mind.
For heaven is not outside of the angel, but is within him, since the interior things which belong to his mind are arranged into the form of heaven,
thus for the reception of all things of heaven that are outside of him.
These also he receives according to the quality of the good that is in him from the Lord. It is from this that an angel is a heaven. (HH 53)
No one is more excited about the study of the mind and its growing into an angel than the New Churchman! Every doctrine of the church deals with it…the doctrine of degrees, of influx, of correspondence; the process of reformation and regeneration; the communion of angels and men; the internal and external man; conjugial love;-all describe some phase of the human mind and its growth… and no amount of scientific investigation could discover the tremendous spiritual battle raging within each of our minds! A combat of momentous proportions between powers of heaven and hell for the ownership of an eternal mind!
The Lord has taken the most powerful measures imaginable to secure the protection of the human race from hell but how He does it takes a little getting used to in fact, when I discovered the real truth behind our protection I was just as indignant as many of the spirits in the Heavenly Doctrines are!
There are two types of influx or life from the Lord that come from the spiritual world-general influx and special influx-general is for animals and everything that is born into it's natural instinct and into order….special influx is for people who born are not in order (5850). This influx comes from at least two angels and two evil spirits that are constantly with a person.
The influx from the spiritual world into man is in general of such a nature that man cannot think or will anything of himself, but everything flows in;
Now before you get upset and say “what are you talking about? my thoughts are my own—who else's would they be?” Remember that we are vessels of life, we are not life itself. We are kept alive by the Lord flowing into us and He chooses to do that via spirits for this reason-when we are born we love only ourselves and hate the neighbor except insofar as he favors our commands and allows us to possess things of the world (5850). He allows evil spirits to be pulled from hell and enter the world of spirits where they share in the evil loves and affections we have. At first, this is the only “life” we have from the spiritual world. Although it's a crummy spiritual life, without it, we would drop dead as a stone. We read:
If he is avaricious, there are spirits
who are avaricious; if he is haughty, there are haughty spirits; if he is desirous of revenge, there are spirits of this character; if he is deceitful, there are the like spirits.
Man summons to himself spirits
from hell in accordance (5851)with his life.
Now, when these spirits get out of hell and into the world of spirits they love it! From hell where they are in infernal torment(5852), they now get to delight in the loves of self and the world again through this person—let’s call him Henry, who lives in the world. Henry and the evil spirit share the same thoughts and delights-yet neither one is aware of the other.
for they are in every thought and every affection of the man; (5852)
And this drama gets worse, the evil spirits enter into everything of Henry’s memory and believe Henry’s memory is their own!
Hence it is that all things which the
man thinks they think, and all things which the man wills they will; and conversely, whatever the spirits think the man thinks, and whatever the spirits will the man wills;
for they act as a one by conjunction. Yet on both sides it is supposed that such things are in and from themselves, both on the part of the spirits and on the part
of the men. But (5853) this is a fallacy.
So, the Lord provides spirits to flow into Henry’s thoughts and what he wills, all this without his knowledge. This is a most merciful act by the Lord. Although, when Henry reads the Writings and discovers this, he may feel like he’s lost his identity. The Lord has kept Henry alive while he is insane, allowing him to believe that all life is from Himself and that the world was made just for him. The important part is that the Lord has kept a connection with the spiritual world and Henry, and that’s enough for the Lord to begin His secret and efficient (5854) work with the angels on Henry’s mind. Imperceptibly, the angels don’t worry about Henry’s thoughts and affections so much, they begin to flow into Henry’s “ends”—the things Henry wants to see happen while he’s on earth. Ever so slowly and moderately the angels tenderly influence Henry. Knowing that if they let up their influence even for a tiny moment of a moment, Henry’s mind would be reduced to a hell he could never pull out of—such is the nature of the important work of the angels. If you were thinking “lawn chair’ when you become an angel think again! Their work is eternal life or death, moment by moment, as Henry moves from state to state in his life. Sometimes he’s making horrible decisions and sometimes allowing himself to be lifted up by the angels.
Your work this week is to notice what spirits are with you. Try to feel which society they live in, good or bad and to beg the Lord on your knees to bring you the spirits that lead to heaven.
When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way. 29 And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”
Amen. Let us pray.