30. Searching The Scriptures (5:38-47)

And you do not have His Word abiding in you, for the One whom that One sent, this One you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for you think in them you have everlasting life. And they are the ones witnessing concerning Me. And you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from men; but I have known you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. have come in the name of My Father, and you do not receive Me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive that one. How are you able to believe, you who receive glory from one another, and the glory which is from the only God you do not seek? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father; there is one accusing you, Moses, in whom you have hoped. For if you were believing Moses, you would then believe Me; for that one wrote concerning Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My Words? (John 5:38-47)

In heaven there are two distinct loves, love to the Lord and love towards the neighbor, in the inmost or third heaven love to the Lord, in the second or middle heaven love towards the neighbor. They both go forth from the Lord, and they both make heaven. How these two loves are distinct and how they are conjoined is seen in heaven in clear light, but in the world only obscurely. In heaven loving the Lord does not mean loving Him in respect to His person, but it means loving the good that is from Him; and to love good is to will and do good from love; and to love the neighbor does not mean loving a companion in respect to his person, but loving the truth that is from the Word; and to love truth is to will and do it. This makes clear that these two loves are distinct as good and truth are distinct, and that they are conjoined as good is conjoined with truth. But this can scarcely be comprehended by men unless it is known what love is, what good is, and what the neighbour is. (Heaven and Hell 15)

“To believe in the Lord” signifies not only to adore and worship Him, but also to live from Him, and one lives from Him when he lives according to the Word which is from Him; therefore “to believe in Him” is to believe that He regenerates man, and gives eternal life to those who are regenerated by Him. (Apocalypse Explained 815)

“to believe in God” is to know, to will, and to do; but “to believe the things that are from God” is to know, and this is possible without willing and doing. Those who are truly Christians know, will, and do; but those who are not truly Christians only know; (Apocalypse Explained 349)

What is religion except that man may so live that he may come into heaven, and that he may know how he should live? To know this is called doctrine; and to believe it and live according to it is called religion. From doctrine man will know not only what must be thought but also what must be done; for man must think that he may do, but not think what involves doing nothing. (Apocalypse Explained 805)

If we read these words of the Gospel and see them as referring to others, then we won’t be able to see much in them. But if we come to them from the perspective that all things contained within the Word are given for the sake of our salvation then we can begin to search the Scriptures in a way that has a direct impact on our life right now. For there are two ways we can approach the Scriptures; one is through natural reasoning and our own ideas, and the other is to approach them from the Lord. Each will produce very different results.

If we approach them from our natural reasoning, then we will work from the appearances of the letter with a view to confirming self derived beliefs that promote the loves of self and the world. And these will be clothed in the externals of religion to give them some form of credibility. In this way the natural man, the natural mind, takes the Scriptures and makes them subject to the judgement and authority of what it loves and believes to be true. If on the other hand, we approach the Scriptures from the Lord then we approach them from what they testify concerning themselves – that they are the Divine Truth within which is the Divine Love. If the latter is in our focus as we approach the Text, then it will be seen as something that expresses the Divine Love in terms of how it appears to human and angelic consciousness. And if this is the case then we are empowered by the Word to have our natural self-orientated mind made subject to the authority of the Word.

The Word seeks to lead us out of the hell of our selfishness. In order to achieve this, He has to instruct us as to who the Lord is, that we live for ever, and that there is a heaven and a hell. And the Word is the means by which these important concepts are implanted in people’s minds. At first, they enter and develop as an external natural view of spiritual things. This is their foundation. The Lord is seen as existing ‘somewhere up in a heaven’ outside of us and both heaven and hell are regarded as places people go to after they die. The Word is read in natural terms and seems to confirm this view on every page. We read of those who follow Jesus and are bound for heaven, and we read of those, like the Jews, who are opposed to Him and are bound for hell. When read in this way, people are seen as either good or evil.

But this is a natural understanding of spiritual things built upon the appearances from the letter of the Word. Its use is to give us some basic foundational concepts so that we can move to a spiritual understanding which takes a very different view. A spiritual understanding only begins to develop when we begin to see that the Word doesn’t speak of others out there in the natural world but speaks of the world within our minds, our psychological and spiritual world. Slowly we come to see that the Lord is not off in some externalised heaven but is in fact the Word itself and that heaven and hell are within us. Heaven is in those things of the Word which we have had worked into our life through obedience to its commandments and hell is the love of self and the world that makes up the proprium, the native sense of self. A spiritual understanding then views the people in the Word that follow Jesus as those aspects within us that are willing to obey the Word and those who oppose Him, as those things that belong to the proprium.

So when the Word speaks to the Jews, as in our reading today, we have an opportunity to be instructed about the proprium and its attitude towards the Divine Truth. It says of it…

You are not willing to come to me that you may have life…I have known you, that you do not have the love of God within yourself…I have come in the name of the Father, and you do not receive Me…you receive another who comes in his own name…you seek the glory of another but not the glory of the only God.

These statements are teachings given to instruct us concerning what stands in the way of the Lord being more fully present in our lives. They are given so that we might see the nature of what we are all too often identified with in the hope that we might take the initiative that the Lord has given us and look to Him for a new life. So it’s not about the Jews in history – it’s about the states of life that the proprium has us bound up in.

To read the Scriptures spiritually is to look to the Lord to have them reveal what is required of us. In other words, our search needs to be made with an aim to respond to what is revealed concerning ourselves. For this to happen, when we come to the Scriptures we need to have it clear in our mind that we are coming to the Lord. The Word is our teacher, and we are its disciples if we are looking to be instructed from it so that we can live our life in obedience to it. We need to learn to put our own agenda’s aside and with humility sit at the feet of the Word so that we might be led by it in the path of life. This is done by being conscious or spiritually awake when reading it and allowing it to instruct us concerning ourselves. It is helpful to read slowly and prayerfully so that we remind ourselves constantly in our reading that it is addressing states in our own life rather than telling us about others.

The doctrines for Spiritual Christianity state that it is the Lord God Jesus Christ who is to be worshiped. But we need to ask ourselves – What do we understand by this name? It’s important because what we connect this name with will have a major bearing on what we understand by worship and how we live our lives. The natural mind’s thought when hearing this name centres on a mental image of a person in history and goes no further. But the doctrines for Spiritual Christianity teach us that the words Lord and Jesus mean the Divine Love and that the words God and Christ mean the Divine Truth.  And also, that when they are presented together in a single statement in the Text then it speaks to the marriage or Oneness of the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom.

We also learn from the teachings for Spiritual Christianity that the Word itself is the marriage of the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom. Further to this, we learn that the material human form is how loves and truths are represented on the material plane to our physical senses. A human being then is not a human being by virtue of having a material body but by the quality of the loves and the truths that they live from.

The same applies to the Word. Its letter is the means by which the Lord presents Himself to our physical senses and so serves as His bodily representation on the material plane of creation. The letter is made up of natural ideas taken from the material world. It uses ideas of people and events set in a historical framework. It talks of rocks, and trees and mountains and rivers and seas. Of journeys and geographical boundaries, of wars, of times of famine and times of peace It is filled with objects from the natural world and implements and structures that have be built by human hands. We see the rise and fall of nations and kingdoms and the letter speaks of evils committed, of sin and death and of courage and compassion.

The letter of the Word has a very ordinary human look and feel to it, and on its surface appears to contain many of the same flaws that we find in our own human nature. It appears to be born of this world just as the historical Jesus, who represented the Word on the lowest plane of life, by all external appearances seemed to be an ordinary human being – no different to you and me. In being born into the world the Divine clothed Itself in human imperfections to represent the Word itself. To teach us concerning the nature of the Word and direct our thought little by little beyond its literal sense and into the glory that lies within. The factors and events around Jesus’s birth and life in the world points us to the higher spiritual reality of His birth into finite human minds as the Divine truth.  Here He is clothed time and again within our own imperfect, very human, finite understanding of the Word.

So we are instructed that the Word presents human consciousness in an imperfect form on the surface so that we don’t get caught up in judging it from natural human reasoning. This is why the teachings for Spiritual Christianity are so important; for they enable us to put our own tendency to judge the Word from natural appearances on hold while allowing what is deeper within it, that speaks of those things concerned with living a spiritual life, to shine forth from within its letter.

The letter is for the natural man and serves him by providing the basis for a natural religion. The natural man, the natural understanding, can’t see beyond the letter but the spiritual understanding can. But to see from the spiritual man we need to be instructed in doctrines that can serve as the ground from which we can be born from above, to be born into spiritual life. So doctrine is given that we might have access to knowledge about the Word and what it is to live from it. As we put that knowledge into practise we come into an understanding of its application to the life of our thoughts and affections which opens the way for the wisdom to be born within us.

Of the natural man or what is of the proprium the Word says this…

You do not have His Word abiding in you, for the One whom that One sent, this One you do not believe.

To be saved from our selfishness we need to have the Word abiding in us, and it can only abide in us if we believe what the Word or Moses testifies concerning itself – that God is the Word. If we believe this then we will approach the Word as our God, with humility in readiness to respond to what it brings up for us in our life. And as we respond, so the Word comes to be in us and we in the Word. The Jews who represent what is opposed to the Word within us, that is, the love of self, can’t receive the Word because there is nothing within it that desires what is of heaven.

However, the things of the Word are able to provide a higher sense of ourselves through which we can be separated from what is lower. The Word, when it passes into our minds, is able to awaken a deeper sense of self that is founded on the remains of what is good and true which the Lord has carefully planted within us over the course of our lives. These form a remnant of spiritual awareness which, once awakened, open us up to the possibility of having our sense of self removed from what is of the loves of self and the world, and joined to loves of a heavenly quality. Our awakening to what is higher though can only occur as we affirm the truths that we are brought into contact with through living from them.

We have said many times before that having the Word doesn’t make us spiritual. What makes a person spiritual is living from it. The natural man can appear to be religious but it’s a religion based on the loves of self and the world. In other words, when the natural man is involved in religious things, self interest is foremost in its motivations. Hence, we see the Lord confronting the Jews, that is our naitve proprium saying…

You search the Scriptures, for you think in them you have everlasting life. And they are the ones witnessing concerning Me. And you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

Searching the Scriptures without seeing the Lord within them is a wasted effort. There is an important truth revealed here and it is this, the Lord and the Word are one. The natural man looks to separates them by holding to a mental image of the Lord as one thing and seeing the Word as another. The message of the Gospel of John is one that seeks to bring us to the Word as God. By separating the two the natural man can conveniently hold to the image of the Lord it creates for itself to support his own agenda. From this, the natural man, the natural mind, uses natural reasoning to manipulate the Scriptures to support self-seeking actions and avoid examining the quality of our mental states in the light of truths.

If we are not willing to confront the hold which the native proprium has on us, our identity will remain inextricably woven into its machinations and as the proprium is nothing but evil, we will remain helplessly subject to the influences of the hells. Divine revelation is not given to provide us with knowledge about others; it’s given so that we can know what is in us and how it can be dealt with. The proprium cannot but want to be exalted above all others. The love of self is a love of dominating others and given the opportunity it will work to falsify the Word to put itself in a better light. So the Word must be approached as the Lord for it is the One thing that can set us free. It is Divine truth and as the Lord of that truth…

you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. (John 8:32)

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