Humanity is constantly growing, and as humanity grows, so does its understanding. However resisting our increased understanding of the universe are the older forms of religion, for many religions were formed by doctrines and beliefs that were useful for their time, but are now out of date. As humans are born, grow and die, so religions are born, grow and die. And this is true of Christianity as well, and Jesus described this in his prophecy of end times. The time when Christianity reaches its period of time is known in scripture as the "end of the world" or "end of an age." But Christianity will not die, it will be reborn. This rebirth is the Second Coming.
Resisting this change will be the older forms of religion, for many religions are not spiritual in nature but rather a means of control. For as a religion begins to die, it degenerates into one of two forms: either it will degenerate into a means of gaining control over others, or it will degenerate into just a system of mere belief. This can be seen in Christianity: for many centuries it degenerated into a means of political control, under the dominion of the Roman Catholic Papacy and the priesthood. Later it degenerated into one of belief only or lip service, which is demonstrated by the Protestant doctrine of faith alone. In the Apocalypse, the religion that seeks to have dominion or control over others is symbolized by Babylon, and the religion that seeks to deceive people into one of belief alone is symbolized by the dragon, the beast and the false prophet.
Something new is coming in the form of the New Jerusalem out of heaven, and it is destined to transform the older religions. But before we can discuss the new, let us discuss the old ideas that are destined to die. For as long as the older ideas remain, people will be held back in ignorance.
FALSE IDEA #1: HUMANITY ON EARTH IS THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE
The selfish ego tends to think of itself as the center of the universe. Thus in ancient times, many tribal societies viewed outsiders and others as "evil" - you were only "good" if you belonged to the community. As primitive as this sounds, one can find this selfish pride in many forms today. On a family level, parents may regard a new son-in-law or daughter-in-law as "outside the family" or "not good enough," when in fact they are encountering their limited level of toleration for others. On a national level, people may tend to think of their nationality as "better" than others. This often shows up in the public media, for more often than not public media is nothing but national propaganda, especially in times of war. On a religious level, this selfish pride is evident when one thinks the religion they are born into makes them "better" than others. Any time one encounters a thought that elevates one above others, it is nothing more than the pride and evil from the selfish ego.
The selfish ego not only shows its pride and self-centeredness on an individual, family, national and religious level, but also on a world level. It was once held that the earth was the center of the universe - this was followed by the sun as the center, then it was discovered there are multiple galaxies, and now there may be even multiple universes. Thus it is very narrow minded to think that life only exists on our planet among the countless stars and galaxies. In fact, mathematically according to science we should already have been visited by civilizations more advanced than our own. And yet no apparent direct contact has been made. This is known as the Fermi Paradox. An explanation of no direct contact is that they may be withholding revealing themselves directly until we reach a certain level of awareness - this is known as the Zoo Hypothesis.
I have already spoken at length concerning UFOs who observe us from a distance, and concerning Emanuel Swedenborg who had visions of other extraterrestrial races, some perhaps dwelling on underground outposts on planets in our solar system. Howard Storm had a Near Death Experience in which he met Jesus, and apparently asked about extraterrestrial life. He was then shown a vision of other extraterrestrial races, beginning with those who looked like us, then starting to get a bit different:
So what of scripture which says that man was created in the image of God? We are images of God inasmuch as we become forms of the Divine Love in what we do, and images of Divine Truth in how we think:
And God created man in His own image; in the image of God created He him. The word image is twice used here, because faith, which is of the understanding, is called His own image; and love, which is of the will — and which in the spiritual man comes after, but in the celestial man precedes — is called the image of God. (Heavenly Arcana, n. 53)
FALSE IDEA #2: ISRAEL AND THE JEWS ARE A CHOSEN RACE ABOVE OTHERS
This would seem to be a repetition of first false idea, but it bears repeating because many religious fundamentalists believe and teach this from a very literal interpretation of the Bible, where it is said that the Jews were a "chosen nation" above all other nations. But the Jews are not a chosen people above others, but rather represent the spiritual Church - for in reality it is those who follow God's commandments who will be chosen to belong to his kingdom. Based on a literal interpretation of the Bible, many believe future prophecies will be fulfilled by a future kingdom of God based in Israel. Blinded by religion, with the support of the United States, Israel has been allowed to create an apartheid racist state. In reality, the Old Testament is written in this manner because this is the kind of revelation that could be received at the time. The revelation given to the Jews as a nation was designed to be representative of a future spiritual Church to come. Externally the Jews could represent such a Church in their rituals and national identity, but inwardly they were idolatrous and were not ready to receive spiritual truths. Expecting a literal kingdom of this world, they rejected their own Messiah Jesus. This is the mistake the Jewish nation made, and unfortunately many Christians who study prophecy make the same mistake by expecting a literal political kingdom on earth. In truth, the kingdom of God is within one's heart, and his kingdom on earth is the church.
The Jews were revealed only external rituals, and not the hidden spiritual truths that lay hidden behind their symbolic rituals. They were not revealed these hidden spiritual truths, as being idolatrous in nature they would have profaned what is holy:
"It was not even told them plainly that they were to live after death, nor that the Lord would come into the world to save them. Nay, in such ignorance and stolidity were they kept, and still are kept, that they did not know and do not know that there is an internal man, or that there is any thing internal; for if they had known or now knew, so as to acknowledge it, their quality is such that they would profane it; and so there would be no hope of any salvation for them in the other life. This is what is meant by the Lord in John: He hath blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, that they might not see with their eyes and understand with their heart, and turn and I should heal them (xii. 40). And for this reason the Lord spake to them in parables, and explained none to them, that seeing they should not see, and hearing they should not hear and understand, as He says in Matthew (xiii. 13). For this reason also all the mysteries of faith were covered and concealed under the representatives of their church; and the prophetic style was similar for the same reason." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 302).The Jews were only allowed to know God through their external rituals, in order to symbolically represent eternal truths:
The Jews and the Israelites were such that they had no thought about the internal man, nor willingness to know any thing about it; thus none at all concerning celestial and spiritual things, relating to the life after death. But yet, lest all communication with heaven and thus with the Lord should perish, they were bound to external rites, whereby internal things were signified. All their captivities and plagues were in general for this end, that external rites might be strictly observed for the sake of representation. (Heavenly Arcana, n. 3147.10)The Jews are not more holy than others, but their history is designed to present symbolic eternal truths of the true spiritual Church which would include all nations and races:
Every one who thinks somewhat more deeply or interiorly, may know that in the Divine Word, by the seed of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob — which is so often mentioned, and of which it is so frequently said that it should be blessed, and this above all nations and people in the world — cannot be signified their posterity; for these among all nations were least of all in the good of love to the Lord and of charity toward the neighbor, and not even in any truth of faith. For what the Lord is, what His kingdom, thus what heaven is, and what a life after death, they were altogether ignorant, as well because they were not willing to know, as because, if they had learned concerning those things, they would in heart have totally denied, and would thus have profaned interior goods and truths, as they profaned exterior by so many times becoming open idolaters, which is the reason that interior things so rarely stand forth in the sense of the letter of the Word of the Old Testament. ...when they said they were Abraham's seed — We are Abraham's seed. . . . Our father is Abraham. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were the sons of Abraham, ye would do the works of Abraham. . . . Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will to do (John viii. 33, 39, 44). By Abraham here is also meant the Lord, as everywhere in the Word. That they were not His seed, or sons, but the seed of the devil, is plainly said. Hence it is very manifest that by the seed of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, in the historical and prophetical Word, are by no means meant their posterity — for the Word throughout is Divine — but all those who are the seed of the Lord, that is, who are in the good and truth of faith in Him. (Heavenly Arcana, n. 3373.2)Thus the Jews represent the true spiritual Church who follow God's commandments, and the land of Canaan is not the literal land of Israel but is designed to represent the kingdom of heaven. Even Jesus said that in the future people would not worship in Jerusalem, but would worship God in spirit and truth, and that his kingdom was not of this world. Many may see Judaism itself as a primitive national religion for its age and time, but what is unknown to most is that everything that was given to them are symbolic of heavenly matters. Some of these hidden truths were revealed in the New Testament, but all the details of the internal symbolism of the Jewish rituals are described in detail in Swedenborg's work Heavenly Arcana (aka Arcana Coelestia, meaning "Heavenly Secrets"). By the time Jesus came and revealed the heavenly message of love and forgiveness, the Jewish representations were no longer necessary and were abrogated as they had been fulfilled.
The truth is, God is not partial to any single group and does not favour one nation over another. The more one loves others and repents from sin, the more God can dwell inside of you - and it is only then you become a part of his holy kingdom. It is a spiritual inheritance, not a natural inheritance derived from parents or one's nationality.
And for those of you who only receive information from the media, the fact of the matter is is that the state of Israel is an apartheid racist state, and has taken away basic human rights from the Palestinians. And many are blinded by a literalist interpretation of the Bible to cover up this horrendous crime. Here is a clip of former President Jimmy Carter who speaks on the issue, and notice how the interviewer is trying to cover it up with the questions he asks:
FALSE IDEA #3: YOU NEED TO BELONG TO A PARTICULAR RELIGION TO GO TO HEAVENThis again repeats the first false idea, but it again bears repeating as many who are so-called religious, believe that you must belong to their religion in order to go to heaven. You can find this idea in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is a product of the selfish ego: everyone believes that they are better than others. They put God in a box, and believe that constitutes the absolute truth. This is a very narrow and limited view. The truth of the matter, is that all who do good by the truth that they know will go to heaven, for everyone has a conscience. And for those who know the truth of their religion, and do not follow it themselves, are worse than those who do not know. There are many Christians who are so in name only, for they believe the truth and yet they do not live by it. Many who follow this narrow mindset are thus very focused on converting others. Religion is not in converting others, it is living by the truth that you know: and the answer to all questions is found in loving and serving others to the best of our ability.
It is not wise to assume that the religion you were born into and taught by parents and religious authorities is absolutely correct. Learn to question what you have been taught, ask yourself, WHY is that the truth. And when you investigate yourself you then become stronger in the truth: doubt is replaced by an internal acknowledgment. I have learned that there are different degrees of truth and falsehood in all religions.
In Swedenborg's visions of heavens, he found that many who were not born into Christianity and who knew nothing about Jesus could receive the truths from angels better than the very so-called Christians themselves? Why so? Because they acted out of the goodness of their heart according to their conscience, whereas many Christians explicitly disobeyed or ignored what they knew. This truth Swedenborg explains from what he observed from direct experience -
"Without seed sown by the Lord, man can do nothing of good. All good of charity is seed from the Lord, even with the gentiles. Although with these it is not the good of faith, as it may be within the church, yet it may become the good of faith. For the gentiles who have lived in charity, as they are wont to do in the world, in the other life when they are instructed by angels, also embrace and receive the doctrine of true faith and the faith of charity much more easily than Christians." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 932).
"The man of the church thinks that all who are out of the church, and are called gentiles, cannot be saved, because they have no knowledges of faith, and are therefore wholly ignorant of the Lord. He says that without faith and without knowledge of the Lord there is no salvation, and thus he condemns all who are out of the church. Indeed many of this sort who are in some doctrine, even if it be heresy, think that all who are out of it, or all who do not hold the same opinion, cannot be saved; when in fact the case is not so at all. The Lord has mercy toward the whole human race, and wishes to save and draw to Himself all who are in the universe."(Heavenly Arcana, n. 1032)
I have been instructed in many ways that Gentiles who have led a moral life, and have been obedient, and have lived in mutual charity, and have received some sort of conscience according to their religion, are accepted in the other life, and are there instructed by angels with watchful care in the goods and truths of faith. While receiving instruction they conduct themselves modestly, intelligently, and wisely, and easily receive and become imbued with the instruction; for they have formed to themselves no principles contrary to the truths of faith, which are to be dispersed, still less scandals against the Lord; as many Christians have, who have led a life of evil. Moreover, such do not hate others, nor avenge injuries, nor plot artifices and deceits. Indeed, they wish well to Christians; when on the other hand Christians despise them and even do them violence, as far as they can: but they are withdrawn by the Lord from their unmercifulness and are protected. For the case of Christians and Gentiles in the other life is such that Christians who have acknowledged the truths of faith, and have at the same time led a life of good, are received before Gentiles; but such at this day are few. (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2590)God is love itself, and desires for everyone to be happy:
"It is a common opinion that those born out of the Church, who are called heathen or gentiles, cannot be saved, because they have not the Word and thus do not know the Lord, and without the Lord there is no salvation. But still it may be known that they also are saved, from this alone, that the mercy of the Lord is universal, that is, toward every one; that they are born men as well as those within the Church, who are respectively few; and that it is not their fault that they do not know the Lord. Every one who thinks from any enlightened reason, may see that no man is born for hell, for the Lord is love itself, and His love is to will to save all. Therefore He has provided that all may have religion, and by it acknowledgment of the Divine, and interior life; for to live according to one's religious belief is to live interiorly, as he then looks to the Divine; and as far as he looks to This, so far he does not look to the world, but removes himself from the world, thus from the life of the world, which is exterior life.How many wars are fought in the name of religion? Look at what people can do when led by ignorance and blind religious leaders. So what unites all religions of the world? One thing: the golden rule. Found this very interesting video on how the golden rule unites all religions:
"That gentiles are saved as well as Christians, may be known by those who know what it is that makes heaven with man; for heaven is in man, and those who have heaven in themselves come into heaven. Heaven in man is to acknowledge the Divine and to be led by the Divine. The first and primary thing of every religion is to acknowledge the Divine. A religion which does not acknowledge the Divine, is not religion; and the precepts of every religion look to worship; thus they teach how the Divine is to be worshipped, so that the worship may be acceptable to Him; and when this is fixed in one's mind, thus as far as he wills it, or as far as he loves it, he is led by the Lord. It is known that gentiles live a moral life as well as Christians, and many of them a better life than Christians. Moral life is lived either for the sake of the Divine, or for the sake of men in the world; the moral life which is lived for the sake of the Divine is spiritual life. Moral life and spiritual life appear alike in outward form, but in inward form they are altogether different; the one saves man, the other does not save him. For he who lives a moral life for the sake of the Divine, is led by the Divine, but he who lives a moral life for the sake of men in the world, is led by himself." (Heaven an Hell, n. 318-319).
If religions concentrating on doing well, doing what is right, the differences would disappear, for all the varieties of truth is derived from one principle, and that is love. And this was the central principle of the most ancient religion on this earth, where they followed the doctrine of charity
"...the doctrine of charity was the doctrine in the Ancient Churches, and that this doctrine conjoined all the churches, and thus of many made one; for they acknowledged as of the church all who lived in the good of charity, and called them brethren, however they might differ as to truths, which at this day are called the truths of faith. In these one instructed another, and this was among their works of charity; nor were they indignant if one did not accede to the opinion of another, knowing that every one receives truth just so far as he is in good. ...But in process of time that ancient wisdom decreased; for so far as the human race withdrew from the good of love to the Lord, and of charity toward the neighbor, so far it withdrew also from wisdom, because so far it withdrew from heaven; consequently man from internal became external, and this by successive degrees. ...In consequence the doctrine of charity, which was so precious to the ancients, is now among things that are lost; for who at this day knows what in the genuine sense charity is and what the neighbor? when yet that doctrine abounds in arcana so many and so great as cannot be described as to a thousandth part. The whole Sacred Scripture is nothing else than the doctrine of love and charity — which the Lord also teaches, saying, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; this is the first and great commandment; and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself; on these two commandments hang . . . the law and the prophets (Matt. xxii. 37-40). The law and the prophets are the Word in all and each of its parts." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 6628-32).And notice how far removed we are today from that central principle, for religion has become just a matter of mere belief. Thus religions of today tend to emphasize faith over that of love, faith over that of doing good works.
FALSE IDEA #4: GOD IS ANGRY AND WRATHFUL AND CONDEMNS PEOPLE TO HELL
In truth, God is Love itself, and Mercy itself, and desires nothing more than for all of his creation to be happy. This sort of follows from the previous false idea. And yet there are many passages in scripture which declares that God gets angry and wrathful. This indeed appears in the sense of the letter of scripture, but the reality is that God only appears angry and wrathful to those who have committed evil. For those who in evil, are in the punishment of evil:
"In the Word in many passages it is said of Jehovah that He burns with anger and is wroth, and also that He consumes and destroys. But it is so expressed because it so appears to the man who turns himself away from the Lord, as is the case when he does evil; and since then he is not heard and is even punished, he believes that the Lord is in anger against him, when yet the Lord is never angry and never consumes, for He is mercy itself and good itself.” (Heavenly Arcana, n. 10431)Moreover, it is our own conscience which will judge our own actions after death, and nothing that we have said, done or thought can be hidden or denied. Those who live a life of evil do not wish to be among those who are in good: it is so repulsive to them that they turn away from heaven and cast themselves into hell. Hell is the darkness of their own mind, and it is the fire of their own hatred. It is not God who casts anyone to hell, it is each person who casts their own self to hell:
"An opinion has prevailed with some that God turns away His face from man, rejects him from Himself and casts him into hell, and that He is angry with him on account of evil; and with some, further, that God punishes man and does evil to him. In this opinion they confirm themselves from the literal sense of the Word, where such things are said, not being aware that the spiritual sense of the Word, which explains the sense of the letter, is altogether different; and that hence the genuine doctrine of the church, which is from the spiritual sense of the Word, teaches otherwise, namely, that God never turns away His. face from man and rejects him from Himself, that He does not cast any one into hell, and that He is not angry with any one. Every one also whose mind is in a state of enlightenment when he reads the Word, perceives this to be the case, from the mere fact that God is good itself, love itself, and mercy itself; and that good itself cannot do evil to any one, also that love itself and mercy itself cannot reject man from itself, because this is contrary to the very essence of mercy and love, thus contrary to the Divine Itself. And so they who think from an enlightened mind, when they read the Word, clearly perceive that God never turns Himself away from man; and that since He never turns Himself away from him, He deals with him from good, love, and mercy; that is, that He wills good to him, loves him, and is merciful to him." (Heaven and Hell, n. 545)
"How this comes about shall also be told. When man enters into the other life, he is first received by angels who perform for him all good offices and also talk with him of the Lord, of heaven, and of angelic life, and instruct him in things that are true and good. But if the man, now a spirit, be of such sort that he had indeed known such things in the world, but in heart denied or despised them, he then after some conversation desires and seeks to depart from these angels. When the angels perceive this, they let him go, and after keeping company a while with others he is at length associated with those who are in like evil with himself (see above, n. 445-452); and when this comes to pass, he turns himself away from the Lord and turns his face to the hell with which he had been conjoined in the world, where are those who are in a similar love of evil. From these things it is plain that the Lord draws every spirit to Himself, by means of angels and also by influx from heaven; but that spirits who are in evil utterly resist, and as it were tear themselves away from the Lord, and are drawn by their own evil as by a rope, thus by hell; and inasmuch as they are drawn and by reason of the love of evil are willing to follow, it is manifest that they from freedom cast themselves into hell." (Heaven and Hell, n. 548)In another encounter, Swedenborg met an evil spirit who preferred hell over heaven as they enjoy the evils that they did while they were in the world. Thus they are in the constant punishment of themselves. Because of the opposition between heaven and hell, between good and evil, between the two there is a great gulf or divide (Luke 16:26). And at this point I now have a perfect excuse to include an awesome song New Divide by Linkin Park. Pay attention to the lyrics.
FALSE IDEA #5: THERE WILL BE AN END OF THE WORLD. SOME TIME. TOMORROW. NO WAIT, TOMORROW AFTER TOMORROW. THIS FALSE IDEA IS GETTING TOO LONG, ISN'T IT?
I thought it would be good to end with this one. So many people who study scripture in the literal sense believe that there will come a time when the world will come to some cataclysmic end, Jesus will appear again in the sky visible to everyone, and that everyone here on earth will be judged. But this comes from a false literal application of scripture. First the phrase "end of the world" does not mean the end of this planet, but rather it means the "end of the age." And the age we are talking about is the old age of Christianity - for it has become so corrupt there is little truth left in it. How so? Emphasis is placed on belief alone rather than living well, and monotheism has been replaced by tritheism. The truth of the matter, as I said at the beginning, is that all religions are born, grow old, and die. In the case of Christianity, it has been destroyed from within, based on a false theology unknown to the apostles. This Jesus described symbolically by the destruction of the temple, where no stone would be left standing: for in a symbolic sense the temple is the church, and no stone standing is no truth will be left in it. This is the end of the world, and the false teachings are the abomination of desolation - for many churches are desolate in truth. And like the Jews before them, many who are born into the religion are too blind to see it.
And yet it is said there will be a final judgment, where the evil will be separated from the good at the end of the age. This is true. But this event, which takes place periodically towards the end of world ages, occurs in the spiritual world. Many who die are judged right after death, and go to heaven or hell according to how they lived. But many are not ready for this judgment, and enter a waiting state in a region between heaven and hell which Swedenborg described as "the world of spirits." Such a final judgment occurred upon the death of Jesus on the cross, for he entered the spiritual realm and reordered heaven and hell, and many captive souls caught in the world between were taken up into heaven. This is when in the middle region a large group of souls are judged in mass, and the good are separated from the evil. This is the final or last judgment. When such a judgment occurs in the spiritual world, the way is opened for angels to interact with men, and a new church is born on earth. Such happened with the end of Judaism and the birth of Christianity, and such is happening now with the death of old Christianity and a rebirth of it in a new age.
Will Jesus come again in the flesh? His kingdom is not of this world, but in the heart and spirit. When he came in the flesh, he was the Word incarnate. And how has he come again? This time, as the Word revealed in the spiritual sense in scripture. No longer do we need to wonder about the hidden truths of scripture, for the internal spiritual sense of scripture has been revealed in the revelations given to Swedenborg for all to see. But one will not see it if one holds on to former ideas of falsehood. This is the coming of the Son of Man in glory, for in the spiritual sense the Son of Man is the Divine Truth - now it is laid open for all to see, if one just simply opens their mind and begins reading it. It is an internal truth, that one sees internally - not literally with one's eyes. It is a spiritual psychology of the soul. We are not talking about a coming from the sky above, but a Second Coming out of heaven - and heaven can only be seen in visions.
Why the above song? In his visions Swedenborg was shown the spiritual symbolism of a trumpet: