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“For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God sent not His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16, 17 Kempton)


Jehovah God is Love itself and Wisdom itself, or Good itself and Truth itself. He came down in the form of Divine Truth, which is the Word and which was God with God, and took upon Himself human form, so as to reduce to order everything in heaven, in hell and in the church. For at that time the power of hell was stronger than the power of heaven, and on earth the power of evil was stronger than the power of good, so that utter damnation stood threatening at the gates. This impending damnation was removed by Jehovah God by means of His Human, which was Divine Truth, and thus angels and men were redeemed. Afterwards He united in His Human Divine Truth with Divine Good, or Divine Wisdom with Divine Love, and so returned into the Divinity which was His from eternity, together with and in His glorified Human.

This is the meaning of the passage in John: ‘The Word was with God and the Word was God; and the Word was made flesh.’ John 1:1, 14. In the same gospel: ‘I came out of the Father and I came into the world; I leave the world again, and go to the Father.’ John 16:28. Further in the following passage: ‘We know that the Son of God came and gave us understanding, so that we might know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the true God and everlasting life.’ 1 John 5:20.

These passages show that without the Lord's coming into the world no one could have been saved. The situation to-day is similar. So unless the Lord comes into the world again in the form of Divine Truth, that is, the Word, no more can anyone now be saved.” (True Christian Religion n.3 Chadwick)

I really loved studying logic in college. I learned all the symbols, all the names of the arguments. I think I was a Stoic in a previous life (well, I don’t really believe that!). One of the most powerful concepts to me is that of an argument demonstrating “necessary and sufficient” conditions for a fact to be so. An obvious application in New Church teachings is that knowing the truth is a necessary condition for salvation, but not sufficient. And doing what is good is also a necessary condition, but not sufficient. It is only when I know the truth and then do it because I will it that the necessary and sufficient conditions for salvation exist.

The literal sense teaches similarly logical conditions. As we prepare to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection, we can reflect on the logic behind His death that was necessary for Him to rise.

Jesus knew He was going to die. He told His Apostles that He was giving His life for them. And He said His body and blood were being given for the life of the world. He said that He would shed His blood for the remission of sins. We are told that His blood would be used to wash us from our sins. He thus gave up His life voluntarily. These and other observations provide us with a comfortably firm foundation for understanding that the necessary and sufficient conditions for our salvation included His death.

His death was necessary, but it was not sufficient for our salvation. His resurrection was a necessary condition, but it is also not sufficient. His forgiving us our sins is a necessary condition for our salvation, but it is not sufficient. His death, we are told in the Word, made it possible for His to glorify Himself and so become one with the Father permanently. This put Him in the position to forgive us, since then He is God, with whom we must have a relationship if we are to choose to live with Him in heaven. The necessary and sufficient conditions for the Lord to save the world, then, are that He died, glorified Himself, and so forgives us.

All this is really important to my Scholastic self (another school of philosophy which demands precise logic in all thinking). It really helps me as I read the Word to have this clearly in my mind. And it is delightful to me to come to know my Savior this intimately. My in ability to understand the infinite, Divine aspects of the process are of little concern. My idea of my God is clear enough, my need to understand satisfied adequately, and my faith firm enough, that my relationship with the Lord can develop.

And still my heart aches and my stomach turns when I remember just what happened to Jesus. Sure, I am filled with joy on Easter Sunday morning. I love so many of those Hymns. But a central part of me is filled with the horror of Friday night. I am one of those who got a great deal of help from the movie “The Passion of the Christ.” I am one of those who can be powerfully struck by recent popular Christian singer’s song about a man looking up at the cross in bewilderment that such a good man would be so horribly treated, only to collapse in despair when he looked down and saw “the hammer in my hand.”

The balance seems to me to require that our emotions of joy come from a full sense of gratitude that must be based on a real sense of horror at what we do to our Lord in the course of our sinful lives. Such states of despair are necessary for us to completely accept the Lord’s forgiveness. Without the despair that lets go of self-dependence, there remains a part of us that is not yet fit for heaven.

However, feeling abject despondency is not sufficient for salvation. There must also be the joy of Easter morning that carries us into the new day, the new life of regeneration, when we act from a love for the Lord and the forgiveness He has granted. Thus, together, repentance and regeneration are the necessary and sufficient conditions for salvation.

Precursor, February 2005