The Church

What constitutes heaven for us also constitutes the church; just as love and faith constitute heaven, so too love and faith constitute the church. So we can see what the church is from what has already been said about heaven [Sections 230–240].

The term “church” is applied to the regions where the Lord is acknowledged and the Word exists, since the essentials of the church are a love for the Lord that comes from the Lord and a faith in the Lord that comes from the Lord, and the Word teaches us how we need to live in order to receive this love and faith from the Lord.

For a church to exist there also needs to be a body of teaching based on the Word, since without one the Word is not understood. Such teachings alone, however, do not constitute a church for us—that requires living in accordance with such teachings. It therefore follows that faith by itself does not constitute the church, but a church requires living according to faith, which means caring.

A genuine body of teaching is one focused on caring and faith together and not one focused on faith by itself. Clearly, a body of teaching focused on caring and faith together is about how to live, while a body of teaching focused on faith that does not include teachings focused on caring is not.

People outside the church who acknowledge one God and in accordance with their religion devote their lives in some way to caring about their neighbor have something in common with people in the church, because no one who believes in God and lives a good life is damned. This shows that although the Lord’s church takes a particular form where the Lord is acknowledged and the Word is found, it actually exists everywhere in the whole world.

Everyone in whom the church exists is saved and everyone in whom the church does not exist is damned.

from New Jerusalem, Sections 241-245

Sections 230-239: See 11/30/17

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