Every human being is in fellowship, that is, in close association, with either angels of heaven or spirits of hell, because we are born to become spiritual, and we cannot become spiritual unless we are associated with others who are spiritual. In the work Heaven and Hell I have shown that our minds are in both worlds, the physical and the spiritual.
Nevertheless both the people and the angels or spirits are unaware of this connection, because as long as we remain alive in this world, we are in an earthly state, whereas the angels and spirits are in a spiritual state. Because of the differences between what is earthly and what is spiritual, neither one of us appears to the other. The nature of the differences is described in the memorable occurrence recorded in Marriage Love Sections 326–329. That passage makes it clear that it is not our thoughts but rather our feelings that form a connection between us. Yet hardly any of us reflect on our feelings, because they are not in the light of our understanding and thought; they are instead in the warmth of our will and of the emotions that relate to what we love. Nevertheless, the connection that is established by feelings of love held in common between people on the one hand and angels and spirits on the other is so tight that if it were broken and the angels and spirits were separated from us, we would immediately lose consciousness. If that relationship were not reestablished and angels and spirits were not reconnected to us, we would die.
When I say that we become “spiritual” as a result of being regenerated, I do not mean that we [who are still in the physical world] become as fully spiritual as angels; I mean that we become both spiritual and earthly, meaning that within our earthly self there is a spiritual self, which is present in much the same way thought is present in speech or the will is present in action—if one stops, the other stops. Similarly, our spirit is present in the individual things our body does. The spirit is what drives the earthly component to do what it does. Viewed on its own, the earthly part of us is something passive; it is a dead force. The spiritual part of us is something active; it is a living force. Something passive, a dead force, cannot take action on its own. It must be driven by something active, a living force.
Since we live constantly in fellowship with inhabitants of the spiritual world, as soon as we leave the physical world we are immediately placed among the spirits like ourselves whom we had been with while in the world. This is why all of us after we die seem to ourselves to be still alive in the world—we come into contact with people who have the same feelings as we do in our will. We claim these spirits as “our people,” just as friends and neighbors in this world claim each other as “their people.” This is what the Word means when it says that those who die are gathered to their people.
These points establish the fact that people who have been regenerated are in fellowship with the angels of heaven, whereas people who have not been regenerated are in fellowship with the spirits of hell.
It is important to know that there are three heavens and that they are divided up according to three levels of love and wisdom. As we progress in our regeneration we come into fellowship with angels from those three heavens. Because this is the case, the human mind, too, has three levels or areas just like the heavens. (For more on the three heavens and their division according to the three levels of love and wisdom, see Heaven and Hell Section 29 and following; see also the little work Soul-Body Interaction Sections 16, 17.
Here the nature of the three levels into which the heavens are divided will be illustrated only by a comparison. They are like the head, the upper body, and the lower body in a person. The highest heaven constitutes the head; the middle heaven, the upper body; and the lowest heaven, the lower body. In fact, the whole of heaven in the Lord’s sight is like one human being. The truth of this has been disclosed to me through firsthand experience: I was given permission to see an entire community of heaven, which consisted of tens of thousands of angels, as one human being. Why would the whole of heaven not appear that way before the Lord? For more on this living experience, see Heaven and Hell Section 59 and following.
This also clarifies how we should understand the well-known saying in the Christian world that the church constitutes the body of Christ, and that Christ is the life within this body. It serves as well to illustrate the point that the Lord is everything to all heaven, since he is the life within that body. The Lord is also the life within the church that exists among people who acknowledge him alone as the God of heaven and earth and who believe in him. (He himself teaches, in Matthew 28:18, that he is the God of heaven and earth, and in John 3:15, 16, 36; 6:40; and 11:25, 26, that we are to believe in him
The three levels on which the heavens exist, and therefore on which the human mind exists, can to some extent be illustrated by physical things in our world. The three levels are like the relative differences in value between gold, silver, and copper. (The statue of Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 2:31 and following, is another analogy that uses these metals.) These three levels are as different from each other as a ruby, a sapphire, and an agate are different in purity and value. An olive tree, a grapevine, and a fig tree would be another set of examples; and so on. In fact, in the Word, gold, a ruby, and an olive tree symbolize goodness that is heavenly, the type of goodness found in the highest heaven; silver, a sapphire, and a grapevine symbolize goodness that is spiritual, the type of goodness found in the middle heaven; and copper, an agate, and a fig tree symbolize goodness that is earthly, the type of goodness found in the lowest heaven. (I have shown above that the three levels are the heavenly, the spiritual, and the earthly.)
The following needs to be added to what has been stated so far: Our regeneration does not happen in a moment. It gradually unfolds from the beginning all the way to the end of our lives in this world; and after this life is over, it continues and is perfected.
Because we are reformed through battles and victories against the evils of our flesh, the Son of Humankind says to each of the seven churches that gifts will be given to those who overcome. That is, to the church in Ephesus he says, “To those who overcome I will give [food] to eat from the tree of life” (Revelation 2:7). To the church in Smyrna he says, “Those who overcome will suffer no harm from the second death” (Revelation 2:11). To the church in Pergamos he says, “To those who overcome I will give the hidden manna to eat” (Revelation 2:17). To the church in Thyatira he says, “To those who overcome I will give power over the nations” (Revelation 2:26). To the church in Sardis he says, “Those who overcome will be clothed in white garments” (Revelation 3:5). To the church in Philadelphia he says, “Those who overcome I will make pillars in the temple of God” (Revelation 3:12). To the church in Laodicea he says, “To those who overcome I will grant to sit with me on my throne” (Revelation 3:21).
Let me also add the following as a final note: The more we are reborn, that is, the more the process of regeneration is perfected in us, the less we attribute anything of goodness and truth, or goodwill and faith, to ourselves; we attribute it all to the Lord. We are taught this very clearly by the truths that we keep drinking in.
from Regeneration, Pages 75-78
Section 29 from Heaven and Hell: Published 7/1/18 and 4/9/16
Section 59 from Heaven and Hell: Published 3/3/2018