Salvation is progressive

. . . a gradual lifting up of our spirit by the Lord as we grow in love, faith and useful service.

A favorite New Church teaching is that “religion is of life and the life of religion is to do good.” True faith is trust and confidence in the Lord which is reflected in one’s life. One can neither find salvation through works alone or faith alone, but through a life of faith and charity together.

Contributing to our own Salvation

The Lord can only approach us with His love and wisdom and mercy if we prepare ourselves to receive Him. We are taught that the Lord can only be present with us in what is His own. So we must acquire truth from the Word and attempt to live by it – shunning evils as sins. When we do this we create a place where the Lord can dwell. The power to do this of course is not ours, but comes from the Lord when we ask for it, and live in the light of the Word.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and open the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

How can we be good and faithful servants of the Lord? The Lord blesses us with spiritual freedom and the ability to learn and think. In addition, He gives us a unique array of abilities, which gives each person the potential to serve the Lord and the neighbor in a special way. When we speak of "talents" today, we mean the potential abilities we inherit and choose to develop. The goal the Lord sets for us is to put our inborn talents and spiritual gifts to use in serving others and in living a good and productive life according to His Word. In this way we will also be considered "good and faithful servants" and be welcomed to heaven, to enter into the joy of our Lord.

Spiritual Growth

The Lord by His life on earth made the way clear so that we may do the work, with Him, of changing our character from one that is selfish, self centered, inconsiderate and fearful (living in a hellish way) to one that is kind, giving, generous and confident in the Lord (living in a heavenly way). This is a process and it takes time – a lifetime. As we make choices to turn away from selfish and merely worldly gratification and in turn make choices that are based on the truth, and inspired by generosity and kindness, we develop a desire or will for what is good. It is that will or dominant love within us that determines our place after the death of this body. If we primarily love what is kind, good, and true we take ourselves to heaven where we can continue to live this way with others of a like mind and heart. If we primarily love what is selfish, hateful and deceitful we take ourselves to hell where we can continue to live this way with others of like mind and heart. We therefore judge ourselves - or choose our own eternity.