I am here, St. Luke.
I wish to continue my discourse on the Atonement.
As I was saying, unless a man gets into harmony with God in the natural love, which God bestowed upon him, and thereby becomes free from sin and error, there can be no redemption for him, and the death of Jesus and the shedding of his blood cannot cause that harmony.
Now what I have heretofore said, relates exclusively to man and his salvation in respect to his condition of becoming perfect in this natural love, which all men have.
But this is not the great atonement which Jesus came to earth to teach men, and the way in which it could be obtained and the effect of its attainment.
As has been told you, in the beginning, God conferred upon our first parents not only the natural love, but the potentiality of obtaining it, by the observance of certain laws and obedience, the Divine Love of the Father, which, when obtained, would make a man a part of divinity itself; and, while it would not make him a god, or the equal of the Father, yet it would give him a divinity that would cause him to receive the substance of God's Great Love, and not remain the mere image, and, as a consequence, man would become immortal.
God alone, is Immortal, and every part of Him is Immortal, and when men shall obtain in their souls that part of Him which is his Greatest Attribute - His Divine Love - they will also become Immortal, and thereafter not subject to death.
The natural love, which was implanted in the souls of all mankind, is not a part of the Divine Love - it is not this Love in a lesser degree even, but is a distinct and separate quality of love, and all men possess it; but in many persons it has become contaminated by the sins that flow from the violation of God's laws, so that the redemption, of which I have spoken, is necessary for man, even as the possessor of this natural love only.
But the Divine Love of the Father is a Love that has in It, and is wholly composed of the Divinity which the Father possesses, and no man can ever become a part of that Divinity until he possesses this Great Love. I know it is said that man is Divine because he was created in the image of God, but nothing which is a mere image is ever a part of the substance of which it is the image, and cannot possibly have the qualities of that substance. Commonly speaking, the image may have the appearance and for the ordinary affairs of the mortal life, may serve the purpose of the real until something that arises that demands the production of the real, and then the image will no longer serve the purpose.
Now in the case of the creation of man, he was made in the image of God in one particular only, and that in the matter of soul appearance. His physical or spiritual body was not in the image of God, for God has no such bodies, and only the soul of man is in the image of God, the Great Oversoul. And so long as man remains a mere image of the Father, he will never be more than the mere man that he was at the time of his creation, and the Substance of the Father will never become a part of him; and while the Substance is Divine, the image can never become Divine until it becomes transformed into the Substance.
At man's creation, a plan was formed by which that image might become a thing of Substance, and there was given to man, the possessor of the image, the potentiality of obtaining the Substance; but man, through his disobedience, or failure to comply with or follow out the requirements of the plan provided, forfeited this potentiality, which had been conferred upon him, and thereby lost the possibility of having the image transformed into the Substance, which was absolutely necessary in order for him to ever become the possessor of any part of the Father's divinity. And when men call themselves divine they assert that which is not true, but which, since the coming of Jesus to earth, may become true.
I will not recite what this disobedience of our first parents was, or in what way they lost the great potentiality of becoming Divine, but will only say, that when by their disobedience they forfeited this potentiality, it was taken from them by God, and His decree that in the day they should commit the act of disobedience they should surely die, was carried out and they died; not the material bodies died, nor their spiritual bodies died, nor their souls, for men continued to live in their physical bodies for many years after the day of disobedience, and their spirit bodies and souls never died, for they still live. But what died and what the sentence passed upon them affected, was the potentiality of receiving the Substance, which would make them Divine and Immortal. This potentiality was taken from them and never restored during the long centuries from the time of its death until the coming of Jesus.
That part of the divine nature, or that divine attribute, which was the object of this potentiality and which would make man a part of the divine nature and immortal, was the Divine Love of the Father and nothing else; and if our first parents through their obedience had received this Divine Love, never would mortality as to the soul have existed on earth, and neither sin or a want of atonement with the Father. But disobedience came and death of the possibility of becoming immortal ensued, and man remained mere man, only an image of the Father and nothing more.
No man in all the long ages that I have mentioned, ever had anything more or greater in his nature than the natural love of which I have spoken; and even as to that, man so abused and defiled it, until at a time he became an outcast from the Father as to this love. In other words, he man, buried it so deeply under his acts of sin and the violation of those laws of God which control this natural love, that he appeared to be forsaken by the Father, even as a mere human being.
But in the history of what is called "God's chosen people," the Jews, it appears that time and time again these people became such aliens from God in this natural love, that men, possessed of this love in a purer state than were the common people, were used by the forces of the spirit world, to call these people to a realization of their obligations to God arising out of the gift of the natural love. None of the prophets - neither Moses nor Elijah, nor any of the others - was possessed of this Divine Love, but merely of the natural love in a purer state, than were the people to whom they delivered their messages.
But in God's Own time and in accordance with His Mercy and Plan, He rebestowed upon man this great potentiality of which I speak, so that men should again have the privilege of becoming at one with Him; and to declare the rebestowal of this Great Gift, Jesus was sent to earth in the form of man conceived and born as other men, but without sin.
It was at the time of Jesus' coming the Great Gift was rebestowed upon both, mortals and spirits of mortals, then living in the spirit world, and they all, spirits and mortals, received the privilege of becoming at one with the Father through the Plan of Salvation that He had revealed to Jesus, and which Jesus taught in his ministry during the short years of his earthly life, and which he is still teaching.
There is no other way in which man can become at one with the Father - in which the image can be transformed into the Substance - than the Way that Jesus taught, but which seems not to have been understood by men after the church became a church of temporal power, and after the Bible or the writings of the apostles were, emasculated and the thoughts and desires of men interpolated in the place of the gospel of peace and salvation. Yet there is in the gospel of John, one declaration of the true Plan of Salvation, though it is little understood and almost ignored in practical teachings and observances of the churches and their members, and that is "except a man be born again he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God."
These words of the New Birth are the only words that declare the true doctrine of the atonement. No death of Jesus on the cross, no shedding of blood or washing away of sins by the blood, no paying of any debt and no believing in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ, will bring men into at-one-ment with the Father and make them partakers of his Divine Nature or fit them to become inhabitants of His Kingdom. Only the New Birth is efficacious for this purpose, and no other plan did Jesus ever teach and is not now teaching.
Then what is meant by the New Birth?
Men in their understanding and interpretation of it differ, and it will do no good for me to recite these different interpretations or what the New Birth is not; but the important thing is, what it is.
As I have said, the potentiality that was conferred upon our first parents was the privilege of obtaining the divine nature and immortality of the Father, by becoming possessed of His Great attribute of Divinity - the Divine Love. And had our first parents by their obedience received the benefits of this great privilege, they would have been born again, as you and all other mortals, and spirits as well, may now be born again.
Then the New Birth is simply the effect of the flowing into the soul of a man of this Divine Love of the Father, and the disappearing of everything that tends to sin and error. As the Divine Love takes possession of the soul, sin and error disappear; it, the soul becomes of a quality like the Great Soul of the Father; and the Soul of the Father in its Quality of Love being Divine and Immortal, so, when the soul of man becomes possessed of this Quality of Love, this soul becomes Divine also - and the soul is the man - and then the image becomes the Substance, the mortal becomes the Immortal, and the soul of man, as to love and hope, becomes a part of the Father's Divinity.
Now to declare this Plan of Salvation and also the rebestowal of the Great Gift of the potentiality of the soul, Jesus came to earth. This was his mission, and none other. As readers of the Bible will remember, and it is a truth, when Jesus was baptized and anointed, and also on the Mount of Transfiguration, the voice of God, as it is written, declared that Jesus was His well beloved son and demanded of the people "hear ye him." Not to believe that he came to die on the cross, not to believe that his blood would bring about the atonement, not to believe in any vicarious atonement or that God in wrath demanded a sacrifice, but only "hear ye him." And Jesus in all his teachings never taught one of these things, but only the New Birth as I have explained it. This is the only thing necessary to the atonement, and he is still teaching it.
He also taught moral truths affecting the conduct and relation of man to man, and man to God in his natural state, but none of these things or moral teachings were sufficient to bring about the Great At-onement. There is no doubt that the observance of many of these teachings of morality and of man's conduct towards God, will have a tendency to lead men to seek the higher Love of the Father and help their souls to get in the condition, that will make it easier for this Great Love to flow into them; but these moral teachings or prescribed conduct will not, of themselves, be sufficient to bring the New Birth, and hence the at-one-ment.
Now, Jesus not only taught the necessity for the New Birth, but he also taught the Way in which It could be obtained, and that Way is just as simple and easily understood as the New Birth itself. He taught, and is now teaching, that through earnest prayer to the Father, and faith, which makes all aspirations and soul longings things of real existence, and by the Holy Spirit which is the Father's messenger of Love - or to carry his Divine Love - this Love will flow into the souls of men in response to such prayers; and by such faith men will realize its presence, and in this way, and this way only, men will receive the New Birth.
This is wholly an individual matter, and without the personal, earnest prayer of the supplicant and faith, that comes with the Love, a man cannot receive the New Birth. No ceremony of church, no laying on of hands or masses for the souls of the dead will be efficacious to make the man or spirit a new creature in God.
What I have written is the meaning of the atonement as taught by the Master, and as understood by all the redeemed of the Father who are now living in His Celestial Heavens, and there is no other atonement possible.
I have written enough, and hope I have made it plain to all men the true explanation of the atonement. We who are inhabitants of the Celestial Heavens know the truth of my explanation, both from personal experience and from the other fact, which no spirit in all the universe can deny, that only those who have received this Divine Love of the Father in their souls in sufficient abundance, can or do inhabit the Celestial Heavens; all other spirits, no matter what their several beliefs may be, live in the lower spiritual spheres and cannot enter the Celestial Heavens, unless they seek for and obtain the New Birth, that Jesus taught, and is still teaching.
So my dear brother, without writing more, I will say good-night.
Your brother in Christ, Luke