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obliged to follow, our preconceived ideas about omnipotence are jarred, like a hand on a broken walking stick."

[2] When the crowd noticed me nearby, some members of it hurried over and asked me quite forcefully, "Are you the one who has confined God in laws like chains? The outrage! You have ripped apart the belief on which we base our salvation. At the heart of our belief we place the justice of the Redeemer. On top of that is the omnipotence of God the Father. As an appendix we add the actions of the Holy Spirit and its effectiveness in the spiritual arena, where we are completely powerless. It is enough, then, to mention the absolute justification that our faith entails because God is omnipotent. I197 have heard, though, that you see emptiness in our belief because you see nothing of the divine design for human response in it."

When they finished I opened my mouth and spoke in a loud voice, saying, "Learn what the laws of the divine design are, and then investigate the full ramifications of your belief. You will see a great wasteland and a long, twisted leviathan198 there with nets wrapped around it in an inextricable knot. Do what we read Alexander did when he saw the Gordian knot. To undo its bends, he drew his sword, cut the knot in two, threw it on the ground, and crushed its fibers with his heel."199

[3] When the people in the crowd heard this, they were biting their tongues. They wanted to give me a tongue-lashing, but they did not dare, because they saw heaven open above me and heard a voice out of it that said, "First control yourselves and learn about the divine design and the laws of that design that God Almighty follows in his actions. God created the universe from himself as the design; he created it according to the design, for the sake of the design. He created human beings in a similar way and built the laws of his divine design into us. Because of those laws we were created as images and likenesses of God. In brief, the laws are that we must believe in God and love our neighbor. The more we do these two things with our earthly power, the more we make ourselves a vessel for the divine omnipotence, and God connects himself to us and us to himself. As a result, our faith becomes living and effective for our salvation. Our action becomes goodwill, again in a form living and effective for our salvation.

"It is important to know, though," the voice continued, "that God is always present, constantly at work and making an effort in us. He even influences our free choice. He never violates it, however, because if he did, we would lose our dwelling in God; there would remain only a dwelling for God in us, as there is for all things on earth, all things in heaven, and even for the things that are in hell. From God we get our power, our will, and our ability to understand. There is no reciprocal dwelling for us in God, though, unless we live by the laws of the divine design given in the Word. Then we become images and likenesses of him; then paradise is given to us for a possession, and the fruit of the tree of life for food.

"The rest of us gather around the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, speak with the serpent there, and eat. Later we are expelled from paradise. Nevertheless God does not abandon us; we abandon God."

[4] The people in hats understood this and gave their approval, but the people in caps denied it;200 they said, "In that case wouldn't omnipotence be limited? But limited omnipotence is a contradiction."

I replied, "There is no contradiction in acting all-powerfully with judgment in following the laws of justice, or the laws of wisdom inscribed on love. The contradiction arises when you think God can act against the laws of his own justice and love, which would not be acting with judgment or with wisdom. Your belief entails a contradiction like that: on the basis of grace alone, God can justify unjust people and bestow on them all the gifts of salvation and all the rewards of life.

"I will briefly state what God's omnipotence is. God used his omnipotence to create the universe. As he did so, he built his own design into each and every thing. God also uses his omnipotence to maintain the universe. He forever guards its design and its laws. When anything falls away from his design, he brings it back into the design and reintegrates it.

"God also used his omnipotence to establish the church. He revealed the laws of its design in the Word. When the church slipped away from the divine design, he restored it. When it fell completely out of the divine design, he came down into the world. Through the human manifestation that he took on, he clothed himself with omnipotence and reestablished the church.

[5] "God uses his omnipotence and also his omniscience to examine us all after death. He prepares the just, the sheep, for their places in heaven; by assigning them places he builds heaven. He prepares the unjust, the goats, for their places in hell; by assigning them places he builds hell.201 He arranges heaven into communities and hell into hordes according to all the different loves their inhabitants have. In heaven there are as many varieties of love as there are stars in the sky above the earth.

He unites the communities of heaven so that they are like one person before him. Likewise he brings the hordes of hell together so they are like one devil. He separates hell from heaven with a great chasm, so that hell will not inflict violence on heaven and heaven will not inflict torment on hell. (The more heaven flows in, the more those in hell are tormented.) If God were not using his omnipotence in every moment to do all the above, so much wildness would come over people that they could never be restrained by the laws of any design and the human race would perish. This and more would happen if God were not the divine design and were not omnipotent in his design."

When they heard this, the people who had been wearing hats left with them under their arms, praising God.

In the spiritual world the intelligent wear hats. The unintelligent wear caps because they are bald; their baldness means that they are dense. The people with caps went away to the left, but the people with hats went to the right.

Because this first chapter is on God the Creator, there should also be some mention of his creation of the universe, just as the next chapter on the Lord the Redeemer also needs to address redemption. We cannot, however, get a fair idea of the creation of the universe unless some preliminary global concepts first bring our intellect into a state of perception. These global concepts are as follows:

[2] (1) There are two worlds: a spiritual world where there are angels and spirits, and a physical world where there are people.

(2) Both worlds have suns. The sun in the spiritual world is pure love from Jehovah God, who is within that sun. The spiritual sun radiates heat and light. The essence of the heat it radiates is love, and the essence of the light is wisdom. That heat and that light have an effect on people's wills and intellects. The heat affects the will; the light affects the intellect.

The sun in the physical world is pure fire. As a result, the heat and the light from it are dead. Physical heat and light serve as a clothing for spiritual heat and light and as a device through which spiritual heat and light reach people.

[3] (3) In the spiritual world both the heat and the light that radiate from the sun are substantial and are called spiritual. So are all the things in that world that come about from that heat and light.

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