The Word of God
Within the Word are all the guidelines for following a path that leads towards heaven. The book of John opens with the following: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." The Word can serve as your most direct connection to the Lord — it has a deep spiritual power when you apply its truths to everyday life. All the important things we need to know are contained within the scripture, such as assurance that God is ever-present in our lives, that life after death is real, and heaven and hell exist. The Word also provides us with instructions on how to access lasting happiness.
Different Layers of Meaning
There are several different layers of meaning contained in the Word: the literal, historical, and spiritual meaning. Without an awareness of deeper meanings in the scripture, some passages can seem alienating and severe. The Word imparts its gems to us when we learn to understand the spiritual significance of biblical allegory. The New Church teaches that the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg reveal a deeper meaning in the scripture, explaining the Bible's symbolism and showing how the Word of God can be applied to our everyday lives.
Stories in the Bible
Much like a parent would explain complicated concepts to a child, the truths in the Bible are related through stories. Jesus consistently communicated in parables: "Without a parable He did not speak to them" (Matthew 13:34). Most of the Old Testament is metaphorical too. The stories hold within them lessons of spiritual growth which are both practical and useful. For example, the Children of Israel being enslaved in Egypt represents the way we can become enslaved to addictions of many kinds. Their suffering shows how a life dictated to by demands of the ego is really a type of slavery. Moses leading the slaves away from bondage is symbolic of how the Lord can set us free.
Practical Application to Life
Another example of the Word's practical application to life is revealed in Jesus' explanations of the commandments. While few of us commit literal murder, we have all been guilty of spiritual murder. Jesus teaches that, on a deeper level, this commandment prohibits hatred and contempt: "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder,' But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment" (Matthew 5:21, 22). Likewise, the deeper meaning of the commandment against adultery prohibits lust: "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery,' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:27, 28).
Read the Word with an open heart and an open mind, allowing the Lord to guide your understanding, and watch how your life begins to change.
"These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father." - John 16:25
"Read the Word and believe in the Lord, and you will see the truths which must be the truths of your faith and of your life." - True Christian Religion 621
Does the idea of a deeper meaning to the Word make sense to you?
Do there seem to be contradictions in the Bible that you've wondered about?