Topical and Doctrinal Notes
Leading Thought: Raising the Dead
We were talking about faith or confidence' in our last lesson, and that without it people cannot be saved. The Lord never healed people unless they had faith that He could. Today we read about a father whose daughter was dying, and who believed that she could be raised to life again if only the Lord would lay His hand upon her. Now, we do not read that anyone had as yet been raised from the dead by the Lord; but this ruler (his name was Jairus) knew that the Lord had healed the sick by laying His hands upon them or touching them with His hand, and he had faith that if Jesus would lay His hand on the little daughter, she would be raised to life again.
You know what it is to die, do you not? The life that comes from the Lord into the soul of a person flows from the soul into the body. When the current of life no longer flows from the soul into the body, the body dies. Just as when the electric current no longer flows into the electric lamp, the light goes out and the lamp is "dead." But life from the Lord comes to the body also directly through heaven. It likewise comes from heaven through the world to the body. So long as life comes from the Lord to the body in all these different ways, it lives; but as soon as one of these ways is closed up, the other two cannot keep up the life in the body. For instance: if life no longer comes to the body through the natural world - if the sunlight is kept from the body, or air from the lungs, or food and drink from the stomach, the body dies. So, also, if in any way, as by the interposition of wicked spirits, the life of heaven were to be kept from flowing into the organs of the body, it would die. And so, likewise, as we well know, if the soul ceases to communicate its life to the body, it dies.
Now, the Lord was Life itself, and the source of all the life of heaven and the world, and of all men and things in both. Remember, He said, "I am the Way, the Truth, the Life." He also called Himself "I AM," because He alone is, and we are and live from Him. Therefore, when the body of the little girl had died, it only needed Him to restore the flowing of life into it so that it would live again.
You know that it is by contact that things will flow into other things. If the contact or the connection is broken between a live wire and an electric lamp, the electric current cannot enter, but if the connection is restored, the current inflows again. If there is no connection between the gas main in the street, and the pipes in the house, the gas will not flow into the pipes and the gas burner, and we can have no heat. If there is no contact between the oil in the reservoir of an oil lamp and the burner, by means of a wick, we cannot light the lamp. So there must be contact between the Lord and men that they may receive life.
People communicate their life to each other by touch. That is the reason why we shake hands. We are so glad to see our friends when they come to us, that we take hold of their hands so our gladness may pass from our hearts through the hands to their hearts. People who do not love each other, and do not care to receive any life of happiness and gladness from them, nor to communicate it to them, do not care to shake hands with them.
Because touching with the hands means this, therefore the minister lays his hands on the baby who has been baptized, to bless it; that is, to communicate the Holy Spirit to it. He does the same with a pair who are being married, to bless them; and he stretches out his hands toward the congregation to bless them. This is an ancient ritual that has come down to us from times of old. The meaning of it was well known. When a candidate is introduced into the ministry, the hands of the General Pastor are placed upon his head for the same reason, namely, to represent that the Holy Spirit may come upon him to enlighten him and help him to be a true priest.
The heavenly Doctrines teach us that the "touch effected by the hands signifies the communication and reception of Divine strength, by which comes the healing of the interiors, which is salvation. This originates in the representatives in the other life; there, those who are in an unlike state of life appear far distant from each other; but those who are in a like state appear in each other's company. And those there who touch each other, communicate the state of their life to each other. If they touch each other by the hands, they communicate the whole of their life, for the hands, by correspondence, signify power, which is the activity of life, thus whatever is with the person. Such representations exist in the world of spirits." (A. 10023)
Do you know that people may be dead although their bodies are alive? What do we mean by that? When a person takes no interest in a thing he is said to be dead to it. If a person takes no interest in a game, he might as well be dead so far as the game is concerned. If he takes no interest in his studies and does not apply himself to them, he might as well be dead so far as they are concerned. If he takes no interest in learning about God, our Creator and Savior, he is dead so far as real life is concerned. This is the kind of death that the Lord wanted people to think about when He raised the little girl from death. Death of the body is of small account compared with death of the spirit, or being dead to religion. When people are spiritually dead and come to realize it and go to Him, asking for the touch of His hand, that they may live, then He communicates life to them. That is, they begin to feel a new interest in the Sacred Scriptures, in the church services, in the Sunday school, and especially in doing whatsoever the Lord commands us.
Because the Lord is the Lord of life, therefore in heaven, the angels are the liveliest, the quickest, to think and to feel, and to do, that you can imagine. They understand things of wisdom very quickly, and with the greatest pleasure. They are always ready to do things for other people, and are so cheerful and happy that it is a joy to see them. The children in heaven, in their sports, show astonishing quickness and skill, and the most delightful good nature. The songs are learned by a choir as quickly as they come into the minds of the leaders, and are sung with such correctness, expression and power that you would marvel. And all this because all in heaven are full of life from always looking to the Lord and being in touch with Him.