I work for the Swedenborg Foundation and can provide this answer from Rev. James. F Lawrence, D.Min., Ph.D. Dean of the Center for Swedenborgian Studies and also Assistant Professor of Spirituality and Historical Studies at the Graduate Theological Union. We hope this helps!
Generally speaking, the divine actions and powerful effects meant by the Holy Spirit are the acts of reforming and regenerating us. Depending on the outcome of this reformation and regeneration, the divine actions and powerful effects also include the acts of renewing us, bringing us to life, sanctifying us, and making us just; and depending on the outcome of these in turn, the divine actions and powerful effects also include the acts of purifying us from evils, forgiving our sins, and ultimately saving us.
These are the powerful effects, one after the other, that the Lord has on people who believe in him and who adapt and modify themselves in order to welcome him and invite him to stay. Divine truth has these effects. Among Christians the Word has these effects because the Word is the only means by which Christians can go to the Lord and the Lord can come to them. As I said before, the Lord is absolute divine truth; so is everything that emanates from him. It is important to take this to mean the divine truth in connection with goodness, which is the same as faith in connection with goodwill; faith is nothing but truth, and goodwill is nothing but goodness.
The divine truth in connection with goodness, that is, faith in connection with goodwill, is the force that reforms and regenerates us; then renews us, brings us to life, sanctifies us, and justifies us; and, depending on our level of growth and forward movement, purifies us from evils. (Being purified from our evils is the same as having our sins forgiven.)
All these actions of the Lord cannot be explained here one by one, however. Each one would need its own analysis with support from the Word and illustrative reasoning. This is not the place for that. The reader [who wishes to know more about them] should turn instead to the topics that come later in the book: goodwill [§§392–462], faith [§§336–391], free choice [§§463–508], repentance [§§509–570], and reformation and regeneration [§§571–625].
It is important to know that the Lord is carrying out these salvation processes in every single one of us all the time. They are the steps to heaven. The Lord wants to save everyone; his purpose is to save all people. Anyone who has a purpose desires the means to achieve it. The Lord’s coming, his redeeming humankind, and his suffering on the cross were for the sake of our salvation (Matthew 18:11; Luke 19:10). Because saving people was his purpose and is his purpose forever, it follows that having the powerful effects on us that were just listed is his intermediate purpose, and saving us is his ultimate purpose.
The producing of these powerful effects is the “Holy Spirit” that the Lord sends to those who believe in him and who modify themselves to receive him. The producing of these powerful effects is also meant by “the spirit” in the following passages:
I will give a new heart and a new spirit. I will put my spirit within you and I will make you walk the path of salvation. (Ezekiel 36:26, 27; 11:19)
Create a clean heart in us, O God, and renew a firm spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and let a willing spirit sustain me. (Psalms 51:10, 12)
Jehovah forms the human spirit within us. (Zechariah 12:1)
In my soul I awaited you at night. In my spirit, which is within me, I awaited you in the morning. (Isaiah 26:9)
Make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die, O house of Israel? (Ezekiel 18:31)
And so on.
In these passages, “a new heart” means wanting what is good and “a new spirit” means understanding what is true. The reference to God’s giving a soul to those who walk the path of salvation makes it clear that the Lord has these powerful effects on those who do what is good and believe what is true—those who have a faith that is connected with goodwill. This is also clear from the mention of a “willing spirit.” The necessity for us to do our part of the work is clear from the following words: “Make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die, O house of Israel?” [Ezekiel 18:31].
We read that when Jesus was baptized the heavens opened and John saw the Holy Spirit coming down like a dove (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32, 33). This happened because baptism means regeneration and purification, and so does a dove.
Surely anyone can see that that dove was not the Holy Spirit and that the Holy Spirit was not in the dove. In heaven doves appear quite often. Every time they appear, the angels know that they correspond to feelings and thoughts in other angels nearby about regeneration and purification. As soon as the angels go to those other angels and start a conversation on a different subject than the one being pondered when the doves appeared, the doves immediately vanish.
The situation is similar with many things the prophets saw. John, for example, saw a lamb on Mount Zion (Revelation 14:1 and elsewhere). Surely everyone realizes that the Lord was not that lamb and was not in that lamb. The lamb was instead a representation of the Lord’s innocence. This highlights the error of those who deduce the existence of three persons in the Trinity from the dove seen above the Lord when he was baptized and the voice heard from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son” [Matthew 3:16, 17].
The Lord uses faith and goodwill to regenerate us. This is the meaning of John the Baptist’s saying, “I baptize you for repentance with water, but the one who is coming after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16). Baptizing with the Holy Spirit and with fire means regenerating through the divine truth that is in faith and the divine goodness that is in goodwill. The following words of the Lord also mean the same thing: “Unless you have been born of water and spirit you cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). “Water” in this passage, and elsewhere in the Word, means truth in our earthly or outer self, while “spirit” means truth connected with goodness in our spiritual or inner self.
Now, the Lord is absolute divine truth from divine goodness—this is his very essence. We all do what we do because of our essence. It is clear then that the Lord constantly tries (and cannot help trying) to implant truth and goodness, or faith and goodwill, in everyone.
Many things in the world could be used to illustrate this [connection between essence and action]. For one thing, we all will and think, and as much as possible speak and act, on the basis of our essence. Faithful people, for example, have faithful thoughts and intentions. People who are honorable, honest, godly, and religious have thoughts and intentions that are honorable, honest, godly, and religious. On the other hand, people who are arrogant, cunning, deceitful, and greedy have thoughts and intentions that are one with their essence. Jokers want only to joke around, and fools want only to babble their opposition to anything wise. In a word, an angel focuses and works only on what is heavenly, and a devil only on what is hellish.
As this is true of every bird, animal, fish, and winged or wingless insect, so it is true of every creature in the animal kingdom down to the lowest level: everything is known by its essence or nature. Every creature has its instincts accordingly.
Likewise in the plant kingdom, every tree, every bush, and every plant is known by its fruit and its seed. Its essence is bred into its fruit and its seed. It cannot produce anything that is unlike itself and its own kind. In fact, every type of soil or clay, every type of stone both precious and common, and every type of mineral and metal is recognized by its essence.