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Lift Up Your Whole Soul to God!

Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), IL
Posted Monday, November 13th, 2017

Lift Up Your Whole Heart and Soul to God!
Metaphysical Application Ideas for Christian Science Bible Lesson on

Soul and Body
November 13—19, 2017

By Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. Glen Ellyn, Illinois (Bartlett)
craig.ghislincs@icloud.com / (630) 830-8683

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What’s the first thing that comes to your thought when you consider the subject of this Lesson? On the surface, Soul and Body seem to be two aspects of a human being. True, there are those who believe that the physical body is all there is to us, and that consciousness is nothing more than a function of synaptic pathways and brain chemistry; but there are many who feel that consciousness is the primary aspect of our being. Religiously minded people often call this consciousness a soul.

The conventional view is that this consciousness, or soul, resides somehow within a physical structure called a body. There is an emerging theory that I’ve mentioned in previous Cedars’ Lesson Application Ideas called Biocentrism. I read about it in a book by the same name written by Robert Lanza, MD, and Bob Berman. They believe the relationship of consciousness and body is the other way around—that we embrace our bodies in our thoughts, rather than the body containing consciousness. On the surface this sounds similar to Christian Science, but in Christian Science the thoughts are not originated in a human mind; they originate in the one divine Mind, or Soul, called God.

This Lesson explores and challenges some of the conventionally held beliefs about the relationship between soul and body. Before we begin, there is one important thing to consider though—as taught in Christian Science, Soul is a synonym for God. So right away, that introduces a different twist on how we consider Soul and body.

The Golden Text touches on the permanence of Soul versus the transience of the physical world. In context, the prophet Isaiah is saying that the glory of God outshines the sun and the moon. Whereas the stars and moon wax and wane, and the sun seems to be dimmed by the clouds and disappear altogether during the night, God’s light is permanent and constant without shadow of change. God is an everlasting light. He always shows us the way out of the darkness of mortal belief.

One of the motifs I’ve noticed in this Lesson is that there are many passages in which the degree of prayer, praise, and acknowledgment of God is bold, active, and unapologetic. Throughout the Responsive Reading we find verses filled with rejoicing, praise, worship, and singing. These aren’t half-hearted, obligatory recitations. They’re active and strong. The psalmist lifts up his soul to God and praises with his whole heart. As Theologian John Gill (1697-1771) interprets it: the psalmist comes to the Lord with “a true heart…by way of offering unto the Lord, not the body only, but the soul or heart also.”

These expressions of praise don’t take place in private. They are voiced in the temple for all to hear, and they call for all the kings of the earth to join in. And the prayerful petitions aren’t timid either. The psalmist cries aloud unto God, and his prayer is heard. The psalmist knows God is the one, and only power, and that there is nothing He cannot do. God opens the eyes of the physically and spiritually blind; He raises those bowed down in body, as well as those heavily laden with sin and temptation; and “the Lord loveth the righteous.” The Amplified Bible interprets that last point like this: “the Lord loves the [uncompromisingly] righteous (those upright in heart and in right standing with Him).” Examples of that uncompromising devotion are woven throughout the Lesson [as are examples of how God “will perfect that which concerns” you! See PS#1.]

Section 1: The Infinite Cannot Be Confined

As nearly all our Lesson-Sermons do, we begin by getting a clearer understanding of God. First of all, we agree that there is only one God, and that God indeed exists. Traditional religious teachings have attempted to connect man to God by establishing the temple as a point of contact with the divine. Ancient temples were built as a place for Deity to inhabit. But the fact is, the temple, or tabernacle, was really built for man as a place of worship. It would be impossible to confine an infinite God to a particular location (B1). God encompasses all within Himself. He is our “sun and shield” dispelling darkness, warming, cheering, refreshing, and protecting all creation (B2). Residing within God’s law is a safe place to be. Walking uprightly in His law, we will have nothing good withheld from us.

It is inconceivable to imagine infinite Love being confined in any finite space. Not even the highest heavens can contain Deity (B3). While Old Testament writers could see the impossibility of confining God, Paul takes us a step further. First, he acknowledges God as the creator and sustainer of all things. This was a direct challenge to a thought of the time that was the beginning of atomic theory. Then Paul goes one more step: God doesn’t simply fill all space. God is All, and we live, move, and have our being in Him (B4 and PS#2 relating citation B4 to “the scientific statement of being” SH468, Ret 93:17.)

Our textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, picks right up where Paul left off: “God is infinite, the only Life, substance, Spirit or Soul, the only intelligence of the universe, including man” (S1). One would think that it would be fairly difficult to praise God more boldly than the psalmist, and biblical prophets. But Mrs. Eddy sets the new standard. She proclaims God to be absolutely above and beyond any finite form or concept, and declares it to be inconceivable that man could be considered a separate intelligence from God (S2). In fact, she denies the existence of a finite soul or spirit altogether (S3).

Mrs. Eddy clearly explains that the greater cannot be in the lesser. She states this as “a leading point in the Science of Soul, that Principle is not in its idea. Spirit, Soul, is not confined in man, and is never in matter” (S4). This is key. Because as the ancients thought of the temple as a contact point between man and God, modern thought often attempts to connect man and God, by supposing God to be in nature, or around us, but still “in” matter. Nothing can be further from the truth. God is never in matter and He knows nothing about it. Matter is neither a thing nor a locale. Matter is a term that expresses the false belief of an external universe, and a finite existence.

I mentioned Biocentrism earlier. One of the key concepts of this theory is that life doesn’t evolve from material conditions. Rather, life produces the conditions for life to exist. That’s not quite the same as Christian Science but it’s a step towards it. The difference being, in Biocentrism we have biological life creating its own conditions, whereas, in Christian Science, Life is God, and God doesn’t need or create material conditions to exist. All is Life, God, and Life’s idea, and all reality is Spirit and its spiritual expression. Matter is out of the question. Our textbook states, “Nothing but Spirit, Soul, can evolve Life…” (S5). Soul is God, and Soul does not exist in mortality or a finite form. When we lose this false sense of Soul as dwelling in matter we will begin to see that Life is immortal.

Section 2: The True Sense of Temple

As so many religious traditions view God as being in nature, most also view the body as a temporary vehicle for the soul or consciousness. We’ve already established that God can’t be confined in a finite form. Here we see that man is not confined in a body either. The psalmist writes, God has searched and known him (B5). Theologian Albert Barnes (1798-1870) says the word rendered “searched” has a primary reference to boring or digging for water or metals. In other words, God reveals what’s below the surface—to reveal what we’re really made of. The psalmist sings praise for this glimpse of his true nature.

Paul, knowing that man’s true nature is far more than what appears, urges us to avoid minding things of the flesh (B6). John Wesley (1703-1791), co-founder of the Methodist movement, defines the “things of the flesh” as, “such things as gratify corrupt nature; namely, on things visible and temporal; on things of the earth, on pleasure, (of sense or imagination,) praise, or riches.” The Spirit of God exempts us from beliefs of the flesh. Our true body isn’t a fleshly form, but a spiritual temple. Being “in the flesh” can also be read as allowing human nature to dominate your life (B6).

In a letter to the Corinthians Paul also reminds us that our body is not, strictly speaking, our own. It is the temple of the Holy Ghost (B7). God owns us, and is the proprietor of our dwelling, so we should take care to maintain it appropriately. The idea is that everything we do should be to glorify God not to serve the flesh. This is another example of bold declarations regarding our relationship with God.

Our textbook defines temple as “body” (S6). But does this refer to a finite form temporarily inhabited by a soul? No. The Glossary definition of “temple” continues: “The idea of Life, substance and intelligence.” The temple in which we live is the idea of Life, God. Mrs. Eddy tells us man is not a “habitation for Soul; he is himself spiritual” (S7). Notice that Soul is capitalized. There is only one Soul. In a sentence not from this Lesson, our Leader writes, “We run into error when we divide Soul into souls…” (S&H 249:32). Since God is the only Soul there is no little “soul” to inhabit a body in the first place. Since all is Spirit there isn’t even a material body to contain a soul. Our true identity is reflection—not a body. God, Soul, never reflects “anything inferior to Spirit” (S7)

In reality we have a sensationless body. (S8) Citation S9 is a major point to be remembered: “The material body which you call me, is mortal mind…” (S9). This is why we never “treat” or pray for a body. The body is only mortal mind claiming to be us. Our true individuality is spiritual but it’s as tangible and substantial as matter seems to be (S10), and actually more so.

Section 3: Time Has No Effect on Our True Being

Much effort is spent on maintaining the beauty and strength of the human body. But if the body called “me” is actually mortal mind, efforts to delay deterioration and weakness of a decaying physical form will never win the battle. There’s nothing wrong with resisting the claims of decline associated with age, but the only sure way to gain victory is to claim and understand that our true strength and beauty are rooted in our spiritual being. Godfrey John, a well known Christian Science practitioner and teacher, who was a former Golden-Glove boxer, once told me, “We don’t exercise to get healthy and strong, we exercise to prove it.”

As this section begins, the psalmist is looking to God as the source of strength (B8) and beauty (B9). God never wears out and neither can we (B10). Human force fails, but the strength of the Lord is power that never deteriorates. The young and naturally strong may take glory in their personal ability, but that pales in comparison to divine power. Spiritual identity never decays or wears out. Caleb retained his strength and vitality regardless of his age (B11). [See PS#3 on strength and power even in old age (B8+).]

The Bible portion of this section concludes with another bold declaration of praise. The psalmist mentions the “joyful sound” (B12). According to Adam Clarke (c. 1760 – 1832) this refers to shouts of rejoicing and trumpets made on the morning of the jubilee, “which proclaims deliverance to the captives, and the restoration of all their forfeited estates.” Such as these are truly blessed because walking in the light of God, they know the source of their strength.

Our Leader embraces the Biblical view of God’s man as forever strong and upright. The radiant sun of manhood shines forever in eternal noon (S12). She cautions that measuring life by solar years is a mistake. Passage of time has nothing to do with our abilities. Time is a mortal illusion—a framework concocted by mortal belief. Experience makes us stronger not weaker (S13). Immortal mind supplies us with “freshness and fairness.” Remember that the body we call “me” is mortal mind. This is echoed when we read, “A material body only expresses a material and mortal mind” (S14). Whatever we’re thinking shows up on the body. We have to remember that there is no objective material realty. Everything is subjective. It’s all in thought. That’s why we need to be sure that it’s divine Mind not mortal mind influencing us. We embrace the body as belief in thought, and we should only cherish thoughts of health. Everything else needs to go. In order to help us to gain dominion over the claims of time and age our Leader gives us what she calls the “recipe for beauty.” It “is to have less illusion and more Soul” (S15). You can’t get that at the gym or at the cosmetic counter.

Section 4: Keep Your Sight Focused

It’s widely agreed that the servant referred to in Isaiah 42 is the Messiah (B13). But we can also look at it figuratively as anyone who endeavors to emulate the Master Christian. God actively holds us up, and supports us in all we do. We are His chosen, and He delights in us (B13). Jesus carried out his mission through the power given him of God. This is also another example of courageous acknowledgment of God’s glory. Jesus didn’t keep the good news to himself. He boldly preached the good news that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (B14 and PS#4).

Jesus exemplified singular vision in devotion to God. The eye brings light to the body as the sun does to the solar system, or a lit candle does to a dark room (B15 and PS#5). A single eye means simple, pure vision. A single, simple eye sees the heavenly view untainted, and undistracted by worldly desires and ambition and fear.

Where we are looking is important. I used to think the guiding of a horse with reins and turning its head in the right direction was a good analogy for keeping your eye single, or being focused on your destination. But during my horseback riding at Cedars Camps I’ve learned that where the rider is looking is most important. When crossing an obstacle such as a bridge on horseback, we were taught to keep our gaze far out ahead beyond the obstacle or else the horse would not cross the bridge. The horse knows where the rider is looking. Our experience also goes where we’re looking, so, if we want to keep our progress in the right direction, our mental gaze has to stay focused where we want to end up.

Sometimes we can’t see the path easily, but God lights our way and girds us with strength. To “gird” is to gather up the robes and tuck them in so your movement is unimpeded (B16). Here again, we’re talking about being ready for action, not passivity.

As light displaces darkness, the light of God dispels error (S16). Another meaning of a single eye is an eye that has no defect. Jesus’ vision and his heart were both pure, and this allowed him to see God (S18). Our textbook instructs us to follow Jesus’ example and teaching in order to rise above sin and stay focused on goodness (S19). Rising above all bodily pleasure and pain establishes our true spiritual identity in Soul (S20).

Section 5: Spiritual Senses Are Eternal

The psalmist knew to keep his focus on God. He put his full trust in God, and knew that this trust would not be in vain (B17). Barnes contrasts the psalmist’s focus to that of his armies who were “weak, dispirited, scattered like chips and splinters in a woodpile.” Citation B18 states, “The entrance of thy words giveth light.” As a matter of interest, some commentators see this as referring to the immediate fruits of opening the scriptures. But we can also view this verse as an acknowledgment of the healing power that comes when we expose challenges to the light of truth.

Jesus clearly kept that spiritual light on, and his focus on God. He was moved by the power of Spirit in everything he did (B19 and PS#6). In the healing of the blind man (B20) we find another example of an individual who was not at all shy about voicing his desire to turn to God. The man “cried out” for Jesus’ help. When others around him were trying to keep him quiet he cried out the more, and Jesus’ response was to heal him.

Just as spiritual strength surpasses all human effort, the “illumination of spiritual understanding” overrules material sense (S21). God is the only Seer. Man’s ability to see has nothing whatever to do with a bodily visual organ. Sight is a capacity of Soul, and Jesus’ awareness of this enabled him to heal others (S22). The sensory organs of the body have no innate ability to perform such tasks. Man’s senses are spiritual and intact—independent of organic construction (S23). As strength and beauty can only be found in Spirit, man’s spiritual senses are also unlimited by physical constraints.

All our real senses are spiritual and eternal. They don’t exist in space or time. They cannot be lost (S24). When we find our true faculties to be spiritual, we’re freed from the limitations of material sense (S25).

Section 6: “True Religion” Means True Freedom [like “the bird” in S28, PS#7.]

Citation B21 is a repetition of the first citation in the Responsive Reading. It is another reminder of the effectiveness of strong expressions of praise. The psalmist looks to only God to enlighten his mind, and to provide instruction and guidance (B21).

Paul tells us looking to God brings liberty (B22). John Gill, in his Exposition on the Whole Bible sees this freedom reaching multiple areas of life: bringing illumination, regeneration, sanctification, comfort, and freedom from sin and fear, allowing “liberty of access to God with boldness.” This is yet another example of strong praise in action.

Paul, exhibiting his characteristic fervency, is beseeching the brethren to pay attention to him. As with all the prayers, praise, and petitions in this Lesson, it isn’t a passive request. It’s an urgent plea for us to sacrifice our mortal sense of self in an ongoing act of devotion to God. This isn’t a “one-time” sacrifice of a dead animal; it’s a living sacrifice that we carry on throughout our lives (B23). It’s pure, and without blemish (B23). And Paul tells us to hold nothing back, but lay our all on the altar. Barnes points out that such a sacrifice—intellectual, moral, physical—voluntarily devoting all one’s energies from day to day is “true religion.” Jesus’ life exemplified such “true religion,” and his sacrifice enabled him to heal all ills. How could those who saw such healing work do anything but glorify God? (B24).

Jesus’ supreme example of a life devoted to God, continually demonstrated the difference between “the offspring of Soul and of material sense…” (S26). Jesus’ work lifted man out of slavery to the body. Science and Health tells us, “The illusion of material sense not divine law, has bound you, entangled your free limbs, crippled your capacities, and defaced the tablet of your being” (S27). So who wouldn’t want to be free from such shackles?

To find that freedom, we need to “look away from the body into Truth and Love” (S28**). Holding our thought steadfastly to the real, is keeping our eye single. We will experience what we “fix our gaze” on. We can never lose anything real or good as we follow this process. Our textbook tells us that denial of material claims is an important step in our triumph over the body (S29). The definition of a “denial” is an affirmation to the contrary. If we think about it that way, we can maintain that bold, positive and affirmative position exemplified throughout this Lesson.

We’ve seen that what we’re thinking determines our experience, and we’ve seen that Soul is not in body. We’ve seen too, that man lives in God, and these facts free us from the prison of material thinking (S30). Time to truly live it.

Section 7: One More Time: Lift Up Your Soul and Praise God!

The final Bible citation (B25) is one more bold exclamation of uncompromising praise. Shout it out!

The spiritual reality of being is an undeniable fact—Soul is God, not an ethereal consciousness confined in a body. Man is God’s image and we coexist with Him forever (S31). So, as mentioned in the beginning of the Lesson, let’s practice being “uncompromisingly righteous!” Lift up your soul—your whole heart—to God, and find your true being in Soul.


Click here for Warren Huff’s additions of insights by Cobbey Crisler on some citations in the Christian Science Bible Lesson on “Soul and Body” for November 19, 2017.


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