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Stop dead-end thinking and demonstrate eternal life now!

Gary Duke, C.S., St. Louis, MO
Posted Sunday, October 15th, 2006

Stop dead-end thinking and demonstrate eternal life now!
Lesson Application Ideas on "Probation After Death," Oct. 16-22, 2006

By Gary Duke, C.S., Saint Louis, Missouri

Editor's Note: The following background information and application ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson for this week are offered primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and demonstrate the great value of daily study of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp.

Golden Text:  Escape Death Through God's Providence.

Unto God our salvation, "belong the issues from death" which means, "belong the ways of escape from death, which God can provide" (Ref.7=Resource #7 listed below at the conclusion). 

 

We know since God is All and God is Life, there truly is no opposite or secondary power to Life called death.  So the escape from death is the understanding of God-Life!  This understanding is what we will explore throughout this Bible-Lesson.

 

Responsive Reading:  Scent of Life

Job said a tree which has been cut down, hopefully may live and grow again through its root, with merely the scent of water to make it bud again.  He then asked, "If a man die, shall he live again?"

 

Paul answers the question above in his letter to the Thessalonians-the "scent of water" to him is belief in the resurrection of Jesus.  Furthermore, Paul is also telling the faithful not to worry about devout believers that have died; they too shall be raised up at the Second Advent, the reappearance of Jesus (Ref.7).

 

We understand in Christian Science that the appearance of the Christ is not limited to a man called Jesus or to a particular time in history.  "Throughout all generations both before and after the Christian era, the Christ, as the spiritual idea,-the reflection of God,-has come with some measure of power and grace to all prepared to receive Christ, Truth (S&H 333:19-23).  

 

Section 1:  Drop Dead-End Thinking and Demonstrate Eternal Life Now!

Don't the goals of most people include being happy and getting to heaven?  Happiness (the short-term goal) and heaven (the eternal long-term goal), often seem to be at odds.  Perhaps by defining both in C.S. terms, the two may be reconciled-"...find happiness, apart from the personal senses" (Mis.200:24); "Heaven is not a locality, but a divine state of Mind...harmonious and immortal because sin is not there and man is found having no righteousness of his own, but in possession of ‘the mind of the Lord,' as the Scripture says" (S3). 

 

There we have it, the wedding of happiness and heaven-apart from the personal senses leads to divine Mind, sinlessness, no righteousness of his own.  Do we have to wait to express these eternal attributes?  No, "begin the demonstration thereof" (S1) and when "this mortal shall have put on immortality...Death is swallowed up in victory" (B3).  We can follow the path of Jesus right now and "never see death" (B4).  What passes away then?  "The death of a false material sense and of sin, not the death of organic matter, is what reveals man and Life, harmonious, real, and eternal" (S4).

 

Note:  (B3) "The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law"-is interpreted as, "Paul views sin as death's weapon to destroy man, and the law as increasing the power of sin rather than correcting it" (Ref.4).

  

Section 2:  Importance of Resurrection

In the news recently, we've heard: about abuse of Congressional pages; about shootings of children at school and of families at home; and about nuclear posturing.  Paul was often addressing issues in his day from the point of resurrection-is that applicable today?  Yes!  Haven't the individuals mentioned above, and others pained by these experiences, been crucified in a sense?  And if just left there on their crosses, "we are of all men most miserable.  But now Christ is risen from the dead...as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (B5).  How was Jesus raised?  Unconditional love for all expressed as forgiveness which "served to uplift faith to understand eternal Life, even the allness of Soul, Spirit, and the nothingness of matter" (S10).

 

Paul wrote to the Corinthians who doubted the resurrection and thought that it was just the soul that rose, but that the body remained (Ref.3).  Paul went to great lengths to dissolve their doubts and prove that, no; Jesus was seen in the flesh by many people (B5).  Mrs. Eddy confirms, "mortals waken from the dream of death with bodies" (S8), realizing we are not dead, but just passing the portals of a new belief (S9).  It was Jesus' understanding that "this is life eternal...the knowledge of Love, Truth, and Life" (B6, S5) which not only conquers death, but also provides the same principles by which sin and sickness are conquered, and through which meaningful solutions to the challenges of today are found.

 

Note:  (B5) "...he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve"-Cephas is Peter (Ref.6); "Evidently Matthias was chosen to replace Judas before Jesus ceased appearing to the disciples after his resurrection" (Ref.3).

(B5) "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept"-is interpreted as, "The term ‘first-fruits' signals that the first sheaf of the forthcoming grain harvest will be followed by the rest of the sheaves" (Ref.3).  

  

Section 3:  Witness Resurrection Now.

Many people have a doubting Thomas mentality, "I'll believe it when I see it", thinking that raising the dead might have happened back in Biblical times but not now.  Well, start believing because it is happening today (S11,S12)!  Periodicals recount these occurrences (CS Sentinel titled "Death Did Not End My Life," July 2, 2001) as do testifiers at our Wednesday testimony meetings.  Resurrection is also possible for animals-a testifier recently mentioned the family "attack" rabbit (who often scratched and bit anyone nearby) passed on and was literally stiff.  After the family prayed for a couple of hours together on a road trip, the rabbit revived as well as had a wonderful disposition for years afterwards!

 

The Book of Acts tells of a young man named Eutychus who came to hear Paul preach and sat in a third floor loft window.  About midnight Eutychus fell asleep and toppled to his death below.  Paul embraced him, perhaps similar to Elijah and Elisha (Ref.3), and the young man came back to life.  Now that Paul really had everyone's attention, he kept on preaching until dawn (B8)!

 

Just like Jesus and Paul, Mrs. Eddy "has healed hopeless organic disease, and raised the dying to life and health through the understanding of God as the only Life" (S13).  She was not impressed by the appearance of death, realizing its unreality, caused by the belief of the majority of human beliefs (S14).  When metaphysical healing occurs, "we are made partakers of Christ" (B11). 

 

Note:  (B7) "Apostle"-defined as, "One of the men selected by Jesus..." (Ref.6).

(B8) "Disciple"-defined as, "A pupil, especially the follower of a public teacher like John the Baptist...It is used of all of whatever age who in faith received the divine Master's instructions, and especially of the 12 apostles" (Ref.6).

 

Section 4:  Christian Science versus Spiritualism
If you're watching the baseball playoffs you may see and hear about some superstitions which are commonly practiced to enhance the "odds" of success-eating the same meal before every game, wearing a favorite number, using a lucky bat or glove, not stepping on the foul lines unnecessarily, etc.  One famous player even refuses to wash his batting helmet for an entire season!  Under pressure to perform, superstition occurs where understanding is lacking (B3). 

 

In more important arenas, we've heard of astrology playing a major role in the administrations of former presidents.  At the time of Paul's writing, throughout the ancient Near East, Greece and Rome, it was believed that the dead passed into an invisible world containing valuable knowledge which could benefit the living.  Spiritualism, and its occult practice in talking with the dead, was one means of supposedly obtaining this knowledge (Ref.3).  About 1000 years earlier, King Saul attempted to consult with the deceased Samuel prior to his final defeat by the Philistines.  Hebrew law and tradition forbade spiritualism in favor of seeking counsel with God (B12-14).  Mrs. Eddy devotes an entire chapter in Science and Health to this topic, "Christian Science versus Spiritualism" in which she states, "The so-called dead and living cannot commune together" (S16). 

 

Perhaps we chuckle at the humorous superstitions of the ballplayers, scoff at astrology and shudder at the thought of trying to speak with the dead.  But be honest, what unthinking rituals do we perform which deaden our spiritual progress?

 
Section 5:  Error to Truth-Incrementally or at a Single Bound?

Especially in this day of instant gratification, many people want their spirituality as fast as they microwave a TV dinner, become financially set for life with a winning lotto ticket and achieve the "perfect" body proportions through liposuction and implants.

 

Does spirituality work that way?  After all, many think that upon death a believer in Jesus instantly becomes free of sin and sickness.  But according to Proverbs, spiritual development is gradual, "shining more and more unto the perfect day" (B16).  And Isaiah reminds us how we learn with repetition, "precept upon precept; line upon line; here a little, there a little" just like a child learns (B17).  Mrs. Eddy states "Neither do other mortals accomplish the change from error to truth at a single bound" (S18); and "The sin and error which possess us at the instant of death do not cease at that moment, but endure until the death of these errors" (S19). 

 

Based upon the incremental approach to spirituality then, how may we best proceed?  We can start by admitting "man is God's own likeness...and we may as well improve our time in solving the mysteries of being through an apprehension of divine Principle" (S20).

 

Section 6:  Continual Judgment Day.

A public high school instructor of mine taught honors history by assigning a chapter of reading every night followed by a test the very next day-every day.  At first, the reaction by the students was shock, then trepidation (great fear and anxiety).  But after trying it a while, consensus (agreement) by most was that this was our favorite class and teacher!  What happened?  The onus (burden) of examination was removed because we were tested continually, which simply became the norm.  And having read the required textbook so rapidly, we had lots of extra time to explore in depth interesting events in history via role-playing and going way beyond the norm, learning simply for the joy of it all.

 

Similarly, when we realize there truly is no judgment day (if judged good you go to heaven and if bad, roast in hell), we're able to live in the eternal-now, exploring the kingdom of heaven more freely and joyfully.  Sure we're going to make mistakes, "but the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts" (Third Tenet, p.497).  "Error brings its own self-destruction both here and hereafter" (S21); "No final judgment awaits mortals, for the judgment day of wisdom comes hourly and continually" (S22). 

 

So, if there is no one big final exam called Judgment Day, for what are we studying, working, and striving so hard?  We want to be among those who are truly living by loving God and our neighbor better each day, versus being amongst the walking dead with this weight of possible eternal damnation looming large in the future i.e. "individuals who are buried above-ground in material sense" (My.110:4). 

(B18)  "Hear the voice of the Son of God:  and they that hear shall live;"

(B21)  "Keep yourselves in the love of God...unto eternal life;"

(S23)  "Thus progress will finally destroy all error, and bring immortality to light."

 

Note:  (B19) "the first resurrection"-interpreted as, "The first resurrection is taking place now.  It is spiritual, not physical.  It occurs whenever the Holy Ghost brings a chosen person to saving faith in Jesus Christ" (Ref.3);

(B20) "the second death"-interpreted as, "The final destruction awaiting the devil and his followers" (Ref.3).

 

Section Summary Benediction:

Escape death through God's providence of Life, even just the scent of Life, which leads to our understanding of resurrection.  Stop dead-end thinking and demonstrate eternal life now by acknowledging the importance of resurrection and its daily witness.  Christian Science exposes the fallacy of spiritualism.  There is no shortcut from error to truth; the growth in Christian character is incremental and not accomplished at a single bound.  As for the final Judgment Day, there is none-continuously our love for God and man is crucified and resurrected.

 

Resources: 

1.  American Dictionary of the English Language, By Noah Webster 1828, 800-352-3223, website www.face.net

 

2.  Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth  Edition 1993

 

3.  Researched Bible Guide, 561-776-5711, e-mail DayBreakPlease@cs.com

 

4.  The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary on the Bible,     Edited by Charles Laymon

 

5.  The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language,   By Eugene H. Peterson, NavPress 800-366-7788,   Website  www.MessageBible.com

 

6.  The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible, By Henry Gehman

 

7.  The One Volume Bible Commentary, By J.R. Dummelow

 

Camp Director's Note: The above sharing is the latest in a long series of CedarS Bible Lesson "mets" (metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians. This document is intended to initiate further study as well as to encourage the application of ideas found in the Weekly Bible Lessons as printed in the Christian Science Quarterly and as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms. * Originally sent JUST to campers, staff and CedarS families who wanted to continue at home and in their home Sunday Schools the same type of focused Lesson study and inspiration they had felt at camp, CedarS lesson "mets" are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way a substitute for daily study of the lesson in the books. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension, background and daily applicability to some of the ideas and passages being studied. The citations referenced (i.e. B1and S28) from this week's Bible Lesson in the "met" (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible (B1-24) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. (S1-30) The Bible and Science and Health are the ordained pastor of the Churches of Christ, Scientist. The Bible Lesson is the sermon read in Christian Science church services throughout the world. The Lesson-Sermon speaks individually through the Christ to everyone, providing unique insights and tailor-made applications for each one. We are glad you requested this metaphysical sharing and hope that you find some of these ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor.)

 
Enjoy!
Warren Huff, Director        director@cedarscamps.org

 

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