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Choose the spiritual path of salvation and eternal life NOW! Lesson Application Ideas on "Probation After Death,"

Gary Duke, C.S., St. Louis, MO
Posted Monday, April 17th, 2006

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.

Choose the spiritual path of salvation and eternal life NOW!
Lesson Application Ideas on "Probation After Death" for April 17-23, 2006
By Gary Duke, C.S., Saint Louis, Missouri

Easter was celebrated last Sunday reminding mankind that the "second death hath no power" (Rev. 20:6). If Jesus overcame the second, what is the first death? Isn't it the belief of being born into matter? Mrs. Eddy calls this, "earth's preparatory school" (S2) where we learn great lessons and then are tested, also known as probation.

Golden Text: Love God and Fear No Exam.
The Psalmist understands God's loving-kindness and is not afraid to be examined and proved worthy, as his thoughts and feelings are spiritual.

"Reins" are kidneys. The internal organs, including heart, were believed to be the location of thoughts and feelings (R6 = Resource #6, listed below).

Responsive Reading: Two Paths-Spiritual Versus Material.
The spiritual path leads to: long and abundant life, wisdom, instruction, concentration, confidence, uprightness, prayer, guidance, prudence, insight, safety, eternity.

The material path leads to: deception, wickedness, wandering, confusion, snares, death.

"Let thine eyes look right on" instructs one to "concentrate on wisdom while the fools dissipate their focus by looking everywhere else" (R2).

Section 1: Not Death-Salvation.
The first two citations from Science and Health tell us, "Life is deathless" (S1) and "In reality man never dies" (S2)-no separation from God. Doesn't it make perfect sense we can never be separate from God whether "ascending up into heaven" or making our "bed in hell" or dwelling "in the uttermost parts of the sea" (B2)? Similarly, can we ever be separate from the principles of math or music, a small expression of Principle/God, wherever we are or whatever we have or have not done? When we appear to pass on, what is really happening? We simply lack a clear understanding of "absolute Christian Science" (S4). However, we are still "walking in the pathway of Truth both before and after that which is called death" (S1), working out our salvation through progression and probation (S3).

(S4) "Evangelized"-to instruct in and convert to a belief of the gospel (R1).

"SALVATION: Life, Truth and Love understood and demonstrated as supreme over all; sin, sickness, and death destroyed" (S&H 593:20).

Section 2: Why Die? Live!
We all may take heart that even the greatest of prophets of the Bible have rough days at the "office" (just like us at school, home, sports, relationships, health, etc.) causing them to want to pack it all in! Elijah experienced wonderful proofs of God's love and omnipotence in his triumph by fire over the prophets of Baal and subsequent support of the people (I Kings 18). This infuriated Queen Jezebel who ordered the death of Elijah. After wearying of being continuously hunted, Elijah chose to give up and die. But instead of dying, he was fortified by an angel with food and drink which sustained him 40 days and nights as he made his way to Mount Horeb to receive further instruction (B6). Didn't Noah, Moses and Jesus also have some pretty trying 40 day experiences (Gen. 7; Ex. 24; Matt. 4)? And on Mount Horeb, didn't Moses about 400 years prior to Elijah, receive the Ten Commandments, instructions by which we are still living today?

So what does this all mean to us? Don't give up. "Death is of no advantage" as it is but "a mortal dream" (S6). Then why try and escape sin or sickness through death if we are not spared anything and are not gaining happiness (S5)? Instead, "Work out your own salvation-be not weary in well doing-go not back to error nor become a sluggard in the race" (S8). It is not enough to have triumphs and then get discouraged when the going gets tough. Look at the example of Jesus. Even after his crucifixion and resurrection, he was still on the job, working out his own salvation and helping others. His mission was complete only after ascension, which is a good model for us!

The distance traveled by Elijah from Beer-sheba to Mount Horeb (Mount Sinai)-about 200 miles (R2).

Section 3: Price of Admission to Heaven-Oil.
What do we all want to feel, no matter who we are or what we do? Heaven-defined in part as harmony, spirituality and bliss. Do we have to pay for it? Yes, with oil-also defined in part as consecration, prayer and inspiration. Oil illumines the kingdom we already occupy, but of which we are often blind. The parable of the Ten Virgins illustrates the point (B9). The virgins were bridesmaids (good Christians), waiting for the bridegroom (the Christ), to take the bride (the Church) back to his parent's home (the kingdom of heaven) for an evening wedding (R6). The bridegroom was delayed thereby depleting the oil of the bridesmaids' lamps. The five bridesmaids who had extra oil for their lamps were able to join the wedding party, while the five who left to buy more oil missed out on the wedding.

Do we often feel removed from heaven, shut out of our own wedding to spirituality by minding things of the flesh instead of things of the Spirit (B8)? Mrs. Eddy offers the following remedies:

(S9) "Good demands of man every hour-consecration to good;"

(S10) "Absolute consecration of thought, energy and desire;"

(S11) Loath wrong doing and idleness;

(S12) "Learn where our affections are placed;"

(S13) "Be watchful sober and vigilant."

CHRIST: The divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error (S&H 583:10).

HEAVEN: Harmony; the reign of Spirit; government by divine Principle; spirituality; bliss; the atmosphere of Soul (S&H 587:25).

OIL: Consecration; charity; gentleness; prayer; heavenly inspiration (S&H 592:25).

Section 4: Money, Temptation, Death.
Is money evil? No, it is the "love" of money which is the root of all evil (B10). Money is simply a tool and language of commerce. When we value the byproduct of our efforts (money), more than the righteous efforts (righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness-B12) we wind up like the rich man who cared nothing for the plight of Lazarus, a beggar full of sores laid at his gate. When the roles were reversed after the belief of death, the rich man then took note of Lazarus, asking for his help but to no avail (B11).

How can we avoid the temptation of putting our spirituality on hold until we: finish our school project, have older children, make our bundle of money, retire from the "rat race" or die out of a wretched circumstance? "Death no advantage" is the marginal heading S&H 290. Death is not a one time event but an incremental rut-a rut is defined as a grave with the ends kicked out! Whenever we are in a rut, seemingly devoid of spirituality, we are actually experiencing the illusion called death. Do the problems go away when you awaken the next morning? No, not the perceived "big ones," and neither do they go away by the event the world calls death (S14-16).

How can we combat these temptations? Immediately work at becoming "victorious over the passions" through "Christian Science" (S17), letting "the kingdom of heaven reign within us" (see qualities listed S18).

Easter was celebrated last Sunday reminding mankind that the "second death hath no power" (Rev. 20:6).  If Jesus overcame the second, what is the first death?  Isn't it the belief of being born into matter?  Mrs. Eddy calls this, "earth's preparatory school" (S2) where we learn great lessons and then are tested, also known as probation.

Section 5:  Gift of Resurrection.
The resurrection of Jesus freed mankind from death, the "last enemy" 

(I Cor.15:26).  What a gift!  It proves the Master's statement "physique was not Spirit" (S20) enabling each of us, just as doubting Thomas (B14,15; S19), to acknowledge "Truth and Love" (S19) as the substance of our life and happiness, rather than the illusions of matter.  It is also a comfort to know each of our daily crucifixions (probation) can be addressed spiritually, as Jesus did in the tomb ("a place in which to solve the great problem of being" S&H 44:6-7).   Spiritual solutions provide our daily resurrections (progression).

(B13)  "The 'first fruit' was a promise that the whole harvest was coming" (R2) meaning the resurrection is our promise too!

(B16)  "led captivity captive" is explained, "led many captives in His train.  These He used as ministers" (R6).

Section 6:  Eternal Now!
Peter endured immense trials/probation, labor and self sacrifice to achieve Christly dominion-"forasmuch as ye know your labour is not in vain in the Lord" (B18).  His victory over self and sense revealed eternal life right here and now as demonstrated in his healing of Tabitha (B17).  What a turn around from his denial of Jesus three times and return to fishing.  In every thing we do we can overcome death-the belief of finite, temporal, limited sense of life in exchange for the spiritual and eternal.  When can that occur?  Now (S24)!  Why wait?  As we spiritualize everything from washing feet to washing dishes then we are finding the sacred in all we think, say and do.  "Such a one abideth in Life-unfolding its own immortal idea" (S23).  Our job is to "pause, wait on God.  Then we push onward until boundless thought walks enraptured" (S27).

(B17) Tabitha is her name in Aramaic; Dorcas is her name in Greek (R2).

Section Summary Benediction:
In earth's preparatory school we will face probation, many trials, but need not fear to the degree we love and understand God.  Choosing the spiritual path is salvation, versus the material path which leads to the belief of death.  Why choose death when there are absolutely no benefits associated with that erroneous belief; instead, choose life and truly live.  What is the price of admission to the kingdom of heaven?  Oil-consecrated prayer and inspiration, which overcomes the temptation to focus on the passions of mortality.  Then whatever crucifixion experiences are encountered, we understand the gift of resurrection is ours, as Jesus promised, thereby proving eternal life NOW!  

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

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

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

4.  The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, by Eugene H. Peterson,  NavPress 800-366-7788, website  www.MessageBible.com

5.  The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible, by Henry Gehman

6.  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 in the "met" (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. 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
CedarS Camps Office
1314 Parkview Valley
Manchester, MO 63011
(636) 394-6162

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