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Assert Your God-given Authority and Be a Witness for God

Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), IL
Posted Sunday, August 31st, 2008

Assert Your God-given Authority and Be a Witness for God
Lesson Application Ideas for: Man for September 1-7, 2008
by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. of Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Editor's Note: The following application ideas for this week and Possible Sunday School Topics that follow are offered primarily to help CEDARS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and demonstrate the great value of daily study and application of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp! You can sign up to have them emailed to you free -- in English by Monday or Tuesday each week, or by each Wednesday you can get a FREE TRANSLATION in French from Pascal or in Spanish from Ana. (We no longer have a translator available for German.) JUST SIGN UP at www.cedarscamps.org/newsletters

This week's Lesson considers the importance of understanding man's place and purpose in creation. From the standpoint of the material senses, man is fairly insignificant and at the mercy of forces beyond his control. The Golden Text tells us that man's primary purpose is to be a witness for God. To witness is to testify, protest, stand up, or to give warning. The children of Israel were often called to bear witness to their relationship to God, and they found that turning to God for their needs brought results. In turn, these results proved their relationship to God as legitimate. This Lesson illustrates that even though we're faced with a multitude of challenges that make us seem powerless, we always have the choice to be witnesses for the omnipotence of God and therefore, to assert our God-given authority over every material condition.

In the Responsive Reading the disciples were faced with a challenging situation. Jesus had been away, and the Scribes had been trying to undermine Jesus' influence. While he was gone the disciples failed to heal a particularly severe case. As Jesus approached the scene was chaotic. A distraught father pled for his son's healing. He was filled with doubt and unbelief. The disciples were completely taken in by the picture. Jesus however, was not influenced by the turmoil in front of him. The Bible places this story right after the Transfiguration. Jesus had complete confidence in God as the only power. He rebuked the "devil" and healed the boy. The disciples questioned why they had failed. "Because of your unbelief" answered their Master, adding that even the smallest amount of faith would be sufficient to move mountains. He added that with faith, "nothing shall be impossible to you." A recent Journal article pointed out "The power of prayer, Jesus taught, is not so much in the faith of the one who prays, but in what one has faith in" (Vol. 126/06, p. 44). If our full faith is in the infinite God, that's all the authority we need.

Section 1: God Gives Man Dominion and Authority
The Children of Israel proved the power of God in their lives. Their experiences proved their relationship to God was legitimate, enabling them to do remarkable things. Any power enjoyed by man is due to God's endowment. God is acknowledged to be the Creator of all things (B1). When considering the vastness of the universe, man seems pretty puny. How is it that God gave man dominion over it all? (B2). In Genesis (B3) man's unique place in creation is underscored. Man is the crowning work of creation. Of all that was made, man alone is made in the likeness of the Creator. Abingdon writes, "Over all, as God's vicegerent, stands the one being who really resembles his Maker-man." A "vicegerent" is "An officer who is deputed by a superior or by proper authority to exercise the powers of another" (Student's Reference Dictionary). So man has responsibility for as well as the authority to carry out God's law.

Today man seems to be at the mercy of his environment. Human efforts to tame nature have literally been washed away. Man seems vulnerable to all sorts of attacks, from comets on a collision course with earth to microscopic viruses threatening the health of entire continents. Can we do nothing aside from waiting out the storm? All of these perceived dangers are reduced to nothing through the understanding of the divine order of things. "Man" writes Mrs. Eddy, "is the family name for all ideas...All that God imparts moves in accord with Him, reflecting goodness and power" (S1). The power over all the earth possessed by man is his through reflection (S2). In the order of creation described in Genesis man has been endowed with power and dominion, subordinate only to God (S3). If man is God's image and likeness, he has to be Godlike. He has never been anything but perfect. Mrs. Eddy calls this fact "incontrovertible" (S4). In other words, it is so clear that it precludes debate or controversy (SRD). As we grow in our understanding of our God-given dominion, our capacities to prove it will grow proportionately (S5).

Section 2: Man's God-given Authority Over His Environment
The Bible passages indicate that man's God-given dominion includes dominion over atmospheric conditions. Seems impossible? Maybe with men, but not with God (B5). The passage from James refers to Elijah's dominion over the weather (B6), and the story in Joshua tells of a time when the sun stood still (B7). Commentators and scholars have theorized for years to explain these passages including one that says that they are not literal, but symbolic poetry. But these stories in the Bible are only a small representation of several in which a biblical character has overcome challenges of the weather through the understanding of God's supremacy over all things.

Mrs. Eddy taught that "weather conditions are not beyond God's control, and that they can be corrected through right prayer" (Twelve Years With Mary Baker Eddy, 1945, Tomlinson p. 203). While Christian Scientists should not attempt to control the weather, we can recognize that the weather is under God's control, and we should be "watchful to guard against the disastrous effects of storms" (Ibid.). A student of Mrs. Eddy's gives an account of our Leader facing a severe storm and the storm split in two and dissolved (Mary Baker Eddy Christian Healer, p. 269).  Challenging atmospheric conditions may seem to be impossible when approached from a standpoint of material law, but when we realize that God is the only power, we can know that all things are possible to God (S6). We have the opportunity right now to assert our dominion over the storms in the Gulf Coast of the United States. Everything is under God's control. God governs the universe in perfect harmony. Man's existence is not at the mercy of either cosmic or atmospheric conditions (S7, 8). Mrs. Eddy predicted that there would be changes in weather patterns as time progressed. And we have seen that areas once fertile have become dry, and weather patterns have shifted along with oceanic temperatures and atmospheric changes. To human sense the challenges are serious. Some weather changes have been attributed to man's carelessness with his stewardship of the environment. Mrs. Eddy seems to indicate that the changing environment does not need to be considered as a threat too big to resolve. Mrs. Eddy predicted that eventually man would demonstrate God-given dominion over the environment (S9). In many cases this has already come true. The development of drought-resistant crops, advancement in aeronautic and nautical science, and the use of the Hubble space telescope are a few examples. These advances are not just the result of human ingenuity. They are evidence of man's waking up to his status as the likeness of God. From a material standpoint, some technological advances are like a double-edged sword having as much potential for harm as for good. We now appear to be paying the price for careless environmental practices. Technological advances, when considered as demonstrations of man's growing understanding of God, can only bring blessings. There can be no downside or undesirable side effects. The more we realize that we are God's likeness, the freer we are from material limitation (S10). But this also indicates that we have a duty to care for our environment responsibly. We are all capable of doing more (S11). Our continuing advancement in our understanding of God will be manifest in discovering new ways to meet challenges of pollution and waste. Man has the opportunity to clean up his thoughts, his environment, and achieve the humanly impossible, based on his God-given dominion.

Section 3: God Gives Man Authority Over Disease
To human sense, man seems to be subservient to his body. But, to spiritual sense, it's the other way around. Man has authority over the flesh -not by any virtue of his own, but because God endows him with it. Jesus said, "The Son can do nothing of himself..." (B8). Jesus' authority over all things was derived from God. The healing of the centurion's servant (B9) recognizes that authority. The centurion states that even though he is under authority himself, he has the power to exercise authority over his troops. Acknowledging that Jesus was under no authority but God, he fully expected Jesus to be able to heal by a single command, even from a distance. Jesus, in turn, gave his disciples authority to heal (B10). We too, have that authority.

Jesus was our example (S12, 13). He showed us what was possible when we exert our authority over bodily ills. We are inundated today with media and news stories promoting the view that bodily conditions determine our health and that our only choices are either acceptance or fighting it through material methods and self-will. Christian Science teaches us that man has God-given authority over all bodily conditions. Pages 390 through 393 of Science and Health contain classic instructions on how to assert our God-given authority. We are to "agree to disagree" with every symptom. We're to fight for our health and perfection as a legislator would to defeat an inhuman law (S14). Watching the political convention(s) in the United States in these last two weeks, one can see how passionate a legislator can be. But for Christian Scientists, our "righteous rebellion" is more than rhetoric. Our fervor for Truth is based on the fact that God has given us authority and that God, Mind can conquer every evil of the flesh (S15). The section concludes with the affirmation that "nothing can vitiate [render defective] the ability and power divinely bestowed on man."  What a marvelous standpoint for bearing witness to Truth.

Section 4: God Gives Man Authority to Challenge Material Law
"Since we are utterly dependent on the power and prompting of God's Spirit, let us live in relation to its purpose!" This is how Interpreter's paraphrases Galatians 5:25 (B11). Jesus proved that the law of Spirit prevails over the so-called laws of matter (B12). Two striking examples of this are given in Bible citation 13. First, there's an account of feeding the multitudes on minimal supplies, followed by Jesus' walking on the water. Bible commentaries differ as to whether the loaves and fishes were actually multiplied, or whether Jesus' willingness to share sparked a general sharing among all those present. Irrespective of the particulars, Dummelow quotes Neander's assessment of the moral implications of the story. "The miracle illustrates the mode of Christ's working in all ages; both in temporal and in spiritual things; the spirit that proceeds from Him makes the greatest results possible to the smallest means; that which appears, as to quantity, most trifling, multiplies itself by His divine power, so as to supply the wants of thousands." Interpreter's also notes that Jesus had "the controlling initiative" in the matter. He knew what he would do even before he questioned his disciples as to their current status. There is also a lot of symbolic meaning in these two stories. Jesus' feeding the multitude was reminiscent of Moses feeding the children of Israel in the wilderness. This was seen as a final indication that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah. As this fact was recognized, the "tumultuous waves" of mortal belief were stirred. Jesus walked over them and asserted his authority over all conditions.

Science and Health indicates that as man develops spiritual knowledge "latent abilities and possibilities" will be realized (S16). Man was not created subservient to laws of matter (S17). We are to put material law under the feet of spiritual law (S18). When Jesus challenged material law, he stirred things up. Mrs. Eddy writes that we should expect nothing different (S19, 20). She calls the stir created by truth in mortal consciousness chemicalization. She likens it to adding a base to neutralize an acid. Modern theories could consider it like mixing matter and anti-matter. Doing so causes quite a commotion. Spiritually speaking, this reaction only goes on in human consciousness as truth is poured in. The result is that all material laws and thinking vanish and only the spiritual remains (S21).

Section 5: Man Survives Tribulation Through God-given Dominion
What might be the precise form of this chemicalizing process?  For many modern Christians this process portends a cataclysmic end of the world. The citations from Matthew 24 (B14) certainly seem to lend credence to that view. Some scholars however, see these passages differently. They feel that Jesus referred to destruction of the temple and the fall of Jerusalem and not to the destruction of the whole world. The temple at Jerusalem was a source of great pride for the Jews as a symbol of richness and majesty. Covered with plates of gold reflecting the morning sun and the rest gleaming white, it was an impressive sight even from a distance. It must have seemed to the Jews that it would stand forever. But in fact, Titus Caesar ordered the whole city and the temple to be demolished. According to Josephus it was leveled to the point that "there was nothing left to make those who came thither believe that it had ever been inhabited." Those who "endure unto the end" refers to those who stand firm in persecution and resist false prophets. According to Interpreter's the tribulation that is to be endured is "a technical term for the difficulties that the people of God must pass through before their deliverance comes."  The references to the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven doesn't necessarily mean that he will show up bodily at a specific time and place. Abingdon suggests that "coming in the clouds" could mean "coming like the lightning-appearing everywhere at once."

Mrs. Eddy recognized that human experience must undergo a great change (S22). She didn't avoid the question of the ultimate destruction of the material world. She writes, "Passions and appetites must end in pain" (S23). But she didn't view this as a negative process.  Even though every material object will be destroyed, the spiritual idea survives (S24).  To human sense, there may appear tumultuous times. She notes that "even now" the material world is "becoming the arena for conflicting forces" (S25). She acknowledges that as the Jews thought the temple impregnable and lost it, so we today will lose what seems to us to be fixed in material existence. She gives us hope however. "Those who discern Christian Science will hold crime in check...and cheerfully await the certainty of ultimate perfection." Don't worry about whether "the end is near."  Understanding what is really going on-understanding that truth is bringing error to the surface for destruction - we can indeed maintain a cheerful outlook. We can survive and endure as cheerful witnesses for the victory of Truth over error.

Section 6: Man's True Consciousness Is Spiritual
After the battle and final destruction of error what do you have left? The new heaven and new earth (B16). Abingdon reminds us that new is not to be understood in the sense of young and old, "but new in quality, transformed, but unlike the other." In this new environment there is no division, no sorrow, no tears, or death, crying or pain. Anything unlike or opposing God's government is banished. This is where the spiritual man of God's creating has always been and always will be.

Mrs. Eddy describes the new heaven and earth as being free from "tempest-tossed human concepts" (S27). All of the obstacles that keep man from recognizing his true nature are removed. The real man is found untouched by the various phases of material belief (S28). It's kind of like reading the last chapter of a book first. You know the end will turn out OK, so there's not really a need to be overly concerned when the characters in the book are in trouble. When you're in the middle of something, you can't always see where it's going to end. But the prophesy in Revelation reveals the ending. God's man, you and I, have never been material. We've always been spiritual and eternal (S29). So as we go through daily experience and look upon our world, we don't have to be impressed with threats to our health, our environment, our economy, or anything else. We can instead be witnesses to the glorious truth that the all-powerful God has given man authority to assert his dominion over all evil. We can be witnesses for God and stay focused on waking up to our eternal perfection.
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Camp Director's Note: This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, seven-year series of CedarS Bible Lesson "mets" (metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians. (To keep the flow of the practitioner's ideas intact and to allow for more selective printing the "Possible Sunday School Topics" and Homework options come on a following page or subsequent email.) This weekly email (and website posting) is intended to encourage further study and application of ideas in the lesson and to invigorate Sunday School participation by students and by the budding teachers on our staff. Originally sent JUST to my Sunday School students and 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, application 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. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension, background and new angles on daily applicability to some of the ideas and passages being studied. The weekly Bible Lessons are copyrighted by the Christian Science Publishing Society and are printed in the Christian Science Quarterly as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms or online at eBibleLesson.com or myBibleLesson.com. The citations referenced (i.e. B1 and 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, Camp Director, director@cedarscamps.org (636) 394-6162

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Possible Sunday School Topics for the Bible Lesson: "Man"
by Merrill Boudreaux [and an anonymous friend] for the week of Sept. 1-7, 2008


Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T. - Golden Text] -
What is a witness? Where outside of court can one be a witness? How do your friends know that you are a witness for Christ?
[You might also want to take a look at Mrs. Eddy's classic trial and share it with your class.  It starts on page 430 of Science & Health. A role play for part of it could be fun and memorable.]

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T. - Responsive Reading] -
What is Jesus' counsel to his disciples? What is faith? How is that different from belief, from understanding?
[You might want to bring in a mustard seed to show your class how small the faith is that can move mountains.]

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T. - Section 1] -
What is man to God?
(idea, creation, son, child, expression, reflection, image and likeness, blessed of God) [You might want to buy a bar of dial soap for yourself and each student as a reminder throughout the day and year, or just at shower time, how refreshing it is to be spiritual and to live as a Divine Image And Likeness. - See B3, Gen. 1:26]

What must man know, understand first before he can be a steward over the rest of the earth? What is the difference between dominion and stewardship? How does one act differently as a dominator or steward?

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T. - Section 2] -
What actions are stated in this section to support the biblical statement in Isa. 45:11 "Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me."
What would you command God to do if you could?
What does command mean? See if your definition includes: "to have at one's immediate disposal"? Now re-think your answer to the above question. (See S&H Marker 10.)
[Don't you wish we could elect individuals who could just say to "the proud wave," (like the storm surge on the Gulf Coast) "thus far and no farther?" S&H 124:24 ]]

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T. - Section 3] - What is a centurion? What is a leader? What leadership traits, characteristics, or qualities was the centurion expressing? Every leader knows that a primary responsibility is to care for those in his charge. Is a leader closer to a dominator or a steward? Why? Take a piece of string and lay it on the table. Have a student push the string from point A to point B. What happens to the string? Have a student pull the string from point A to point B. What happens? Which of the approaches is an expression of leadership? Why? Now how do you use this same technique when commanding your body? (See S&H Marker 15)


Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T. - Section 4] - In this Bible section
what did Jesus command his disciples to do? How did the disciples respond? How was Jesus expressing dominion? Shepherding? What is our role? (See S&H Marker 18)  [You may want to discuss how world-changing it would be today if we could do the works of Jesus in B13, John 6:5-21.  For food shortages, for storm control, for instant, pollution-free travel without using fossil fuels, ...]  

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T. - Section 5] -
What is it that brings man satisfaction in spite of dire predictions? (See Bible Marker 15) How do we get to that place? (See S&H Marker 22) What are some of the dire predictions listed in this section? What is your aid? (See S&H Marker 25 lines 31-4) (See also S&H page 495: 14)  [If you do take in a bar of dial (Divine Image And Likeness) soap, connect it to this section's last citation in the Bible (B15) and S&H (S26) "Aren't you glad you use dial?  Don't you wish everyone did?" Slogan from 1960s]

Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T. - Section 6] - Must one wait for The Apocalypse before the new heaven or earth appear? Will this appearance come once only? If so when? If not, how often and where? Is the man of God touched by the dire predictions? Why not? How many "man of God" are there? Where are they? Are you one? Who else?

[You may want to ask yourself and your class to picture a present new "heaven and earth, inhabited by beings under the control of supreme wisdom." (S&H 91:2)  List the differences this would make in our world.  Try to picture more each day that you and all your fellow "beings" are "under the control of supreme wisdom."]


 

 

 

 

 


 

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