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Follow Instruction for Induction into the Kingdom of Heaven [and into accommodating The Christ treatment option of health care. See Sections 2 & 5.]

Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), IL
Posted Monday, October 26th, 2009

Follow [today's] Instruction for Induction into the Kingdom of Heaven [and into accommodating "The Christ treatment" option of health care. See Sections 2 & 5.]
Christian Science Bible Lesson application ideas for: Everlasting Punishment
For the week of October 26-November 1, 2009

by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn, Illinois

[Editor's Note: The following application ideas for this week and the 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 each week, or by each Wednesday you can get a FREE TRANSLATION in French from Pascal or in Spanish from Ana. JUST SIGN UP at www.cedarscamps.org/newsletters]

For many the subject of "Everlasting Punishment" seems no more than an outmoded remnant of traditional theology, yet there are still those who adhere to the view that unrepentant mortals face a real prospect of eternal punishment for their sins. The last several Lesson-Sermons on this subject have presented a more pleasing picture. One could easily replace the word "punishment" in "Everlasting Punishment" with redemption, opportunity, mercy, and so on. This week's Lesson takes a somewhat different tack. While acknowledging God's love for man, and man's ongoing opportunity to get things right, it points out some specific aspects of sinful thought that tend to stand in the way of our spiritual progress. It also addresses the mistaken views of God and man that lead to a misunderstanding of punishment and forgiveness of sin.

The words of our Golden Text from 1st Chronicles, (and duplicated in Psalm 106), are part of a document known as the Manual of Discipline. This was one of many manuscripts known as The Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran. This particular phrase was part of an Essene covenant ceremony that included a priestly recounting of God's saving deeds. While at the same time, the Levites recounted the sins of the Israelites. "The whole seems to be a manual for the leaders of the community and for initiates, so that the latter might be properly instructed and inducted into the life of the community" (The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary on the Bible).

The author of Psalm 77 in the Responsive Reading was perplexed over the prospect of ongoing punishment. During his struggle, even his prayers fail to bring comfort. He wonders if God has cast off His people forever and whether their distressing condition might be permanent. "Hath God forgotten to be gracious?" he asks. Nonetheless, he returns his focus toward the contemplation of the evidence of God's goodness toward men. The verses from Psalm 85 and 86 display a more hopeful attitude, but recall that God's good can only be retained through obedience to His law.

When in the midst of suffering for our misdeeds, we certainly may wonder if we will ever be relieved, and if our lives will ever get back on the right track. We might think that we have strayed so far from God that we may never be forgiven. What is there to do? We can utilize this Lesson-Sermon in the same way the Essenes did their Manual of Discipline. We can use it as proper instruction for our induction into the life of the spiritual community of believers in the kingdom of heaven.

Section 1: Precious in His Sight
As a good structure is always built on a solid foundation, this Lesson begins with the solid foundation of the unbroken and unbreakable relationship between God and His loved creation. No matter how far afield we may roam, we can rely on God's everlasting love and kindness (B-1). True, there are times when we slip off of the path, but God's loving-kindness is always there to hold us up. Isaiah reminds us that we are "precious" in the sight of God and honorable (B-3). When something or someone is precious to you, it has untold value. There's nothing that can turn you away from pursuing and caring for it. Paul saw that God views man that way. No power in the universe can part us from the love of God. Neither evils caused by men, environmental challenges, astronomical calculations, natural disasters, or mystical causes can disturb our oneness with God or the hope of our sure salvation (B-5).

One of the great difficulties we face when considering the punishment of sin is getting past the belief that somehow God initiates, condones, or carries out the punishment, and even worse, that God has created us capable of sinning in the first place. Mary Baker Eddy refused to accept that God ever has anything to do with either sin or punishment. She writes, "The Christian Science God is universal, eternal, divine Love, which changeth not and causeth no evil, disease, nor death" (S-1). God does not play games with His creation nor place His children in impossible, unavoidable, evil circumstances (S-2). Contrary to popular religious belief, man does not have the freedom to sin (S-3). "A mortal sinner is not God's man." (S-3)  God's man is always as perfect as his creator. Our relationship to God is indestructible (S-4). To think that God either allows evil or creates man susceptible to it is to view God as having mortal tendencies Himself. The God we worship is wholly apart from any human characteristics. It is a mythological Zeus that plays games and deceives creation. If we did entertain such a limited view of God, we'd logically be inclined to appeal to such a god to give us a break and stop messing around with us. This is in effect what we're doing when we ask God to pardon our sins. But if we understand God as an unerring divine Principle, the only course toward salvation is for us to reform our ways and get back in line with that Principle (S-5).

How we view punishment for sin boils down to how we understand God. If God is no more than a magnified human to us, we will assume that he allows evil and punishes or forgives according to his whim or according to our ability to convince him to give us a break. If we understand God as divine, infinite Good, we know that He does not cause or allow us to be or to do evil, nor does he punish anything but sin. If we do seem to stray, it's up to us to get back on the right track.

Section 2: A Spiritual Wake-Up Call [U.S. citizens: Don't "sleep" through a legislative imposition!]
Are you a sluggard? At first glance, this section may seem to be merely a caution against laziness. But, the word translated as "sluggard" also means slothful or indolent. To be indolent is more than just being idle or slow. It's inaction "proceeding from a love of ease or aversion to toil...a habitual love of ease" (Student's Reference Dictionary). Our Leader refers to mortal existence as a dream (S-8), so we could think of these biblical warnings as wake-up calls to stop loving the sleepy dream of life in matter. On page 108 of Miscellaneous Writings, Mrs. Eddy refers to the "sordid sinner" as "the Christian asleep." The righteous man doesn't stumble around living in the dark; his life is a dawning day continually growing brighter (B-7). The psalmist is ready and awake early, his heart is fixed-his heart is steadily fastened on God-regardless of his circumstance (B-8). He finds no satisfaction in the dream of matter, but only in fellowship with God (B-9). The New Testament continues the theme of spiritual awakening calling upon Christians to walk in the light and "reprove the works of darkness" (B-10). To reprove is also translated as "expose." Living in the light exposes evil for the lie that it is.

Conventional theology states that man has a sinful soul, and he has become spiritually lost. But Christian Science teaches that God is the only Soul or Spirit and is sinless. It is not a human soul, but a belief in the flesh that sins (S-6). We might ask, "Who then, is the believer of this lie?" Mrs. Eddy points out that the false belief is both: the lie and the believer, "the tempter and the tempted, the sin and the sinner..." (S-7). This may seem like circular reasoning, but just as in a sleeping dream the individual and everyone in it is the dream itself, the dream of life in matter is in itself the dreamer or mortal man (S-9). It's a closed system. It's a lie telling the lie to itself and then believing it. It isn't God's man dreaming a lie. The Christ wakes us from the dream (S-11). When we wake from a sleeping dream, we realize that not a single bit of the dream was real. Just so, the Christ wakes us from the dream of material life and we find that not a bit of it is real.

Section 3: Obedience unto Righteousness or Sin unto Destruction?
As unreal as the dream is, we are tempted to believe otherwise. Everlasting wisdom calls to us to follow her to the reality of life in God and warns us that sin is self-defeating (B-12). Those lost in sin don't seem to get the true picture. They are stuck in a blame game against God. They ask God, "Why do you punish me for not believing in you and disobeying divine law?" Isn't it clear that we need to take responsibility for our condition? It's not God's fault we disobey Him. The fundamental problem is our own rebellion, and we can hardly be surprised that suffering is a by-product of sin (B-13). Paul asks the Roman Christians (B-14), "Don't you realize that you give yourselves as servants to whomever you obey?" The subtitle for this passage in The Abingdon Bible Commentary is this: "Subjection to Sin is Unreasonable for Men Who are Free in Christ" [sic]. That pretty much says it all doesn't it? In Galatians (B-15) the message is plain: You reap whatever you sow. Everlasting punishment, or everlasting life? The choice is yours.

As someone who leaves the warmth of his home to wander in a blizzard can't blame his house for making him cold, so the sinner, forsaking the kingdom of God, brings on his own suffering. Our textbook is blunt: "Error excludes itself from harmony. Sin is its own punishment." (S-12) To the sinner, the dream of sin is real. As long as he sins, his suffering will seem real too. The sinner "wrongeth his own soul" (B-12). "He is joining in a conspiracy against himself." (S-13) Some might feel this is too harsh, but that's just the way it is. As mentioned before, the dream of life in matter is a closed system. The sinner (or "Christian asleep") makes his own hell-his beliefs and actions produce the consequences of those beliefs. (S-14) Once again, God does not punish. But sin brings its own punishment. We have the opportunity at any time to forsake sin. We don't have to allow the evil propensities to overtake us, but if we do, we will have to reckon with them. (S-16) We never need to be afraid of sin. There is only one way out of suffering for sin and it's really simple-stop sinning! (S-15)

Section 4: Pardon or Reform?
This is an important distinction in the way that Christian Science understands the forgiveness of sin. Traditional theology accepts the belief that man is a sinner and God made it that way, therefore man has little choice but to ask forgiveness for his sins. After all, he can't help sinning. But in Christian Science, the closed system of sin and sinner is not part of God's plan. To indulge in sin is to cut one's self off from God. To get back with God, the sin needs to end. Traditional theology bases forgiveness on pardon, while divine metaphysics bases forgiveness on reform. Considering Isaiah's promise that our sins will be washed away (B-16) Dummelow remarks, "forgiveness will follow obedience and repentance."

Jesus did not come to condemn, but to save. (B-17) The story of the woman taken in adultery (B-18) is loaded with condemnation. The woman's accusers, aside from their malicious motive to entrap Jesus, had a limited view of things. They only saw two solutions-condemn or pardon. But Jesus found a third option-reform. Did Jesus just let her off of the hook, because he felt sorry for her? Was he just really clever in avoiding being condemned himself? No. He saw things differently. He did not condemn, but neither did he pardon. He demanded a change in behavior. We probably don't think of it much, but this could have been a very difficult task for the woman to achieve. Reform requires effort.

Mrs. Eddy points out that "Principle never pardons our mistakes till they are corrected." (S-17) This method wipes out sin completely. She writes, "We cannot escape the penalty due for sin." (S-18) Those are strong words. But they make perfect sense. If sin brought no suffering, there would be little incentive to avoid it. "To cause suffering as the result of sin, is the means of destroying sin." Too often, we emphasize the fact that man is "God's perfect child, incapable of sin;" but then forget to prove it. For Mrs. Eddy, God pardons sin by destroying it. (S-19) But she frankly cautions, "the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts." (S-20) She also points out that "Fear of punishment never made man truly honest." (S-21) We need to love good more than we do evil. We need to want to wake up from the dream of pleasure and pain in matter to the reality of sinless existence in Spirit. Instead of being sinful mortals stuck in a cycle of sin and pardon, we can allow the Christ to reform our character and cleanse our lives of sin. Instead of thinking of ourselves as hopeless sinners, we are suddenly accountable for our actions. Then we can say we're saved not because Jesus died for our sins, but because the Christ destroys them.

Section 5: No Necessity for Sickness [-a BIG difference in "the Christ treatment" system of truly Universal Health Care! This week before Halloween, let's replace each "sick trick" with "the Christ treatment" option. U.S. citizens: Please send your email "vote" today -- as our medically-based friends are. Just follow the easy instructions in CedarS next email: "SOS".]
It is not uncommon for people to believe that they have become sick as a punishment for their sins. The psalmist rejoices that God saves him from all ailments-bodily, mental, moral, and spiritual. (B-19) The belief that sickness was the result of sin was prevalent in Jewish thought during Jesus' time. So also was the conviction that only God could forgive sins. Jesus met whatever challenge he faced with divine authority. The palsied man (B-20) needed to be free of the burden of sin that lay behind his illness. Jesus wisely met that need and healed him.

Our textbook notes that Jesus didn't question whether his patients deserved to be healed; nor did he look to material means to facilitate health or healing. He simply held to the ultimate truth of man's perfect being. There is a story told of a practitioner-not a big name, just a sweet, elderly lady-who had a remarkable healing record. When questioned as to her methods, she said, "I use ‘The Christ treatment.'" The questioners asked her to elaborate. She pointed them to page 369:16 (S-22) of Science and Health with the marginal heading: "The Christ treatment." She said this is the basis of her practice.

When treating yourself or someone else, do you ever look for validation of an illness?  Do you wonder if some sin is to blame, or perhaps that some material law of health has been broken? Just as indulgence in the dream of sin cuts us off from our sinless heritage, so indulgences in material laws of health are an obstacle to freedom from sickness. We need to relinquish all faith in error. (S-23) There is no necessity for sin or sickness. Neither material laws of health, nor the theological mistake that God sends sickness to teach us lessons, can cause us to suffer. We are taught to "forsake the foundation of material systems." (S-24) A huge building block in that foundation is the belief that God sends or allows suffering. When we know that God neither sends nor allows evil, we can find our freedom.

Section 6: Repentance Is Required for Induction into the Heavenly Community
Repent (B-21) is from the Greek meta-no-eh-o meaning to think differently, consider from a different standpoint, or to change one's mind or purpose. That's what's at the heart of getting beyond punishment. We need to change the way we think about ourselves, our lives, what gives us satisfaction, and our health. Even if we can start to understand the idea that God has nothing to do with evil, and begin to assume accountability for our own circumstances, we can still be somewhat judgmental when it comes to the sins of others. God may be able to forgive, but we often have a harder time with it. Jesus didn't play favorites. He reached out to every class of individuals. He offered healing equally to one and all, and he paid particular attention to those who needed him most. (B-22) He heralded the coming of the kingdom of heaven. But the kingdom he spoke of is within. (B-23) It demanded a change of heart.

The Bible intimates that no sin shall enter the kingdom of heaven. Most assume that means when we enter a place called "the kingdom" our sins will be wiped away. But what does it mean if that kingdom is within you? It means that we need to free ourselves of all evil, in order to realize this kingdom. Mrs. Eddy writes that allowing the very best to reign in our lives will rule out all that is opposed to the heavenly kingdom. (S-25) "Heaven is not a locality, but a divine state of Mind..." (S-26) Allowing this heavenly kingdom to govern every thought and act eliminates sin not in us alone, but also in all mankind. It corrects everything wrong with every aspect of human experience. (S-27) While many theologians may consider this to be impossible, we can fully expect that eventually all sin will be destroyed, and there will be nothing left to be punished. This is a completely spiritual way of looking at things. In such a heavenly state there is no more accuser because there's nothing to condemn. (S-28) Letting the power of good govern us, instructs us and makes us worthy of induction into this heavenly community.


[This weekly Metaphysical Newsletter is provided at no charge to the 1,200 campers and staff who were blessed this summer at CEDARS--as well as to thousands of CEDARS alumni, families and friends who request it, or find it weekly on our website. But, current and planned gifts are much-needed to help cover the costs of running this service and of providing camperships for such inspirational opportunities.
Your support is always tax-deductible and appreciated -- but this year and month your help is especially needed and precious to us! This is the ideal time before winter to do needed "Maintenance Must" projects, yet our 5-year grant for this has expired. We look to God--and to friends like you--for help. You can always call Warren or Gay Huff at (636) 394-6162 to charge your gift or to discuss any short-term or long-term gift that you are considering. CLICK HERE RIGHT AWAY TO SUPPORT CEDARS WORK!
Or, while your gratitude for freely receiving is fresh, you can "freely give" a tax-deductible check payable to CedarS Camps mailed to the office: 1314 Parkview Valley, Manchester, MO 63011.]

[Camp Director's Note: This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, 9-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" come in a subsequent email.) This weekly offering 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 and background as well as new angles on the daily applicability of 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. B-1 and S-28) from this week's Bible Lesson in the "met" (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the Bible (B-1 thru B-24) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. (S-1 thru S-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 the 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]


[PSST- Start fresh with a sin-free, New-Year approach: translate tricks to treats with C.S. treatments; change my view of someone seen as inferior; be alert instead of sluggish; pardon others & yourself, ...]
Possible Sunday School Topics for the Christian Science Bible Lesson: "Everlasting Punishment" for the week of October 26-November 1, 2009
by Merrill Boudreaux [with bracketed italics by Warren Huff]

[Happy New Year! October 31st was originally celebrated as the Celtic New Year. It became All Hallows Eve (Holy eve) in England to mark the eve of All Saints Day. "November 1st--All Saints Day celebrates the live of those saints, known and unknown, whose witness . . . touches the lives of others and who to this day continue to aid Christian pilgrims by their prayer and example.". ... "On Oct. 31, 1517 A.D. Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany, prompting debate that led to events comprising the 'Protestant Reformation'." (2009 Interfaith Calendar, Chicago Center for Cultural Connections)]

P.S.S.T. - Golden Text
What a great opportunity to begin the class with a round of gratitude. Ask each student to share at least one thing for which they are grateful. [You might ask them to think of, and thank God for, all those who have been like saints or angels to them.]

P.S.S.T. - Responsive Reading - The RR is a call for "remembering".
This is a good opportunity to have students share their favorite memorized Bible or S&H statements. If the teacher has an experience of how a memorized statement came to their aid that would be great to share as well. A few key words to review: meditate, sanctuary or closet, folly, gracious, and "plenteous in mercy".

P.S.S.T. - Section 1- Have students make a list of statements from this section about the relationship between God and us, and us and God. For example: "I have loved thee with an everlasting love..." (B-1) "...the Lord will not cast off his people..." (B-2) "...God...changes not..." (S-1) Are these relationship statements unique to me only, or do they apply to others as well? If they apply to others also, might I wish to change my view of someone I consider unworthy, or less than me?

P.S.S.T. - Section 2- What is the difference between being asleep and awake? Does being asleep require lying down and closing one's eyes? Can there be periods when one is "asleep" even with eyes open, sitting upright in a chair at school, or when playing a video game, even? Please note the statement in S-11 "This awakening is the forever coming of Christ..." What do you suppose that awakening is all about? Seeing what others might not see; being alerted to issues or ideas before others see them; praying "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." Ps 119:18

P.S.S.T. - Section 3- What is the command of CS in S-16? How does this command relate to the pages in B-14 (Romans 6) and B-15? This is also a good opportunity to clarify with students that God is not a punitive God (does not punish His creation) nor a retributive God (handing out rebukes or retribution). Help them see a connection between thought and experience and experiences that also help to shape thought. A good memorization assignment is Miscellany (My.) 210:2 on "What Our Leader Says".

P.S.S.T. - Section 4- What can be learned about forgiveness from the story in B-18? Have students point their "pointer" finger at someone then have them observe how many fingers on their hand are pointing back at themselves. (three). What is the admonition before accusing someone then? Now, Jesus did not condemn the woman? Why? Does this mean the woman had not sinned? See the last two phrases in B-18, "...Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more" for an answer. Ask students "Have you ever forgiven or pardoned someone?" Perhaps they would like to share. "How about forgiving one's self?"

P.S.S.T. - Section 5- In the Bible story in this section (B-20), what was forgiven? The man was forgiven of his sickness. Who asked for the forgiveness? His friends; O, to have friends like them. What was just as important about this healing was what Jesus didn't ask: ex. He didn't ask how long the man had been sick, or what caused the sickness or what medicine he had taken or about doctors he had seen or who he had wronged. What can students take away from this story? There is no need for a diagnosis or rehearsal of error, but a turning to God.

P.S.S.T. - Section 6- What key qualities are identified in S-25 that directly aid in overcoming sin, disease, and death? This ties back to the statement in My. mentioned in Section 3 about "What Our Leader Says". This sub-heading statement in My. comes under a broader chapter heading, "Admonition and Counsel". Living these qualities is our part in the relationship between God and us. What in S-27 states the result of One God in this relationship? Now, that's a reason for gratitude and shouts of praise!

[P.S. To differentiate your learning and teaching, you may wish to try reaching visual and game learners by using the Crossword puzzle and Trivia questions on page 9 of MyBibleLesson.com as well as the cartoons, maps, Bible Notes and timelines regularly offered in this great weekly resource.]

 

 

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