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Be convinced of Christ’s Fulfillment of Prophecy...

Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), IL
Posted Monday, February 24th, 2014

[Be convinced of Christ’s Fulfillment of Prophecy; drop everything for Christ,
prove Christ in your life, and share Christ with the world.]

Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on
Christ Jesus

February 24—March 2, 2014

By Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), Illinois

craig.ghislincs@icloud.com / (630) 830-8683

[Bracketed italics by Warren Huff.  Life-transforming CedarS camperships needed!]

What do we really know about Christ Jesus?  How do we know it?  Could he be, as some suppose, a fictitious character, or a false prophet?  Or as those on the other end of the spectrum believe, was he God in the flesh?  The Golden Text, believed to be penned by Jesus’ disciple John, declares Christ Jesus to be the Saviour of the world.  This claim isn’t based on a wish or a hope, nor is it hearsay.  This statement is made by an eyewitness.  The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s Commentary On the Whole Bible observes, “The internal evidence of the indwelling Spirit is corroborated by the external evidence of the eye-witnesses to the fact of the Father having “sent His Son to be the Savior of the world.”

The Responsive Reading continues to build the case reminding us that everything we truly know about spiritual things must be found through spiritual avenues. The evidence of the senses cannot help us.  Those able to discern these spiritual truths are those who have escaped the corruption of the world, and have themselves begun to grow in the divine nature.  [Like every camper at CedarS, Lego Emma in CedarS Touring Event learns of her divine specialness as the Divine Image And Likeness (D.I.A.L) of God.] The Children of Israel had prophets throughout the centuries that advanced spiritual thought and demonstration slowly, but Jesus’ instruction was a quantum leap forward.  Jesus didn’t learn his doctrine from human teachers:  He was born of the Spirit, and he taught as he was moved by the Spirit.  His was the most direct connection with the divine that ever was.  Every missing piece of religious teaching to that point, and every religious hope was fulfilled in Christ Jesus.

His students had no doubt of the magnitude of his spiritual nature.  According to Nineteenth Century theologian Albert Barnes, the word rendered “brightness” in the phrase “brightness of his glory” occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means “reflected splendor,” or “the light which emanates from a luminous body.”  Just as the sun is seen and known by the rays of light coming out of it, God is known through the light of Christ.  Through him the world can behold the true character and glory of God.  Similarly, the phrase, “express image” is also unique.  The Greek translation is charakter, it means “engraving tool” or something that is engraved or stamped, and our word character is derived from it.  The word hints at an analogy similar to that of the sun and its rays:  in the way an image impressed by a stamp or seal is the exact resemblance of the stamp, so is the resemblance of the Son to the Father—the character of Jesus is an exact resemblance of God.  The next phrase: “of his person” is from the Greek hypostasis meaning: “of His essential substance.”  It is “the essential nature of God—what distinguishes him from all other beings...” (Barnes).

The final distinguishing characteristic of the Messiah was that he “loved righteousness, and hated iniquity.” He stands for all that is good, holy, and right; and disdains [the nothingness of] all wickedness and transgressions of the law. [This is expressed in Jesus' understanding of “the nothingness of material life and intelligence and the mighty actuality of all-inclusive God, good… the two cardinal points of Mind-healing, or Christian Science, which armed him with Love.’ (S&H 52:19)]

Section 1: Jesus’ Mission Is the Real (and Only) Thing
Human theories come and go, and change with time. Not so with the Christ.  It is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (B1).  Many ancient civilizations built their world-view on mythology.  Not the Jews.  To them nothing carried more weight than prophecy.  Their world-view was built on their tangible relationship with God.  The apostles had eyewitness proof that Jesus was indeed he of whom the prophets had spoken (B2).  This prophetic connection gave them authority.  Jesus and his disciples had actual proof of the veracity of the Christian message.  Then as now, there are many who consider those eyewitness accounts to be themselves mythological.  There are also some who question the veracity of the healing work done in Christian Science today passing it off as anecdotal.  But neither the Christian narrative, nor the power of Christian Science is the product of human invention or imagination.  Both are demonstrative, proven fact.

Our Leader too, acknowledges that Jesus and his mission confirmed prophecy, but she also admits he and his mission were misunderstood (S1, S2).  Worldly thought has a very difficult time accepting spiritual truths.  To Christian Scientists, historical accuracy isn’t as important as the fact that when applied properly, the lessons taught by Jesus can be and are proved today.  We are no better understood than Jesus was.  But his mission is the example for our own—his was to “reveal the Science of celestial being, to prove what God is and what He does for man” (S3).  The scriptures urge us to pay attention to the prophecies and make use of them as we would use artificial light to see clearly during the night until the sun comes up.  That rising sun symbolizes the dawning of the Christ outshining everything else.

Section 2: The Virgin Birth
On page 70 of Retrospection and Introspection, Mary Baker Eddy states that Christian Scientists “do not question the authenticity of the Virgin-mother and Bethlehem babe... .”  The manner of Jesus’ conception and birth was a fulfillment of Messianic prophecy.  Some theologians still question the actual meaning of the word “virgin” in Isaiah’s prophecy (B3) but Christian Scientists do not.  We accept the prophetic authority illustrated in Jesus’ nativity, but not in the same way traditional theology views it.  The New Testament describes the fulfillment of prophecy through the virgin birth.  Orthodox theology has explained this event by thinking that by some miraculous occurrence God took the form of a man in the person of Jesus.  Skeptics reject this view and cast it off as a mythological tale.  The scriptures themselves don’t support that view either.  Jesus is indeed the Son of God, and he is born according to prophecy, but nothing indicates that God turned himself into a man. The Bible is clear that Mary’s conception of Jesus was a spiritual event:  “...the power of the highest shall overshadow thee” (B5).  As an angel revealed this to Mary, a multitude of angels heralded Jesus’ birth (B6).

So how is this explained in Christian Science?  Mrs. Eddy unequivocally accepts and teaches that “Jesus was the son of a virgin” (S4).  But she doesn’t say that this was the result of some mythological conception.  Far from it.  Nor were the circumstances of Jesus’ conception miraculous.  Mrs. Eddy attributes the conception to “the illumination of Mary’s spiritual sense” and to her “self-conscious communion with God” (S5).  It was a natural progression where the human sense of creation was overshadowed by the divine reality.  Just like when the sun comes up and we no longer need to use lamps in the house, when the “recognition that being is Spirit” dawned in Mary’s understanding, the law of material procreation was overruled.  Modern philosophers since Spinoza have dismissed Christianity and many of the biblical stories as fiction because they argue that miracles—or any event contradicting the natural order of things—would also be contradictory to God’s design and therefore impossible.  Mrs. Eddy agrees that “Miracles are impossible in Science” (S6), but on an entirely different basis than the Spinozists.  Mrs. Eddy views these apparent contradictions of nature as the revealing of the actual divine order of things.  God does not create physical laws and then occasionally set them aside.  God never made a material law at all.  His divine law overrules material law at all times.  This dawning of “the divine Principle of man” (S7) displaces the false with the true.  It makes Jesus’ mission all the more important.  He was living, walking proof of a higher spiritual idea about man.  His authority came not only from the prophecies about him, but from Mary’s demonstration of “the Science of creation.”  This is our Leader says, “inspired his wisest and least understood sayings, and was the basis of his marvelous demonstrations” (S8).

Section 3: They Were Convinced that Jesus Fulfilled Prophecy
John the Baptist was very vocal in his denunciations of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  There were rumors afloat that John the Baptist might be the Messiah, so the Sanhedrin sent messengers to question him (B7). John stated clearly that he was not the Messiah, but he foretold His coming, and when John saw Jesus, he pointed him out to his disciples and instructed them to follow Jesus from that point forward.  He substantiated his directions in quoting Isaiah—calling Jesus “the lamb of God.”  The disciples accepted John’s direction and immediately set out after their new Master.  Andrew first shared the news with his brother and as Jesus began to invite more disciples to join him each one dropped what he was doing and answered the call.  As they spread the word, each one was convinced that Jesus was the fulfilled prophecy.  Barnes points out that John and every one of the disciples avoided any sense of personal aggrandizement.  He holds their humility up as an example for all those who serve Christ.  No matter how important our positions in life or church might be, we are all subordinate to Christ and serve for God’s glory, not our own.  Punctuating prophecy again, this section closes with a verse from the book of Acts, underscoring the foretelling of Jesus’ mission (B8).

As did John, our Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, always points us to Christ.  John’s mission was to pave the way for Jesus (S9) and to correct misconceptions about the coming Messiah.  In turn, Mrs. Eddy paves the way to the spiritual understanding of Christ—correcting and clarifying prevalent theological misconceptions about him in modern thought.  She explains that “Christ expresses God’s spiritual, eternal nature” (S10).  It is the essence of his character as mentioned in our earlier consideration of the term “express image of his person” in Hebrews.  “Jesus is the name of the man who, more than all other men, has presented Christ...” (S11).  Again, our textbook reminds us that Jesus’ life was not miraculous, “but it was indigenous to his spirituality” (S12). “Indigenous” means occurring naturally in a particular place.  So it is only natural that the offspring of spiritual mindedness would live and demonstrate the natural power of spiritual law.

The disciples dropped everything to follow Jesus.  They recognized that they were joining themselves to one who had been foretold and expected for centuries.  We too, have the opportunity to join ourselves to this spiritual movement by becoming students of Christian Science.  Are we as eager to drop everything else?  Do we see the importance of our mission?

Section 4: His Works Proved It, but They Still Didn’t Believe
According to Matthew, once Jesus had gathered his disciples, he began his ministry with a three-pronged approach—by teaching, preaching, and healing (B9).  Word of Jesus’ healing ability spread broadly and quickly.  Sick people of all sorts were brought to him, and he healed them all. No doubt this healing power bolstered the disciple’s conviction that Jesus was more than the average preacher. Though the disciples were convinced of who Jesus was and what he stood for, the masses weren’t so quick to catch on. They continuously asked Jesus the same question—”Are you the Christ or not?” (B10). In reply, Jesus pointed them to his works, but when he openly stated, “I and my Father are one,” it was too much for the Jews to bear. If Jesus were claiming that he was equal with God—and by implication that he was God, so they thought—that would be blasphemous indeed, and it is still blasphemous for Jesus to be considered as such. Jesus wasn’t saying he was God; he was declaring his unity with God based on his spiritual origin and sameness of purpose.  He proved his unity or oneness with God, through his good works.  The people still couldn’t abide his reply and they went after him again. They must have been pretty worked up too, because John says “he escaped out of their hand.”  That doesn’t sound like a casual departure.  He returned to where John had been baptizing and found a much more receptive audience.

Science and Health points out how difficult it is for the worldly thought to accept the full import of what Jesus taught and stood for (S13).  He operated on a spiritual rather than a material basis.  He didn’t emphasize rules and regulations, but rather the importance of living in accordance with the law of Love and proving that devotion through healing.  It shouldn’t really be surprising that the established religious orders of the time resented Jesus’ message.  His teaching challenged them to go beyond the letter and to find the spirit.  In accord with the nature of his spiritual origin, Jesus didn’t look to man-made doctrines for salvation, but to God alone (S14).  He knew no Mind but God.  The false views of the people made it impossible for them to acknowledge Jesus’ divine sonship.  Our false views today still conceal the true understanding of Christ.  But there is a way to overcome that difficulty.  All we have to do is turn away from sin, and “lose sight of mortal selfhood” (S15).  When we do, we will find not only the true understanding of Jesus and the Christ, but we will find our real relationship to God as well.

Section 5: Resistance to Christ Healing
Here we have the familiar story of the man at the pool of Bethesda (B11).  We’ve discussed this story from various angles in other Lessons.  What can we find this time?  Earlier in this Lesson we’ve seen that Jesus’ origin and demonstrations weren’t miraculous, but divinely natural.  The Pool of Bethesda was built to accommodate sufferers, and this pool was used, much like today’s modern shrines, where the infirm gather expecting a miracle.  The impotent man was looking for a miracle, and was convinced he couldn’t get one without help.  Jesus broke through that mesmerism and told him to get up on his own power.  The Jews were upset because the man was carrying his bed on the Sabbath and then went after Jesus for healing on the Sabbath.  Somehow, I feel that had the man actually gotten into the water on his own, and had been healed miraculously, he might not have been chastised for carrying his bed.  What the Jews didn’t like was that Jesus was the one doing the healing.  Jesus paid no heed to man-made laws.  He healed because it was in his nature to do so.  Similarly today, popular thought may agree to the occasional “miracle.”  Books will be published and become “best-sellers” and the topic will be discussed on daytime talk shows.  But genuine Christian Science healing gets little if any notice, no matter how impressive the healing may be.  In fact, many people deny Christian Science healing even when it happens to someone they know.  The world simply misunderstands and resists true Christly healing.

Our textbook points out that Jesus’ words are much more palatable than his works (S16).  Few understand them.  Jesus didn’t just talk.  He proved what he said through healing (S17).  So must we.  Our Leader gives us the basis for genuine healing: “perfect God and perfect man” (S18).  Based on the old theological view that Jesus was God, it is believed that Jesus’ healing ability was unique to him and the few early Christians whom he taught.  There are some groups today, that accept healing as a special gift from the Holy Ghost, but they generally don’t agree that it’s possible for anyone to learn how to heal.  As Jesus gave no heed to the theological strictures of his time, neither did Mrs. Eddy accept any restrictions on the healing power of the Christ.  She saw that healing power was the result of understanding, and that all believers are capable of following in our Master’s footsteps (S19).  She challenges modern thought to look beyond the physical, measurable universe, and seek the spiritual understanding that heals.  She urges us to “compass the destruction of sin and sickness by overcoming the thoughts which produce them” (S20). To “compass” means in this case, “to obtain... to procure; to bring within one’s power; to accomplish” (Student’s Reference Dictionary). That means we can do it.  It was Jesus’ mission to show us it can be done.

Section 6: The Next Generation Presses On
Do you remember how the disciples spread the news of Jesus with such conviction?  They had no doubt that Jesus and his message were the most important thing in the world.  Paul might be thought of as a “next generation” Christian.  He had experienced a personal revelation, but wasn’t an eyewitness to Jesus.  He turned his back on his former way of thinking and despite all obstacles, made it his mission to unashamedly carry the gospel of Christ to the world (B12).  This was a bold stance especially given the fact that Rome at that time was a citadel of heathen pride and power.  In his letter to the Corinthians (B13) Paul reiterated that he wasn’t making up the story of Jesus, it was given to him.  He substantiated the message through the scriptures, and beyond that, he had heard many first-hand accounts of it, and he proved it himself.  He did his utmost to reason with doubters.  Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was solid proof that he was exactly who he said he was.  As Jesus entered the world through exceptional circumstances and by breaking laws of material generation, his resurrection and ascension were equally astounding.  The virgin birth and Jesus’ resurrection from the dead are key elements of the Christian narrative.  If these things are true, everything Jesus taught must be true, and if adhered to, lead to salvation from every material belief. 

Jesus’ resurrection was insurmountable proof that he spoke the truth.  His demonstration over death proved that salvation was possible for us all (S21).  Jesus taught that he was one with the Father and he proved it, showing that man can never be separated from the only Life—God (S22).  But mortal belief doesn’t recognize what Jesus meant and did.  The greater his demonstrations over material belief, the harder it was for those stuck in material laws and old theological doctrine to believe him (S23).  Mrs. Eddy uses the word “odious” to describe the worldly reaction to Jesus’ demonstration.  “Odious” means “hateful.”  It seems strange that such a negative feeling could be leveled at one who persevered out of pure love for mankind.  Our textbook provides reassurance that there is nothing mysterious or miraculous about Jesus’ teachings.  Nor are they incomplete.  They are fully understandable and demonstrable through metaphysical and spiritually scientific reasoning (S24).

We are instructed to “hold forever the consciousness of existence,” and we have the promise that through this practice and discipline we will master sin and death (S25).  This becomes possible as we give up material beliefs and admit the “immortal facts of being.”

Section 7: A Beautiful Benediction
The author of Ephesians prays regularly for us as a family of believers, and wants us to be strengthened from the inside out (B14).  He doesn’t pray that we collect vast amounts of religious scholarship, but that we have the Christ dwelling in our hearts.  He prays that this indwelling Christly Spirit, grounds us deeply in love, so we can understand the full breadth, length, depth, and height of Jesus’ teachings just as the disciples had.  He wants us to be familiar with the love of Christ that surpasses all worldly knowledge so that we overflow with the fullness of God.  He closes by praying that our works, through Christ’s church continue to glorify him forever without interruption.  When I first saw this passage, I admit that I was tempted to gloss over it.  But take the time to ponder each phrase and see how much love and hope there is in it.  It really is a beautiful benediction.

Our Leader had full faith in the ongoing efficacy of Jesus’ teaching.  The Christ is still active—preaching, healing, and casting our devils just as it was when Jesus began his ministry (S26).  As in Jesus’ time, there are various methods of healing that venture outside the “commonly accepted systems” of healing, but Christian Science is the only one worthy of presentation to the whole world.  We have it, and it is the same thing Jesus taught (S27).  True spiritual healing has never been readily accepted by the worldly minded.  If people balk at the teaching itself, the demonstration of this truth through healing can nevertheless be felt and understood (S28).  A healing—like a picture—is worth a thousand words.  Nothing can stop the healing power of the Christ.  Mrs. Eddy also prayed for future generations.  She prayed for that day when everyone would “recognize the Science of Christ and love his neighbor as himself.”  She longed for everyone to feel that healing power and witness God’s omnipotence.  She had full faith that every prophecy and promise would be fulfilled.  The Lesson closes with a profound fact: “Christ, as the true spiritual idea, is the ideal of God now and forever, here and everywhere” (S29).  That’s not a wish or the product of human imagination; that’s something we can be convinced of, something we can drop everything for, prove in our own lives, and share with the world.


[The Met application ideas above are provided primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and daily demonstrate the great value of studying and applying the Christian Science Bible lessons throughout the year, not just at camp!  YOU CAN ALSO SIGN UP for weekly emails from past CedarS staff of possible ways to share Bible Lesson applications with older, as well as younger, Sunday School classes by clicking the "Subscribe Now" button (lower left) at http://www.cedarscamps.org/metaphysical/ ]

 [THANK YOU in advance for MAKING A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE GIFT ONLINE,
BY PHONE at 636-394-6162
OR BY MAIL at:
CedarS Office, 1314 Parkview Valley Dr, Ballwin, MO 63011

[Additional Director's Note: You can sign up to have these application ideas emailed to you free -- by Monday each week in English; or by each Wednesday you can get a FREE TRANSLATION: in German, thanks to Manfred and Jeanette; or in Spanish, thanks to a team of Ana, Erick, Claudia and Patricio, or in Portuguese, thanks to helpers of Orlando Trentini in Brazil.  A voluntary French translation by Rodger Glokpor, a Christian Scientist from Togo (West Africa) has been contributed.  Thank you, Rodger and all translators! Go to http://www.cedarscamps.org/ and click "Newsletters" to sign-up for a free translation into these languages.  This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, 13-year series of CedarS Bible Lesson "Mets" (Metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians.  (Ask and look for "Possible Sunday School Topics "and "Possible Younger Class Lessons" in emails to follow.) These weekly offerings are 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 "and Sunday School ideas are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way serve as 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 (and angels) 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 and in a variety of useful formats 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-26) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (S-1 thru S-32). 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.]

 

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