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Purify Your Heart and Be Reconciled to God

Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), IL
Posted Monday, October 12th, 2015

Purify Your Heart and Be Reconciled to God
Application Ideas the Christian Science Bible Lesson on:

“Doctrine of Atonement”

for October 12—18, 2015

by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn, Illinois (Bartlett)
craig.ghislincs@icloud.com / (630) 830-8683

Have you ever thought about atonement? The basic meaning is to make reparation for wrongdoing. In religious context, it includes the expiation of sin for the purpose of bringing mankind back into a harmonious relationship with God. Many cultures reasoned the best way to renew their relationship with God was to offer some form of sacrifice in order to appease Him. These ceremonies, while well intentioned, did little to stop people from continuing to sin, and therefore, the ceremonies had to be repeated regularly. In traditional Christian theology, the life of Christ Jesus, and particularly his struggle at Gethsemane and his crucifixion, have been considered the supreme and ultimate offering for the sins of all mankind throughout time, thereby forever opening the path to reconciliation for all who accept Jesus as the savior.

The word “doctrine” means, “whatever is taught…a principle or position which is laid down in any science…” (Student’s Reference Dictionary). This week’s Lesson is an exploration of what Christian Science teaches about atonement as laid down through the master Christ Jesus, and our Leader Mary Baker Eddy. An online search of the word “atonement” includes an interesting definition of atonement from the viewpoint of Christian Science. It reads: “the experience of humankind's unity with God exemplified by Jesus Christ” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/atonement). This definition is very close to citation 4 in our textbook: “The exemplification of man’s unity with God, whereby man reflects divine Truth, Life, and Love.” From these definitions, we can see that Christian Science teaches that Jesus’ atonement was more than something he did for us. Rather, Jesus showed us by example the true path to atonement.

The Golden Text contains a Christian statement of faith. It first acknowledges one God as Father of all “of whom are all things, and we in him.” The word “of” recognizes God as the source of all being. The second portion of the statement regards Christ Jesus as the one “by whom are all things, and we by him.” The word “by” indicates that Christ Jesus is the agency through which God and man are reconciled.

In the Jews’ effort to reconcile with God, they often recount many of the events throughout their history that have demonstrated God’s care for them. The verses from Nehemiah in the Responsive Reading are a good example. The cornerstone of Israelite religious practice was, and still is, the Law of Moses. This code of behavior serves to uplift mankind, and provide a framework by which holiness can be gauged. These laws are “True laws; not such laws as some of the heathen laws were, which taught them falsehood, superstition, idolatry, and other errors; but such as discover the truth, and the true mind and will of God, and the true and only way to life” (Poole’s English Annotations on the Holy Bible).

The citations from Proverbs, illustrate how much weight is given to the practice of these laws: Adam Clarke (circa 1760-1832) paraphrases, “Come, my pupils, and hear how a father instructed his child. Such as I received from my father I give to you, and they were the teachings of a wise and affectionate parent to his only son, a peculiar object of his regards, and also those of a fond mother.”

Clarke says this preamble is, “to show that the teaching he received, and which he was about to give them, was the most excellent of its kind. By this he ensured their attention, and made his way to their heart. Teaching by precept is good; teaching by example is better; but teaching both by precept and example is best of all.” These words apply to us today as we open our thought to a deeper understanding of atonement.

As useful and well intentioned as the Law of Moses is, as with all codes of behavior and the passage of time, they run the danger of becoming overly technical and proscriptive. Thus was the case as Jesus came on the scene. Addressing sin through rules that repress behavior is only paying attention to the tip of the iceberg ignoring the bulk of the ice below the surface. The ice floating above the surface represents behavior—but true change comes from addressing the belief system below the surface. To truly reconcile with God and atone for sin, a change of heart is required. That’s where Jesus’ teaching comes in. John says, “the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible defines grace as “The divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life.” That’s the key. To truly atone for sin, and be reconciled with God change must be from the heart—from the very core of our being. This is what Jesus exemplified and what we aspire to.

The Pharisees were content with a list of rules, but they were rarely heartfelt. Jesus advanced religious observance from mere adherence to the letter to living the spirit, and writing the law in the heart. Love the Lord with all thy heart, and soul, and might.

Section 1: Atonement—First Step: “Principle and its idea is one”
The first section opens with the Shema (B1). The Shema is the heart of Judaism—the declaration of faith upon which all else is built. This statement, much more than a declaration of God’s oneness as opposed to the polytheism of the time, establishes that God is “the Being of beings, a self-existent Being, eternal and immutable; and he is but one in nature and essence; this appears from the perfection of his nature, his eternity, omnipotence, omnipresence, infinity, goodness, self-sufficiency, and perfection; for there can be but one eternal, one omnipotent, one omnipresent, one infinite, one that is originally and of himself good; one self, and all sufficient, and perfect Being” (Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible). God’s doctrine is as unstoppable as the rain (B2) and it nourishes everything it touches. And as the dew, it becomes noticeable with the dawn, refreshing the earth after the cold night.

The act of making an offering to God is not supposed to be perfunctory. God tells Moses that offerings must be given willingly from the heart (B3). Even the altar upon which the gift is to be presented, must be purified, and sanctified (B4).

As sincere and meaningful as these purification rites were, they gradually ended up becoming more ceremonial than holy. Theologian John Calvin wrote, “The spirit was indeed concealed by the shadows of the Law…” Going through the motions ensured neither sanctity nor holiness, and when Jesus came on the scene he raised the bar of spirituality significantly. He said when speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well “The true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth” (B5). [For helpful insights on this conversation, check out Download 1 in the online version of this Met.] For Jesus, the new standard of worship is the simple offering of a pure prayer without pomp and splendor. Daniel’s prayer of thanks, is simple and sweet (B6) typifying a heartfelt connection that is strong, and pure.

While Moses brought a nation’s theology beyond paganism and polytheism to a more spiritual worship (S1), the Leader of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, went yet further. She saw man and God—divine Principle and idea—as one, inextricably bound as Creator and creation (S3). To some, the idea of God as Principle might seem cold and lifeless. But Principle is the very origin of our being—alive and loving. Mrs. Eddy deliberately uses the singular verb “is” to characterize man’s true relation to God. Man is inextricably bound to his Creator. Citation 4 in Science and Health is a very concise definition of atonement: “The exemplification of man’s unity with God, whereby man reflects divine Truth, Life, and Love.” In this unity, man has no mind or will apart from God (S5). “Man is the expression of God’s being.” Think about how significant that is . Man doesn’t have to struggle to express God, man is the expression of God’s being—God is expressing us! How much closer to God can we get?

Citation S6 has the tone of a statement of faith much like that of the Shema. It’s a call to give Mind, God all the “glory, honor, dominion, and power” due its name. The first step in attaining atonement is establishing an eternal, direct relationship between God and His idea.

Section 2: Prayer with a Pure Heart
John Calvin writes, “God is one, because he always continues to be like himself, and, with unvarying regularity, holds fixed and unalterable the purpose which he has once made.” The phrase “God is one,” also indicates that in reality, there is no need for a mediator because as was discussed in Section 1, “Principle and its idea is one.” But those who believe themselves separated from God certainly do require a mediator. The need for a mediator between God and man is due to man’s disobedience.

It was clear to the Jews that Jesus had not received his doctrine, or teaching, through the usual channels of instruction, therefore, they doubted the validity of Jesus’ message. Jesus however, made no attempt to authenticate his teaching through human channels. He boldly declared that his doctrine came directly from God (B8). Jesus’ teaching wasn’t an intellectual exercise; it was embedded in him due to his relationship to God. His followers too, could not expect to find God through worldly means. Only those pure in heart shall see God (B9).

No longer bound to religious rites and ceremonies as an avenue to God, Jesus introduced heartfelt prayer as the practical way of reconciling man to God. That begins with shutting out all worldly interference (B10). Aside from the benefits of no distractions, entering into the closet also implies that one’s prayer isn’t influenced or motivated by onlookers. It’s not “for show;” it’s from the heart—just between you and God.

The Lord’s Prayer is a blueprint for our own prayers. Notice how deep and honest it is. It’s a prayer that is all-inclusive, not for the petitioner alone, but for everyone. It begins with God, acknowledges His omnipresence, majesty, dominion, power, might, omniscience, purity, and holiness; then looks to God for every need, and calls upon us to live in accordance with our prayer. It concludes as it begins, with an affirmation that God is the source and governor of all. [For helpful insights from Cobbey Crisler on the Lord’s Prayer and Jesus’ pioneering use of the term Abba or Daddy, check out Download 2 in the online version of this Met.]

Jesus taught that those who honestly follow God would intuitively know that God is the source of his teaching (S7). An honest heart recognizes the veracity of the Word through its own kinship with Truth. When we are in line with God, our spiritual sense kicks in, and we can only be the man God made (S8). In Christian Science, prayer is a proven way of exemplifying our unity with God (S9). The opening lines of the Lord’s Prayer are filled with the sense of unity and love. The term “Father-Mother” connotes a strong familial bond with our Creator, and this Creator is the “Adorable One” (S10). In modern dictionaries “adore” actually means “to speak or to pray;” but, in The Student’s Reference Dictionary, it comes from the Latin meaning “to carry to one’s mouth, as in order to kiss one’s hand.” Both of these definitions evoke feelings in the heart—an intimate closeness that can only be achieved through honest affection. If there is one God, there is nothing else to have affection for God’s “allness… is His oneness.” (S11)

Section 3: Love for God and Man
We start the third section with a repetition of the Golden Text reminding us again that God is the source of all things, but Jesus is the agent by whom we are reconciled to God (B11). As mentioned before, the religious establishment did not take kindly to Jesus’ teaching. He clearly had not been taught in the traditional manner. The scribes and Pharisees claimed parochial authority, but he claimed divine authority (B12). When the scribes confront him about which is “the first commandment of all,” Jesus begins his reply by citing the Shema or the Jewish declaration of faith (B13). But then he adds to it the element of heart that is so necessary to an honest approach of loving God with the whole soul as well as loving one’s neighbor. Jesus is said to have been the first to link these two commands. He was clearly urging a deeper conviction than merely following rules.

Our Leader took these commands to heart as well, and expected her followers to do likewise (S12). She understood Jesus’ mission as showing us how to attain a more holy experience, but not doing it for us. You see that traditional theology believes that Jesus, through the crucifixion, did all the necessary work of atonement for us. But the fact is we still have to follow Jesus’ example and do our own work (S13). As in the last section, we saw that only the pure in heart can see (understand) God, so here, Jesus again points out that the deep things of God can’t be attained through the letter of the law. Unless the heart is open to God’s goodness, the letter alone is insufficient (S14). Men resist leaving their ceremonies for heartfelt regeneration because it demands more than they are willing to give. In Christian Science, we really have little choice. We must follow Jesus’ command to love God with all our hearts, and love others as ourselves (S15).

Section 4: Standing Our Ground
In Luke’s gospel, commentators find it noteworthy that Jesus’ return “in the power of the Spirit” (B14) was the result of his struggle in the wilderness. Rather than being wearied by his hard-fought victory in the wilderness, it strengthened his resolve, and honed his spiritual sensibilities. Jesus needed to be stronger due to the continual “push-back” he was facing from the religious establishment. He was aware that, in the eyes of the scribes and Pharisees, violating the Sabbath was a serious crime. So he pre-empts their criticism by posing the question to them¾ asking whether it is better to do good or evil on the Sabbath (B15). The Abingdon Bible Commentary points out that Jesus’ question “refers not only to what he knows he is about to do, but also to the plotting against his own life, which he knows his enemies are on that same Sabbath day contemplating!” Out of pure love, he proceeds to heal a man’s withered hand in spite of what the scribes and Pharisees were thinking; and not surprisingly, his detractors are furious. Jesus wisely withdraws to the mountains to pray.

Jesus knew that there is always resistance to spiritual activity. The carnal mind opposes whatever contributes to its inevitable destruction. We too, meet resistance to healing. An article “No Healing Yet? Silence the Anti-Christ” by Nate Talbot in the February 2015 Journal addresses this issue. The carnal mind goes along with all sorts of human goodness and charitable activity, but it draws the line when it comes to healing. Paul’s letter to Timothy (B16) recognizes the struggle and sacrifice Jesus endured to bring the healing Christ to mankind. Without his teaching and example, we would have no healing. In the spirit of Jesus’ work Paul commends all believers to pray unapologetically, not for show, or to be seen of men, but to stand with confidence in the face of all opposition.

This prayer must be, as the beatitude suggests, pure in heart, “without wrath and doubting.” According to Gill, the lifting up of hands is “an emblem of the elevation of the heart in prayer to God… And these hands must be holy and pure; there must be purity of heart,... or a freedom from any governing sin which renders prayer unacceptable unto God.”

Mrs. Eddy concurs with Paul’s assessment of Jesus’ role as “mediator between God and men” (S16). Jesus proved through his healing works, that Christ is the active agent in all spiritual healing and religious advancement. He was the Wayshower. The Pharisees hung on to their material ways of thinking and rejected Jesus’ healing doctrine (S17). Mrs. Eddy rightly points out that Jesus’ system of healing has not yet, been generally accepted.

But, Jesus didn’t let human laws of limitation constrict his healing activity. He lived for God alone, and urged his followers to do so as well (S18). Jesus was unmoved by the obstacles he faced. He bore the burden of proof, and led the way for all to follow in the pathway out of the flesh (S19). He embodied the first line in the chapter on prayer: He had an “absolute faith that all things were possible to God, a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love” (S20). There’s that heart again—the open heart of unselfed love.

Section 5: Love Put to the Test
That unselfed love is put to the test in Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. Calvin points out that Jesus wasn’t hunted down and captured. He willingly surrendered (B17). The Pharisees were working in subtlety, sneaking around and taking him in the night. It may have looked like Jesus was helpless in the hands of vicious persecutors, but he was in charge. His actions weren’t self-serving or self-preserving. They were self-immolating for the salvation of all mankind.

The frantic effort the carnal mind exerts to justify its actions exposes the depth of its depravity. Bolstered by numbers, the priests and scribes deride Jesus and his mission with impunity. Pilate however, having no particular stake in the matter, and working from an objective point of view finds “no fault” in Jesus (B18). Though not in the Lesson, Pilate attempts to free Jesus, but true to form, the masses prefer to save a seditious murderer rather than allow Pilate to save the best man who ever lived. Poole writes, “Strictness and holiness of doctrine and life is that which enrages the men of the world against the preachers and professors of the gospel.”

It is difficult to imagine such hate against so good a man. But this seems to be the way mortal mind works. The Pharisees were blatantly willing to stoop to any means possible to put an end to Jesus. Adam Clarke observes, “Evil passions betray those who are slaves to them. An affected moderation would have rendered these accusers less suspected, their accusations more probable, and the envy less visible than this vehemence: but envy seldom or never consults prudence…”

Through it all, Jesus forgives them. His true character is revealed in what he has done for mankind, bringing healing to all who are oppressed in mind or in body (B19). Jesus’ mission was, and is, the central point of all prophesy. He fulfilled his mission with dominion and grace. Men have alienated themselves from God by disobedience to God’s law, self-seeking, pride, vanity, sensuality, and rebellion. Christ Jesus came to reconcile man to God (B20).

This could only be accomplished through Love. Most traditional religions feel that in order for a man to be saved he must simply acknowledge his sins, and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Christian Scientists often feel that there are no sins to admit, because man is made in God’s likeness, and therefore, we don’t really need to acknowledge them. But this would be a mistake. We do need to acknowledge sin, and rebuke it by consciously living better lives.

Jesus was the model for atonement. He demonstrated man’s unity with God through everything he did, and that most certainly shows us the way to salvation (S21). We recognize that Jesus reconciles man to God (S22) and he does this by showing, through demonstration, what true love for God and man is (S23). Efficacy means: “the power to produce an intended effect.” The crucifixion demonstrated supreme love for mankind in a tangible way that no amount of verbiage could fully explain (S24).

What sacrifices are we asked to give? Some are big and some are little, but if we are honest, we will begin to understand through demonstration and practical experience what the atonement means—what it means to open one’s heart and purify one’s character in reconciliation to the divine. The old repetitive cycle of sinning and making atonement, sinning and making atonement again misses the mark (S25). In fact the original meaning of sin was just that—“to miss the mark.” The textbook tells us the “atonement requires constant self-immolation on the sinner’s part” (S26). Old theology still maintains the cycle of sinning, suffering, and repenting, but truly understanding that our natural state is sinless and pure will enable us to drop sin once and for all. This elevates the power of the crucifixion from an event confined to suffering, to the portal for everlasting victory (S27).

Section 6: The Miracle of Grace
Paul writes he does not “frustrate the grace of God” (B21). As noted earlier, Strong’s defines grace as: “the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.” The key here is that the divine influence doesn’t merely reside in intellectual reasoning, it must touch our hearts and it must be reflected in our lives. There has to be some effect on the way we live for the atonement to be authentic. As Jesus appeared dead to the world before his resurrection, so Paul said he was “dead” to the senses and to sin. He only lives through Christ.

The Hebrews are urged to have their hearts established with God’s grace (B22) not letting the winds of human theories carry them in different directions. Sometimes the heart is thought of as fickle, but truly, the heart of love is solidly rooted and grounded so much so that nothing can alter it. This divine influence of grace is pouring out like the showers of rain on every individual (B23). The prophet Joel calls for God’s praise for all God has done for His children (B24). Everyone in full agreement and in obedience to God’s law, loving God and loving mankind, really is a wondrous thing worthy of praise.

Science and Health gives full recognition to the significance of atonement. After centuries of old theology dooming us to sin, and teaching man’s separation from God, Christ has cleared the way to the possibility of reconciliation to God (S28). The effect of this doctrine of oneness with God is demonstrated through regeneration and newness of life (S29). The old theological teachings start from separation, whereas the Christly doctrine has transformative power (S30). The doctrine of one God and Father of all, who is the source of all things; and one Christ, as the divine agent by whom we are reconciled to God, is no longer a theological abstraction. It is a present possibility. It truly is a “miracle of grace” (S31).



[We are forever grateful for all the good already received and are LETTING BE KNOWN not only ONGOING NEEDS, BUT ALSO GOOD NEWS! Thanks to generous donors responding quickly to our announced $7k need to replace fencing washed away in a flash flood, we have funds to finish the work very soon and to turn-out our 77 horses into our lush lower pastures! We, and they, are SO grateful!!

Significant funding is still also needed for in these three special areas:
1. “Adopt the Herd” Matching Opportunity! Generous donors, aware of the ongoing need to care for CedarS herd, will match donations for our horse program! (~$6.5k needed to reach $50k goal)]

2. "Maintenace Musts" Matching Funds! This hugely helpful matching grant offer has been renewed by dear supporters to match up to $25,000 through year-end 2015! Thanks to recent gifts for repairs, we have "only" ~$17.4k to raise for other repair needs by 12-31-15.

3. Over 100 needed items are featured on CedarS Giving Tree that could fit the budget of every grateful Met-recipient and camper. You can choose for yourself $1-and-up ways to give to support CedarS needs. Click here to see 2 young alumni tell their reasons to give.

[You can also reach a member of the Founding family nearly anytime by
PHONE at 636-394-6162
or MAIL your tax-deductible support to our 501-C-3 organization
(Our not-for-profit, Federal Identification Number is #440-66-3883):

The CedarS Camps, Inc.
19772 Sugar Drive
Lebanon, MO 65536


[CedarS weekly Metaphysical Newsletter is provided at no charge to the 1,200 campers and staff blessed each summer at CedarS, as well as to CedarS alumni, families and friends who have requested it. However, current and planned gifts are a big help and are greatly appreciated in defraying the costs of running this service and of providing needed camperships, programs and operations support. Click http://www.cedarscamps.org/giving/ for more about how you can provide even monthly support online. THIS WOULD BE A HUGE ANSWER TO PRAYER! Or you can always call the Huffs at 636-394-6162 to get information or discuss privately how to transfer securities or other assets to help support and perpetuate CedarS work.]THANKS TO YOU PRECIOUS DONORS FOR YOUR ONGOING, GENEROUS and NEEDED SUPPORT OF CedarS IMPORTANT WORK!

[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/ ]

[For additional "Director's Notes" on the history, development & 4 translations of CedarS weekly Bible Lesson "Mets" go to Notes in our online version of it.]

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