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Gain a little each day in the right direction…

Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), IL
Posted Monday, April 15th, 2019

“…gain a little each day in the right direction…”
Metaphysical Lesson Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on:

"Doctrine of Atonement"
April 15—21, 2019

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


[Warren: Letting a time-sensitive need be known to CedarS Newsletter readers:
We just discovered that to meet new safety standards for the four Ziplines to and from CedarS Bible Lands Park (BLP) $97,000 total ($36,200 more as of 4-18) is needed in the coming few weeks! (Certified professionals are lined-up to provide new harnesses & gear and to install new cables, braking equipment, longer landing decks…) CedarS Board and other donors have just personally pledged to give or match up to $25,000 for this work because (starting for our Memorial Weekend Family Camp) it will annually bless thousands of visitors! It will make Christian Science Sunday School students, teachers and church members more Biblically literate and alive each summer and fall. And it will show “shoulder-season” visitors of all faiths how Christianly practical and Bible-based Christian Scientists are. From Mary’s Chapel behind Dawn Lodge all users can zip back in time to the Bible and BLP, climb its switch-back “Time-Travelers’ Trail” and learn A.P. (Answered Prayer) History lessons to take “back to the future.” Take-home, life lessons from this week’s Easter Bible Lesson for each BLP zipline guest include Jesus’ lessons: of “love meeting no response, but still remaining love” at Gethsemane(SH 566); of “kiss(ing) the cross and wake(ing) to know a world more bright”(Hymn 253); and of “gain(ing) a little each day in the right direction till at last he finishes his course with (the) joy” (21:13) at a “HE IS RISEN!”sign above an open tomb with the stone rolled away below our Resurrection/Cross to Crown Landing platform.
[Click here to give in increments of $100 to help meet this need.]


This week, Christians around the world celebrate and commemorate Jesus’ resurrection. Traditional Christianity places a great emphasis on the passion, or sufferings of Jesus in the days leading up to and during the crucifixion. Many consider Jesus’ sufferings as atonement for all our sins. Dr. Eugene H. Merrill of Columbia University provides a concise description of the traditional view of atonement:

…atonement involves an innocent party taking the punishment that was due to a guilty party.

…In the events that unfolded during His trial, crucifixion, and resurrection, Jesus was the Suffering Servant on our behalf. Though innocent of all sin, Jesus stood in our place to take our punishment, shedding His blood to atone for us.

…That OT atonement finds its culmination in Jesus Christ is put beyond question by John the Baptist who, seeing Jesus, proclaimed, "Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (Jn 1:29). https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2012/january/closer-look-jesus-and-atonement-in-old-testament.html

Why is this traditional view important to Christian Scientists? It provides context to the passage from Ephesians in this week’s Golden Text that speaks of Jesus’ sacrifice. Christian Scientists tend to place more emphasis on the resurrection rather than the sufferings of the passion. But this week’s Lesson deals with both. As Science and Health declares in Section 4, “We need Christ, and him crucified” (S22).

Compared to viewing Jesus’ atonement as a substitute for our own work, accepting the responsibility of working out our own salvation can seem to be a daunting task. As Jesus’ followers are we really expected to leave all for Christ? Jesus’ words to his disciples in the garden of Gethsemane are applicable today: “The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.” So what are we to do?

We find a hint in the first phrase of the Golden Text: “…walk in love.” Certainly, we can all begin right now to walk in love. Contemporary theologian and pastor of The Fifth Street Church of Christ in Beaverton, Oregon, Mark Dunagan writes, “… walking in love…involves speaking the truth, controlling our anger, giving to others, speaking words which edify, and being kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving.” This is to practice walking or, living in love.” This is evidence of the Science of the Christ leavening thought. Practical demonstration is a hallmark of Mary Baker Eddy’s teaching on atonement: namely Jesus didn’t do the work for us, but showed us how to do our own work.

The Responsive Reading highlights the deep need for the Christ in our world. Given the stories of strife, conflict, and divisiveness bombarding us in the news each day, it certainly is a beautiful thing to have a message bringing good tidings, publishing peace, and salvation, and acknowledging the allness of God, and the supremacy of His government. This heavenly message is potent enough to reach even the “waste places.”

Along with joy and comfort, Isaiah represents God as baring “his holy arm.” John Gill (1697-1771) explains that in biblical times, soldiers had to tuck up their loose clothing to allow freedom of movement in battle. So the idea is readiness to face the foe. Paul didn’t shy away from challenges either. He tells us to “glory in tribulations.” The process of attaining atonement can be trying. Yet Paul says, we actually glory in these challenges. Does glorying in difficult challenges mean we’re gluttons for punishment? Hardly. It means we have the depth of character to see beyond the current situation.

Unpacking these ideas further, Dunagan quotes contemporary Christian author Jim McGuiggan: "A person who can only be happy while things are going along well (easy or comfortable) won’t remain that way for long. Thank God that happiness (blessedness) doesn’t depend on outward circumstances." The King James Version tells us we will never be “ashamed” for enduring these trials. The J.B. Phillips translation clarifies it this way: “These very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us.”

Although addressing active Christians, Paul mentions a time “when we were enemies” with Christ. Adam Clarke (c.1760-1832) felt Paul was speaking to each of us. He writes, “In every human heart there is a measure of enmity to holiness, and, consequently to the author of it. Men seldom suspect this; for one property of sin is to blind the understanding, so that men do not know their own state.” This may seem a moot point to those already “reconciled to God,” but it points out the fact that even the best of us have seasons where we rebel in some way against the effort needed to achieve that oneness with God. So take heart, friends. We all face challenges and we can thank God for giving us Christ Jesus to show us the way to victory.

Section 1: This Is the Way Out

In her article entitled, “Where Art Thou?” Mary Baker Eddy poses a hypothetical question: “…Would you have me get out of a burning house, or stay in it?”

She replies, “I would have you already out, and know that you are out…”

(Mis. 335:25-32 Would)

That’s a bit of what’s happening regarding the need for salvation. There’s no doubt that mankind needs saving. But from the divine perspective we are “already out.” Even so, divine Love provides mankind with a way out of the belief that we live in the flesh—through Jesus’ atonement.

The prophet calls for rejoicing even in the midst of trouble because “the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted” (B1). The children of Israel “beheld nothing around them but death and ruin,” and Isaiah’s encouragement was, “that they might sustain their heart by the hope of a better condition” (Calvin, 1509-1564). How well are you doing with that? Do you aim to uplift your thought in times of distress? Though often facing terrible situations, the psalmist continually gives thanks (B2). In ancient times offerings and blood sacrifices were made to give thanks, and for the atonement of sins; but God doesn’t want a sacrifice of outward things. He wants His love to burn in our hearts (B3).

Our textbook states that­ Jesus accomplished his mission by giving us, “the true idea of being…” (S1). He didn’t teach theory. He taught and practiced the way—the divine Principle (S2). The two basic components of the atonement are: “man’s unity with God” and “man’s oneness with the Father” (S3). As noted earlier, traditional theology considers Jesus’ ordeal on the cross as being a surrogate offering for atonement of all men’s sins.

But just as the prophets realized that the blood of bulls and goats were powerless to change men’s hearts, so, we find that Jesus did his work not for us, but to show us how to do our own work (S4). The solution is simply stated in our textbook: “mortals need only turn from sin and lose sight of mortal selfhood to find Christ, the real man and his relation to God…” No matter how much we love and revere Jesus for what he suffered in his demonstration, it’s not enough to admire him. We have to “go and do likewise” (S5). There are several “musts” in Science and Health, and citation S6 is a big one: “The scientific unity which exists between God and man must be wrought out in life practice, and God’s will must be universally done.”

Do you doubt you are capable of finding, and following that way? You won’t know unless you start. It’s up to you. But, the Bible says we are all capable, and Mary Baker Eddy says we all will have to work it out eventually, so let’s see what else we can learn.

Section 2: In Metaphysics, We Start Where We Want to End Up

As I read John, people are asking Jesus over and over again, who he really is. Jesus patiently, persistently, and consistently points to his healing work as proof of his authority, and assumes that authority by claiming his oneness with the Father (B7). Of course, this flies in the face of their current theology, and incensed, they accuse him of blasphemy. It was anathema to them that he claimed to be the Son of God. Several biblical commentators feel that the persistent questioning regarding Jesus’ identity and mission was insincere; and, in fact, an effort to entrap him into breaking religious doctrine, thus giving his enemies a justification for condemning him. No doubt Jesus wasn’t surprised by the cold reception his message received. He predicted, to his disciples’ discomfiture, that he would be killed (B8).

Jesus was totally motivated by the understanding of his oneness with God (S7). He claimed no mind apart from God. Mary Baker Eddy discerned that the general population didn’t accept what he taught because their spiritual perception was clouded by sin (S8). Aside from basic moral questions, many today ask why it’s so important to make the effort to avoid sin—especially if it seems that nobody is getting hurt. The simple answer is that indulgence in sin beclouds our spiritual vision. (For further clarification see Mis. 362:27-32). The world may not recognize the deep value of a relationship with God, but those who honestly strive to practice, and demonstrate Christianity are fully aware of the value and bounty of spiritual understanding over sensual pleasures (S9).

This awareness doesn’t come from spasmodic efforts that we engage in only when things get tough. If we expect to get results, we have to practice consistently (S10).

When it comes right down to it, we really don’t have a choice. We are what God made us to be whether we like it or not. Man can’t be separated from God any more than rays of sunlight can be separated from the sun (S11).

Section 3: Supreme Sacrifice

Above, we mentioned the importance of maintaining a hopeful outlook even in the worst of conditions. As the Psalm says, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (B9). Nobody likes being in the midst of difficult situations, but we all face them. Jesus faced greater challenges than many of us can imagine. But thankfully, he showed us how to overcome them.

The betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus forever changed the world. As much as Jesus deserves the title, “King of kings,” he could equally be called the “Innocent of innocents.” The purest man that ever trod the globe—the most loving, the most spiritual—was treated the most cruelly. Yet he knew that the agony of the hour would result in eternal glory (B10). Even so, he still had to prepare himself for what he needed to face. Calvin notes that in his hour of greatest need Jesus lifted his eyes to heaven. He writes, “…in the affections of his mind, he was rather in heaven than in earth, so that, leaving men behind him, he converted familiarly with God.”

Before his betrayal Jesus prayed deeply in the garden of Gethsemane (B11). This prayer was not all “uplift and dominion.” There was real struggle going on. Gethsemane means: “oil press.” Olives went through three pressings to remove every ounce of oil. We can correlate the three pressings to the three times Jesus prayed in the garden. Figuratively, Jesus was being pressed by the weight of sin, and hatred of truth. Luke records his agony was so severe that “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44). I think sometimes we forget how difficult it was for Jesus. In an article called “The Way of Gethsemane” by Lucy Hays Reynolds, we find keen insight into the result of this struggle:

Animal magnetism had found nothing in Jesus to respond to it or to which it could attach itself. But, had he not first surrendered everything in Gethsemane that could be crucified or killed, think you that this great demonstrator of Love could have been victorious over the cross or could have risen from the tomb? No.” (Christian Science Journal, April, 1945).

With one of his own disciples about to betray him, and three of his most trusted students sleeping, Jesus was alone with God facing the weight of hatred against all he represented. So don’t ever feel bad if you are struggling, and in your own sense of agony over a situation. You are in good company. Jesus gave up everything in the garden that night, and after his prayer, Judas betrayed him with a kiss (B11). His disciples woke up ready to fight, and Peter even hacked off an ear of one of the soldiers, but Jesus was already past that, and healed the soldier.

Mary Baker Eddy tells us Jesus helped reconcile us closer to God by giving us “a truer sense of Love” (S12). Jesus’ deed certainly surpassed the Mosaic law of “an eye for an eye” (S13). Jesus didn’t get sucked into the world’s way of doing things. Judas schemed, and Peter reacted, but Jesus prayed (S14). If Jesus had tried to outsmart Judas, or Peter succeeded in aiding a violent escape, the outcome would have been quite different, and chances are we never would have heard of, or be reading about it two thousand years later. Jesus demonstrated the power of love over hate and that made a permanent impact on the world (S15).

How could he stand firmly with God, and respond with love? Mary Baker Eddy writes that there were two things Jesus understood that others did not—“the nothingness of material life and intelligence and the mighty actuality of all-inclusive God, good” (S16). He didn’t fight to save a material life because He knew his only Life was God. If God is the only Life, then Love is the only law, and the only way to overcome hatred (S17).

Section 4: Sowing in Tears…

As mentioned above, Jesus was treated brutally. They arrested him under arms, and he was crucified as a common criminal (B12, B13). Crucifixion was a terrible, agonizing death. Jesus’ prayer-filled preparation supported him through the entire ordeal. Although he gave up everything in the garden, there is still one place where Jesus might have had one last suggestion to overcome. There is theological debate regarding Jesus’ crying with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (B14). Some feel Jesus was quoting scripture, and others that he was really feeling God had forsaken him. The scripture Jesus may have quoted is citation B15. As many psalms do, this one starts from a point of distress, and resolves with God delivering the petitioner from affliction. It is certainly possible that Jesus uttered these words with a combination of both supposed motives. Even if not audibly speaking the words, anyone who’s suffered severely has, even if briefly, felt forsaken in some measure. It could be the simple thought, “Why me?” Have you ever felt that way? Thankfully, there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel as Psalm 126:5 declares, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy” (B16).

Jesus’ submission to the crucifixion certainly demonstrated a sense of love that far surpassed any type of love known before, or since, that event on Calvary (S18). Tackling the question of whether or not Jesus really felt forsaken on the cross, Mary Baker Eddy clearly states that God had not—could not—have forsaken him. Jesus was never separated from Life, Truth, and Love—not “even for a moment” (S19). Life, Truth, and Love never forsake us either. Our textbook states that it’s “divinely unnatural” for God to turn away from His child (S20). To believe God could abandon His child, is a theory based on a human view of God. Theologically, atonement presents a paradox—how could God let such suffering happen? Volumes of traditional theological doctrine have been crafted in an attempt to explain this paradox. Christian Science answers that God, Truth, doesn’t allow any suffering at all, but destroys all sin and suffering with everlasting Love.

The doctrine of Christian Science declares, “that divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or, object…” (S21). It goes on to say that joy and sorrow, good and evil, matter and mind, and life and death never cooperate or mingle in any way. And as I’ve pointed out in previous Lessons—note that it’s God that can’t be deprived of us! We usually tend to phrase things from our point of view—that we can’t be deprived of God. But that’s not what Mary Baker Eddy writes. “Divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation or object” [emphasis added].

If, and when, you face dire challenges, remember that the sequel to sowing in tears is reaping in joy. There’s another “must” we can’t avoid in citation S22: “We must have trials and self-denials, as well as joys and victories, until all error is destroyed.” Do you think that conflicts with citation S21? It doesn’t. It’s just meant to give us courage through our own struggles. We can’t be “pie in the sky” about it. Experience shows that we are dealing with claims of hard experience every day. But they are only claims. Jesus knew the nothingness of matter, and the allness of God. That’s what we need to know to overcome those claims ourselves.

Section 5: …And Reaping in Joy

Now we come to the part that changed the world. All of the agony, and death itself, is defeated by the resurrection. Jesus had been placed in a new tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathæa (B17). Commentators have some interesting ideas as to the significance of Jesus being placed in a new tomb where no man had been laid. Only rich people had such tombs. During the trial and crucifixion Jesus had been treated in the most vile and cruel manner conceivable. Burying him in the tomb of a man of high standing was, as Matthew Poole (1624-1679) put it, “the beginning of honour done unto Christ, after that he had passed through his lowest degree of humiliation.”

Also, during Jesus’ life, Joseph of Arimathæa kept his support of Jesus rather quiet, perhaps because he feared castigation from his fellow Pharisees. But after witnessing the cruelty Jesus endured, he boldly came forward as a supporter, demonstrating God’s ability to change a person’s heart. Due to the coming Sabbath, there wasn’t time to prepare the body. So Matthew’s narrative has two women coming early the day after to complete the task. The account describes an earthquake, and the rolling away of the stone from the entrance. But Jesus was not there. Matthew tells of an angel who informs the women that Jesus is risen (B18).

Our Leader defines “Resurrection” this way: “Spiritualization of thought; a new and higher idea of immortality, or spiritual existence; material belief yielding to spiritual understanding” (S23). This indicates that resurrection isn’t a one-time event, but an ongoing awakening for each of us from the belief of life in matter. I find it somewhat amazing that, of all the theologians over the years dissecting and explaining the resurrection, Mary Baker Eddy remarkably saw it in a totally new light. She saw Jesus’ victory over the grave as proof of the nothingness of life in matter (S24, S25).

There is a certain amount of irony to the fact that the attempt to silence Jesus and his message actually perpetuated it for ages to come (S25). This, however, is much more than poetic justice. The fact of Jesus’ resurrection changes the way we look at everything. It brings into question the whole of material law, and demonstrates the allness of God. Indeed, the stone was not only rolled away from the tomb, but it opened the door to “the revelation and demonstration of life in God” (S26). Additionally, the resurrection gave us the true sense of what the atonement means. To “arrive at the fullness of God’s idea” (S27) is a much loftier goal than thinking of one’s self as a “saved” mortal. Jesus showed the way out of mortality altogether.

Section 6: “…a little each day in the right direction…”

As living witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection, his disciples could not but help to boldly testify, and demonstrate what they’d been taught (B19). If countless healings and the resurrection weren’t enough, witnessing the ascension (B20) certainly provided more than ample proof that Jesus’ teachings were true. The ascension is the ultimate atonement—the material belief of life disappearing, and man at one with God (B21).

All of these inspiring events proved unequivocally that mortality is a myth, and that it dissolves in the presence of reality (S28). The “living Christ” is a practical reality that brings eternal life within the grasp of each one of us (S29). But some may still be thinking, “As nice as all this sounds, I’ve really got a long way to go before I begin to get this.” Yet, every healing indicates that we will be able to reach that spiritual goal one demonstration at a time.

Our Leader doesn’t expect us to immediately ascend tomorrow. Nobody should feel bad if they are struggling. Everyone struggles. No matter how far we think we are from practicing, and understanding our spiritual oneness with God, our job is to fight the good fight in our “daily walk and conversation” (S30). Sure, we need to “strive to enter in,” but the more we turn away from material sense, and fix our gaze on Spirit, the closer we will be to realizing the goal. If we honestly “gain a little each day in the right direction,” we will at last, finish our “course with joy!”


[Reminder: Click here for special Cobbey Crisler and Ken Cooper insights this week.]


AGAIN![Warren: Letting a time-sensitive need be known to CedarS Newsletter readers:
We just discovered that to meet new safety standards for the four Ziplines to and from CedarS Bible Lands Park (BLP) $97,000 total ($72,000 more) is needed in the coming few weeks! (Certified professionals are lined-up to provide new harnesses & gear and to install new cables, braking equipment, longer landing decks…) CedarS Board and other donors have just personally pledged to give or match up to $25,000 for this work because (starting for our Memorial Weekend Family Camp) it will annually bless thousands of visitors! It will make Christian Science Sunday School students, teachers and church members more Biblically literate and alive each summer and fall. And it will show “shoulder-season” visitors of all faiths how Christianly practical and Bible-based Christian Scientists are. From Mary’s Chapel behind Dawn Lodge all users can zip back in time to the Bible and BLP, climb its switch-back “Time-Travelers’ Trail” and learn A.P. (Answered Prayer) History lessons to take “back to the future.” Take-home, life lessons from this week’s Easter Bible Lesson for each BLP zipline guest include Jesus’ lessons: of “love meeting no response, but still remaining love” at Gethsemane(SH 566); of “kiss(ing) the cross and wake(ing) to know a world more bright”(Hymn 253); and of “gain(ing) a little each day in the right direction till at last he finishes his course with (the) joy” (21:13) at a “HE IS RISEN!”sign above an open tomb with the stone rolled away below our Resurrection/Cross to Crown Landing platform.
[Click here to give in increments of $100 to help meet this need.]


Thank you dear friends who have already given to the needs that we have let be known—as well as to those of you who still want in 2019 to make a big difference in CedarS vital work, outreach and blessings!

We have a wonderful matching gift challenge to meet! You can double your donation by helping CedarS earn our "Adopt the Herd" $75,000 Match for the horses and riding program. (still $40,104 to go by Sept. 30, 2019.)

So, if you have been blessed by receiving this inspiration weekly and haven't given lately, or are in a postion to be able to give more, we still have many needs, big and small, that you can help meet by clicking on https://www.cedarscamps.org/give/.

Current and planned gifts are a huge proof of your ongoing LOVE made visible and are greatly appreciated!! They not only defray the costs of running this service but also provide greatly needed camperships and essential program and operations support.

Please sign up to give whatever you can on a much-needed MONTHLY basis to support CedarS life-changing work! [You can start at any amount and adjust monthly as you wish at: www.cedarscamps.org/giving ] All of your gifts add up to big blessings in the lives of today's Sunday School students (tomorrow's joyous workers in our Christ-centered church!

With heartfelt gratitude and love,
Warren, Gay, Holly & your CedarS Family

You can also reach a member of the Founding family nearly anytime by
PHONE, now at 636-394-6162.

or MAIL to our Winter-Spring office address (below) your tax-deductible support to our 501-C-3 organization.

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The CedarS Camps Office
1314 Parkview Valley Drive
Ballwin, MO 63011

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. 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/meta

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