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Reach out to our God who saves, who rescues us from death

Christie Hanzlik, C.S., Boulder, CO
Posted Monday, April 22nd, 2019

Reach out to our “God who saves, who rescues us from death."
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

“Probation after Death”
April 22-28, 2019

Prepared by: Christie C. Hanzlik, CS Boulder, CO
ccern@mac.com720.331.9356
www.christiecs.com

[Warren's Update on Ziplines Upgrades! $15,187 still needed! Thanks for clicking to help!]


INTRODUCTION

As I researched the phrase “probation after death” in JSH-Online, I found several testimonies from authors who cite this lesson topic as key to their healing. A common theme among the testimonies I read was that the Lesson on “Probation after Death” freed them from a fear of death, which resulted in physical healing. Many authors also described their realization that there is no “afterlife” because death itself is a non-issue. There is only eternal life. A renewed sense of timeless immortality freed the testifiers from sickness, injury and other troubling issues. The individuals’ fear of death as well as a false sense of mystery about the so-called afterlife was removed, and healing took place. This makes sense. As the testifiers realized that we are not defined by a birth-life-death-afterlife existence, they discovered their true pathway: salvation. (Salvation and health are inextricably linked.) Despite the title of the lesson, it is not about a so-called after-life experience that occurs after death. It is not about us being in limbo—a waiting period in which we don’t know our future. It is about the “the way” forward, the “footsteps of truth,” that leads to understanding salvation and eternal life.

Golden Text (GT) and Responsive Reading (RR) [See W’s PS#1 and #2.]

In the GT, we read that “our God is the God who saves, who rescues us from death.” (GT, ESV) In other words, it is our understanding of God that frees us from death and from death-like thoughts. Freedom from death and death-like thoughts is salvation, is health. We are rescued from a fear of death and the mysterious afterlife as we understand God, eternal Life.

The Responsive Reading introduces “the way" to salvation/health that corrects the lie that we are stuck in a birth-life-death-afterlife trajectory. With all of the references to “the way,” “the pathway,” “the path,” “steps," and so forth, the RR is like a prayer map to understanding eternal Life. Look at this prayer map:

• In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.
• Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
• And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
• Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him:
• The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.
• Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.
• The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.
• The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.
• Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.
• I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
• Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

We can follow this prayer map and find freedom from the mortal dream of a birth-life-death-afterlife. Along this path, as we find in this week’s Lesson, are opportunities to be reborn, to resurrect thought, and to ascend past mortal limitation. We are never stuck. “Life is eternal.” (S27)

SECTION 1: We have no choice but to stick to the path of eternity. [See W’s PS#3 and #4.]

The first section gives us instructions for how to find and stay on the path of eternal life. If we were on a hike, we’d want to know which direction to go, and we’d perhaps check a compass. Likewise, in our spiritual path, we want a way to know whether we’re on the right path. The first section reminds us that as we “set the Lord always before me,” we will not be moved from our path. We know we are on the right path because we feel Love’s presence with us. As the Psalmist states, “in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (B2)


The correlating ideas from Science and Health explain that with the Lord always before us, we can feel comfort and assurance that we are on the right path: “The understanding that Life is God, Spirit, lengthens our days by strengthening our trust in the deathless reality of Life, its almightiness and immortality.” (S1)

Our compass sets our aim, and, in prayer, our aim is “a point beyond faith….” Our aim “should be to find the footsteps of Truth, the way to health and holiness. We should strive to reach the Horeb height where God is revealed; and the corner-stone of all spiritual building is purity.” (S2)

We don’t need to rush, or feel anxious about our path. Instead, “When we wait patiently on God and seek Truth righteously, He directs our path.” (S3)

The pathway this Bible Lesson refers to corrects the false concept of birth-life-death-afterlife. We do not wait until death to find out if we are saved (free). We are already saved and our discovery of our freedom is now. As Mary Baker Eddy states, “Mortals need not fancy that belief in the experience of death will awaken them to glorified being. Universal salvation rests on progression and probation, and is unattainable without them.” (S4)

Discovering our salvation is inevitable because it is already true. In Science, there is no free will or mortal will or human will power that can pull us away from a full understanding of our salvation. We can drop the fear that we have to struggle toward salvation in a birth-life-death-afterlife system. We either struggle against the path of discovering that we are eternal, or we yield to it. But it is true and we must inevitably see it. As Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Either here or hereafter, suffering or Science must destroy all illusions regarding life and mind, and regenerate material sense and self.” (S5) It is inevitable that we discover we are not sinful—we are not separate from God—and we cannot actually depart from eternal Life.

SECTION 2: We are never in limbo. Our Shepherd governs our path. [W’s PS#5 and #6.]


The second section starts out by reminding us that we are not alone on the path to freedom from the belief of birth-life-death-afterlife. We always have our Shepherd with us, each step of the way. The 23rd Psalm reminds us that we are comforted and safe. There is never a moment we are in limbo. The sheep are always with their Shepherd, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” (B5, PS#5)

As we understand more and more about the eternality of life, death has less and less effect until it becomes a total non issue—this is ascension. Ascension is the alternative to probation after death. The Bible story about Elijah ascending shows how both Elijah and Elisha witnessed the truth that “Life is deathless. Life is the origin and ultimate of man, never attainable through death, but gained by walking in the pathway of Truth both before and after that which is called death.” (B6, S7) The language describing Elijah’s ascension may seem abstract—he “went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” But describing eternity and the revelation of eternity can only be done through metaphor. I’ve enjoyed many insights into eternity and infinity, and then when I try to put it into words, the inspiration seems to slip away. I’ve accepted that there are some concepts and insights that are unspeakable. I have sensed people's eternality clear as day, but I don’t know exactly how to describe it. As we “take the inspired word of the Bible” here, it will be easier to grasp that both prophets experienced a revelation of eternity in this very special moment.


Even though we have more than 170,000 English words, and roughly 6,500 other spoken languages from which to draw, our vocabulary to describe eternity and infinity is limited. Likewise, the constraints of so-called mortal thought cannot grasp eternity and infinity. It is only through prayer—yielding to divine Mind—that we understand eternal Life. Mortal words and corporeal sense will never be able to conceive of eternity. It’s not human will that will give us the ability to overcome the lie of birth-life-death-afterlife, but rather our yielding to the Science of the Christ. As Mary Baker Eddy states, “Let Christian Science, instead of corporeal sense, support your understanding of being, and this understanding will supplant error with Truth, replace mortality with immortality, and silence discord with harmony.” (S8) The way and the path are about knowing “the Lord is our Shepherd,” and being a good sheep. "The way" is not about us fretting and working and struggling and wrestling through and enduring a limited sense of mortality. It is about letting our Shepherd lead us along the path, “above sin or frailty.” (S10)

Our trajectory is not about birth-life-death-afterlife. Instead, “Man is deathless, spiritual. He is above sin or frailty. He does not cross the barriers of time into the vast forever of Life, but he coexists with God and the universe.” (S10) Ascension is the natural outcome of an understanding of eternal life.


SECTION 3: We MUST do good. In Truth, we have no choice.

In Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy often uses the word “must,” as in, “The talents He gives we must improve.” (S11) In this particular reference, she is, of course, referring to Jesus’ “parable of the talents.” (B9) As I was studying this parable and Mary Baker Eddy’s (MBE’s) statements about it, I began to see it through the lens of the “degrees of mortal mind” on Science and Health page 115.

First Degree: A limited way to look at MBE’s statement—"The talents He gives we must improve”—could be that talent is distributed unequally, we may never have enough, talent could be taken away from us at any moment, and we should be extra passionate with what we have.

Second Degree: If we look at MBE’s statement about the talents from the second degree, we may think that we must constantly strive to improve the talents that God gives to us so that they don’t go to waste. This would be the probationary phase…the working and striving and evaluating phase. The second degree seems to me to be about probation, the "transitional qualities."

Third Degree: A third degree understanding of this statement is a radical shift. Her statement about what man “must improve,” really means that man cannot help but to improve (or use) the talents. In the third degree, there is no choice. The “must” isn’t a strong suggestion of what man should strive to do. The “must” means that man cannot help but to do the will of God because there is no human will. In the third degree, “must” defines the very being of man—what man must be. In MBE’s words, “In the third degree mortal mind disappears, and man as God's image appears.” (SH 115:20; SH 116:4-5)

From the third-degree perspective, perhaps the statement would read, "The talents He gives we must improve [because improving talents is the very nature of man].” (S11)

In the third degree, (in Science), man has no choice but to be the full expression of God. Man must express God. This is true about you, me and everyone.

Consider reading these “must” statements as third-degree statements, not as what man should be doing more of, but what man cannot help but to do because it is a function of man's very being as the image of perfect God.
• The talents He gives we must improve. (S11)
• In order to apprehend more, we must put into practice what we already know. (S12)
• We must recollect that Truth is demonstrable when understood, and that good is not understood until demonstrated. (S12)
• The way is straight and narrow, which leads to the understanding that God is the only Life. It is a warfare with the flesh, in which we must conquer sin, sickness, and death, either here or hereafter, — certainly before we can reach the goal of Spirit, or life in God. (S13)
• To ascertain our progress, we must learn where our affections are placed and whom we acknowledge and obey as God.
• When understanding changes the standpoints of life and intelligence from a material to a spiritual basis, we shall gain the reality of Life, the control of Soul over sense, and we shall perceive Christianity, or Truth, in its divine Principle. This must be the climax before harmonious and immortal man is obtained and his capabilities revealed. It is highly important — in view of the immense work to be accomplished before this recognition of divine Science can come — to turn our thoughts towards divine Principle, that finite belief may be prepared to relinquish its error.

Healing happens in the third degree. When we read the “must” statements from a 1st or 2nd degree perspective, we tend to feel as if we’re not quite good enough, as if we are still finding the path, or slow on the path, or even completely off the path. We feel that we’re on probation—in the middle of a trial period. We may feel separate from the path, and perhaps separate from perfect Love. We may even feel guilty that we are not doing enough. But the belief in separation is sin. Succumbing to guilt is sin—the belief of separation. We cannot be separated from Love. Through prayer, we can start from the 3rd degree, and realize that we must feel the whole love of God completely and we must be made aware of man’s salvation now and always because there is no other option. We do not have a choice but to use our full talent (expression).

As we move from a limited to an unlimited understanding of life, we are experiencing spiritual ascension—moments in which the divine nature "appears in man and the universe never to disappear.” (S28) Spiritual ascension can never be reversed. When we gain ground, we cannot be moved backward.

SECTION 4: The way-shower demonstrates the path of eternal life. [W’s PS#7 and #8.]

The pathway that leads to eternal Life and away from a false sense of birth-life-death-afterlife is made clear to us as we follow our way-shower, Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus demonstrated the third degree (as described above). When he commanded the sick to “rise up and walk,” this was a “must” statement. Man must rise up and walk because it is the nature of man to do so. Christ Jesus gave his disciples and followers, including us, clear instructions how we too can demonstrate the third degree. (B12, B13, B14)

Clearly, Jesus’ demonstrations were not just for him. They were for all mankind. He is our Wayshower on the path to overcoming birth-life-death-afterlife. As Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Jesus taught the way of Life by demonstration, that we may understand how this divine Principle heals the sick, casts out error, and triumphs over death. Jesus presented the ideal of God better than could any man whose origin was less spiritual. By his obedience to God, he demonstrated more spiritually than all others the Principle of being. Hence the force of his admonition, 'If ye love me, keep my commandments.'" (S16)

As we follow him, and continually ask ourselves, “what would Jesus do?”, we cannot help but to be on the right path, moving away from limited thought and toward an understanding of ourselves as the image of God. Here again, we find that it is man’s duty and privilege to “follow in some degree the example of the Master by the demonstration of Truth and Life, of health and holiness.” (S17)

The pathway to healing effectively is clear. “Whoever reaches the understanding of Christian Science in its proper signification will perform the sudden cures of which it is capable; but this can be done only by taking up the cross and following Christ in the daily life.” (S19)

SECTION 5: We must discover life eternal. [See W’s PS#9 and #10.]

In the previous section, we read that Jesus demonstrated the way to overcome birth-life-death-afterlife. His life example dismantles each part of the birth-life-death-afterlife myth. First, the prophecies about Christ Jesus prove that he had import even before his so-called human birth. Then, he was conceived and born without a human father, showing that birth is not limited by mortality. Third, he demonstrated throughout his life that death had no hold on him, and awakened others from the dream of death. This culminated in his crucifixion and resurrection in which he demonstrated that eternal life is unstoppable. He drank the cup and faced the cup so that we could understand his full message of salvation.

The crucifixion was part of Jesus’ demonstration of deathless life. As Mary Baker Eddy writes, "Jesus could have withdrawn himself from his enemies. He had power to lay down a human sense of life for his spiritual identity in the likeness of the divine; but he allowed men to attempt the destruction of the mortal body in order that he might furnish the proof of immortal life. Nothing could kill this Life of man. Jesus could give his temporal life into his enemies' hands; but when his earth-mission was accomplished, his spiritual life, indestructible and eternal, was found forever the same. He knew that matter had no life and that real Life is God; therefore he could no more be separated from his spiritual Life than God could be extinguished.” (S21)

Through the crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus solved “the great problem of being.” As Mary Baker Eddy writes, "His three days' work in the sepulchre set the seal of eternity on time. He proved Life to be deathless and Love to be the master of hate." (S22) That Jesus’ work “set the seal of eternity on time” forever reversed the lie of birth-life-death-afterlife. There is no afterlife; there is just eternal life. Time means there’s a starting point from which to start counting (birth) and Jesus’ lifework showed that there is no starting point, and no endpoint, and thus no “time."

As we more fully grasp the significance of Jesus’ demonstration of eternal life, we rise above the belief of “probation after death,” because we see that, in Truth, there is no death. As we let go of a fear of death, healing comes easier and easier and easier. In MBE’s word, "The relinquishment of all faith in death and also of the fear of its sting would raise the standard of health and morals far beyond its present elevation, and would enable us to hold the banner of Christianity aloft with unflinching faith in God, in Life eternal.” (S23)


SECTION 6: The resurrection was perfectly natural.

Jesus’ return was perfectly natural and explainable in divine Science. As Mary Baker Eddy states, "Jesus' unchanged physical condition after what seemed to be death was followed by his exaltation above all material conditions; and this exaltation explained his ascension, and revealed unmistakably a probationary and progressive state beyond the grave. Jesus was "the way;" that is, he marked the way for all men. In his final demonstration, called the ascension, which closed the earthly record of Jesus, he rose above the physical knowledge of his disciples, and the material senses saw him no more.” (B25) It is only our limited thought that would see the resurrection and ascension as miraculous. Those who truly witness the ascension— not just saw it but truly understand it—overcame the belief in birth-life-death-afterlife, and became better healers. (B19)

Mary Baker Eddy explains why Jesus students were able to become better healers after the ascension, "His students then received the Holy Ghost [definition of Holy Ghost: "Divine Science; the development of eternal Life, Truth, and Love" (SH 588)] By this is meant, that by all they had witnessed and suffered, they were roused to an enlarged understanding of divine Science, even to the spiritual interpretation and discernment of Jesus' teachings and demonstrations, which gave them a faint conception of the Life which is God. They no longer measured man by material sense. After gaining the true idea of their glorified Master, they became better healers, leaning no longer on matter, but on the divine Principle of their work.” (S25)

In Truth, the resurrection and ascension was no big deal…it was the divinely natural demonstration of the fact of eternal life. The big deal—the only deal—was the clearer view of the divine ever-presence. This idea comes from a recent CS Journal article, in which the author explains, “The resurrection to life of Jesus, or Lazarus—or in fact any return to normal human health, financial stability, improved relationships, etc.—is not the goal, but the natural, gentle, inevitable clearer view of the divine ever-presence, which is not just a big deal, but the only deal. ("Easter and the real deal behind Christian Science healing” by Susan Booth Mack Snipes in the April 2019 issue of The Christian Science Journal)

Like the disciples, we can understand the resurrection and ascension as the natural outcome of divine ever-presence, and this realization of the nothingness of death leads to spiritual ascension.

Ascension is not a one-time event for an individual. Like being reborn daily or hourly, we can experience moments of ascension in which our understanding moves spiritward in a way that is irreversible. Resurrection is also not a one-time event. We’re not waiting for one-time events to occur. Rather, our thought is constantly reborn, our thought is constantly resurrected, and thought constantly ascends to accept eternal Life—this is “the way” to holiness. Consider this idea from the next section of the Lesson, "The periods of spiritual ascension are the days and seasons of Mind's creation, in which beauty, sublimity, purity, and holiness — yea, the divine nature — appear in man and the universe never to disappear.” (S28)

SECTION 7: Stay focused on the goal!

This week’s Bible Lesson has shown a clear path to understanding that death is not a stopping point, and that life is endless. Life has no beginning and no end. There is no such thing as an afterlife because Life is all, ever-present, and eternal. The Lesson describes “the way,” the “path,” and the “steps” to discover eternal life, and let go of the mortal dream of birth-life-death-afterlife.

The seventh and final section concludes the Lesson by reminding us of our goal. The high goal is to understand God, Life, more completely. This last section reminds us, "Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God;” (B20) We are also reminded, "Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (B21) We can use these reminders to ensure we are focused and on the right path and headed in the right direction.

We are discovering, day by day, that “Life is eternal.” (S27) Mary Baker Eddy explains, “Life is eternal. We should find this out, and begin the demonstration thereof. Life and goodness are immortal.” (S27)

As our understanding of eternal life grows, the effects of so-called death fade until it has no place in our experience. We can ascend above the limits of a birth-life-death-afterlife mortality. Ascension is the alternative to probation after death. Step by step, we can experience spiritual ascension as we let go of a belief in death. We can all ascend beyond limitation.

Here is the last citation of the Lesson, which bears repeating, even though it’s been mentioned twice already: "The periods of spiritual ascension are the days and seasons of Mind's creation, in which beauty, sublimity, purity, and holiness — yea, the divine nature — appear in man and the universe never to disappear.” (S28)


UPDATE! [Warren: Letting a time-sensitive need be known to CedarS Newsletter readers: We recently discovered that to meet new safety standards for the four Ziplines to and from CedarS Bible Lands Park (BLP) $97,500 total ($15,187 more as of 7:21am, Apr. 22) 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 $28,500 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 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). The zipline course ends with the joyous message of “HE IS RISEN!”on a sign above an open tomb with the stone rolled away below our Resurrection/Cross to Crown Landing platform. [Thank you for clicking here to give in increments of $100 or here to give any amount 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 ~$40,000 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.

(Our not-for-profit, Federal Identification Number is #44-0663883):

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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