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PSSTs — Seek & share “new views of divine goodness and love” everlasting! (cit. S31/66:14)
Possible Sunday School Topics (P. S. S. T.) for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

“Everlasting Punishment”
for Sunday, October 29, 2023

By Tom and Amy Evans, former staff members and big fans of CedarS

P.S.S.T. for The Golden Text and The Responsive Reading

Are we giving thanks to God and praising God so we can earn mercy and blessings in return? (no)
Does God create Everlasting Punishment? Does God punish? Is there Everlasting Punishment? (That’s 3 No’s)

Thinking of God as a divine Shepherd, who expresses everlasting love, take a look at your favorite translation of the 23rd Psalm with your class.
Is there room in that depiction of our divine Shepherd for everlasting punishment or any punishment derived from God? (no again)

Hymn 584 (below) is a nice place to start. The words to the hymn are a paraphrase of Psalm 23.
You might even ask your class if they like this translation and what verses are missing from the biblical text:

     “The Lord is my Shepherd; I need not a thing.

Green pastures give rest for my soul.

Love leads me beside the still, still waters.

Love restores me, and Love makes me whole.”

        “Love leads me in right paths to honor God’s name,

And though I walk through darkest days,

I won’t be afraid for Love’s here beside me

To protect me and show me the way.”

        “Though sin would surround me, my cup overflows;

You show that I’m never alone.

Your goodness and love are mine forever;

In the dwelling of Love, I am home.”
(Hymn. 584:1–3)

P.S.S.T. for Section 1 – Recognize God’s All-loving nature

The Bible citations in Section 1 alternate between God’s loving nature and the author’s steadfast devotion to God. Science and Health citations 1-3 focus on God’s all-loving nature, then on the importance of man’s conscious decision to “choose good as the reality.”
Why do you think the lesson committee chose to emphasize framing thought about God as all-loving first?
Why is this clear understanding of God’s nature so important for each of us?

P.S.S.T. for Sections 2 and 3 – Jonah yields to Truth

Jonah repents and lets go of the desire to run from God and his assignment. Tie Jonah’s events to this sentence from Science and Health,  “The pardon of divine mercy is the destruction of error.” (cit. S8/329:26)   Continuing with this same citation from Science and Health, describe the way Jonah “yield[ed] to Truth.” What do you think his thought process was?
What fears might he have finally let go of when he was willing to go to Nineveh?

Jonah, who likely could not swim well, faces one of the worst situations imaginable for someone in ancient times with no knowledge of sea creatures.
How does Jonah pray “from the belly of the fish”? See Bible citation B7/Jonah 2:1, 2, 7-10.

P.S.S.T. for Section 4 – How to heal

Discuss how the verse “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” (citation B12/James 4:8), connects with Jesus healing the multitudes in citation B11/Matt. 15:30, 31).
Look at the citations from Science and Health for some of the ways that Jesus was able to heal.
How can we apply these ideas to our own healing practice?

  • “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man” (Science and Health citation S18/476
  • “Truth is made manifest by its effects upon the human mind and body” (Science and Health citation S16/316:7)
  • “Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true” (Science and Health citation S19/261:4)
  • “Let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error” (Science and Health cit. S21/242:15).

P.S.S.T. for Section 5 – Handling sin

Discuss Bible citation B13/John 8:1-11. What was happening in this story? (A woman was brought before Jesus to be stoned.)
Who was Jesus healing? Who was Jesus forgiving?
Compare the story to Science and Health citation S27/497:9.
How was sin destroyed? How was sin forgiven? Discuss with your class the last sentence of this citation (the third Tenet).
Look at Science and Health citation S25/327:22, specifically “Fear of punishment never made man truly honest.”
What does it mean when Mary Baker Eddy writes “the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts”? (cit. S27/497:9)

P.S.S.T. for Section 6 – Focus on Love

How are you keeping your thought on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report (see Bible citation B14/Phil. 4:8))?
What do you think your experience will be like if that’s where you keep your thought and focus?
How are you “avai[ing yourself] of God’s rule in order to receive its blessings” (Science and Health citation S28/3:7).
What is the result? (hint: God’s blessing!)

Discuss Science and Health citation S31/66:14, “Each successive stage of experience unfolds new views of divine goodness and love.”
What are some new views of divine goodness and love that you are witnessing?

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