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Editor’s Note: The following background information and application ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson for this week are offered primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and demonstrate the great value of daily study of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp.

An Offer We Can’t Refuse
Lesson application ideas for the Christian
Science Bible lesson on “Everlasting Punishment” for April 24-April 30, 2006
by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. of Bartlett, Illinois

Golden Text
The Lord has made a covenant with His people. This covenant is “a binding agreement commanded by God and accepted by His people” (Interpreter’s One Volume Commentary on the Bible).
God’s word is His law. It is fixed and cannot be broken. This covenant promises redemption to mankind. Traditionally, the agreement between God and man has implied that as long as man behaves, God will protect him, but any breech of the law on man’s part brings punishment from God. But this view implies duality. It is an agreement between a just God and a basically disobedient creation.

In Christian Science we learn that man and God are not separated. “Principle and its idea is one” (S&H 465). Be that as it may, we are faced with the general belief that man is separated from God. Our task is to prove our oneness with God through holy thought and action. As you study this Lesson, be aware that there is a distinction between the spiritual man who needs no correction and the human belief of a mortal man needing constant correction. Ask yourself as you read, “Which man am I agreeing with? Am I identifying with the mortal who needs constant correction? Or, am I seeing myself as God’s obedient child and proving it?”


Responsive Reading
There is no question that from a human standpoint, we wouldn’t stand a chance if God kept track of all our sins. The human experience is full of mistakes and sinful behavior. Nevertheless, we look to God to help us. The Psalmist points out that God’s forgiving nature is all that saves us and is in itself a very good reason to worship Him. Mrs. Eddy found it incomprehensible that God, being omnipotent and good, could ever be conscious of sin or evil much less inflict evil. The Psalmist is acknowledging that God surely takes away “the calamities that are the results of [our] wickedness, and even wickedness itself” (The Abingdon Bible Commentary). Integrity and uprightness-both qualities of spiritual man-will preserve us.

On page 319 of Miscellaneous Writings , Mrs. Eddy gives us a clear warning
:”If the sense of sin is too little, mortals are in danger of not seeing their own belief in sin, but of seeing too keenly their neighbor’s. Then they are beset with egotism and hypocrisy. Here Christian Scientists must be most watchful. Their habit of mental and audible protest against the reality of sin, tends to make sin less or more to them than to other people. They must either be overcoming sin in themselves, or they must not lose sight of sin; else they are self-deceived sinners of the worst sort.”

We need to be careful not to think that because we are “God’s perfect children” that we are exempt from dealing with sin. If we identify with it, we will feel the consequences of that belief. But we have a remedy. “The way to escape the misery of sin is to cease sinning” (S&H 327).

SECTION I: Divine Love Corrects
Being chastened is rarely easy. But as we’ve all heard from our parents, it’s for our own good. While the focus of chastisement is often on punishment, we should remember that the purpose of chastisement is correction. The book of Hebrews points out that if we accept the correction of our human parents, we should be equally as willing to accept correction from God (B2). If a parent never corrected a child, one might doubt if the parent cared for the child. Our parents correct us because they love us. If we were never corrected, we’d go on making mistakes without knowing it. Divine Love corrects us, too. But it isn’t God that inflicts discomfort on us. The sin brings its own punishment. Mrs. Eddy writes that the suffering that comes from sin is the means of destroying it (S2). I think of it like this: If you are in a tent and it’s raining, you will be dry as long as you stay in the tent. If you leave the tent, you’ll get wet. The tent didn’t punish you or make you wet. You made yourself wet by leaving the tent. You can go back in whenever you want to get dry again. If we stay within God’s law, we will be happy and safe. If we stray outside of His law, we will get wet (suffer). God doesn”t make us suffer. We suffer because we decide to leave the protection of His law. As long as we stay outside of that law, we’ll suffer the consequences. Mrs. Eddy says that suffering the consequences of sin serves to change our standpoint and turn us to God (S3, 4). The only reason we would stray from God’s law would be if we thought we were separated from God. Our Leader tells us to “rid ourselves” of that belief (S4). When we are conscious of our perfect selfhood and governed only by God, we will be completely separated from sin (S5).

SECTION II: We Need a Map
The Children of Israel had lost their way. Abingdon notes that while they were captive in Babylon, they “developed immense capacity for business, and many rose to great heights of wealth and power.” The problem was their material prosperity caused them to neglect their spiritual duties. “We need only to look about us,” the commentary continues, “nay, even into our own hearts-to see how readily do religious emotions die when religious practices are abandoned, even temporarily.” Isaiah was calling the people back to God (B6, 7). Malachi (B9) declares that in the “new covenant” men would do what was right from a standpoint of “inner conviction and desire” (Interpreter’s). Jesus as the bearer of the new covenant calls for repentance (B10). To repent means to change your attitude. We’re reminded in John (B11) that Jesus didn’t come to condemn us, but to save us.

We all know what it’s like when we get so involved in legitimate daily activities that we either forget or neglect attending to our prayerful work. Willful or ignorant involvement in illegitimate activity, or sin, causes us to lose our way before we know it. Jesus’ example provided us with a map to find our way out of the sinful behavior (S6). He helped man get closer to God by showing what the true sense of Love is (S7). Mrs. Eddy writes that this truer sense of Love redeems us from the law of matter. Using Jesus as our example, we only need to turn away from sin and mortal selfhood to find our true spiritual nature (S8). It wouldn’t make any sense at all for God to create us capable of sinning and then punish us for it (S9). The Bible talks about Jesus coming for the remission of sins. The Greek word for remission was used to describe the unfastening of a boat from the shore so it could sail freely in the water (Abingdon). Mrs. Eddy writes that when we learn how to be perfect through understanding Science, our thought is turned into “new and healthy channels” (S10). Don’t let sin tie you down. Let Jesus’ example show you the way out of trouble and free you to sail in pure, healthy waters.

SECTION III: Sin Has No Dominion
In Romans (B 13) we see the connection of sinful belief to sickness. Rather than serving uncleanness, which leads to iniquity, we should become servants to righteousness, which leads to holiness. The healing in this section (B14) is of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda. I think of the five porches as representing the five senses. This man had made his bed (lived his life) in the five senses. His strength and mobility (self-control) were gone. When the Christ reaches out to him he gives the excuse that when the water (consciousness) was moved, someone else always got to it before him. So he was waiting around for someone to do his work for him. The Christ demands that he take control of his thinking and action. He is told to take up his bed, leave the senses and go back to his house, (his heavenly consciousness). Once he is healed, he is warned not to go back to sin.

Mrs. Eddy reminds us that God has nothing to do with sin, sickness, or death (S11). Then she tells us that Jesus healed sin and sickness by the same process (S12). Sickness is just as much an error as sin, and only Christ, Truth can destroy it (S13). She urges us to take responsibility for how we control our thinking and our bodies. We’re given two major elements to deal with in order to accomplish healing: We need to cast out fear and sin. As long as we’re cherishing some sin, we will not be fully free from the effects of error (S14). The man God made “possesses and reflects God’s dominion over all the earth” (S15). Being God’s likeness, we won’t have any desire to sin, and we will have the spiritual strength to live healthy and free.

SECTION IV: Justice Will Be Carried Out.
Isaiah speaks of sin as a cloud that is blotted out (B14). Thick clouds may look impressive, but they can be dispersed. Sin may look impressive too, but the power of God dissolves it. Too often though, men are not patient enough to let God do His own work. They want to force the issue with their own finite sense of justice. In John (B18) the authorities bring a woman “taken in adultery” to Jesus. They were purposely putting Jesus on the spot so they could turn around and accuse him, too. The account says that Jesus wrote with his finger on the ground. According to Dummelow, this was a well-known symbol of the time “signifying his unwillingness to deal with the matter at hand.” It goes on to say that the mob “had neither a legal nor a moral right to interfere.” Jesus put an end to it with the brilliant statement, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” One by one everyone left. Even Jesus, who was presumably sinless himself, did not condemn her. He told her to go and sin no more.

Jesus destroyed the sin not the sinner (S16). The woman certainly did suffer for her sin. She was in fear for her life. But the way out of her suffering was to cease sinning. Mrs. Eddy makes it clear that while we should not suffer for other’s sins, we rightly will suffer for our own until we no longer sin (S17). This only makes sense. The moral law of God operates without the help of human opinion (S18). If you ever feel impatient for justice to be carried out, no matter which side of the table you’re on, you can trust God to take care of it. Truth, Life, and Love destroy error, death, and hate (S19). That is all that is necessary. If you are in need of correction, you don’t have to feel that you are condemned forever. Once we give up sin and resolve to live rightly, we can trust God to show us the way to freedom (S20). Both the accuser and the accused can leave their concerns with God’s unerring law. God will eliminate the sin, and save the sinner. This is Love’s design (S21).

SECTION V: Paul-A Case in Point
Back again to being happy for God”s correction. Paul wrote that the love of Christ “constraineth us” (B20). In other words, the love of Christ controls the lower nature and urges and impels us to embrace our higher, true nature. Paul was a perfect example of the effect the Christ has on sinners. Paul considered himself “chief” of all sinners (B21). Even though he wasn’t aware that he was sinning at the time, he fully acknowledged his mistakes after being touched by the Christ. He exemplified how fellowship with the Christ brings man into a new world (B20). Paul’s life was completely transformed through Christ. Even though he suffered, he could see that it was the love of God correcting the course of his life and he accepted it eagerly.

Mrs. Eddy eloquently describes Paul’s conversion (S23, 24). Once he realized the wrong he had been doing, Paul may have expected to be punished severely. But as we”ve been learning in this Lesson, once the sin is over, so is the suffering. Paul thought he understood God. He had been pursuing a course he thought to be indicative of God’s justice. But his life abruptly changed course. Once he experienced the “true idea of Love” he could urge others to change their ways and follow Christ from the honest standpoint of his own experience. Once more, Science and Health underscores the fact that the hard experiences of our lives serve to bring us closer to God. Because this is the activity of the Christ, our success is assured (S25).

SECTION VI: Results Assured
In the beginning of the Lesson we were presented with the covenant or agreement between God and men. Jesus’ teachings brought a new covenant that was to be written in our hearts and actions. In Psalms we are assured that the agreement between God and men will endure forever (B22). God’s law is consistent. It is fair and equitable, and it will accomplish its purpose of redemption for mankind. In Psalm 119 (B23) God’s law is acknowledged as the only thing that saves us from perishing. Interpreter’s  notes that “Man obeys the law not as a duty, but because it is true, and indeed is truth itself. Such obedience cannot be mechanical. The servant of the Lord loves the law; it is his delight.”  The fact that God”s law assures the destruction of sin isn’t a curse on man. It is a blessing. It saves us from destruction. God’s law working in us makes us perfect (B24). The Greek word translated as perfect means: “to adjust or put in order again, to mend, to restore to a right mind” (Greek-English Lexicon, Liddell & Scott). This confirms that the agreement between God and man corrects us and brings to light our true being.

God’s law is just and righteous. The good man doesn’t suffer for being good. The only thing that God punishes is sin, never the man. No matter how hard the labor, we end up being stronger because of it (S26). Freedom from sin means freedom from punishment. We need to make God’s law our own (S27). We need to prove through our experience that Christ’s way is “the only way” to be saved from sickness and sin. We needn’t fear the fact that sin is punished. It should be that way. This law makes us free from every penalty except the ones that come with wrongdoing (S29). If we are without sin, we are without suffering. In Section II we had the image of a boat being untied from the shore, so the currents could bring the boat out to sea. God’s law promises that as we are untied from the chains of sin, the currents of spirituality sweep us toward our true nature as God’s perfect man (S30).
As far as agreements go, that’s a pretty good deal.

Resources:
1.   The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary on the Bible, edited by Charles Laymon


2.  The One Volume Bible Commentary, by J.R. Dummelow


3.  Greek-English Lexicon, Liddell & Scott

Camp Director’s Note:
The above sharing is the latest in a long series of CedarS Bible Lesson “mets” (metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians. This document is intended to initiate further study as well as to encourage the application of ideas found in the Weekly Bible Lessons as printed in the Christian Science Quarterly and as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms. * Originally sent JUST 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 and inspiration they had felt at camp, CedarS lesson “mets” are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way a substitute for daily study of the lesson in the books. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension, background and daily applicability to some of the ideas and passages being studied. The citations referenced in the “met” (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. 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 these ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor.)


Enjoy!
Warren Huff, Director                 
director@cedarscamps.org
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