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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 see and demonstrate the great value of daily study of the C.S. Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp. If more information or the text of this Lesson is desired, please see the Director’s Note at the end. 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. These two books are the ordained pastor of Churches of Christ, Scientist. The Bible Lesson is the sermon read in Christian Science church services throughout the world. (Other reference books are fully noted at the end.)

“Felt Ye the Power of the Word?”
Lesson application ideas for: Ancient and Modern Necromancy, alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism, Denounced
May 23-May 29, 2005
by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. of Bartlett, Illinois

This Lesson is about distinguishing between legitimate messages from God (the words that give us power) and false reports made up by man (the words that make us weak).

The Golden Text starts us off with a promise that our enemies shall “be as nothing.” God gives us His word. He will help us. That sounds encouraging. But who are those that “war against” us? Is the enemy obvious? If not, how can we tell friend from foe? How can we overcome this enemy?

This Lesson will address those questions. We will see that the enemy is definitely a deceiver but not necessarily always a person. We will have examples of various guises the enemy takes in its efforts to deceive us. By contrast, we will also see examples of the power of good to overcome the enemy.

As the Israelites gained a deeper understanding that there was one all-powerful God, they sought to obey Him and expected protection and direction from Him. But they hadn’t yet come to the point where they all followed God independently. Even those in charge weren’t always sure what path to take or whom to trust. The people looked to prophets for direction.

But not everyone claiming to be a prophet was telling the truth. Dummelow states “False prophecy accompanied true prophecy in Israel like its shadow.” In the Responsive Reading we have a warning to false prophets and by extension to all deceivers. The prophets referred to here were saying just the opposite of the truth and attributing it to God. How could you tell the difference between a false prophet and a true one? “The truth of prophecy may be judged by its moral tendency. Whatever encourages sin is false” (Ibid.).

Interpreter’s tells us that false prophets were indifferent to the destruction of the nation. Instead of standing in the breach and helping to repair the moral defenses of society, they “cover the cracks with whitewash and leave it to collapse when a hard rainstorm hits.” Notice that morality is a key in recognizing true prophecy. Everything from God is upright and good. The false prophets were de-moralizing. They made the righteous sad and strengthened the wicked. They had everything backwards.

When we feel weak and de-moralized today, whether in school, or the neighborhood, in world issues, or our health, we can take a hint from Ezekiel and have courage that the lies will be overturned and that our knowing the word of the Lord will strengthen and save us.

SECTION I – Who’s Got the Power?
We begin with things the way they should be. In Chronicles (B1) God is acknowledged as having all power. There is no doubt or hesitation here. The Psalmist also has solid trust in God. He recognizes that the false words- the “lying lips”- are “put to silence” (B2). He also sees (B3) that “wickedness has no stability” (Abingdon). Evil falls by its own weight. It shows great power like the spreading of a tree. But it’s really more like a big shadow. No matter how large it looks, it has no substance. What happens when you look for a shadow with a flashlight? Wherever you point the light, the shadow disappears. The light of truth has the same affect on error. The true oracle (word) has been spoken to him twice for emphasis (B4). All power belongs to God. 

In Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy states bluntly, “Mankind must learn that evil is not power” (S&H1). This is a logical conclusion if “God is All” (S&H2). Then she sheds light on the “shadow.” She gives evil the name of “animal magnetism.” She points out that it is not a power at all, but simply a “specific term for error.” Note that evil is no more than a term. She says that the malicious form of evil leads to “moral idiocy” (S&H3). “Malicious” evil is done on purpose. The Student’s Reference Dictionary (SRD) defines malicious as: “proceeding from extreme hatred or ill will.” An idiot is defined as “a human being in form, but destitute of reason” (ibid.) So, knowingly and purposefully indulging in lies makes one unable to even recognize the difference between right and wrong.

The final two citations (S&H4 &5) reiterate that evil is powerless. “It is neither person, place, nor thing, but is simply a belief, an illusion of material sense.” We are assured that Truth will put an end to it all.

SECTION II – Lead By A Ring? Ouch!
The story of Manasseh (B5) is an example of someone on the edge of moral idiocy. He willfully did everything he was not supposed to do. He brought his people along with him. He didn’t listen to God’s warnings and he paid the price. Being captured and taken “among the thorns” is translated in the Revised Version as “with hooks.” A monument still exists showing an Assyrian king “leading two captives by hooks or rings through their lips” (Dummelow). Although there is some historical question about these events, the point of the story is that he eventually changed his ways. He returned to the words of God. Micah (B6) reminds us that when we are dependant on ourselves, we get into trouble. When we turn to God, we are raised from our darkness.

Our Leader sheds more light on the “shadow”. She shows the futility of evil forces whatever form they take. Evil is a liar. It claims to be real and able to overpower good. It has no power to do anything (S&H6). If we willfully indulge-give in to “the enjoyment or practice of, without restraint or control” (SRD)- we are doomed to suffer hopelessly (S&H7). She cautions us to stop errors while they’re still just suggestions or they’ll turn into trouble. There’s always hope though. Sin is forgiven and destroyed by Christ (S&H8). Once sin is destroyed, our true nature comes to light. (S&H9) So we see that evil is a liar. It talks about itself and promotes itself as powerful. But the only power it has is to destroy itself. Its false words, though sometimes sounding impressive, are untrue and powerless.

SECTION III – Hit The Mute Button.
Jesus spoke the word of Truth, and his word was filled with power. He directed people to completely change their lives. He proved the validity of his teaching through healing (B7). In Dummelow’s Commentary there is a lovely passage describing the healing work: “…pain, disease, and death are no part of God’s will for man…they are part of those ‘works of the devil’ which the Son of God was manifested to destroy. He overrules it for good…disease is no part of His original plan of creation, it is not natural but against nature, and it can have no part in the perfected kingdom of God.”

Jesus’ healing of the man with the “spirit of an unclean devil” (B8) presents another example of the liar’s use of words. Abingdon’s says, “The person possessed became an abject slave of the demons and acted as their mouthpiece.” No wonder Jesus rebuked him by telling him to keep quiet! Have you ever found yourself or someone else acting as the mouthpiece for a “demon”? It happens more than we realize. Any time we declare a lie as being the truth, we are unwittingly arguing against ourselves and against God. The next time you are tempted to give voice to a lie, cut it off. If you hear it out of someone else’s mouth, rather than criticizing, you can mentally oppose it. As “servants of the Lord” (B9) we are protected from all evil.

The textbook points out that the liar does not like to be exposed (S&H12). In fact, Mrs. Eddy says it “enrages” the liar. The demons in the man fought back. But Jesus told them to keep quiet. He demonstrated what Mrs. Eddy means by “removing the influence” and emptying thought of false stimulus” (S&H13). Stimulus means “Literally, a goad; hence something that rouses the mind…” (SRD). So the liar prods us on, and it needs to be stopped. Our authority for pressing the mute button on error is that “Truth is omnipotent” and “error has no might” (S&H14). No matter how great a wrong seems to be, the exact opposite is true. When we give voice to Truth-when we speak the word of God-anything opposed to God vanishes, and the lie is silenced (S&H15).

SECTION IV – Where’d You Hear That?
Words in print can seem to have more weight than the spoken word. But as we’ve seen lately in the news, not every story reported is true. Sometimes wrong stories can lead to terrible consequences. In citation B10, Jeremiah is directing his rebuke to the leaders of Israel. He is upset because the leaders were “pinning their faith to the fact that they now had the traditional law in written form.” Then he lays down a challenge. “How can people be respected as mature who think a written document, so easily tampered with, or ingeniously interpreted, can really determine matters of religious truth?” (Interpreter’s). At first glance, Jeremiah’s view is different from the way we think today. Don’t we base our religious practice on the written word of the Bible and Science and Health? The next citation (B11) clarifies his argument. Jeremiah warns against prophets who spouted words that were not from God. The “essence” of prophecy was that the message was supposed to be “given” not “arrived at as the result of rational thought processes.” The only way to verify a prophecy was to have it come true. In Jeremiah’s time, the prophets’ record was getting pretty bad. They were “fiercely divided, each side condemning the others’ interpretation…the undependability of the institution [of prophecy] was revealed for all to see” (ibid.). So Jeremiah was exposing the whole method as not reliable. The people had no reliable guidance system. Isaiah (B12) is, by contrast, the ideal of a true prophecy.

Mrs. Eddy points out the danger of believing the false prophets of today (S&H16). There are lots of opinions all claiming to be the “right” one. Mrs. Eddy warns us not to fall for what we see in the media (S&H18). She explains (S&H17 & 19) that if we don’t understand how these reports can affect us, we might end up believing them. We should not to take the side of error. So don’t believe everything we hear or read just because it is in print or on a screen. If the news isn’t from God, it’s not reliable. The false reports of mortal mind (the words of error) bring weakness and disease. The opposite truth of immortal Mind (the Word of God) gives us strength and health (S&H20).

SECTION V – Reliable Sources
We’ve seen so far, that reliable words are moral, provable, powerful, and have these qualities because they come from God. The simple phrase, “Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee” (B13) reveals the standing Jesus’ words had. He didn’t have a long list of credentials or degrees. He was simply a prophet in the truest sense of the word. “His message and actions carry their own authorization” (Interpreter’s). Abingdon’s points out that it was unusual to place the word “verily” at the beginning of a sentence (B14). Doing so, gives the statement “weight and solemnity.” In Jesus’ time some felt that it would be better for heaven and earth to “pass away” before one word of the law was changed (Interpreter’s). Jesus addressed this cold approach saying that it was more important for the law (the words) to be fulfilled (demonstrated). Jesus showed what a good teacher should be. He loved the innocent receptive thought (B15, 16). He cared for the “little ones”-those free from “pride, arrogance, intolerance, coldness of demeanor, inconsistency of conduct…” (Abingdon). I Peter (B17) points out that the honest teacher feeds his flock because he loves the flock and the word.

In Christian Science, we teach not to manipulate others, but to benefit them (S&H21). Citation S&H 22 echoes the words of 1st Peter. Everyone who is in the position of teaching should uplift humanity. Interpreter’s notes: “To cause ‘little ones’ to stumble as they begin their life of faith is a grievous sin.” Mrs. Eddy writes, “A mother is the strongest educator…” (S&H23). Jesus commended the mother-like care of the “little ones” as a pattern for right teaching. The “mother-love” is totally pure and indestructible. A mother knows the needs of her child intuitively. In proportion as the consciousness of the teacher is spiritualized, the teacher will know the needs of the pupil. This also holds true for a healer. Only when the healer is morally right, does the healer benefit those he or she helps (S&H24).

SECTION VI – Actions Speak Louder Than Words.
Phillip’s work is proof that the “word” of Jesus was valid (B18). It is said that Phillip and the apostles healed in “Jesus’ name.” This meant they used the “same method” as Jesus did (Interpreter’s). Phillip’s work produced the same results as Jesus’. Simon on the other hand, was a sorcerer. He was known as “the father of heresy” (Dummelow). He worked against the church. He would be considered a false prophet, because instead of spreading God’s word, he made himself as “some great one.” Those true to God and His word imitate Him as children imitate their father (B19). God’s children are expected to “reprove” the works of darkness. Abingdon’s says that “reprove” means to “expose-show up-not necessarily in word, but by the whole attitude of life.” So it’s what we do more than what we say that proves our fidelity to God. Here are three versions of the last statement in the Bible (B20). They are all a shade different but each has a special message for us. 1.) “Do not let the wickedness of others provoke evil passions in you, but conquer their wickedness by doing them good” (Dummelow). 2.) “Christian reaction to ill treatment should be not an equal return but the attempt to make the other man repent” (Interpreter’s). 3.) “Evil is all around the Christian; and it is a strong-man armed. But the Christian has with him the forces of good, which are yet stronger; and by no partial withdrawal, but by the active exercise of good, he is to win the victory over evil (Gore)” (Abingdon).

Science and Health echoes those sentiments. If we resist evil, we will overcome it (S&H25). Theodicy (S&H26) means “God’s justice.” It explains how moral wrong that appears to exist in God’s government is destroyed through divine justice. Moral qualities such as honesty, integrity, and sincerity will break the hold that evil claims to have on us. We will see right through the false words of evil (S&H27). Just like the shadow disappears, evil also disappears when the light of Truth exposes it. The light of Truth is the “understanding of Truth which destroys error” (S&H28). This understanding declares the all-ness of God (S&H29). When we acknowledge this, we truly feel the “power of the Word.”

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 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.)   

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