Thank you for another best summer yet!

[Follow Christ in the Way of Oneness and Divine Sonship.]
Metaphsical Application Ideas for Christian Science Bible Lesson:

“Doctrine of Atonement”

April 11—17, 2016

By Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. Glen Ellyn, Illinois (Bartlett) / (630) 830-8683

The Golden Text raises our status in the kingdom of God from a servant to a son. Have you ever thought about the difference between the two? A servant may be able to visit the house, but the son lives there. A paid servant may expect some form of wage for his service, but the son can expect an inheritance. The servant’s motives for devotion can be somewhat self-serving and mercenary, while the son acts out of honest devotion and love. With all the servant does, he’s still an outsider, but the son is on the inside. [Today's "Daily Lift" brings out the divine significance of our having such an inside, family relationship with our heavenly Father/Mother.]

The Responsive Reading further contrasts servitude to sonship, this time connecting servitude to sin, and sonship to righteousness. In this case servitude comes closer to forced labor or slavery. Here the benefit of sonship over servitude to sin is clear: “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life.” Paul asks Christians to present their bodies as “a living sacrifice” to God. The traditional Hebrew sacrifice often involved a slain animal, and was therefore, a one-time event. But a “living sacrifice” can be made continually. Daily and even hourly, Christians are called upon to offer up their lives to God—foregoing vain pursuits, and devoting all energies—physical, intellectual, spiritual, and moral—to God alone.

Jesus’ life furnishes a perfect model for us to conform to. The “form of doctrine” Jesus delivered wasn’t just a series of rules and regulations. His doctrine came in the form of his life. He taught by his actions. Describing Jesus’ method, theologian Alexander MacLaren (1826-1910) uses the analogy of a botanist. He says rather than teaching from “a collection of scientifically arranged and dead propositions,” Jesus’ teaching, “led us into the meadow where the flowers grow, living and fair.” MacLaren concludes, “let us remember that our religion is meant to work, that we have nothing in our creed that should not be in our character, that all our credenda are to be our agenda; everything believed to be something done; and that if we content ourselves with the simple acceptance of the teaching, and make no effort to translate that teaching into life, we are hypocrites or self-deceivers.”

Section 1: Living Our Oneness with God

Translating “that teaching into life” is exactly what the psalmist declares he loves to do (B1). For him the law isn’t merely an external list of obligations. The law lives in his heart—it is an integral part of who he is. Rather than being proscriptive, the law of God is redemptive. The psalmist urges those who feel the saving power of God to “say so” (B2**). And why shouldn’t we? The media and press are regularly spreading propaganda that sows fear and doubt, if not outright opposition to the laws of God. If we don’t acknowledge God’s healing power, who will?

The author of Titus cautions however, that when we speak up for truth we speak “sound doctrine,” and then we let our lives be “a pattern of good works” (B3). This is a call for consistency. We want to remain true to Jesus’ teachings in what we say, and reinforce our words by living them through example—retaining a sober, righteous, and godly approach. There is a modern tendency to treat the gospel in a casual way in an effort to make it more palatable, but the author of Titus calls us to rely wholly on the pure teaching, always showing reverence for the message. Our actions should be in harmony with our words, thus making the message clear enough to be understood. Jesus “gave himself” for this cause, and likewise, we are asked to give up our personal sense of how things should be done, in deference to the pure word of the gospel.

Paul says that we receive the atonement through Christ (B4). The word translated as “atonement” is used only once in the New Testament. Theologian Albert Barnes (1798-1870) notes that the atonement isn’t merely a means by which our reconciliation with God can be effected, but that through Jesus’ atonement our reconciliation with God has already taken place. Barnes describes, “the ancient meaning of the English word atonement” as, “at one ment—being at one, or reconciled.” That is precisely how Mrs. Eddy uses the word in Science and Health citations S10, S20, and S24 in this week’s Lesson.

Mrs. Eddy defines atonement as “the exemplification of man’s unity with God, whereby man reflects divine Truth, Life, and love” (S1). Jesus’ practical example is what makes Christianity legitimate. He didn’t just give us a philosophy; he lived what he taught for the benefit of all. However, Mrs. Eddy felt that Jesus didn’t do the work for us. Rather, he showed us how to do our own work. That’s a key point, differing from the traditional view. We aren’t passive in our redemption. We have an active role to play. We are not called upon to be obedient out of obligation, as servants are, but we’re called to be fully invested like sons, and willing and eager to follow the law because it’s an integral part of us.

It’s interesting to me that our Leader writes, “Truth, Life, and Love” are “legitimate and eternal demands on man” (S2). Since she’s capitalized these words, she’s effectively saying—being God’s expression is a demand. Here we see that we aren’t detached from God, merely agreeing with His statutes, but we are at one with Him—Life, Truth, and Love are incorporated into our very being. This being the case, we have no choice but to obey, and bring that oneness out in “life-practice” (S3, S4).

Section 2: A Solid Platform

The traditional reading of citation B5 implies that all men are sinners, and nobody would stand a chance if God held us accountable for every sin. But that’s not really what this Lesson is focusing on. Looking at the first and last citations in Section 2, we can find an interesting parallel between the uses of the word “stand.” First considering citation B5, if God marked iniquities, it would mean He would know them, and then we would have no platform to stand on. In Habakkuk we read that God is of “purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.” God is All, and knows only goodness. So if God knew iniquity, the whole premise of omnipotent goodness would be compromised. In citation B8** the Pharisees accuse Jesus of casting out devils through Beelzebub, but Jesus deftly points out that if “Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?” Here is a parallel argument to the psalmist’s recognition regarding God’s marking iniquities. Just as the possibility of God knowing evil would mean he was divided against Himself, so Satan casting out Satan is a kingdom divided against itself.

Any belief of evil or iniquity is mortal, and has nothing to do with God. The psalmist desired to be governed entirely by God’s law without any admixture of human belief—including relying on his own understanding (B6). The psalmist relied on God alone. Likewise, Christ Jesus claimed his doctrine was not his own, nor had he been taught by the scholars. Jesus’ doctrine came directly from God (B7).

Jesus exemplified the psalmist’s desire to lean totally on God, and he remained true to his mission and message, bringing man closer to God “by giving man a truer sense of Love” (S5). His motives were always pure—he was moved only by love for God and man—as we all should be (S6). Christian Science healing rests on the same basis as Jesus’ healing. God, Truth, is All, and sin and disease simply cannot exist in the presence of Truth (S7). This is how Jesus healed. He beheld the perfect man, and saw only God’s likeness (S8). In that spiritual light, all the darkness of iniquity vanishes.

When we pray are we following Jesus’ method? Are we relying totally on God, and seeing only the perfect man God made? Good and evil, Truth and error, do not mix. If we’re relying totally on Truth and seeing only God’s man, evil must dissolve.

Section 3: The Call for Repentance and a Prayer for Unity

Not everyone wants to follow Jesus’ example. We know that human beings tend to want to go their own way, and often rebel at the idea of sacrificing their own opinions and desires. Even among believers, there are often differing points of view. However, the prophet Isaiah foresaw the time when everyone would be unified in understanding. Even those that wander off on their own will find their way back to the path of obedience (B9).

Jesus’ preaching began with the call to repent (B10). This call to repentance wasn’t perfunctory. Jesus sincerely worked, and prayed throughout his career, for mankind to turn from the slavery of sin to the freedom of sonship, and oneness with God. John records Jesus’ prayer as he faced betrayal and crucifixion (B11**). In this prayer, he prayed for himself, his disciples, and for his future church, that each would find oneness with the Father as he had.

The theme of oneness continues in Ephesians (B12). This unity isn’t merely agreement with one another. It’s an acknowledgement that everyone has equal rights and privileges regardless of rank. According to Barnes, the “hope of [our] calling” is the call for unity that rises above rivalry and produces harmony. Barnes also describes the “perfect man” as achieving spiritual maturity—that stature of moral character that is indicative of all true Christians.

Our Leader also points out the need for every individual to follow our Master’s example and grow in grace (S9). As with a “living sacrifice,” repentance is not a singular event, but an ongoing process of purification. We’re reminded that “every effort for reform” helps us understand Jesus’ atonement (S10). For Mrs. Eddy, following Jesus was more than agreeing with his words, or even accepting him as a savior. It meant following his example, and living in absolute obedience (S11). She points out that, contrary to traditional theology, Jesus didn’t reconcile God to us; he reconciled us to God (S12). We can only really comprehend the significance of this as we grow spiritually, and embody the fullness of that commitment to holiness. Once again, we’re reminded that our understanding is proportional to our movement towards Spirit, and away from sin and mortality (S13).

Section 4: “I and my Father are one.”

The basis of everything Jesus did was his oneness with God. He knew no other mind, and had no other aim than to live from the standpoint of continual oneness with God. The human mind rebels at this because it claims to be a mind apart from God with its own aims and ambitions. It stubbornly holds on to what it wants and consequently, it acts to oppose the oneness of Mind through both willful ignorance and blatant malice.

As we’ve been saying, Jesus didn’t merely preach a message, but lived it. The Jews were well aware of the many good works that Jesus did, but they feigned ignorance in an effort to trap Jesus into committing blasphemy. Jesus didn’t back down and say, “Sorry, this is all a misunderstanding.” He maintained his platform and boldly declared, “I and my Father are one” (B13). This was too much for his detractors to bear, and they prepared to stone him. Again, Jesus pointed to his works, and they went after him once more. But Jesus evaded them, and went on to minister to a more receptive audience.

Mrs. Eddy points out that Jesus’ declaration of oneness with the Father was a rebuke to his enemies (S15). Their sinful natures blinded them to Jesus’ goodness and true nature. While we may think of these passages as simply an explanation of events long ago, they also typify the same arguments that discount, and attempt to derail spiritual healing today.

Mrs. Eddy’s explanation of Jesus’ methods and motives describe the altitude of thought that makes healing possible for us. “He knew of but one Mind and laid no claim to any other.” His understanding “enabled him to demonstrate the facts of being.” By contrast, the “opposite views of the people” were “filled with mortal error.” Their sin caused them to lose sight of the real man. As we examine our own thought, what proportion of each of these opposite views are we embracing?

Our Leader provides a remedy to help us move to the right side—we “need only turn from sin and lose sight of mortal selfhood to find Christ…” Sounds simple enough. What’s holding us back?

Section 5: Oneness Indestructible

Eventually, the plot to eliminate Jesus was put into motion. Blinded by hatred, envy, and jealousy, Jesus’ enemies were absorbed in the mesmerism of their own sin. They were in such a state that even Pilate couldn’t reason with them (B15). The aim of mortal mind is always to silence the Christ, but nothing can stop the Christ from being expressed. On the morning of the third day after the crucifixion, when the women came to the sepulcher, the stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty (B16**). Paul’s letter to the Corinthians declares, “now is Christ risen from the dead” (B17). This is an indisputable fact to Paul. The Christ is risen indeed from the belief of death, and has always been risen from it. The Christ has always been at one with God, and completely out of reach of mortal hatred. Paul also refers to Jesus’ resurrection as the “firstfruits of them that slept.” (B17) His resurrection implies our own.

All the sermons and explanations in the world could not have had the impact of the resurrection—the final proof of everything Jesus taught. All the hatred in the world couldn’t stop the power of the living Christ (S16). Jesus’ absolute adherence to his oneness with God, made it possible for him to overcome the belief that God and man could ever be separated. The real man is perfect as his Father is perfect. There can never be an interruption in this holy relationship (S17). Man can never be lost or separated from God because man is God’s expression [PS2]. One can talk about man’s oneness with God, but the resurrection proved it. Jesus’ demonstration over the grave proved that “blending with God” that gives dominion over every material obstacle (S18). Jesus’ conquest over every material obstacle showed that it is possible for all mankind to rise to the understanding of our oneness with God (S20).

Section 6: Jesus Is Our Example

Lest we think we can achieve reconciliation with God on our own, the Scriptures remind us that without Jesus’ example, we would have no model to follow (B18)—we would still be servants of sin, lost in the belief that we’re separated from God. Indeed, without Jesus’ teaching and example we may not be aware that freedom is possible, or may not even recognize our condition. Adherence to Jesus’ doctrine opens the doors of heaven, and shows us the path to sonship (B19).

Jesus’ atonement included the supreme sacrifice. While nobody expects us to be crucified, we are expected to sacrifice the belief of personal sense and pleasures, and devote ourselves wholly to Spirit (B20). Commenting on this passage from Galatians, Protestant Reformation Leader, Martin Luther (1483-1546) points out that true believers are still “likely to be provoked to anger, to envy, to impatience, to carnal lust, and other emotions. But they will not do the things to which the flesh incites them. They crucify the flesh with its evil desires… To resist the flesh in this manner is to nail it to the Cross.” This is reminiscent of Paul’s call for Christians to present their bodies “a living sacrifice.” Genuine Christians abide by Jesus’ teaching and example. They “walk the talk.” Doing so, we become “joint-heirs with Christ” (B21).

Jesus’ victory over the grave proved that no material condition separates us from God, and shows that abiding in our oneness with God is the safest place we can be (S21). Man’s inseparability from God is a major point in Christian Science (S22). It would be one thing to base the hope of inseparability on man’s need for God. But Christian Science reasons from God’s unerring law: “divine Love [God] cannot be deprived of [His] manifestation [man]” (S23). That puts God first. There’s no way God’s law can be circumvented. Joy, goodness, and life overrule sorrow, evil and death. Man is perfect because God is perfect.

Our job is to bring that perfection out in our daily lives (S24). As we‘ve seen, Jesus reconciled man to God, not God to man. In the same way, we need to understand that we are in God, rather than thinking God is in us. That bears repeating: we’re at one with God because we are in Him—we are His manifestation. “The Scripture reads: ‘For in Him we live, and move, and have our being.’” (S25). That’s why Jesus could say, “I and my Father are one.” A drop of water is one with the ocean because it’s in the ocean. (S25) Just so, we are one with God, because we are in Him. Jesus demonstrated that the son is always one with the Father, and that oneness protects us from every challenge we might face. Sacrificing our personal sense, conforming our lives to his, we too, can claim the safety of our divine sonship with God, and rejoice in our spiritual inheritance.

[**Warren's PS1: See Online version of this Met (upper right) for inspiring Cobbey Crisler commentary Downloads on a few Bible citations in this Lesson.]

[W's PS2: Citation S17 contains one of two related one-liners from Science and Health:
("Man is (=) the expression of God's being." (470:23) and
"God's being is (=) infinity, freedom, harmony, and boundless bliss." (481:3)
We plan to elevate the essence of these inter-related one-liners to memorable and demonstrable prominence at a new watersports activity at CedarS. So that all the new physical fun of our 6-tower watersports cableway system is anchored in a metaphyical purpose (like everything else at CedarS) we plan to mount 8 signs overhead as "Way-of Wholeness markers" and goals to reach and express on each turn or leg of our new cable-"way of holiness". These 8 signs will be in bold, capital letters (INFINITY, FREEDOM, HARMONY, (one per tower) and BOUNDLESS BLISS (on the 200-meter straight-away) … repeat/express INFINITY, FREEDOM, HARMONY, (one per tower) and BOUNDLESS BLISS (on the 200-meter straight-away). Contributions (up to $800) will be matched to enable "Uncle Bill" to make and mount these memorable activity goals before our Memorial Weekend Family Camp. A few cabins and rooms are still available…]


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[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. However, current and planned gifts are a big help and are greatly appreciated in defraying the costs of running this service and of providing needed camperships, programs and operations support.

[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 ]

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