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Dwell in the House Made Without Hands!
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on:

“Soul and Body”
for November 16—22, 2020

By Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. Glen Ellyn, Illinois (Bartlett) / (630) 830-8683 / (630) 234-3987 cell/text

Click to hear Craig read "Dwell in the House Made Without Hands!his metaphysical application ideas on this week’s Christian Science Bible Lesson on “Soul and Body.”) Or paste into your browser

Where do you dwell? You may think you dwell in a body, in a house or apartment, in a town, and so on. But in the deepest reality of all things, we dwell in Soul, God. The Israelites often found themselves without a place they could call home. But as Psalm 90:1, from this week’s Golden Text indicates, no matter where they were, they were always able to take refuge in God. Like the children of Israel, we too, find our permanent dwelling in God.

This spiritual fact is not readily seen by the senses. In the Responsive Reading Isaiah 55:3 calls upon us to “incline [our] ear” and come to God that our “soul shall live.” Seventeenth century biblical scholar John Trapp (1601-1669) notes that this call to listen spiritually is opposite to how “our first parents” inclined their ear to that “old man-slayer,” otherwise known as the serpent. This is more than a clever connection of metaphorical ideas. As Isaiah 55 continues in verses 8-12, we can see that God’s ways are far beyond and above the ways of men. Attempting to get a clear picture of life and being by delving into the senses is futile. The ways of men are constantly changing as new theories develop. But God’s ways are permanent and complete. They accomplish their purpose without fail, and never vary with human opinion. They are fixed laws that can’t be broken.

The 1st and 19th verses from Isaiah 60 inform us that with God’s Word comes a light that wakens mankind from the darkness of human theories. The glow of God’s light, makes even the sun and moon unnecessary.

Theologian John Calvin (1509-1564) underscores the power of that light, noting that the call to arise is a countermand of sitting in the dust. Then he highlights the difference between the constant variability of the material world, and the permanence of God’s law. He writes:

the Prophet intended to express a still greater blessing, which the children of God alone enjoy, namely, the heavenly Light, which ungodly men hate, and therefore cannot receive; for, although they enjoy the sun and other blessings, yet their happiness cannot be firm and enduring; because, being void of taste, they do not relish that which was of the greatest importance…

Section 1: God, Soul Is Incorporeal—Bodiless

The first two verses of Psalm 84 tell us of a soul that longs, and faints for the courts of the Lord—for something better than the senses can provide. The longing to live in the presence of divine jurisdiction and protection—all the time.

Moses longed for this, too. He had his mission from God, but he didn’t know how to accomplish it. In Exodus 33:9, God speaks to Moses out of a cloud. In verses 12 and 13 Moses wants more than that. God reminds him though, that He can’t be seen in, or by the flesh, however, God will always be with him. Have you ever felt that you wanted more tangible proof of God to help you in your mission?

When God says, “you can’t see my face and live,” it means, “the mortal senses are incapable of beholding Spirit.” Paul also knew this. In I Corinthians 2: 9-10, Paul says no eye hath seen, nor ear heard God, or understood Him. The only way to approach the “deep things of God,” is through the Spirit.

The first four citations in Science and Health tell us in various ways that God is incorporeal—or bodiless (465:9; 335:16-22; 116:20-22; 140:4-12). We should remember that when we talk about God in Christian Science, we aren’t talking about a super-human up in the sky, or really anything like a human being at all. We’re talking about the divine Creator of all that exists. To say God is incorporeal is the same as saying Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, and Love are incorporeal—not confined in a body.

Since there is only one God—one Life, or Soul—that means our life, our soul or identity is incorporeal too. Our textbook states that all existence is in God and that God (Life, Soul) can’t be seen with the senses because He isn’t in matter. He is bodiless. “Not materially but spiritually we know Him as divine Mind, as Life, Truth, and Love” (SH 140:4-12). Why do we conclude that this means we’re also incorporeal? Because since there is only one God, that means there is only one Ego. Science and Health tells us that, “The one Ego, the one Mind or Spirit called God, is infinite individuality, which supplies all form and comeliness and which reflects reality and divinity in individual spiritual man and things” (SH 281:14). That means our individuality can only be found in that one Ego or Soul, which we name God.

Section 2: We Live in Him—in Soul

So, if our Life and Soul is God, what is this body we seem to be carrying around—or more to the point—that seems to be imprisoning us? In II Corinthians 5, Paul refers to the body as our “earthly house,” or tabernacle. It should be noted that a tabernacle is a temporary structure made for travel, and can be assembled and dismantled quickly. Paul uses the tabernacle as a figurative representation of our bodies—which he believed to be a temporary dwelling-place of the soul. To Paul, our real bodies were houses made “without hands, eternal in the heavens” (II Cor. 5:2). This is an old theological belief that many still hold today. Paul felt that being at home in the body separates us from being present with God. Like the psalmist, he longs and even groans to be absent from the body and present with the Lord.

Furthermore, in Acts 17:28, Paul makes the astounding statement that “In him [God] we live, and move, and have our being.” Biblical commentators go in circles trying to explain this in allegorical terms. But as understood in Christian Science, this is a solid fact. Spiritually speaking, we don’t even live in the body temporarily. We always live in God, and nowhere else. That’s the house “eternal in the heavens.”

On page 477, Science and Health asks the question, “What are body and Soul?”

The answer begins, “Identity is the reflection of Spirit…” Several years ago, I discovered that the Student’s Reference Dictionary defines identity as “Sameness, as distinguished from similitude or diversity.” A similitude compares two things, and diversity also implies plurality. But Identity is sameness. Sameness with what? Sameness with God.

There are several theologies that speak of man’s sameness with God, but traditional theology often teaches that God is like man, rather than man like God. That’s a huge difference. If we think of God as manlike, as Mary Baker Eddy writes on page 13 of the textbook, it prevents us “from relinquishing the human doubts and fears which attend such a belief.” The senses have it all backwards. As Science and Health states: “The world of error is ignorant of the world of Truth, — blind to the reality of man's existence, — for the world of sensation is not cognizant of life in Soul, not in body” (SH 13).

This is why we need to change our view. All of our limitations and weaknesses stem from the false belief that we live in a material body. Science and Health states on page 223:3: “Sooner or later we shall learn that the fetters of man's finite capacity are forged by the illusion that he lives in body instead of in Soul, in matter instead of in Spirit.” Fetters are chains, or shackles around your ankles. The way out of these chains is to “divest thought of false trusts and material evidences…” (SH 428:8). To divest means to take off the clothes. Are you wearing the garment of the flesh? And are you ready to divest yourself of fleshly beliefs? To understand we live in Soul, we have to leave those fleshly garments behind.

Section 3: Don’t Believe the Serpent

How did we get into this mess? Can we get out of it? According to Scripture we can indeed get out of it—in fact, we’re destined to. Scripture also provides an explanation of how we got into it. Adam and Eve were living in paradise. They had everything they needed, and everything was pronounced by God to be good. Then the serpent beguiled Eve. It made her think that God was holding back—that there was more to have than what God had given them. Eve bit right into that lie, and Adam followed.

We don’t know whether Paul considers the Adam and Eve story to be allegorical or not, but we do know that Paul is concerned that we not fall for the same lie. Paul wants us to keep it simple by trusting that what God does is enough. But the beguiler wants to corrupt us in our devotions and doctrines, our minds and hearts, our worship, and our manner of living. In what ways has the beguiler attempted to corrupt the simplicity of the Christ in your life?

Like Paul, the disciple John wants us to be wise to the serpent’s false promises. The serpent comes in many different forms, some of which are worldly theories that initially seem to make perfect sense. I John 4:1 tells us to “try the spirits.” But, we should be a little careful about that too.

Note that Eve’s mistake began in a pseudo-friendly conversation with the serpent. She didn’t accept the limits God had decreed. John cautions that worldly theories are promoted and believed by those who think in a worldly way. Even when those who strive to be spiritually minded start promoting worldly theories—even if they have adopted all the appearance of holiness—their hearts are actually being influenced by the world. And those who are of the world understand and hear only worldly concepts.

Just because someone pretends, or believes that they’re inspired, it doesn’t mean that they are. Don’t let yourself get seduced by the liar. The unregenerate only want to hear the ideas they agree with, and those that support their sin. Those who are of God, can hear, and are receptive only to His message.

On page 280 of Science and Health, we read that the serpent is still claiming that we dwell in a body, and there’s nothing much we can do about it. Mary Baker Eddy says, rather than having a physical body, we have a sensationless body. Further, on page 258 we read that we are so much more than “a material form with a mind inside…” It’s that very belief that’s the cause of our problems.

So how do we break free from this? One of Mary Baker Eddy’s most succinct explanations is on page 167:6, “We apprehend Life in divine Science only as we live above corporeal sense and correct it. Our proportionate admission of the claims of good or of evil determines the harmony of our existence, — our health, our longevity, and our Christianity.”

We can’t get to the reality of things through the material senses, or through material theories or reasoning. We have to live and think above corporeality.

Section 4: See Through the Mist of Worldly Belief

As seen in Jesus’ teaching and healing work, the Master taught us to be our best selves. In Matthew 5:16 he tells us to let our lights shine for everyone to see. What’s more, in verse 48 he asks us to be as much like the Father as possible. This was not the kind of things most disciples were ready to hear. Like we said earlier, the worldly minded tend not to comprehend spiritual things. Also, Matthew 7:29 tells us Jesus didn’t teach in the usual way—building his theories on those who went before him. No, Jesus taught in a whole new way—a spiritual way of thinking, directly from God.

To illustrate the results of this type of thinking, Matthew 12:22 relays a healing of one “possessed with a devil, blind and dumb.” Theologian Adam Clarke (c. 1760-1832) explains that possession by a devil has particular significance. In this case, being blind and dumb represents the devil as mastering the heart, eyes, and tongue of the sinner. His heart is filled with love of sin; his eyes are blind that he sees not his own guilt, and the perdition awaiting him. His tongue is hindered from prayer and supplication, while increasing in lies, slanders, blasphemies, and so on. Clearly, this is an example of worldly thinking obscuring one’s ability to discern spiritually. Only Jesus can redeem this condition.

The point here is that worldly thinking obscures the spiritual view. There’s nothing really new about that concept. For centuries theology has taught that there’s a vicious circle in which the sins of Adam and Eve have doomed all mankind to be sinners, and that the only way out is to accept the teachings of Christ in order to be redeemed from sin.

Mary Baker Eddy refined that doctrinal view. Traditional theology says that man was originally created from dust, and thereafter from an egg, and then Adam and Eve’s sin doomed him. But Christian Science explains that it’s the sin that spawns the entire belief that man is born into, and confined in matter to begin with. She discerned that Jesus could heal sickness and sin because he viewed man not as a fallen sinner, but as a child of God, who, in the deepest reality of all things, is as perfect—complete, and mature—as God is. This Christlike understanding destroys not only sin, disease, and death, but also the belief that we’re separated from God in the first place.

Jesus’ healings help us break free from the belief that we’re separated from God and confined by a corporeal body (SH 494:15-19 Jesus). Rather than letting the belief of corporeality rule the day, we should follow Jesus’ example and let Soul master the situation (SH 395:6-10). This is important because so often we feel like the body is in charge, but that’s a misunderstanding of proper cause and effect. The body isn’t the cause.

As explained on page 208:25-2 A of Science and Health;

A material body only expresses a material and mortal mind. A mortal man possesses this body, and he makes it harmonious or discordant according to the images of thought impressed upon it. You embrace your body in your thought, and you should delineate upon it thoughts of health, not of sickness. You should banish all thoughts of disease and sin and of other beliefs included in matter. Man, being immortal, has a perfect indestructible life.

That’s pretty clear. It may seem to give us a degree of responsibility for our health, but it also gives us a great deal of authority. In what ways might you begin to exercise that authority?

Section 5: Stop Trying to Confine Soul in a Finite Form

As we can tell from that last citation, banishing all beliefs in matter involves some work. Our aim is to rise above the belief of a spiritual soul living in a material body, to the realization of our “house made without hands eternal in the heavens.” In the transfiguration found in Matthew 17:1-9, Peter, James, and John got a glimpse of heavenly existence. Matthew’s account says Jesus brought them up into a high mountain. Jesus’ face shone, and his raiment was “white as the light.” They saw their Master talking with Moses who represented the Law of God and had died centuries earlier, and Elijah who represented the prophets and had ascended.

John Gill (1697-1771) points out that in Mark’s version of the story, Jesus’ garment is described as "exceeding white as snow, so as no fuller on earth can white them." He goes on to explain that a fuller applied to “whatever colour garments…, sullied and spotted, can restore them to their native colour.” An intriguing parallel can be implied here: As the fuller restores garments to their native purity, so the Christ restores our characters to purity as well.

During Jesus’ transfiguration John and James remain quiet, but Peter thinks he sees an opportunity. The problem is, Peter is thinking as men think. You see, about a week beforehand, Jesus revealed that he would have to go to Jerusalem to be crucified. Peter wanted to avoid this at all costs and told Jesus so. Jesus promptly silenced him with the startling word’s “Get thee behind me Satan.” Now, as Peter beholds Jesus talking with Moses and Elijah about the crucifixion, Peter thinks he’s found a solution. Instead of Jesus having to go through all that agony in Jerusalem, why not just build three tabernacles and have the kingdom of heaven right here!

William Burkitt (1650-1703) expounds on Peter’s misguided efforts:

St. Peter erred in desiring a perpetuity of that condition which was but transient and momentary. This vision was only a taste of Glory, not a full repast. He errs, in that he would bring down heaven to earth, and take up with Tabor instead of heaven. He errs, in that he would enter upon the possession of heaven's glory, without suffering, and without [Jesus’] dying. Peter would be clothed upon, but was not willing to be unclothed.

We can see that Peter was both, trying to find a way to harness the spiritual within material parameters, and trying to bypass the difficult work required to rise above material belief. You remember when God spoke to Moses from a pillar of a cloud? Well, in the transfiguration the voice of God comes out of a cloud again. Commentators have surmised that this was because as no one could see God and live because the brilliance of the vision would have been too much for the disciples to survive.

Material sense cannot survive or comprehend spiritual reality. Throughout the ages, prophets have had partial glimpses of pure reality, but only as much as they could handle (SH 333:19-23). Glimpses of the real man come to us in whatever way we are willing, ready, and able to accept. The textbook says, on page 67, “Spiritual, not corporeal, consciousness is needed.” Now, even though there is a process to demonstrating and fully comprehending man’s genuine, incorporeal nature, it’s important to understand that the true, immortal man “never was material, but always spiritual and eternal” (SH 336:14). But, it takes spiritual consciousness to see it. Peter’s plan to consign a heavenly idea to a housing project on earth was impossible because spirituality can never be contained in a material location—whether it’s a building, or a body. The body is temporal. The identity of the real man isn’t found in a transient, finite form, but exists in Soul forever permanent.

Even a glimpse of the real man is a “foretaste of eternity.” When we fully understand this, we won’t have to die out of matter, we will just see things as they are. Our incorporeal, spiritual identity will eventually be seen to be our only identity unencumbered by time or space. As Science and Health confirms, “The immortality of Soul makes man immortal.”

Section 6: An Inspired View

Whereas Peter struggled due to his limited material view of things, John saw things differently. Psalm 84:11 declares that “no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” John was one of those who not only walked uprightly, but saw uprightly. Throughout this Lesson we’ve seen that if we want to comprehend the spiritual sense of things, we’ve got to utilize spiritual sense. John exemplified most, if not all, of the spiritual requirements mentioned in each section of this week’s Lesson.

Like the prophet Isaiah, John knew that God’s ways are higher than the ways of men, and that spiritual sense is necessary to comprehend spiritual reality. He had full confidence that God’s Word is law, and he was willing to arise and accept the light. Like the psalmist, John longed to see the courts of the Lord, and he did better than that—he saw the new heaven and new earth. Like Paul, he knew the earthly tabernacle called a “body” is but a temporary belief, and that we live, move, and have our being in God. He wasn’t taken in by the serpent’s lie, and cautioned us as well. He neither let the mists of sin and worldly belief cloud his vision, deafen his hearing, or limit his ability to let his own light shine. On the mount of the transfiguration he took the command to listen to Jesus’ message deeply into his heart. These spiritual attitudes and practices culminated in the vision we call the Revelation. The author of Science and Health devoted an entire chapter to explaining that vision.

Reading the citations from Science and Health found in this week’s Lesson on pages 573, 576, and 561, serves as an abbreviated recap of how these spiritual practices work. John beheld, “that which is invisible to the uninspired thought” because he knew that God “is ever with men.” This enabled him to see through the serpent’s lie that man is “a miserable sinner.” This was possible because John’s “corporeal sense of the heavens and earth had vanished.” He saw what, to us, is “hidden in the mist of remoteness…while yet he tabernacled with mortals.” His vision revealed that in heaven there is no more temple, or body, and that the kingdom of heaven is “within reach of man’s consciousness here, and the spiritual idea reveals it.”

All of this is to emphasize the overall point of this Lesson found on page 477 of the textbook. “Man is not a material habitation for Soul; he is himself spiritual.”

So, where do we dwell? Science and Health declares that “Man is the reflection of Soul” (SH 249:31). A reflection isn’t independent of the original. Nor is it outside the original. If you look in the mirror, the reflection isn’t in the mirror: the reflection is in the eye of the beholder. So, if man is God’s reflection, man is God’s beholding of himself. Therefore, as Paul said, “In Him we live, and move, and have our being.” If that seems difficult to grasp, don’t worry. God’s ways are higher than our ways. As we rise above the testimony of the senses, the mists will disperse, and we will see that our true dwelling place is in God.

CLICK LINKS below for more APPLICATION IDEAS from CedarS-team for this Lesson:

  • The initial, in-progress, ONLINE GEMs are in the works. They will be sent with insights and application ideas from Cobbey Crisler and others to help us more fully demonstrate anew, here and now, our spiritual nature and dwelling place.
  • To enjoy Ken Cooper’s YouTube shared insights on Bible events shared in this week’s Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson click on their link/ttiles. To help make familiar stories in this Bible Lesson easier to visualize and relate to, Ken freely offers a custom poem called “In the Atmosphere of Love” and a moving monologue called “The Transfiguration Now Shared”.


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