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ETERNAL LIFE/IMMORTALITY IS FOUND IN LIVING FAITH
Metaphysical application ideas on the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

“Mortals and Immortals”
for November 13, 2022

by Kerry Jenkins, CS, of House Springs, MO kerry.helen.jenkins@gmail.com • 314-406-0041


INTRODUCTION

The word “faith” pops up a lot in this week’s lesson. In fact, it occurs in at least 23 places in some form (including faithful, faithfulness, etc.) If faith is a word that troubles you, let’s get to know what it might mean in this context, because it certainly doesn’t mean, to me, blind belief in an unknowable God. It can sometimes refer to our holding fast to what we know is true, without physical evidence to “back it up”. It can mean that we continue to work in a direction that demonstrates that we accept what Christ Jesus encouraged us to do, and endeavor to embody his works.

Famously, and included in our lesson this week, is one definition of faith is a real litmus test for us: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (citation B4/Heb. 11:1) Here is a translation, and a tonal translation, the first from The New Living Translation, and the second from Eugene Peterson’s The Message:

  • “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” (NLT)
  • “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.” (Message)

I love both of these versions, the NLT because it speaks to the reality, not the “intangible” nature, of what we hope for that is spiritual. And the Message version I love because it illustrates the firmness and foundational role of faith in making life truly worth living. He also uses the word “handle”, which seems funny at first, but then, on thinking about it, you can envision our need to be able to tangibly “grab” or “hold onto” that which we cannot see, and it gives us such a clear picture!

Immortality might seem totally to be a thing of “faith”. Maybe that’s why faith is so inextricably linked to this week’s Bible lesson on Mortals and Immortals. If we define immortality as living forever in mortality, it is fantasy. But I think we can discover together how true immortality is demonstrable now, how the Patriarchs and some of the early Biblical characters, as well as Christ Jesus demonstrated immortality here and now—and how we can begin this demonstration ourselves.

Immortality does not hinge on death. We can find it here through our faithful demonstration of God’s will. This statement from the Section 4 clarifies the idea of immortality being presently demonstrable: “Jesus said (John 8:51), “if a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.” That statement is not confined to spiritual life, but includes all the phenomena of existence. Jesus demonstrated this, healing the dying and raising the dead. Mortal mind must part with error, must put off itself with its deeds, and immortal manhood, the Christ ideal, will appear. Faith should enlarge its borders and strengthen its base by resting upon Spirit instead of matter.” (citation S20/429:31-7)

One of the defining elements of faith is the necessity for us to hold onto it. This implies that there are times where that is a hard thing to do. Our Golden Text tells us: “Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.” It is a good “fight”, this call to hold onto an eternal life that God has shown us—most clearly through the life of Christ Jesus.

Our own healing record can be a big help in setting this “firm foundation” of faith that Peterson refers to above. If we are living a life where we rely on words or statements of faith, rather than putting that faith into action, we find our foundational faith wavering. This Golden Text is pointing us to this kind of action when it says that the eternal life we have been called to is one that we have “declared (made visible) so well before many witnesses.” This implies demonstrated examples, proof—”It’s our handle on what we can’t see.”

In our Responsive Reading we have the first of four appearances (in this lesson, and in the Bible) of “The just shall live by faith”. The original source of this statement is found in Habakkuk (cit. B10/Hab. 2:4), the other three appearances are Paul’s references to this Old Testament statement. What could the purpose be of including this statement, almost verbatim, four times in one Bible lesson?

We do have several examples of men who represent this kind of “just” and “faithful” living by faith in this lesson. All of them demonstrated immortality in some degree, either by not experiencing or showing age, or by raising the dead or overcoming death in some way, and by violating laws of matter, limitations of material life. My sense is that living “by faith”, living by looking to spiritual sense for truth, opens our eyes to eternal life, to immortality. See what God reveals to you this week about this statement.


SECTION 1: FAITH IS NOT BLIND, AND WE CAN SEE IMMORTAL MAN.

One thing I know from experience is that faith is not blind trust in a God that is unknowable. Faith is based in what God reveals to each of us, it is something we have received, and that “we might know“. (cit. B1/1Cor. 2:9 as, 10,12,13) It’s helpful that we are building on last week’s lesson “Adam and Fallen Man”—on the distinction that is made in that lesson between the “Adam man” and the Christ man. Similarly, we find here that the word “man” might not be the right term for what we see with our eyes as mortal man. This misnomer is just our current best understanding of that term “man”.

Calling mortals “man” is like calling a rock a flower…they just aren’t the same thing. Man, in truth, belongs to that Genesis 1 definition that we saw in last week’s lesson, the image and likeness of God/Spirit. This spiritual being has no relationship with physique or mortality, it isn’t even a “distant cousin” of mortals.

I just love how Mary Baker Eddy tells us that “…mortal consciousness will at last yield to the scientific fact and disappear, and the real sense of being, perfect and forever intact, will appear.”  She says this in citation S2/295:11, where she distinguishes between what we understand to be mortals and immortals. She also admits that to mortal sense, to our mortal consciousness, material man does seem to be the real deal. (cit. S4/301:6-13)

We can only distinguish between what is substantial and what is not, when we give up looking for God/Spirit through material sense. This kind of looking is the kind that is truly “blind”, while spiritual sense (which we all have), discerns what is spiritually true and present right here. The real man, discernable here and now, is spiritual and immortal. Every time we have a healing, we are seeing the evidence of this fact. And while these healing moments may feel to us, at times, few and far between, they are proof that matter is not the “law” that it appears to be.


SECTION 2: THERE IS NO AGE IN IMMORTALITY.

It might be hard to picture this. How can man have no “age”, no “youth”, no “prime”. Conscious being isn’t physique, but we are so used to thinking in terms of age that it is difficult to divorce this element from our understanding of man.

This section brings several ageless Bible characters to light. We have Enoch who apparently never crossed through the transition we call death but was simply “taken” by God, or “translated”. We have Moses who lived to be 120 without losing strength or sight. And we have Caleb whose faithfulness when first scouting the Promised Land, allowed him to experience life without abatement of any kind. In his words: “I am this day fourscore and five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me”. For those who aren’t sure about what this means, he is saying he is 85 years old, and is just as strong as he was when he was 45. Here are examples of men who lived their faith, who demonstrated their spiritual understanding of immortality in ways that showed, here and now. We might demonstrate this more successfully ourselves by giving up our “measuring and limiting all that is good and beautiful” as Mary Baker Eddy says in Science &Health (cit.  S12 /246:4-6, 20-31). When we measure or limit things based on time we are firmly setting things in the cement of mortality. Maybe we can start this demonstration simply by working to keep our thought in the present moment without dwelling in past sadness/resentment etc. or in future fears and anxieties? This would be demonstrating ageless immortality!


SECTION 3: MORTAL SENSE CANNOT KEEP US FROM SEEING SPIRITUALLY/SEEING IMMORTALITY.

Perhaps that isn’t quite true, if we accept mortal sense as all there is, it will be harder to use the spiritual sense we have. The blind man healed here in Luke (cit. B11), is referred to in other gospels as “blind Bartimaeus”. He refuses to accept that the blindness he has experienced his whole life is part of his true (immortal) being. He “sees” the Christ in this moment, where his disciples, shortly before this healing, failed to understand Jesus’ mission and all that it included.  (Luke 18:31-34)

Bartimaeus rested his faith on the Christ. As we do the same, we can see our immortal nature “…forever unlimited by the mortal senses.” (cit. S19/288:27-28) In Christ we can experience life, true life, and we really see. Bartimaeus was refusing, in this moment, to be defined by blindness, in the same way that we found men refusing to be defined by age in our last section. When others told him to be quiet, he called even louder, reaching for this higher view.

We also have the reference from John 10:7, 9,10/cit. 13 that speaks of Jesus as the “door” by which man may “enter”. This is a sheep herding reference. The shepherd in those days would have acted as a “door” to the makeshift sheepfolds in the wilderness where they would stay the night after grazing their sheep. He would sleep across the entrance to keep the sheep safe from predators. But here Jesus is offering welcome as well, to those who need this safety. This is in contrast to the church officials who would have barred the blind from entering the temple at all because of the “defect” of blindness, seen as an impurity. So, we can embrace in our consciousness the Christ, this Christ view of our immortality, and we can also rejoice in the fact that the Christ welcomes each of us into this understanding of our immortality.


SECTION 4: LOOK TO CHRIST FOR NEWNESS—NOT YOUTH.

Freshness and newness are a daily part of immortality. Immortality is not a boring, same-old-same existence, but a constant unfoldment of infinite, timeless being. There is no shortage of new discoveries. In our human understanding of manhood, we have progress and growth. These are great ways to push us towards the immortal version, which is unfoldment, which implies completeness that just “unfolds” to our waiting consciousness in infinite diversity, beauty, intelligence.

Mary Baker Eddy tells us in citation S22 (296:4-6) that “Progress is born of experience. It is the ripening of mortal man, through which the mortal is dropped for the immortal.” We cannot skip over this ripening process. It isn’t loathsome or anything to avoid. We can rejoice in every glimpse we get of freshness, of Christly newness. It is through this demonstration of immortality, step by step, that we “put off the old man” referred to in the Bible and quoted here by Mary Baker Eddy in cit. 23/262:7-16. That “old man” is the misnamed mortal man, and we are all in the process of putting off this man through putting on the fresh and new Christ man.


SECTION 5: OUR TRUE LIFE IS INDESTRUCTIBLE.

Here we have the story of Paul healing Eutychus who fell from the third loft and died. Paul brings him back to life and continues his preaching. (cit. B18/Acts 20:7-12) In the notes from the 1st section I mentioned that every time we have a healing we are getting a glimpse of immortality. I mentioned that these healings prove that mortal life and its “laws” are not what they appear to be.

Last spring my mom, who is blind and in her 9th decade, had a serious fall down a flight of stairs to a cement floor. She broke her neck in three places, and got a lot of staples in her scalp from her head hitting the floor. While her healing was not instantaneous, she spent fewer than 24 hours in the hospital. (They wanted to observe her for internal bleeding.) She was not treated medically, other than staples and a neck brace to keep her head still and safe. They had many dire predictions, but in her work with a Christian Science healer, she found freedom several weeks early and was able to remove her brace. This is in contrast to the suggestion that with her advanced age, the bones would take longer to set. She was able to maintain her peace and her joy. She travelled across the country to stay with my sister for a month over the summer, and then back to my home again, living freely and fully. To material sense she is still “old” and so on. But she did glimpse something of the immortal man through this demonstration. It was a glorious healing. While it wasn’t as dramatic as Paul’s healing of Eutychus, we can always rejoice in our glimpses of our immortality when they come, however great or modest.


SECTION 6: OUR IMMORTALITY COMES WITH UNITY AND ONENESS.

What a fabulous finale to our discovery of our true immortal nature! “God has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (cit. B23/Eph. 2:4,6-8)

We also have this quote from Scripture, shared in citation S32/208:5-6 “The Scriptures say, “in Him we live, and move, and have our being.” This is where we all truly live. Through following Christ, through demonstrating and expressing Christ and his message each day, we see our oneness with immortal Life, Love. We then see not only that we are immortal ideas, but also that we are all one in Life, one in Love. That is a faith worth nurturing and demonstrating each and every day.


GEMs of BIBLE-BASED application ideas from COBBEY CRISLER & others will be POSTED and EMAILED later this week, so check your email or junk mail for them.  You can always check the  current GEMs at CedarS INSPIRATION website, whether or not you have  SUBSCRIBED here to receive this offering.


Ken Cooper is back from holiday, so later in the week, look for his “POETIC POSTLUDE” contributions related to this Bible Lesson.


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