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Find Your True Nature through Redemption
Lesson Application Ideas for: Everlasting Punishment
April 27-May 3, 2009
By Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. of Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Editor’s Note: The following application ideas for this week and the Possible Sunday School Topics that follow are offered primarily to help CEDARS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and demonstrate the great value of daily study and application of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp! You can sign up to have them emailed to you free — in English by Monday each week, or by each Wednesday you can get a FREE TRANSLATION in French from Pascal or in Spanish from Ana. JUST SIGN UP at www.cedarscamps.org/newsletters

Looking at the state of the world today, most would agree that mankind is in serious need of redemption. In a religious sense, redemption means being rescued and delivered from the bondage of sin and its penalties. It also means to atone, or to compensate for, and to restore the honor or the worth of something. In the Golden Text, we are assured that God is our Redeemer. The process by which redemption from sin is achieved is described in this week’s Lesson.

The Responsive Reading is a summary of the redemption process. Throughout history mankind has broken God’s laws. It may seem that mankind is unworthy of being redeemed.  Yet, God is merciful. Mercy is defined as: “That benevolence, mildness, or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries or to treat an offender better than he deserves, the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant. In this sense, there is perhaps no word in our language precisely synonymous with mercy. That which comes nearest to it is grace. It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only toward offenders. Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being” (Student’s Reference Dictionary).

God gives us fresh opportunities every morning. He is good to those who seek Him. Though we may suffer for our sins, our suffering doesn’t come from God, but from the sin itself. We shouldn’t complain about suffering for sin because if this suffering encourages us to forsake sin, it also strengthens our moral discipline.

Section 1: We Are Precious In Our Redeemer’s Sight
Since redemption means to restore or to bring back, that means that initially we were created to be good. Even though we may not act like it now, we are the sons [or children] of God (B1).  We don’t see it yet, but awareness of our inherently sinless nature as children of God gives us the hope that we can and will overcome all evil.  The children of Israel were often disobedient, but God always brought them back because they are “precious” in His sight (B2).  The human sense of correction for sin often includes retribution, but God’s ways and means are above those of men.  The relationship between God and His offspring is so pure that sin is excluded altogether.

Sounds good doesn’t it?  Have you ever really thought of how significant it is to be a child of God?  Take the first citation: “Man is the expression of God’s being” (S1).  We so often talk as if we are expressing God when we do good things.  But this sentence tells us that God is expressing us!  Everything proceeds from God. Reasoning from the perfection of God, Mrs. Eddy explains through a series of questions (S2) how absurd it is to think that God would create man capable of sinning and then punish him for it.  If we turn away from the sinful mortal selfhood to the Christ ideal, we can find out what our real nature is (S3).  God made us perfect, incapable of sin.  Yet mortal man often behaves quite the opposite and he certainly does need redemption.

Section 2: Sin Begins When We Entertain Evil Suggestions
How does mankind stray into sin? By allowing temptations to turn into actions. When mortal man gives in to temptation his first inclination is to avoid responsibility and blame God for it. But we’ve got to remember temptations do not come from God (B3). In modern terms, blaming God could take the form of a belief in genetic or hereditary predisposition to sin, or in a belief that our environment has shaped us to act sinfully. In other words, we are sinning due to circumstances beyond our control, and we are therefore helpless to resist evil. This view clearly avoids taking responsibility for our actions.

Sometimes temptations can come from unexpected sources. For Jacob, temptation to sin appears to come from his mother Rebekah (B5).  It would be easy to blame Jacob’s predicament on Rebekah.  But even though it appears that people are tempting us, the source is always the carnal mind.  Jacob however, was an easy target.  He had already shown a willingness to pull some cunning stunts including stealing his brother’s birthright.  It was Jacob’s own lack of moral fiber that made him susceptible to her suggestions.  The sad thing is that everyone in the story suffered somehow as a result of Jacob’s deception.  How might you react in a similar situation?  Have you ever been tempted to do something you knew was wrong by someone you trusted and loved?

Our Leader warns us to watch our thinking (S5).  She cautions us to control evil thoughts before they control us (S6).  If we build a strong defense with virtue and truth, we will not be unwitting targets for evil purposes.  There’s really no way that we can benefit by doing wrong.  Justice won’t allow it (S7).  Dishonesty, selfishness, and all evil tendencies must be overruled by spiritual goodness.  Evil never makes us happy.  All criminal activity stems from allowing evil thoughts to go unchecked in consciousness.  We need to allow the spiritual goodness within us prevail over evil (S8).  There’s nothing clever about finding ways to cheat.  True wisdom is maintaining our God-given superiority over evil (S9).

Section 3: You Can’t Get Away with Lies
Jacob has the feeling that his father won’t fall for the deception, but Rebekah adapts her plan.   Face to face with his father, Jacob is forced to add one lie on top of another to avoid detection.  Just as Jacob is about to leave after receiving the ill-gotten blessing, Esau walks in with his gift.  Realizing what happened Esau begins planning revenge on his deceptive brother.  Rebekah finds out that Esau is planning to kill Jacob so she comes up with another plot and sends Jacob off to her brother to find a wife (B7).  As the Proverb says, “A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape” (B6).  Jacob is deluded into thinking he’d gotten away with something.   Psalm 130:3, 7 acknowledges that mankind would be in real trouble if every sin were recorded (B8).   If God kept track of every evil, there would be no hope for any of us.  God redeems us not by recording every mistake we make, but by correcting them.

Christian Science clearly teaches that we “cannot escape the penalty due for sin” (S10).   Why is this such a hard pill to swallow?  Even though God is infinite Love, full of mercy and compassion, sin must not go unpunished.  Science and Health states that even excusing guilt or hiding error is punished.  Avoiding justice perpetuates sin and is a mockery of mercy (S11).   If you’ve done wrong, you won’t get away with it.  If you’ve been wronged, God will take care of it.  Sin punishes itself (S12), and we cannot be harmed by the sins of others (S13).   Man must conform to God’s requirements until he becomes a “new creature” (S14).

Section 4: Suffering Ceases When the Sin Ceases
Jacob flees the impending danger. While working for his Uncle Laban, Jacob learns some hard lessons about deception.  Take the time to read them on your own.  After learning these lessons, he gets the angel message to go back home (B11).  By this time, he has made quite a living for himself (B10).  On the way back, Jacob’s conscience finally catches up to him and he feels some trepidation about returning to his brother, so he sends some messengers ahead to scope out the scene (B12).  The messengers return telling him his brother is coming to meet him with four hundred men.  Not surprisingly, Jacob fears for his safety and that of his family.  He plans to send ahead some gifts in order to appease his brother.  He prays humbly and earnestly for help.  His transformation is a blueprint for the nation of Israel.  Their sins will be forgiven and their reproach will be removed.  Their transgressions will be blotted out like the dispersing mists of a cloud (B13).

It may seem harsh, but if we’ve done wrong, we must atone for it.  In Christian Science, sin is forgiven only as it is destroyed (S16).  Jacob was away for twenty years.  He spent fourteen of those years working to win the bride he loved.   We too, have to “pay fully and fairly the utmost farthing” (S17).  The sinner is not God’s man, but a material personality–a counterfeit of the real man (S18).  That does not mean however, that we haven’t got work to do.   The only way the false belief is put off is through “repentance, spiritual baptism, and regeneration” (S19).   We need to get rid of this material personality-this false sense of self.  Self-love shuts out everything real and good.  It must be dissolved.   The tiniest knowledge of this begins to transform character (S21).  Acknowledgment of our true natures aids us in our journey.  Have you done something wrong or dishonest?  Are you paying for it?  Don’t complain.  Sin must be destroyed so we can find our true natures.

Section 5: The Redeemed Shall Return with Joy
During the night, before crossing the Jordan, Jacob was alone wrestling with his beliefs.  The Bible says he wrestled with a man (B14).  Whatever went on, it was a spiritual crisis. As he struggled, he refused to let go until he was blessed. This time the blessing was legitimate and earned. Jacob was humbled and his self-will was dissolved. He was transformed and even received a new name. Have you ever had such an experience? Those who have wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s not much fun when you’re in it, but the result is wonderful.  In the morning, he goes to see his brother.  Esau was transformed too.  No longer full of anger, he runs to meet Jacob, kisses him, and weeps.   Jacob explains to Esau that he has seen him as though he “had seen the face of God” (B15).

When we have such an experience, we see everything in a new light.   We truly feel like a new person.   In some cases, people actually do want to change their name.   In biblical terms, name means nature. Mrs. Eddy’s discussion of Jacob’s wrestling (S23) is very familiar to us. Nothing can really be added to it. But as you study it, look for ways to connect to the story yourself. If you’ve had such a life-changing experience, remember and rejoice.  If you’re expecting one, you’re in for a treat.  Hard experience is sometimes necessary for us to grow out of mortality (S24, 25).  Once we know our spiritual natures, we never fear sin again.

Section 6: The Christ Redeems from Sickness
St. Paul saw redemption from sin as a key point to salvation.   As the Gentiles were shown mercy and have come into Christ, so all of Israel would eventually be saved as well (B17).  Walking in the freedom of the Spirit, there is no need for condemnation because there is no more inclination to do anything wrong (B18).  The Christ spirit that redeems from sin also brings freedom from sickness. It’s not unusual for physical ailments to be considered as punishments for immoral deeds. When faced with this belief Jesus met it boldly. The Pharisees certainly believed in sickness as punishment for sin. When Jesus mercifully told the palsied man that his sins were forgiven, the Pharisees took immediate exception, claiming that only God could forgive sin (B19). Jesus unflinchingly affirmed his power over sin and sickness and healed the man.

Complete redemption from sin and sickness is a uniquely Christian concept. In the letter to Titus (B20), we are reminded: “The gospel is a school for character, instructing men to renounce all impiety, to curb all lustful impulses and to learn the discipline of self-control and the beauty of righteousness…” (The Abingdon Bible Commentary).

Today, the Christ destroys sin and sickness through the practice of Christian Science (S26).  Our textbook tells us that when we realize that neither sin nor sickness is real, we can then readily destroy both (S28).  As we pray about these issues, we are to leave no stone unturned.   Every form of evil must be renounced.   Do you take an equally strong stand against both sin and sickness?  We must, if we would allow the Christ to transform our natures.  As we open our lives to the transforming power of Truth (S29), sin and sickness will be blotted out just like the Isaiah promised (B14).  The darkness of sin and sickness will dissipate in the presence of the spiritual light. It may seem a tall order, but the conquest over all sin (S30) is possible. The Christ is working today to redeem us from all evil.  Acknowledge your sinless origin as a child of God.  Defend yourself against evil suggestions. Know that there is no way to get away with wrongdoing. Rejoice in the fact that when sin ceases, the suffering is over. Once you’ve had your transformation experience, return to the kingdom with joy. Finally, don’t forget that the Christ redeems you from sickness as well as sin. Redemption is a wonderful process. Through that merciful process you will wake up to your true nature as God’s child.

[Go to TMCYouth.com to find ways to help the young and young at heart wake up to their true nature as God’s child, and feel nurtured over each step of the way.. Please support or attend the upcoming Midwest Youth Summit, check out current Lesson videos, …]

This weekly Metaphysical Newsletter is provided at no charge to the 1,200 campers & staff we hope to bless again this summer at CEDARS, as well as to CEDARS alumni, families and friends who request it. However, current and planned gifts are needed to help cover the costs of running this service and of providing camperships.
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Camp Director’s Note: This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, 8-year series of CedarS Bible Lesson “mets” (metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians. (To keep the flow of the practitioner’s ideas intact and to allow for more selective printing the “Possible Sunday School Topics” come on a following page or subsequent email.) This weekly offering is intended to encourage further study and application of ideas in the lesson and to invigorate Sunday School participation by students and by the budding teachers on our staff. Originally sent JUST to my Sunday School students and 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, application 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. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension, background and new angles on daily applicability to some of the ideas and passages being studied. The weekly Bible Lessons are copyrighted by the Christian Science Publishing Society and are printed in the Christian Science Quarterly as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms or online at eBibleLesson.com or myBibleLesson.com. The citations referenced (i.e. B1 and S28) from this week’s Bible Lesson in the “met” (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible (B1-24) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. (S1-30) 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 the 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, Camp Director, director@cedarscamps.org (636) 394-6162

[Ways for the student in you to find ideas in the Lesson to help:  Challenge bad performance; Keep in the way with God; Control evil thoughts; Adjust the balance]
Possible Sunday School Topics for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on “Everlasting Punishment” for Apr. 27-May 3, 2009
by Merrill Boudreaux


Possible Sunday School Topic [P.S.S.T. – Golden Text]

How long is everlasting?  How long is neverlasting?
What is the difference between everlasting punishment and everlasting kindness?  Which would you prefer?  Why?  Where does God, Good fit into the equation of everlasting punishment or everlasting kindness/redeemer?  Does this mean that we are free to do anything mean, unkind, or spiteful?

Responsive Reading –
There are directives here for living a life that challenges untoward behavior or sin (missing the mark). List the actions from this section that would keep us in the way with God, Good, Love; faithfulness, wait for him, (God, Good, Love), seeks him (God, Good, Love), search and try our ways.

Section 1 –
1 John 3:2, 3 is read in church each Sunday. It might be nice for students to read another scriptural translation, like the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), or New International Version (NIV), or others to gain additional insight into what this passage is declaring.
[WH: Rather than being “called the sons of God” as in the King James Version, we are “called the children of God” in these and other translations directly from “the original texts … where the buoys and healing currents of Truth are pointed out.” S&H 24:4 As a “correlative scripture” to Mrs. Eddy’s “Scientific Statement of BeingS&H 468,]  this passage includes present tense Now language and future tense Shall language. List the “now” phrases and the “shall” phrases. Now compare the “if, then” approach in this passage, that is:
if now we are the sons of God, then…;
if now we hath this hope in him, then…;
One can do the same with S&H Marker 3:
if now we are linked by Science to our maker, then

Possible Sunday School Topics – Sections 2, 3, 4 & 5 –
The next sections (2,3,4 & 5) contain the story of Jacob and Esau and the resulting extended Jacob story. It would be helpful to read the story by combining all of the Bible sections at once – to have the full context.   Younger classes might act out portions of the story. Older classes could create an “if, then” thread: if Esau had done; if Jacob had done; if Isaac had done; if Laban had done; then what would have been the result?  Please note the intent is not to create speculation, but to compare what they actually did according to the Bible story, and where might their alternative actions have led.  Now look to S&H in these sections as follows to see the counsel provided by Mary Baker Eddy that correlates to this story:
S&H Marker 6 -control evil thoughts
S&H Marker 7 -What adjusts the balance when wrong has been done?
S&H Marker 8 -What is the role of good in our lives and what is the result?
S&H Marker 10 -How does Divine Love help?
S&H Marker 11 -What is the role of Truth when opposed to error?
S&H Marker 13 -How is harmony derived in our lives?
S&H Marker 14 -To what do fleshly errors yield?
S&H Marker 17 To undo error (or stop sinning – missing the mark, which is our true identity as marked/known by God) what are we called on to do?
S&H Marker 19 -What is the universal solvent and what is the result of washing one’s self with it or immersing one’s self in it?
S&H Markers 20 & 21 -We are not alone in overcoming temptations, sin, mortal suggestions. Who helps us?  (Add “divine” in 20 and “Being” in 21 to arrive at divine Being = God, Good.)  What is the result of employing the divine Being in any situation?

Section 6 –
Please memorize Romans 8:1-2.  This is a good reminder that even when we have strayed, erred, or harmed someone, and then changed and sought forgiveness, there is no condemnation, either from ourselves or others.  How can we use this as an approach to work with others who might have wronged us and sought forgiveness?  Can we also use this as part of our daily prayer for the world, and world leaders?

 

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