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Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

Mortals and Immortals

May 9—15, 2016

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

Have you made any choices lately? If so, you probably were choosing between two or more relatively similar courses of action. For instance, should I buy a red car or a blue one? Or, should I take this job or that one? Or maybe you’re choosing between schools. This week’s Lesson is full of choices, but the majority of these choices are direct opposites. This makes the stakes much higher.

In the Golden Text the psalmist has made his choice—life over death. How can he make such a bold decision? He writes: “The right hand of the Lord is exalted….” At first glance that phrase may seem to the psalmist pronouncing God’s power based on his previous observation. But if we look deeper we see that according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, the Hebrew word translated in the King James Version as “exalted” means to “get [oneself] up” or “to lift up [self].” That indicates that God lifts up Himself—He is self-reliant, self-existent—the supreme authority that doesn’t depend on man’s approval. God isn’t a fluctuating human theory. God is a fixed Principle. This is why the psalmist can trust God without fail, and has the confidence to boldly declare God’s works, and to make the choice to side with God and live.

In the Responsive Reading John begins with Jesus’ definition of “life eternal” as not merely existence, but as truly knowing God’s singularity, and understanding the Christ. This unequivocal statement is also based on Jesus’ surety that his message comes directly from God. Jesus says he came into the world “for judgment…that they which see not might see.” In other words, we could say he came to teach us how to make right choices based on fixed facts.

Mortals generally arrive at facts by consensus of human opinion. Even what seem to be indisputable, scientific facts are often upended by new discoveries. Fixedness of mortal opinions is often based on firmly held traditions. The introduction of new information will eventually shift opinion despite fierce resistance to new views. But spiritual facts are a constant—they don’t change. The human mind is conditioned to resist views that challenge the status quo.

Jesus’ teaching was a complete departure from what the masses were familiar with.

His insistence that there was only one way to life was too much for many to bear. It presented a choice most were unwilling to make. While it almost seems impossible for us to imagine as we look back, many of his followers chose to turn away from Jesus’ teaching and go back to what they were familiar with. They chose what seemed to them to be an easier path. [Christian Science Bible scholar Cobbey Crisler states that “Many walked right out as soon as Jesus had this radical statement to say about matter… “The spirit quickeneth, the flesh profitteth nothing.”] When Jesus asks his core group of disciples if they too, would leave him, Peter replies as if the choice is obvious—where else would we go? “Thou hast the words of eternal life.” [“He got the message. The words of eternal life, not the flesh of eternal life.” John, the Beloved Disciple, by B. Cobbey Crisler] Peter and the other disciples recognized that you can’t reach spiritual life through material theories and methods any more than you can walk north and south at the same time.

Section 1: Choosing a Material or Spiritual Basis to Define Man

Compared to the vastness of the universe, fleeting human existence seems rather insignificant. “What is man?” asks the psalmist (B1). The psalmist is awed by the fact that man is even recognized by God when the celestial bodies themselves are considered the works of God’s fingers. Citations B2-B4 are from Job. This story attempts to address the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Job is suffering and is at a loss as to how God could be treating him so badly. Of course, Job, at this point, is reasoning from the limited standpoint of his material suffering. His friend Eliphaz encourages him to turn to God and inquire of Him as to the cause of the trouble as well as for a solution (B2). But Job is totally perplexed. His full response isn’t in the Lesson, but if you read between the chalk marks, you will find that Job laments even being alive. He feels his so-called friends have hurt him more than helped him, and then he deeply questions existence altogether. He sees the ephemeral nature of fragile humanity. What indeed is man, in the grand scheme of things? (B3, Job 7:17) After several rounds with his friends, the issue is still unresolved. Elihu, unable to restrain himself further, proclaims his sincerity and that he’s move by God to speak (B4). Elihu’s words serve to shift our thought toward a higher standpoint. [**More Cobbey commentary in PS1]

When we seem to be up against a wall in our prayers, it’s no use to reason from the problem, and then try to figure out why God is allowing it. Isaiah tells us to stop trying to reason from a material standpoint (B5). For true understanding we need to see things from God’s view (B6), which doesn’t include a problem.

This is exactly what Mary Baker Eddy does in our textbook. For her answer to the question, “What is man?” she looks to the Scriptures that tell us man is made in the “image and likeness of God” (S1). To her it is clear that Spirit cannot create anything unlike itself. She deftly contrasts the sickly mortal man with the ideal man made in God’s image (S2). But she doesn’t allow for the mortal and immortal to coincide, or comingle in any way. Here we have the consistency of divine reasoning that emboldens our position in Science. “Immortal man is not and never was material, but always spiritual and eternal” (S3). This is a key point. She goes on to explain that we can’t seek the immutable through the mutable (S4). This parallels the passages from the Bible—we can’t find a resolution if we reason from the standpoint of mortality. Human beliefs fluctuate, whereas God’s law is fixed. If we expect to find reliable answers, we have to look to God. We have to look beyond the “fading, finite forms” to “gain the true sense of things” (S5).

Section 2: Selfishness or Brotherhood?

When considering the contrast between mortals and immortals one cannot fail to recognize the mortal tendency towards selfishness. The Scriptures however, teach us the importance of doing good to others whenever we have the opportunity (B7). Theologian Albert Barnes (1798-1870) points out, “It is not that we are to do it [good] when it is convenient; or when it will advance the interest of a party; or when it may contribute to our fame; the rule is, that we are to do it when we have the opportunity.” The standard for unselfishness is obedience to the Golden Rule (B8). This can be challenging to human sense. Adam Clarke (ca. 1760-1832) writes, “None but he whose heart is filled with love to God and all mankind can keep this precept, either in its spirit or letter. Self-love will feel itself sadly cramped when brought within the limits of this precept…”

But helping others can also benefit one’s self, though that shouldn’t be the motive. John Gill (1697-1771) points out that the presence of the Canaanites, and Perizzites in this story (B9) indicates that if dissension between Lot’s and Abraham’s herdsman continued, there were potentially aggressive forces that might overtake both of them. Therefore, the alliance between Lot and Abraham was a protection to them both. The psalmist promises that trusting God and being actively involved in good works, will always bless us (B10).

Our textbook once more, points out the distinction between immortal viewpoints that bring harmony, and mortal standpoints that foster discord (S6). Notice all the contrasting terms in citation B7. Outside of Science there’s mutability, sin, suffering, death, and finiteness. In Science (the true way) there’s Life, infinite capacities, and dominion.

Mrs. Eddy’s definition of “Abraham” includes fidelity, faith, and trust (S8). Having this trust in God enables us to let go of selfishness, and take the immortal path showing love and concern for our fellow man. When we’re fully trusting God, we’re not afraid of losing anything good, because we know that God is the only source for the good we have. If everyone would adhere to God’s law, we’d all be on the same side, and true brotherhood would be realized (S9, S10).

Section 3: Tares and Wheat [** See PS2 for Cobbey’s insights.]

The beginning of the Lesson established that God is the supreme, self-reliant, self-existing power. Here the book of Hebrews recalls that when God made His Promise to Abraham, He “sware by Himself” indicating once more, the importance of basing our trust in a fixed power (B11). There is no benefit in swearing by any variable, finite thing. Going to God, is the highest one can go. God is infinite and cannot—will not—fail, for He is immutable. Commentators point out that Abraham waited thirty years for the fulfillment of that promise. Herein was proof of his fidelity, and a lesson to us. No matter how long it may seem to take, placing our full faith in the immutable God never fails. Our Master’s call to serve God begins with repentance (B12). Repentance illustrates our willingness to truly let go of the mortal in exchange for immortality.

Just as Job’s story addresses the issue of why bad things happen to good people, the parable of the tares and the wheat (B13**) addresses the question of the origin of evil. Adam Clarke remarks that no matter how many volumes are written on the subject, Jesus’ parable is sufficient. It’s clear that God didn’t, and couldn’t, have anything to do with planting evil, and that “an enemy hath done this.” Note that the enemy approaches secretly while everyone is asleep. The tares and wheat emphasize the contrast of the useful and the worthless. The tares (the mortal) look good while they’re growing, but as they mature they turn black, and are gathered and incinerated. The wheat (the immortal) is gathered and saved. The lines from 1st Peter remind us again that all flesh is mortal, fading away as the grass while the immortal word of the Lord endures forever (B14).

Our textbook is crystal clear in making the distinction between what it real and what isn’t—what comes from God and what doesn’t. “God creates neither erring thought, mortal life, mutable truth, nor variable love” (S11). What’s more, the “mutable and imperfect never touch the immutable and perfect” (S12). This is another key point. Human sense sees these opposites as mingling, just as the tares and wheat seem to be in the same field. But they never touch each other, nor does one turn into the other. They’re totally separate. That fact gives us courage to abandon evil. It’s no part of us, and never was.

Traditional theology has accepted the belief that good and evil mingle. But in Christian Science that’s impossible. If we don’t get that point, we’re not practicing Christian Science. The immortal, the real, the spiritual sense of things destroys the mortal material sense because it’s unreal (S14). We cannot succeed if we think mortals are God’s children. They aren’t now, never were, and never will be. Jesus knew the difference, and based his practice on that conviction (S15). Our Leader’s words are so clear: “In Science, man’s immortality depends upon that of God, good, and follows as a necessary consequence of the immortality of good” (S16). Nothing more need be said.

Section 4: We Rely On a Fixed Principle [“A Recipe for Freedom”—see **PS3.]

Following the theme of mutable versus immutable, we find the bold declaration that Jesus’ individuality, purpose, mission and message never change (B15). As Barnes writes, “If he were fickle, vacillating, changing in his character and plans; if today he aids his people and tomorrow will forsake them… or if he is ever to be a different being from what he is now, there would be no encouragement to effort. Who would know what to depend on?… Who could know how to shape his conduct, if the principles of the divine administration were not always the same?”

Jesus calls upon his followers as well to be consistent in their obedience to his teaching. Our obedience promises to free us from all evil, and deliver us from death itself (B16, **PS3). We need not wait indefinitely to apply these truths. We can begin right now to experience the power of truth over error through healing. Jesus didn’t preach only about some future salvation in an afterlife, he proved the utility of his teaching through healing sickness and sin in the present. The religious establishment was expecting the Messiah to effect a material regime change, but he brought change from within (B17).

The passage from Romans (B18) touches on an interesting point. The full passage in context reads, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Adam Clarke expounds on this passage: “A man may Merit hell, but he cannot Merit Heaven. The apostle does not say that the wages of righteousness is eternal life: no, but that this eternal life, even to the righteous, is the gracious Gift of God.” In other words, death is the result of sin, but life is something that comes only from God.

This same idea is found in citation S20 in which our Leader points out that Jesus “never prayed to know if God were willing that a man should live.” In other words, he didn’t heal based on merit. He knew and “understood man, whose life is God, to be immortal…” Jesus healed based on divine law—on spiritual facts of being. This is the light that Christian Science brings to our understanding—the light “which invigorates and purifies” (S17). This light reverses every physical ill and “stirs the human mind to a change of base, on which it may yield to the harmony of the divine Mind.” [S17, 162]

Jesus truly was “the way” to eternal life. He lived as an immortal and demonstrated what the true image of God looks like (S18, S19).

We can see that if God were changeable, man would have nothing to depend on. Similarly, if man were a product of material sense, he would be at the mercy of mortal beliefs without a Principle to guide and protect him (S21). Our Leader points out that if sickness is real, it is immortal, and there would be no way to change it. But if God is real, sickness is an illusion, and as we open our eyes to the reality of immortality, the illusion disappears (S22).

Section 5: Choose Rightly, and Hold Fast

As wonderful as it is for the light of Christ to bring healing, these experiences only hint at the full reality of our being. The Amplified Bible renders citation B19, “when the complete and perfect (total) comes, the incomplete and imperfect will vanish away (become antiquated, void, and superseded).” Notice that the perfect doesn’t wait for the imperfect to recede, it forces it to recede. The real isn’t affected by the limited view. When Paul says we now “see through a glass, darkly” the “glass” refers to a “mirror” and “darkly” signifies an enigma, or obscured view. Using Paul’s mirror analogy, it’s never the original that distorted or obscured, but the false image.

Likewise, the earthy is always the earthy, and the heavenly is always the heavenly. One doesn’t become the other, nor does “corruption” turn into “incorruption.” Immortality already exists, and we need to “put it on.” Then death is “swallowed up in victory” (B20). This may seem like too a fine distinction, but it’s important because our hope as Christians for eternal life isn’t an evolutionary process. Our immortality is a present, fixed fact. This is the “enduring substance” that fuels our confidence. To “hold fast” (B20) is an allusion to a soldier clinging to his shield. Clarke tells of a Lacedaemonian tradition in which mothers presented their sons with shields before battle saying, “This is your shield; keep it, and it will ever be your sure defense; for by it you will quench every dart of the wicked one.” John Gill also notes, the phrase “hold fast” is an allusion to the Greek mandate to hold on to one’s shield. For a Greek soldier to cast away his shield was a capital crime. Immortality isn’t a vague hope. It’s a fixed fact that we can hold onto now and always. We’re never alone. God is always with us supporting us with complete consistency (B22).

Science and Health informs us, “Reality is spiritual, harmonious, immutable, immortal, divine, eternal” (S23). These words clearly describe the spiritual—not the material. The only way we can come to know reality is through Christ’s teaching, adhering only to metaphysical, and spiritual means (S24).

As noted from the start, this Lesson is full of contrasts. There is no ambiguity in any of the ideas set forth in our textbook. Mrs. Eddy plainly asks which way we want to take. What has substance and value to us—the transitory, unstable, unreliable mortal view? Or the fixed, immortal Principle? (S25). There is no point in thinking we can mix the two. Mortals and immortals are simply not alike. Along with Paul, our Leader assures us that the real sense of things will supersede the mortal picture (S26). She reasons from God, Principle, and teaches us that we can only find our true status outside of the material picture (S27).

In agreement with the Scriptures, our textbook states, “The harmony and immortality of man are intact” (S28). The word “intact” means “untouched.” Just like the tares and wheat never mingle, the mortal and immortal are opposites, and the immortal is never touched by mortality—not even for a millisecond. Immortal man is the truth of creation (S29). That’s a bold position that we can hold onto with the assurance that it will lead to immortal life.

[**Warren’s PS1 on B1 and B3, replacing downloads: Cobbey Crisler ties together the two “What is man?” questions in our Lesson citations from Psalms (B1) and Job (B3) with the following answers that segue with last week’s lesson and Genesis 1 or 2 poem:
“In Job 7:21 you will see Job’s answer includes one word which clearly identifies his view of man thus far as parallel to Genesis 2 and 3 because we see the word “dust”. The answer then is the dust-man. That implies that man has very little destiny, but an awful lot of “dustiny.” (Chuckle)

However, if we refer to the Book of Job as a textbook, with the task of comprehending and sorting out our thinking, like our thinking, so, Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 and 3 are side by side and need to be sorted out.

Also, once again, we can either conclude that the Bible is a contradictory book indeed or we can conclude that the Bible has set before us choices, just as we are told in the early Old Testament (Joshua 24:15) “choose ye this day whom ye shall serve.” In a way, every single day we must make that choice in our thinking. We live the results of our thinking, don’t we? There is no way out. We look like the results of our choices, and we live like the results of our choices.
I’ll never forget a point a lecturer made that stuck with me ever since about “old age.” Where he stated that “old age” is simply an accumulation of unsolved problems. If we really were convinced that’s what “old age” is, then we would stop accumulating problems. We’d start dealing with them. Maybe this is the secret of longer life even on earth. That’s what Jacob had to learn after twenty years of avoiding it.

Let’s look what the answer is to the (same) question in Psalms 8:4, “What is man?”
Psalms 8:6 comes up with an answer that is entirely different. What is it? “Dominion!” If you can state that about man, not only does he have “dominion over the works of God’s hands, but all things are under his feet,” guess what? That’s where dust is. That’s dominion over dust, not being made of it.” (Excerpted from The Book of Job: A Mental Court Case, Transcription from a live recording by B. Cobbey Crisler available at with an email to

[**Warren’s PS2 on B13: Cobbey Crisler refers to the place where Jesus shared the parable of the tares and the wheat (where he took many tours –three with my mother Ruth Huff—saying: “… it was an audio-visual environment. (Like CedarS Bible Lands Park attempts to be!) Right there in that very spot today you can see the sowers parable come to life. You will see the tares and the wheat right there. The thorns. The stones. The rock. The fowls that come and eat the seed. We’ve seen them all right in that spot. What a classroom it must have been, for a Master to teach his prime students in, and those who would listen! They could look around to see the lessons. They could hear every word that he said. But then he tried to uplift that vision and uplift that that sense of hearing to a higher spiritual category. (Like CedarS Bible Lands Park attempts!)
Parable number two is the tares and wheat, beginning in verse 24. When I had our high school students over there, we actually experimented with details of the parable where the tares are very difficult to pull up. They bring the wheat right up with them because the wheat has a softer root, and this fits in exactly with the details of the parable as Jesus gave it.” (Excerpted from Book of Matthew: Auditing the Master—A Tax Collector’s Report by B. Cobbey Crisler available at with an email to

[**Warren’s PS3 on citation B16—Cobbey Crisler speaks of “John 8:32. Here is the recipe for freedom. ‘It’s the truth itself that makes you free.’ It’s the fact that makes you free. In John 8:44, the devil is defined as a liar and also as a murderer from the beginning. If you analyze that again, the devil has one of two purposes when it enters into the thoughts and lives of man. It is either to murder or kill ourselves or others. That’s the motive prompting the thought, critical or otherwise. Remember, judging righteous judgment eliminates most criticisms, and not judging according to the appearance. It either murders or kills our neighbor or ourselves, or its purpose is to deceive, one or the other.

“In John 8:51 Jesus said. “If a man keep my saying, he will never see death.” An unusual statement because certainly his disciples his disciples when on and saw the death process happening all around them. So once again, what does Jesus mean? What is the intent? What is the meaning? Dodd says it’s such a strong statement that it really excludes the possibility of ceasing to live. That there is an eternality to it. How would you feel that was intended? “If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.”
Take the raising of Tabitha or Dorcas. Peter went in there. Everyone else around there saw death. Was it helping the situation? Did it solve the problem called death? Peter must have gone in there with a radically different point of view. And, did it have a radically different result?
The statement in John 8:58 started a popular commotion. Jesus says, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Does that fit into his statement about, “no man ascendeth up to heaven save he that has come down from heaven, even the son of man that is in heaven”? Is there a beginning for man, divinely speaking? Does it hold within it the key of eliminating the last enemy called death?

As we look at this tremendous, universal, unsolved problem of death, we may actually be facing the wrong enemy. We won’t even have to face the last enemy if we could defeat it while it’s the first enemy. You don’t even have to worry about death if you can get the concept of birth confronted in some way, the origin, the beginning. Once admitting that kind of beginning, you’re committed to the end.
Is Jesus trying to get humanity to focus on origin? “Before Abraham was, I am.” What was the greatest revelation to Moses in Exodus 3:14 about God? “I AM.” “The Son can do nothing but what he sees the Father do.” (John 5:19) A religion of results must be proved. Jesus can no more get away with citing a theory, than going off whistling a tune. He’s going to get tested. He’s going to have that theory tested. That happens in (the next) Chapter 9.” (Excerpts from John, the Beloved Disciple, by B. Cobbey Crisler available at with an email to]

[S.O.S., Please Save Our Summer with a sweet $16k! Please help CedarS be a camp founded on results that proves the theory that every right need is always met! In opening CedarS kitchen for this season to serve over 4,000 meals, we discovered three significant needs. 1) Our fire suppression system (hood, tank, nozzles… ) needs to be totally replaced at a cost of ~$7,000; 2) our kitchen air conditioner needs to be replaced at a cost of ~$7,000; 3) a large, gas, tilt skillet needs to be bought at a cost of ~$2,000, with trade-ins). To make an online donation click here. To mail in or call in a needed donation, please follow the instructions below for campership donors and tell us to “Feed the Children!”


[You can also CALL 636-394-6162 to reach a member of the Founding family nearly anytime. Either one of the Huffs or their daughter Holly Huff Bruland is likely to answer.

or MAIL your tax-deductible support to our 501-C-3 organization
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The CedarS Camps Office
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[Experience "as in heaven, so on earth": Although Memorial Day and several other programs are full, a few bunks are still available at CedarS in each of our sessions). Click here to apply online for camp, camperships, work and volunteering opportunities! Go online or call 636-394-6162 today to reserve an expansive experience of heaven on earth for yourself and/or for loved ones from your Sunday School. Come share in the boundless bliss of expressing God's being of "infinity, freedom, harmony…" in all you do. (SH 470:23 & 481:3.) Here's a sample glimpse of how you can put these ideas into action in a new watersports activity at CedarS. So that all the new physical fun of our 6-tower watersports cableway system is anchored in a metaphysical purpose (like everything else at CedarS), eight elevated signs will mark "Way-of Wholeness" as goals to express and experience on each leg of our new cable-"way of holiness". These 8 signs will be in bold, capital letters (INFINITY, FREEDOM, HARMONY, (one on each of the first three towers) and BOUNDLESS BLISS (on the 200-meter straight-away) … repeated/expressed ("as in heaven, so on earth" and so on water to ride it with a sense of)INFINITY, FREEDOM, HARMONY, (one on each of the second 3 towers) and with BOUNDLESS BLISS on the 200-meter straight-away! You and this cableway can keep going and going like an Energizer Bunny (Infinity); you can express the freedom of skimming across the water and of freedom from a false fear of a new activity; you can be part of a divine harmony where "all things work together for good" (Romans 8:28); and you can share the boundless bliss of witnessing "a new heaven and earth" where everyone and everything is "under the control of supreme wisdom" (SH 91:1)]


[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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