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Hope springs eternal…with God’s undying creation!
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

“Probation After Death”
for October 21-27,2019

Rick Stewart, CS, Dresden, Germany Home +49 351 312 4736 Mobile +49 176 32 33 6080

In great adversity, in the midst of tragedy, when all seems lost, people have learned the importance of hope. Hope in the midst of hopelessness! This is one of the great messages of the Bible.

Around 1732 Alexander Pope, the second most quoted English poet of all time, behind only Shakespeare, wrote in a poem entitled, “An Essay on Man, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.” The poem is an affirmative poem of faith: life seems to be chaotic and confusing to man when he is in the center of it, but according to Pope it is really divinely ordered. In Pope's world, God exists and is what he centers the Universe around in order to have an ordered structure. The limited intelligence of man can only take in tiny portions of this order and can experience only partial truths, hence man must rely on hope which then leads into faith.”

Our Christian Science Bible Lesson this week on the subject of “Probation After Death” gives a firm spiritual foundation for this concept of hope and faith. For example, it presents two views of man as found in the Bible. One is the “man” translated from the Hebrew “enowsh” which is equivalent to the born to die, mortal man. (the so-to-speak no-hope man.) And then, the other man is the immortal idea of God’s creating, “…if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away: behold all things are become new.” (B 15, II Corinthians 5:17)

Now the concepts of man as a briefly living, fleshly entity in contrast to the immortal idea of God’s creating unfold in the Bible and in our Bible Lesson this week.

This unfoldment of the idea of a man that is like the grass of the field, gone in a moment (Hebrew enowsh), or the man that is an eternal idea has unfolded over thousands of years. You can get a glimpse of this if you look at the dates of the various books of the Bible found in our Bible Lesson.

The Book of Psalms is comprised of psalms mostly written about 1000 BC with some psalms written around BC 500 during the Babylonian captivity after the Temple was destroyed. Psalms could be thought of almost as a church hymnal. Gathered in the Book of Psalms are many “hymns” that have roots in other books of the Old Testament. For example, in this week’s lesson, Psalm 103 written by David around 1034 BC also appears in the Book of 2 Samuel. Conveniently gathered together for us in Psalms these Biblical songs mirror centuries of the human condition and invite us to discover views not only of man that is mortal, dying, and fleeting, but also of man that God has conceived and created as a spiritual idea. This man of an eternal existence is the prophecy of what the Christ or Messiah is.

The fulfilling of the prophecy of the Christ, or Messiah, the eternal man, fulfilling God’s creation blazes forth in Paul’s writings and the Gospels. You might find it interesting to remember that some of Paul’s letters are the earliest documents of the New Testament. Even earlier than the four Gospels that we do so love.

For example, the following dates for Paul’s letters are agreed upon by most scholars. As you can see they predate each of the Gospels. First Thessalonians (c. 50 AD); Galatians (c. 53); First Corinthians (c. 53–54); Philippians (c. 55); Philemon (c. 55); Second Corinthians (c. 55–56); Romans (c. 57).

All of the Gospels are considered to be written later than the above listed letters from Paul. The Gospel of Mark probably dates from c. AD 66–70, Matthew and Luke around AD 85–90, and John AD 90–110. Despite the traditional ascriptions all four Gospels are anonymous, and none are considered to be written by eyewitnesses. Like the rest of the New Testament, they all were written in Greek.

And, why this background? So that we might have just a little more patience with ourselves as the concept of man’s immortal nature dawns in our consciousness. We are learning to have hope and faith for ourselves and our loved ones. Hope when mortality seems overwhelming and irresistible. And faith when times seem dark. There is a firm foundation for both hope and faith, hope and faith when we are in the middle of the dream of mortal darkness. Hope and faith in our lives and the world. And as Alexander Pope wrote in 1732, hope that “springs eternal in the human breast!”

The Golden Text from I Corinthians 15: 53 introduces the concept of putting on incorruption and immortality. Or, to follow up on our earlier discussion, putting on the man that endures and is eternal versus gone in a flash like grass in the field! Is it possible for you and me to think about that requirement? Well, why is this verse our Golden Text this week? Could it be significant that the first eleven verses of this chapter contain the earliest account of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus in the New Testament?! (AD 53-54) Or, only 20-some years after Jesus’ resurrection and his forty or so days walking again with his disciples!

In the Responsive Reading from I Timothy and Ephesians we are encouraged. We are told that God does not give us the “spirit of fear.” He gives us power, love, and a sound mind. That our Savior Jesus Christ hath “abolished death” and “brought immortality to light through the gospel.” And that he would strengthen us with might by his “Spirit in the inner man.” (The spiritual man that bears witness to immortality.)

Section 1: God reveals divine Life.

As mentioned earlier citation B2 from Psalm 103 speaks of man’s days as grass or a flower, here today, gone tomorrow. This concept of man as frail and sick is translated as man, but a man that is from the Hebrew term, “enowsh.” Mortal man.

The Science and Health citations reveal the differences between the frail, mortal man and the immortal man.

S5 | 296:4 “Progress is born of experience. It is the ripening of mortal man, through which the mortal is dropped for the immortal. Either here or hereafter, suffering or Science must destroy all illusions regarding life and mind, and regenerate material sense and self. The old man with his deeds must be put off. Nothing sensual or sinful is immortal. The death of a false material sense and of sin, not the death of organic matter, is what reveals man and Life, harmonious, real, and eternal.”

I sometimes think back to a time when I was coaching a swim team. Our swimmers had kind of lapsed into a mediocre level of satisfaction with their performance. And then a new swim team member arrived from an elite swim program in Southern California. This swimmer’s performance in practice was way beyond all the other swimmers. Suddenly almost all of the team members had a new vision of what was acceptable and possible for practice performance. This new swimmer inspired a level of achievement and performance that was far beyond our usual levels. Absolutely everyone was suddenly performing at new levels. It was remarkable to observe this transformation.

As we read in citation S6, “Each successive stage of experience unfolds new views of divine goodness and love.” (66:14)

Section 2: Elijah demonstrates Life here and now.

Elijah whose name means, “my Lord is Jehovah,” lived 900 – 849 BC. He was born in ancient Palestine, in what is now Jordan. One of his most powerful statements, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”

And Elijah through his words and acts did turn many hearts in Israel back to Jehovah, the Lord.

For example, in the midst of a drought Elijah was led by God to go to Zarephath where he would find a widow that God had inspired to care for Elijah. While he was there the son of the widow became seriously ill and appeared to have died, the widow cried, “Oh thou man of God? Are thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?” (B6 | I Kings 17:1, 8, 9, 17–19, 21, 22, 24)

Why was Elijah there? To afflict? Or to bear witness to the power of God right there in Zarephath? Elijah was there to bear witness. This is a great encouragement and help to each of us also. To remember we are here to bear witness to God’s presence and power. It is not about us, but about what God is.

Elijah took the child to his room, “his loft”. It represents “the secret place of the Most High” as described in Psalm 91:1, and the closet that Jesus recommended for our prayers in Matt. 6:6. And there the child was restored to life.

His mother rejoiced, , “Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.” (B6 | I Kings 17:1, 8, 9, 17–19, 21, 22, 24)

Mary Baker Eddy asks in Science and Health, “Does God send sickness, giving the mother her child for the brief space of a few years and then taking it away by death? Can there be any birth or death for man, the spiritual image and likeness of God? Instead of God sending sickness and death, He destroys them, and brings to light immortality. Omnipotent and infinite Mind made all and includes all. This Mind does not make mistakes and subsequently correct them. God does not cause man to sin, to be sick, or to die.” (S8 | 206:19–21, 25)

Faith and hope in God’s eternal Truth and Love has again and again demonstrated in all eras what is possible with God.

In the year 2000 I was on Pellworm Island in Germany with my wife and one year old son, Noah. I was putting Noah to bed and discovered he had a high fever and was very uncomfortable. We knew there was a small epidemic of scarlet fever at a kindergarten on the island where my wife was helping out for a few weeks. Noah drifted off in a fitful sleep. I then rode my bike to a pay phone about 500 meters from our vacation apartment. I called my mom’s phone back in Florida. My brother, Gary, answered and he and my mom promised to pray. When I arrived back at our apartment Noah was peacefully sleeping and there was no more fever! He slept through the night. And the very next day the kindergarten had no more cases of scarlet fever.

Whether in 900 BC, 1875, 2000 or at this very moment, we all have cause for hope and faith in the Word of God.

Section 3: The Master, Christ Jesus, restores a man’s son.

In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 9, Jesus restored a man’s son. The boy appeared to have seizures that at times cast him into fires and into the water. The Father had at first asked the disciples for help and “they could not.”

“He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. 21 And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. 22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. 23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. 25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. 26 And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. 27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. 28 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” (B8 | Mark 9:17–19, 21–32)

Then Jesus encouraged the boy’s father, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

How many times have we all called out to God, “Help thou mine unbelief?”
And you know what, our loving and encouraging Father-Mother God does help our unbelief.
He encourages us. He uplifts and inspires us. But we truly do have to fast and pray. We have to refuse to get taken in by the fears of the mortal man, the man that is frail and weak. And we have to shut the door on this man, fast, go into our closet, into the secret place of the Most High and we have to affirm and declare the Word of God that is the Truth in our mouth. Hope and faith in what God tells us is true. And there is no place or spot on earth where God’s is not present and His truth in operation. Wherever we go.

As we read in citation S16 | 90:24–27 24 “The admission to one’s self that man is God’s own likeness sets man free to master the infinite idea. This conviction shuts the door on death, and opens it wide towards immortality.”

Section 4: Witnesses to Jesus’ demonstration of Life.

This section opens with an amazing gift—“These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. 3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (B10 | John 17:1–3)

Now that is some gift! The gift of eternal life. That is not a life that is here today and gone tomorrow, the grass-of-the-field man. This gift promises a man of hope and a man of faith. A man that endures and prospers. A man not subject to extinction. The man of hope and faith that is the opposite of “enowsh.”

B11 | Acts 10:38–41 “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: 40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; 41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.”

I love to think about the fact that the Apostle Paul who was not present as Jesus walked Galilee was the individual who recorded or wrote down the earliest accounts of Jesus ministry. Time and geography could not separate Paul from the mission of the Master, the fulfillment of the promised Messiah’s presence. Paul witnessed, shared, healed, and taught with the authority of “knowing” the Master. Paul learned of the man of hope, faith, and eternity. And that is exactly what is available to us.

Mary Baker Eddy writes in citation S19, “The dream of death must be mastered by Mind here or hereafter. Thought will waken from its own material declaration, “I am dead,” to catch this trumpet-word of Truth, “There is no death, no inaction, diseased action, overaction, nor reaction.” Life is real, and death is the illusion. A demonstration of the facts of Soul in Jesus’ way resolves the dark visions of material sense into harmony and immortality.” (427:29–6)

One of the elements of the grass-man that is here today and gone tomorrow, the so-called mortal man, is age and failing faculties.

When I was around 10 we had a source for farm fresh eggs. A really cool and spunky older member of our church, Mrs. Ryder, kept chickens. I heard many stories of her standing out in her yard with a shotgun when a fox had been raiding her hen house. She was the definition of spunk, courage, and determination.

But then that enowsh man came calling on Mrs. Ryder. Her eye sight was failing and she could not see to drive or read. She called my mom for prayerful help. She probably also approached this prayerful work with her spunky and determined spirit. I still remember the day she called my mom to report a complete healing. She had been trying to read the Christian Science Journal when suddenly she saw the print in enormous size. She said it was so big it made her laugh. And the next instant it returned to normal size but as clear as crystal. As I recall Mrs. Ryder was close to 90. The man/woman of faith and hope that reflects eternity and unfailing faculties!

Section – 5: Jesus example and victory are for us all.

I was a teenager in Sunday School when a substitute teacher, Dr. Charles Selemeyer, shared the Biblical fact that Jesus was with the disciples for forty days after his resurrection. In teenage arrogance and ignorance I was ready to argue with Dr. Selemeyer that day. I had just never read what is in our lesson this week.

“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.” (B14 | Acts 1:1–4, 9)

But from that day in Sunday School until this day I have remembered that Jesus returned to be with his disciples. He was here. The grave did not end his life. He lived and taught and those ready for his blessing received it.

As Mary Baker Eddy wrote in citation S21, “Jesus’ unchanged physical condition after what seemed to be death was followed by his exaltation above all material conditions; and this exaltation explained his ascension, and revealed unmistakably a probationary and progressive state beyond the grave. Jesus was “the way;” that is, he marked the way for all men. In his final demonstration, called the ascension, which closed the earthly record of Jesus, he rose above the physical knowledge of his disciples, and the material senses saw him no more. His students then received the Holy Ghost. By this is meant, that by all they had witnessed and suffered, they were roused to an enlarged understanding of divine Science, even to the spiritual interpretation and discernment of Jesus’ teachings and demonstrations, which gave them a faint conception of the Life which is God.” (46:20–3)

This Holy Ghost, divine Science, I look, listen, and live for everyday. It is the promised Comforter. It is constantly revealed in big and small measure through our spiritual adventures. It is the undeniable divine presence in the minutiae and grandeur of every single moment of Life.

For example a couple days ago, I discovered that a credit card was missing from my wallet. At first I was very distressed. I berated myself for my absent mindedness that somehow, I had not returned the card to its place in my wallet. But then I shut myself up and started knowing that Mind was never absent. I reconstructed my last use of the card. I realized it was when I was trying to answer a question about the account attached to the card for my son Noah. Yep, I was sure that was when I had last had it in my hand. I reconstructed where. And peace was slowly replacing fear. Then I realized it was probably somewhere in the sofa cushions. So, I carefully removed each cushion and looked where the card might be. A call came in which I had to take. I stopped my couch search and addressed the callers’ request with prayer. A little while later I realized I still had not found the card. I prayerfully affirmed vehemently that Mind had never been absent and Mind knew exactly where that card was and I refused to worry about it. Then I realized I had not completed my cushion search. I had stopped before the last cushion! In certainty, not wondering or worrying I went to that last cushion. And there before my eyes was the card. I have probably had a thousand demonstrations about finding what appeared to be lost. But that entire morning I rejoiced in the evidence of Mind’s all-presence. And what if I had let discouragement stop me before the last cushion? What if I had remained in the hopelessness of the search and refused to continue with a wholehearted hope?

I remind myself often that our God is unfailing. God has not and does not fail His children. My hope and faith is placed in God not the enowsh man of failure, limitation, and temporary existence. I shall live and declare that God raised His son and that is my reason for eternal hope.

Section 6: Our life in God is revealed eternally.

What wonderful directives and incentives for hope this section includes:

B16 | Proverbs 12:28 28 “In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.”

B17 | Job 31:6 “Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity.”

B18 | Colossians 3:2, 4 ”2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

A path of life that knows no death. An integrity that is not dependent on what another believes or reports. The certainty for life that is based on the life that Christ shall reveal. That is cause for hope. That is cause for a hope that springs eternal in the breast.

And what’s more, we read in Science and Health:

”It is the living Christ, the practical Truth, which makes Jesus “the resurrection and the life” to all who follow him in deed.” (S25 | 31:14–17)

“Beholding the infinite tasks of truth, we pause, — wait on God. Then we push onward, until boundless thought walks enraptured, and conception unconfined is winged to reach the divine glory.” (S26 | 323:9)

I hope will have as much fun with this Bible Lesson as I have had. I hope that you will find it meets your every need today. I hope that you will find yourself singing the praises of a God that has made you in His image and likeness. I hope you will remember that you are not here today and gone tomorrow as the grass man, enowsh. I hope will have absolute faith that God is unfailing. I hope that His Christ forever abides in your heart. And finally, I hope that you now know you are indeed the eternal man of God’s creating. Hope does spring eternal.

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