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[PSST: **Ask for feedback after the opening exercises. List examples of Divine care…]

Possible Sunday School Topics (P. S. S. T.) for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

“Everlasting Punishment”
for Halloween** Sunday, October 31st, 2021

by Tom and Amy Evans, former staff members and big fans of CedarS

[**Click for BONUS inspirational blog: “TRICK? Or TREATment!]


P.S.S.T. for The Golden Text and The Responsive Reading

The Golden Text opens with a psalmist pleading for God’s help.
As you read the Responsive Reading, in what form does God’s help come?
(Notice there is an all-mighty, powerful description of God’s aid in verse 2, then an ever-watchful Keeper in 3, 4 and 5.
There’s also a description of the specificity with which God helps each one of us: our foot will not slip, God provides a shade and protects us from all evil everywhere we go.
Finally, the description from Deuteronomy is God as a mothering figure taking care of us.)

Before the opening exercises start in Sunday School, ask your class to take a pen or pencil and underline, circle, or jot a quick note down next to the verses that stand out to them or patterns they see in the Christian Science Quarterly. Tom has done this with students as young as 10 years old.
Writing in the quarterly with the expectation of sharing findings later can be a helpful reminder to be fully engaged and really study the text instead of zoning out and thinking about something else while repeating the Responsive Reading aloud.
**Note: if you ask your class to write something, make sure you follow up and ask for feedback after the opening exercises.
What stood out to them? What did they notice?
Why did they highlight that verse in particular?


P.S.S.T. for SECTION 1 – A PERFECT MODEL IS the ONLY TRUE CONCEPTION of BEING.

In Section 1, we are reassured that God is love alone and we will not be left alone.
Can you list any examples of Divine care in your experience, or in Bible stories?
Here is Bible citation 2, Psalms 16:10 from the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible: “…you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.”  The first portion of the verse makes sense: God is not going to leave us to suffer.
In the second half of the verse what does the psalmist mean?
Why did this writer think it was important to point out that the faithful will not see corruption (in the King James Version (KJV) / decay (in the NIV)?

Similarly, in Bible citation 1, Habakkuk tells us God is of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot even look at iniquity.
What do we do with all the advertisements for scary movies and terrifying Halloween images?
Is it wrong to go out trick-or-treating?
Is it wrong to go to a haunted house? (no)

Talk with your class about the quality of thought involved if they participate in these activities.
Can 100% fake, yet frightening, Halloween scenes be a reminder of the unreality of matter?
In Bible citation 3 the psalmist writes “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy” (NIV). The KJV gives the impression that among all the thoughts swirling around, the one that brings true delight is God’s comfort. “In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul” (Ps 94:19).
Have you ever stopped and really evaluated your thought?
Have you been delighted” in God’s comfort like this writer of Psalms 94?
This concept of comfort will build into forgiveness and grace throughout the lesson with examples from Miriam, Aaron, and Saul of Tarsus. The citations from Science and Health in Section 1 expand on the idea of God as love alone.


 P.S.S.T for SECTION 2 – CHANGE YOUR COURSE AND DO RIGHT!

Bible citations 4 and 5 are often paired together. Why do you think this is?
What does God saying “I will overturn, overturn, overturn” and the reminder of “precept upon precept, line upon line” have to do with one another?
How are you “Mark[ing] the perfect man and behold[ing] the upright” (Bible citation 6)?
What does S&H citation 7 tell us about the opportunity to reform? “You can at once change your course and do right.”
Discuss the two testimonies given in S&H citation 9.
Which testimony do you listen to?
What is significant about the last paragraph of that citation, “If you believe in and practise wrong knowingly, you can at once change your course and do right”?
Give an example of changing your course to do the right thing.


P.S.S.T. for Section 3 – Love without partiality.

What happens in Bible citation 7? (Moses’ sister and brother are racist towards Moses’ wife, then say they are just as important as Moses, who is a truly humble and unique prophet.)
In the text Miriam is struck by God with leprosy. Seeing beyond the author of Numbers’ portrayal of God as wrathful and seeking vengeance on behalf of Moses and his wife, what are we to learn from this story about forgiveness as Moses prays for his sister Miriam?

  • What does Bible citation 8 tell us about restoration and S&H citation 10 tell us about the miracle of love?
  • How do these two citations apply to the story in Numbers?
  • The last paragraph from S&H citation 9 in Section 2 reminds us we can always “change course and do right” when we recognize a fault.

What kind of materialistic beliefs were Miriam and Aaron holding onto as they judged Moses for marrying a woman of a different race and then attempted to build themselves up selfishly?
Give your class this choice of what elements of the story they want to dive into further:

  • Self-punishment (Miriam’s leprosy): S&H citations 11 and 12 address issues with holding on to matter-based beliefs and looking away from Spirit.
  • How challenges fall away: S&H citations 13 and 14 focus on only judging righteously and allowing good to reign within us until sin, disease, and death “finally disappear.”

P.S.S.T. for SECTION 4 – GIVE THANKS AND MAGNIFY THE LORD!

Discuss Bible citation 9 with your class. How was the world saved through Jesus? Jesus talks about sin in citations 10 and 11.
What does it mean when Jesus says we “cannot sin”?
How does this connect with the dragon being cast out in Bible citation 12?
Look at S&H citation 17. How does Christ “destroy the power of sin”?
Are you holding yourself superior to sin, sickness, and death, or are you fearing them (S&H citation 18)? Why is this important?
Do you “give thanks and magnify the Lord” for each “victory over a single sin” (S&H citation 19)? Why is this important?


P.S.S.T. for SECTION 5 – WAKE TO ALL-ENCOMPASSING GRACE OF GOD!

Ask your class to share the story from Acts 9 (Bible citation 13).
Who was Saul? What was he doing?
Who was Ananias? Why was he taking a risk by meeting with Saul?
Why does Ananias call Saul “brother” after his violent pursuit of followers of Christ up to that point?
What does this have to do with reversing the claim of everlasting punishment?

Look at how Paul describes his own transformation in Ephesians (Bible citation 14).
What is his description of God’s love? (Grace, riches of Christ, depth, height, might…)
Think about the change Saul went through & the overwhelming grace that he thanks God for. Look at S&H citations 23 and 24, then describe in your own words “waking to the Truth of Being” and “experienc[ing] that salvation in spirit and in life.”


P.S.S.T. for SECTION 6 – BE FREE FROM THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH!

What does it take to reach a state of thought without condemnation like Paul speaks of in Bible citation 15?
In S&H citation 25, Mary Baker Eddy tells the whole world to accept the “glorious liberty of the children of God and be free.”
How does her inclusive message contrast with the psalmist’s statement in Bible citation 2 that only “the faithful” (NIV) or “the holy one” (KJV) will not see corruption?
Is she saying the whole world can grow spiritually and accept this true freedom?
Explore this final citation further with your class.

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