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PSST: Claim your true substance and live freely!
P
ossible Sunday School Topics for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

“Substance”
for March 13, 2021

by Lindsey Biggs, C.S of Maryland Heights, MO
540 460 3515         biggs.lindsey@gmail.com


P.S.S.T. for Golden Text – Honor God with your abundance!

Substance may seem a bit abstract to some students. Perhaps start off your discussion by considering what substance means. Substance can mean what we are made of – are we made of spirit or matter? Mortal mind or immortal mind? Which one has actual substance?

There is also the meaning of the word substance that has to do with supply and abundance.

This Proverb likely refers to substance in terms of abundance. “Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:” (Proverbs 3:9)

“Firstfruits describes the first ripe yield of a crop, offered to God to pledge and sanctify the entire harvest (see Leviticus 23:10, 11)” (Bible Lens Research, Christian Science Sentinel)


P.S.S.T. for Responsive Reading – Faith reveals our true substance

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

This excerpt from Bible Lens gives us a deeper definition of the word substance as “that which is real and foundational”.

It also gives us a deeper look into what faith is and its power:

“…Substance is translated from the Greek noun hypo­stasis. This term signifies standing under, a reference to that which is real and foundational. Many sources render it assurance, expressing the total confidence in God…A commentary suggests: ‘No one should ever consider faith as inferior knowledge since it is not based on empirical evidence. In fact it is the proper mode of knowledge in relation to unseen realities. Faith is complete reliance on God by trusting in his purpose, power, wisdom, and mercy. It is the movement . . . toward the infinite promise of God.’” (Bible Lens Research, Christian Science Sentinel)

How would your students describe faith? What is faith?
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr describes faith this way: “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
How does this message relate to this passage from Hebrews?

A loved hymn states it this way: “Lead, kindly Light… I do not ask to see The distant scene; one step enough for me.”
(Christian Science Hymnal, No.  169:1)

“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Hebrews 11:3

This might be where a conversation about “creationist v. evolutionist” comes into play. What are these two branches of thought? How does Christian Science take a third and wholly different approach? A spiritual creator creates a spiritual universe and a spiritual creation. A universe that is made and sustained by Spirit and spiritual laws. So it is faith and understanding that enable us to perceive, demonstrate, and put this into practice. The Exegesis on Genesis in Science and Health has a beautiful interpretation of Genesis 1, which shows a universe created spiritually by God in perfect harmony. Each healing proves this a little bit more.


P.S.S.T. for Section 1 — Knowing you are spiritual makes all the difference

In Science and Health, we have a beautiful definition of substance – what we are really made of:

“Substance is that which is eternal and incapable of discord and decay…The spiritual universe, including individual man, is a compound idea, reflecting the divine substance of Spirit.” (citation S2/SH p. 468)

You lose all fear when you realize that what you are made of is actually spiritual. It’s not subject to anything but peace, harmony, goodness, and joy. It’s faith and spiritual discernment that enables us to perceive this. This TeenConnect article on JSH Online Who Cares if I’m Spiritual?” gives students a beautiful sense of what it means to be spiritual and why this makes all the difference in their lives:

“The qualities that make you what you are—qualities that express God, good—these are your very real, very tangible spiritual identity, which is sourced in God….Knowing that we’re spiritual is like armor…Knowing that we’re spiritual gives us real authority, a much bigger sense of authority. To know that we’re spiritual means we’re immune from every single belief of mortality…Think about what that means—how much freedom, health, and happiness are actually ours if we would just recognize that, yes, our identity really is spiritual, and, yes, that matters in a huge way…I’m God’s spiritual expression. Whole and safe, because that’s the way God created me—and that can’t change.”


P.S.S.T. for Section 2 – Joshua and Caleb illustrate courage and obedience

Let’s talk about the book of Joshua. Do your students know that Joshua was the next leader of the Children of Israel after Moses? Joshua was Moses’ faithful and military assistant. Joshua expressed complete and total obedience to God. He didn’t take idols or other forbidden objects from the cities that they conquered when God told him not to. When others in his army were tempted to take some of the spoils – or the riches and gold – from the places they conquered, he was a good leader and helped them to see that their success relied on total obedience to God.
Think of the movie “Aladdin” when Aladdin goes into the Cave of Wonders and is told to take nothing but the lamp. Aladdin follows these important instructions, but his monkey, Abu, can’t resist the shiny gems!

God is leading the Children of Israel to the Promised Land – Canaan. But when they get to the borders they find this area is already inhabited and they will have to conquer it in order to fulfill their mission.

“Only Caleb and Joshua (earlier identified as Moses’ loyal assistant) have sufficient faith and courage to urge an immediate invasion of Canaan, and they alone of this generation will survive the subsequent forty years of wandering in the wilderness of Sinai.” (The Old Testament: An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible by Stephen L. Harris, p. 149)

Here are some background for Joshua and Caleb from the same book cited above:
“Joshua. The son of Nun, an Ephraimite, Joshua (meaning “YHWH is salvation”) was Moses’ military assistant (Exodus 17:8-13), in charge of the Tabernacle (Exod 33:11), one of the spies optimistic about Israel’s prospects of conquering Canaan (Num 13:1-16; 14:6-9), and chosen to succeed Moses (Num. 27:18-23; Deut 3:28; 31:23; 34:9). He led the Israelites across the Jordan (Josh 3), captured Jericho (Josh 6) and ‘Ai (Josh 7-8), warred against the Canaanite kings (Josh 10 -12), allotted the land to various tribes (Josh 13:1-22:8), and made a covenant with YHWH and the people (Josh 24).” (Ibid, p. G-24)

“Caleb. Along with Joshua, one of the two spies sent to reconnoiter Canaan who brought back a favorable report of Israel’s chances ((Num. 13:14). For his trust in YHWH, Caleb was allowed to enter Canaan…” (Ibid. p. G-7)

This passage from Mary Baker Eddy illustrates a key theme for the book of Joshua: “Obedience to Truth gives man power and strength.”
(Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy, p. 183)

Some children’s Bible’s, such as Shine On, have the story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho that is helpful for younger students. Some of them also highlight Rahab and the important role she played in helping the spies of Israel. Shine On is also available in Spanish!


P.S.S.T. for Section 3 – The life preserving power of infinite Love

Daniel gives us such important lessons about courage, faith, and obedience, especially while living in exile under a dominating regime. Daniel and his friends show the power and deliverance that comes from sticking with God, and the special gifts and abilities that God gives to help sustain us.

The book of Daniel is full of examples of leaning on the “sustaining infinite”. What are some examples of the sustaining power of God in this book? Here are four ways: God giving the boys spiritual sustenance when they refuse to eat the portion of the king’s meat and end up looking “fairer and fatter in flesh” than those who did eat the king’s meat; God preserving Daniel in the lion’s den; God giving Daniel the ability to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams, which saved him and other “wise men” from execution; and the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being preserved in the fiery furnace.

Daniel may have been in service to the king (and lived to see several transitions of power) for over 50 years! This book is set as taking place during the Babylonian exile when many Jews were taken as captives to live in Babylon after it conquered Judah.

If you’re interested in learning more about the book of Daniel, I recommend a curriculum from BibleRoads.com. This Daniel audio file (available as a CD and MP3 download) gives important political, historical and spiritual context and insights for the book of Daniel. There is also an accompanying workbook that can be used to facilitate a group discussion.


P.S.S.T. for Section 4 – Gain your dominion over matter!

 We all want to demonstrate our dominion over matter, as Jesus did. This passage gives us a key as to how to gain our dominion:

“In proportion as matter loses to human sense all entity as man, in that proportion does man become its master…All these deeds manifested Jesus’ control over the belief that matter is substance” (citation S17, p. 369)

We want to become masters over matter and this passage states how we do this. For Jesus, man wasn’t matter. Man was and is a spiritual idea. Check out the definition for man on page 475 in Science and Health. If your students aren’t familiar with this yet, this is a great time to share it with them! This gives us a true sense of our actual identity and being. As we gain the perception of the substance of things – that all being and identity is actually spiritual, then we lose our fear because we see we aren’t made up of stuff that we can see. We are made up of spiritual qualities that are always sustained by God in perfect harmony and peace.

This then leads us to the Truth that makes us free! “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (citation B17/John 8:32)


P.S.S.T. for Section 5 – Man’s perfection is unimpeachable

This passage shows clearly which mind we want to be governed by! In another passage in Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy asks us to be clear on if the human mind or the divine Mind is governing. This citation shows the clear benefit of allowing the divine Mind to govern us:

“When man is governed by God, the ever-present Mind who understands all things, man knows that with God all things are possible.” (citation S26/p.180)

This could be a good passage to memorize!

This also may be a good opportunity to look at the scientific translation of mortal mind and divine Mind on page 115 of Science and Health, which shows with the elevation of thought what we want to govern us.

“Remember that man’s perfection is real and unimpeachable, whereas imperfection is blameworthy, unreal, and is not brought about by divine Love.” (citation S24, p. 414)

What does unimpeachable mean?

How can knowing that your perfection is “unimpeachable” give your students strength and confidence?


P.S.S.T. for Section 6 – Faith is like the dawn

 “the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.” (cit. B23/Isaiah 60:19)

This section has a neat theme of light, dawn, and glowing full-orbed.

What role does light play in healing? What are some synonyms for light?

Why is dawn a good metaphor for faith in the passage below? How does this relate to healing?

“Life, Truth, and Love are the realities of divine Science. They dawn in faith and glow full-orbed in spiritual understanding.” (citation S30/p. 298)

Faith here may be a spiritual sense that we are just beginning to perceive, or hope that we will have a healing, etc.
Full-orbed would be when we see that spiritual reality fully – we perceive, know it, and it is so certain and tangible to us.

Consider looking at some images of a sunrise and of a sun shining brightly, and see if that makes the metaphor clearer for students.

A well-loved hymn uses this same metaphor:
“From sense to Soul my pathway lies before me,
From mist and shadow into Truth’s clear day;
The dawn of all things real is breaking o’er me,
My heart is singing: I have found the way.”
(Christian Science Hymnal, No.  64:1)

Enjoy your classes!

 

 

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