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[PSST: Teach Students the Dominion of Defending Thought!]
Possible Sunday School Topics for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

“Everlasting Punishment ”
for October 30th, 2016

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

PSST for Golden Text

Do Christian Scientists believe in everlasting punishment? Take a look at the Golden Text for the answer. (No!) Even though we know that God is love (1st John 4:8) it is still useful to address this topic twice a year. Even popular television shows like NBC’s “The Good Place” reinforce the concept of eternal punishment for one's sins. What does the lesson say about sin this week?

PSST for Responsive Reading (RR)

We see the ideas of mercy, salvation, and good gifts from God. Do we have to earn those? Consider the verse in the RR, “I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.” This means God won’t let us make mistakes. That means he keeps us from making the mistakes that would cause seeming punishment. How is this a different definition of mercy? The last line refers to God giving good. Are there restrictions on a gift?

PSST for Section 1

The lesson starts out talking about God’s everlasting love (B1). Is there room for punishment in love? What is our role when a transformation takes place? Citation B4 says “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!” We need to express gratitude and speak up!

What is Mrs. Eddy saying about the nature of God's love in citations S1, S4, and S5? What is she saying about the nature of sin in citations S2 and S3? What does “loathe” mean? Citation S3 says to loathe the satisfaction that comes from wrongdoing. Why? How is Love “impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals” (S5)? What does impartial Love look like?

PSST for Section 2

What does Eve’s statement, “I have gotten a man from the lord” mean? Why is this an issue? What does this story suggest about the relationship between God and humankind? What does the story suggest about punishment and God's law? Compare with citations S9-S12. Is God punishing us? (no)

Mrs. Eddy talks about the Cain and Abel story in citations S6-S10. Compare what she writes with the story in citation S6. What is significant?

Section 2 repeats the statement from 1 John 4, “God is love.” How does this important statement counteract the way God is presented by the author of Genesis 2? Actually, the first letter of John writes “God is love” twice in the same chapter. The word fratricidal in citation S6 refers to causing the death of one’s brother. How is a “false sense of existence” fratricidal (a discussion for older classes). Citation B7 from 1 John 3 seems to strengthen the idea that a person can fall out of God's love and “is not of God.” Can someone who does not abide in love be forgiven? Can they come back into the presence of God's love? Did they really ever fall out of it? Consider the statement from citation B7, “He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” What do you think this means? Why is it so important to love your brother? Jesus speaks about this in the Sermon on the Mount:

“I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” (Matthew 5:22-24)

How important is the relationship with your brother (or sister)? Does this only apply to your biological family members? What does this have to do with everlasting love and everlasting punishment?

PSST for Section 3

Is there equality between men and women in 1st century society as referenced in citation B10? Where was the man who was obviously involved “in the very act?” In Leviticus 20:10, the Mosaic Law states that “the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” Technically, is Jesus following the law of Moses? Why wouldn’t he abide by the law? Was Jesus’ situation different than the context in which Moses’ laws were written? Was Jesus following the letter or the Spirit of the law? How does Jesus’ statement about being a servant of God or a servant of sin relate to to the question brought up by Cain about punishment?

Describe the mechanics of forgiveness. Citation S18 says Truth wipes out error “in the most effectual manner”. What is the most effectual manner? What makes it most effectual?

PSST for Section 4

Section 4 continues the discussion on cleaning from sin though innocence. Describe why Peter didn't want to be washed by Jesus at first in citation B12. Think of established roles in society like a master and servant. How does Jesus’ humility make Peter change his thought? Last week, Peter was the disciple who quickly identified “Jesus as the Christ, the son of the living God” (Matthew 16:13-17) and Jesus renamed him Peter. Then a few verses later in the next pericope, Peter tells Jesus that he doesn’t want him to suffer through the crucifixion and he is immediately rebuked by Jesus (Matthew 16:21-25). We see the same type of interaction here, where he doesn’t want Jesus to wash his feet, but when told that he will have no part with Jesus, he says instead that Jesus should wash all of him. What might have been going on in Peter’s thought? How do all of these interactions between Jesus and Peter help shape Peter into the strong apostle in Acts? Look at Section 5 with your class to see what he was eventually able to do. How does citation citation B14 work? It says “I will wash my hands in innocency.,,”

What is baptism traditionally in Christianity? Why is the definition of baptism in the glossary of Science and Health unique? Why is it still an example of baptism? Why don't Christian Scientists have a formal baptismal ceremony? What kind of spiritual baptism is regularly occurring in our experience? Why is purity a proof of our progress? What are the 6 tenets?

PSST for Section 5

(B17) When the Christians at Dorcas' house call for Peter he has not yet resurrected anyone from the dead nor have any of the disciples performed a resurrection. Do you think the Christians expected Peter to resurrect her, or simply give them comfort in their time of loss? With this mindset, how did Dorcas’ resurrection make the Christians and others on the scene feel? Compare the effect of hearing about a resurrection vs. these mourners experiencing one in person when Dorcas rejoins her friends? Why does this story fly in the face of the notion of human suffering and the false notion of everlasting punishment? [God’s reward is everlasting life, not everlasting punishment.] How has Peter grown from the foot-washing episode in Section 4? Compare this healing of Peter’s to Jesus’ healing of Jairus’ daughter in Mark 5:37-41 and Luke 8:51-55. Peter was watching his master work and pray in the gospels. When Peter is asked to help in Acts 9:36-42 he also puts the mourners out of the house. Why?

Citations S26-S29 speak of God blessing rather than punishing those who follow and do good. Why did Peter have to step in at all and revive Dorcas, an obviously good woman? Do we need to wake up sometimes from the material picture we are presented with? How?

PSST for Section 6

Speak to God's forgiveness of sin in citation B19. How does healing exalt God? Define exalt.

Address the following concept from citation S30, “…the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts.” How does Dorcas’ experience illustrate this point? Does it sound like her life as a humble, unselfish Christian harbors sinful beliefs? (no) Citation S32 speaks to the reality of being: “Divine Love is infinite. Therefore all that really exists is in and of God, and manifests His love.” Why does this statement about reality inform us about how Dorcas was healed and how Peter might have prayed?

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