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Stand Still, Look Deep, and Be Amazed!
aphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson Ideas on

for March 12—18, 2018

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

How well do we follow the directive in the Golden Text? What are the “wondrous works of God”—the complexities of biological life? This week’s Lesson plunges beneath the surface to the spiritual essence of what constitutes reality. In order to fully appreciate God’s wondrous works we need to start by standing still. In other words, stop what you’re doing, exercise spiritual sense, listen carefully, watch closely, and be prepared to be amazed.

God’s wonderful works include all the evidence of healing in our lives. Every aspect of our being—in fact, all that ever really happens is God’s work because God is the only cause. It really is amazing when we consider not just creation itself and all the specific instances of healing and protection we’ve had in our own lives; but when we consider the many testimonies given in our periodicals, the countless testimonies given in churches, all those not given publically, and those healings taking place in all the rest of the world—they truly are more than can be numbered.

In the Responsive Reading the psalmist acknowledges that the physical senses are incapable of accurately assessing, and comprehending the fullness of God’s works. Commentators generally read the “fearful” and “wonderful” creation of man as referring to the complexities of the physical body. But we can take that much deeper. As intriguing as the physical aspects of creation seem to be, our true, spiritual natures—the marvelous assortment of spiritual qualities that comprise us—are even more amazing.

Isaiah’s call for everyone to come to the waters is more than an invitation to quench our thirst. Adam Clarke (c. 1760-1832) quotes an ancient Hebrew scholar: “Water is a metaphor for the law and wisdom: as the world cannot subsist without water, so it is impossible that it can subsist without wisdom.” Isaiah also employs the metaphors of wine and milk: as wine “rejoiceth the heart” and as “milk is the subsistence of a child; so are the words of the law nourishment of his soul who walks in the Divine teaching, and grows up under it” (Ibid.). The prophet reminds us that this spiritual nourishment cannot be purchased, yet it does cost something.

We discover the realities of being by devoting our energies to spiritual rather than material objectives. Yet the prophet admonishes us for expending our energies on empty pursuits. We have to start looking deeper, and recognize that God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours, and they transcend all human reason.

Section 1: True Substance Is Beyond the Material Senses

The quest to discover the true substance of things may be out of reach of the human intellect, but we certainly have the ability to understand substance through spiritual sense. Wisdom cries out for us to do so (B1). According to Matthew Poole, (1624-1679) the phrase, “shall speak truth,” means, “shall meditate on truth”—not rashly and hastily, but “well considered and digested.” As mentioned above, the wisdom of God is beyond human understanding. Another commentator, Albert Barnes (1798-1870) says the phrase “past finding out” (B2) likens God’s ways to footprints on a shore that disappear with the waves. He writes, “We are permitted to see the vast movements around us; but the invisible hand we cannot see, nor trace the footsteps of that mighty God who performs his wonders…” The Scriptures declare that creation doesn’t make itself. God is the source from which all things come; creation is an ongoing manifestation of God’s creative power; and the understanding of all things can only be discerned as we resolve what seem to be things back to their original substance in Mind. Paul reiterates to the Corinthians the incapacity of the physical senses to discern the deep things of God (B3). Human philosophy, and attractive rhetoric are as void of substance as the promise of material riches. True substance can only be understood through the impartations of the Holy Ghost.

Our textbook tells us that in order to understand the reality of things in Christian Science we have to begin by acknowledging “God as the divine Principle of all that really is” (S1). “All substance, intelligence, wisdom, being, immortality, cause, and effect belong to God.” This is a powerful statement of reality. It covers the whole of existence. None of these attributes can be found through materially based pursuits. Furthermore, true substance is “incapable of discord and decay” (S2).

Our Leader sets the record straight: “Things spiritual and eternal [outside of time] are substantial. Things material and temporal [existing in a timeline] are insubstantial” (S3). According to Adam Clarke the word translated as “substance” in Scripture signifies subsistence—“that which becomes a foundation for another thing to stand on.” It’s the unseen essence that can only be discerned, and understood through spiritual sense. Our textbook assures us that as we understand more of God, “multitudinous objects of creation” will appear (S4). The net result of this understanding will be sufficient to furnish all we could ever need or imagine. This is one of the distinguishing factors of Christian Science—that, “Spirit is the only substance and consciousness” we recognize (S5).

Section 2: Things into Thoughts

The Book of Hebrews declares, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (B4). Clarke says the Greek word translated as “evidence” in the King James Version means “demonstration.” The Amplified Bible translates it as “proof.” Both of these definitions are meaningful to Christian Scientists because without demonstration, the theory is just words. Things of substance are real, whereas the testimony of what is “seen” is unreal, imaginary, and deceptive.

Human thought generally accepts what it sees as solid and tangible, and assumes that’s the only reality. But inspired thought knows that what is seen is not the reality at all. Mortal reasoning has everything backwards. As Paul says, they “changed the truth of God into a lie” (B5). Therefore we look beyond the seen to the unseen (B6).

Paul’s explanations seem pretty straightforward albeit somewhat difficult to accomplish. In Christian Science, however, Paul’s protestations are words to live by. The only substance we recognize is Spirit (S6). There is no objective external reality. All is Mind, God—and that’s it (S7). Christian metaphysics resolves “things into thoughts, and exchanges the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul” (S8). The Discoverer of divine metaphysics, points out that these ideas are as tangible to spiritual sense as objects seem to material sense—the difference being—spiritual ideas are eternal.

Since there is only one Mind, everything that exists is an idea of that Mind. These ideas are perfect, substantial, and exist entirely outside of time and space (S9). Everything conceived of materially is no more than a notion that appears to exist in a finite time and space. If God didn’t make them or think them, then they weren’t made. Hence they are unreal. Mrs. Eddy called them “counterfeits.” They look like the real thing, but they aren’t.

Section 3: So What Is All of This Made of? Did God Make Matter?

Everyone agrees that these counterfeits do indeed seem very real. So real, in fact, that the majority of religiously minded thinkers throughout mortal history reasoned that the physical earth, the universe, and all that exists in it is the product of an unseen creator called “God.” What else could have produced such magnificent things? Of course there are those who theorize that God had nothing to do with it, and the universe was the result of physical laws and random occurrences. But all of these viewpoints are operating from the standpoint that what appears is all there is. Divine metaphysics takes a different approach.

On the surface, verses like Hebrews 11:3 (B7) may make it seem that God made matter. But the “things which are seen” are not objects—they are ideas. Understood correctly, the “things which appear” were made by the word of God. While human reasoning generally insists that creation is an evolutionary process, Scripture tells us that God created the heaven and earth out of nothing, and that everything made was good (B8). On the surface this sounds like God pronounced a material creation, “good.” Even Isaiah, while acknowledging God as the one and only creator, still states plainly that God “made the earth,” put man upon it, and fashioned the heavens and everything and everyone contained in it (B9).

So how can we argue with that? Did God make it or not? Well yes, God did make it. But the real question is: What did He make? Did he make actual physical objects—finite in structure and lifespan? According to Christian Science the universe and man are a “compound idea” that reflects the true substance of Spirit (S10). You might be thinking, “But this all looks so real.” It is real, but not as objects. There is no objective reality. This has come up in many previous Lessons. We’ve discussed how modern theorists have recognized that there is no objective reality. Everything is a thought. (See Biocentrism, by Dr. Robert Lanza.) But creation isn’t our thought, it’s God’s thought, and God doesn’t think finite ideas called matter. Additionally, there is not a temporary world and universe here, and a real one out there somewhere else. There is only one creation, and it’s spiritual. God never made matter (S11). Every materially based observation, activity, and function becomes irrelevant when we translate man and the universe “back into Spirit” (S12).

Our textbook instructs us to forsake the basis of matter for metaphysics (S13). It also tells us that what seems to be a solid, external, material environment is no more than a “fleeting [concept] of the human mind” (S14). The whole earthly picture is temporal and temporary. It will disappear in proportion to our understanding of reality. To see reality, we need to “look beyond fading, finite forms.” As the sunlight is the evidence of the sun, so man and the spiritual universe are evidence of the divine Mind, God (S15). God isn’t seen in a material universe, but in the real universe that is spiritual.

Section 4: God’s Man Is Good and Only the Good Is Real [See W’s PS#1-#3.]

As the earth and the universe are, in reality, ideas in Mind, so man is God’s idea. The psalmist marvels that as magnificent as the earth and heavens are, man is still the apex of creation (B10). Isaiah though, enjoins us to stop looking to material man for anything worthy (B11). The oft-used verse from the Book of Job reminds us that we owe our existence not to material conditions or circumstances, but to God alone (B12).

Dismissing the belief that matter is its own creator, Mrs. Eddy calls God, Spirit, “the great architect” (S16 and your downloadable Specs on upper right online). But what did this architect design?—A material body? No. There is, “nothing in Spirit out of which to create matter” (S17). That fact that God never made matter is a recurring theme throughout our textbook, and is repeated in many of our Lesson-Sermons. According to The Student’s Reference Dictionary, an abridged version of Webster’s used by Mrs. Eddy, “substance” meant “real.” By this definition, if God is the only substance, God is the only real. Man’s spiritual substance defines his reality as a divine idea, wholly apart from matter. In Science only the good is real. So even though the material man seems real and substantial, he isn’t because he is vulnerable to corruption, decay, and sin. The frail mortal isn’t an objective reality; it is the result of an erroneous point of view. The real man can’t be understood through a corrupt lens, because reality transcends mortal vision (S18). As mentioned in Section 2, (S9), the picture of man seen by the senses is no more than a counterfeit of the reality—it looks genuine but it isn’t (S19).

Section 5: Turn to God

Experts can spot a counterfeit because they are intimately acquainted with the original. The psalmist was convinced that eventually all of God’s ideas would know enough to turn their gaze from the counterfeit to God, and to the real man (B13). Jeremiah chastises the people for turning away from God for healing (B14). Clarke intimates that the balm of Gilead was ineffective because a moral disease cannot be cured by topical salves. In the same way, it’s futile to turn to material means to heal what is only a belief. The only healing agent is God, and we have His promise that our wounds will be healed, and our health restored (B15 and W’s PS#4).

Hezekiah was not the type of person to resist God. When Isaiah tells him to prepare to die, Hezekiah turns immediately, and whole-heartedly to God (B16). His prayer is answered, and we should heed the fact that there was no equivocation in his prayer. He went “all in,” as the saying goes. What does it take to get us to that point? When things are going fine, it’s easy to forget that God is our strength and health. When challenged, do we turn to God half-heartedly, thinking in the back of our mind that maybe we could turn to medicine if prayer doesn’t work? Of course, everyone is free to make their own health care choices, and to advance spiritually at their own pace, but Hezekiah is an example of turning to God with the whole heart. That’s the ideal. The Scriptures indicate that this was a key element in his healing.

God never gives up. We can trustingly turn whole-heartedly to Him with complete confidence, knowing that He will never forsake us (B17). The psalmist knows first hand that God can indeed turn the worst situation into a complete blessing (B18). It’s always good to remember too, that we don’t pray to get God to turn to us, we pray to turn ourselves to Him (B19). That makes a big difference.

The Bible tells us our bodies are transformed by the renewal of Spirit (S20). To be whole we need to be better from the inside out. We can’t expect true healing unless we are willing to let go of the mortal sense of things (S21). Sometimes it can be a challenge to turn away from the body when the body is screaming for attention (S22). It can seem counterintuitive to disregard what the senses are saying because mortal belief is constantly telling us to pay attention to our bodies. But turning from body to into Truth and Love is exactly what we need to do. “Look away from the body into Truth and Love…[and] Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true” (S23).

Science and Health uses the metaphor of a sculptor and his model. Like the sculptor, we are carving out our lives based upon the model we are looking at. Rather than looking to mortal models we should behold the perfect model—spiritual man. As we fill our consciousness with the true substance of our God-endowed being, the false beliefs that plague us will diminish, and finally disappear (S24).

Section 6: How Does Your Garden Grow? [water w/ W’s PS#5-#7 citations B22 B23 S28.]

We all know the difference between a parched garden with dry, wilted, sickly looking plants—most growing slowly if at all, and with bare spots from plants that didn’t survive; and a well watered garden—lush, fresh, overflowing with life and beautiful blossoms (B20). When we keep our thoughts turned to God it’s like having a spring in the garden that never dries out, keeping everything fresh and green. That’s the difference when we let our lives be informed by God. We are constantly refreshed, and filled with beauty that becomes a blessing to all with whom we come in contact. Turning to God to help ourselves, we can also help others because all whom our thoughts rest upon are benefitted.

Jesus’ life was like a watered garden that enabled him to heal every challenge he faced. The disciples had seen plenty of healing work done by their Master. They had some success as well, but when they faltered Jesus gave them corrections. After the resurrection, their confidence soared. They’d seen their Master overcome the grave, and prove that no material condition was a match for the enduring substance of Spirit. There were most likely hundreds, if not thousands of healings performed by the disciples after Jesus’ ascension. One of note is the healing of the lame man (B23). Commentators surmise that the biblical compilers highlighted this healing because this man was lame from the womb and had never walked. It showed unequivocally the allness of God’s power.

What must have Peter and John thought as they saw him? Were they aware of the man’s background? Might they been at all hesitant to take on such a case? From the narrative it certainly doesn’t seem so. They eagerly addressed him and healed him without hesitation. [See Ken Cooper's downloadable poem at upper right online.] One remarkable aspect of this healing is that the man didn’t need to learn to walk. He just got up, and not only walked but leaped [as prophesied in Isaiah 35, see PS#6].

Jesus expected his students to follow his healing example (S25). Our textbook says, “the practice of divine metaphysics is the utilization of the power of Truth over error” (S26). Applying the truths of Christian Science to our challenges undeniably has an alterative effect (S28). It changes the way we think, and manifests in improved conditions. To human sense it seems like our bodies are made of material organs, and that they determine their own conditions. It would appear that the only way to improve those conditions is to physically manipulate the change in some way. But as we’ve learned, things—even things called bodily parts—are actually thoughts. A change in thought produces a change in what appears to be the substance of organic matter. As we progress in understanding our true substance, we will stop looking to material, sense evidence to inform us of our health, or to aid us in maintaining it (S29). Our Leader instructs, “Stick to the truth of being in contradistinction to the error that life, substance, or intelligence can be in matter” (S30). She offers an important caveat regarding the success of our efforts. She says we will be successful if our fidelity is “half equal” to the truth of our plea.

Section 7: Don’t Forget to Be Grateful

Proverbs commands us to honor the Lord with our substance (B24). First, that’s a command to be grateful; and second, a reminder to honor God in a meaningful way, recognizing that He is the true source of every good thing, talent, and blessing we have. The world of nature can be an example for us. It seems to me that the animal kingdom is governed more by intuition than instinct. I always recall a PBS program where some narwhales were trapped in ice, and if they didn’t get out they would drown. Their behavior wasn’t frantic, but almost serene as they waited and eventually the ice opened up with not a minute to lose. I suppose that particular film clip could have been a coincidence. But when we remember Jesus’ lessons about the sparrows, and the lilies of the field, how can we help but be grateful for the whole of creation, and recognize the spiritual oneness expressed? —God taking care of creation, and creation knowing where to look for that care.

Science and Health clearly teaches that the substance of all things is Spirit (S31, 32). Mrs. Eddy was recorded as saying, “Every leaf upon every tree declares perpetually, that God is Love” (We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, Amplified Edition, Volume 2, p. 541). When we stand still, look away from the material picture, and turn to God, we can see the true substance of God’s wonderful works. Try it, and prepare to be amazed!

Look for an email coming soon with Warren Huff’s additions of insights and application ideas from Cobbey Crisler on some citations in the Christian Science Bible Lesson on “Substance” for March 18, 2018. Click here for online version now. Also posted now are Possible Sunday School Teaching ideas for this Christian Science Bible Lesson by Merrill Boudreaux, CS. They will be emailed tomorrow to our Sunday School newsletter subscribers

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