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Trust Your Angels; Listen and Follow Them!
Metaphysical Application Ideas for The Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on:

“Christian Science”
for December 25—31, 2023

By Craig L. Ghislin, C.S.  of Godfrey, Illinois
craig.ghislincs@icloud.com / office 630-830-8683,
cell 630-234-3987


Introduction

Have you ever had an angel visit? If you’re thinking, “No,” you probably have had not just one, but several without recognizing them. Angels are defined in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures as “God’s thoughts passing to man…” (SH 581:4). Many, including myself, have had some unmistakable angels of the biblical variety; but generally, for you and me they come in many different forms.

Sometimes they are a sudden point of seeing—although they are not merely a “bright idea.” They could be some solution we’re searching for, or they could arrive completely unexpected. Sometimes they come as subtle intuitions, and other times as bold instructions.

The first angel in this week’s Lesson is in the Golden Text. “Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared” (Ex. 23:20). Here God promises Moses that He will guide him in navigating to the promised land, and in leading the people. But there are certain characteristics in Moses’ experience that are common to many angelic encounters.

First, the angel comes from God to man. Second, it offers protection. Third, it guides the receiver to something God has prepared.

The next angel is in the Responsive Reading—Gabriel announces to Mary that she will give birth to Jesus. (See Luke 1:26 the angel, 27, 30-32 (to 1st :), 34, 35, 37, 38 (to 1st .), 46 My, 47.)

This angel was unexpected and revealed something that seemed impossible. Nazareth was an unlikely place for an angel to visit. Historians have translated the name Galilee in many unflattering ways, one of which is “district of the pagans.” Despite Mary’s surroundings she was devout, had found favor with God, and was receptive to the angel. She accepts the angel’s assurance to “fear not.” Unlike Sarah who laughed when the angels revealed she should bear a son in her old age (See Gen. 18:12), Mary humbly accepts the pronouncement but respectfully questions how this could be since she has no husband. The angel replies, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee…and that holy thing shall be called the Son of God.”

This is unheard of and seems impossible, yet the angel confirms “with God nothing is impossible.” At this point Mary doesn’t argue or hesitate. She yields completely and rejoices! This is a lesson for us. Sometimes our angels reveal something puzzling to us, or things that may indeed seem impossible. But even though we don’t understand it all, we trust God’s word and follow it.

As Paul says, when God’s angels come to us, we rejoice recognizing that we must say “yes!” to God’s promises and “Amen” to God’s glory (II Cor. 1:20). As The Bridgeway Bible Commentary puts it: “The Christian life is one of assurance and stability, because it is from God, it is in Christ, and it is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit.”


Section 1: Christian Science Is a Revelation

 This Lesson on Christian Science emphasizes that Mary Baker Eddy perceived the discovery of Christian Science as a revelation from God. To elucidate this, one theme for the Lesson is revelation, or prophecy. In particular, Jesus’ unprecedented mission was authorized by God. The Jews had long expected a coming Messiah, and Israel’s prophets long proclaimed it. One prophet was Malachi (Citation B1—Mal 3:1) whose name means “messenger, ambassador, or angel.”  Note that the messenger, or angel, has the way already prepared, it brings the truth to the temple—where you dwell. It is the messenger of the covenant, or agreement with God.

Isaiah too, pronounces that the glory of the Lord shall be revealed. Everyone shall see it because God has said it (cit. B2—Isa. 40:5, 11). Once God’s word is spoken, it is complete. This recalls John’s recognition of Jesus as “the Word” or logos—the idea and its expression or, manifestation. As with all prophecies, their word is true because God “hath spoken it.” Isaiah adds that God treats us as a shepherd does the sheep. He feeds, gathers, carries, and leads them.

As the angels appear to the shepherds, they herald the coming Messiah and thus the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies (cit. B3—Luke 2:8-14). In a familiar human response, the shepherds were first afraid of what was happening. For some four hundred years, angelic visions and prophecies had quieted. At the time, those close to the events of Jesus’ and John the Baptist’s arrival most likely kept their experiences private. So, though the shepherds were devout, they were the least likely to expect a multitude of angels heralding the Messiah’s birth. But their fear was quelled with a message of good tidings and great joy.

The shepherds in Luke’s gospel were already leaning on God and so should we. They were alert and watching. Mary Baker Eddy recounts the announcement of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds (cit. S1—vii:1-10) in the Preface of Science and Health, the Christian Science textbook. On page 107 the author begins a brief exposition of how she discovered Christian Science (cit. S2—107:1-3). She bluntly states that Christian Science was not an invention of her own. She writes, “The Bible has been my only authority” (cit. S3—126:29). Echoing Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy, she describes her discovery as gradual, but none-the-less God ordained and God-given (cit. S4—109:22).

Some people might think it’s a bit presumptuous of Mary Baker Eddy to liken the discovery of Christian Science to the coming of Jesus. But given the proven healing power of Christian Science, how can we not be reminded of Jesus’ promise? As bold an assertion that it may be, the fact stands that the author considered it as a revelation. She maintains that all the rules, laws, and their demonstration come straight from God and are eternal (cit. S5—112:16). In six words she makes perhaps one of the boldest statements in the entire book: “Christian Science and Christianity are one” (cit. S6—372:17-18). This again, underscores her position that Christian Science is not her own invention. It’s derived from her study of The Bible, and as a revelation from God, it has divine authority.


Section 2: Angelic Protection

Not everyone in the ancient world was eager to have a Messiah. The ruling powers of the day were not willing to give up their positions. Perhaps this explains Ezekiel’s prophesy regarding Israel as lost sheep and unfaithful shepherds (cit. B4—Ezek. 34:11 thus, 12, 16 (to :), 25, 26).

The Bridgeway Bible Commentary offers some background information on Ezekiel’s position:
“The leaders of Israel…were supposed to be shepherds, but instead of caring for the people they exploited them. Their sole concern was for themselves…Because of their neglect of the flock, the sheep were attacked and scattered. Because of the corruption of its leaders, Israel was destroyed by hostile nations and its people taken captive into foreign countries….

“God himself will be their new shepherd. He will feed them and care for them…While being sympathetic to those who are afflicted, he will act with strict justice against those who are oppressive.”

God promises to be a shepherd to us. We are already His. We don’t have to earn it. God protects us by eliminating danger. Even our challenges will bless us.

When word of Jesus’ birth reached Herod, he immediately searched for a way to destroy the child. No surprise that another angel comes to Joseph to direct the young family to safety (cit. B5—Matt. 2:13 behold, 14). Once again, Joseph, like Mary, obeys even though the directives may not have seemed logical.

John Calvin (1509-1564) puts Joseph’s directive to flee to Egypt in an interesting light. He points out our need to be flexible and open minded regarding our angels.

We are here taught, that God has more than one way of preserving his own people…Let us permit him to advance our salvation by a diversity of methods; and let us not refuse to be humbled…This flight is a part of the foolishness of the cross, but it surpasses all the wisdom of the world. That he may appear at his own time as the Savior of Judea, he is compelled to flee from it, and is nourished by Egypt, from which nothing but what was destructive to the Church of God had ever proceeded. Who would not have regarded with amazement such an unexpected work of God?

Are we always willing to comply with our angels even if they point in unexpected or unwanted directions? Note that Joseph wasn’t told to go to Egypt until Herod died, but until God told him to move. He was to obey and wait. This is another instance of our need for patience when our angels reveal directions a little at a time.

The entire world resisted the Christ and still does today. Two major factions that resisted Jesus’ mission were the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The religious objections to Jesus’ message were more doctrinal than personal. According to the Bridgeway Bible Commentary, the Pharisees were mainly concerned with the outward show of religion, while Jesus emphasized reformation from within. The Sadducees were generally from the wealthy classes and more concerned with exercising power and following Jewish tradition. Jesus’ teachings were unconcerned with wealth and power and demanded something beyond tradition. After the crucifixion the religious opposition extended to the disciples, for not only did they preach Jesus’ teachings and continue healing, but their message also stressed Jesus’ resurrection which was anathema to the Sadducees. The apostles’ response was to pray for healing to demonstrate their divine authority (cit. B6—Acts 4:26, 29, 30).

In Romans, Paul writes one of the most well-known and comforting assurances to Christians regarding their safety amid persecution. We can’t be separated from God. No matter what we face, we are the conquerors (cit. B7—Rom.  8:35, 37). Theologian Adam Clarke (c.1760-1832) points out that the question doesn’t mean “Who shall separate Christ from us,” but rather, “Who shall separate us from Christ?” In other words, it’s not a question of any outside circumstance separating God from us. The question is, “Is anything capable of causing us to yield our love for Christ?”

The Glossary of our textbook includes the definition of Christ (cit. S7—583:10). Christ’s purpose is to manifest God and destroy the errors of the flesh. It often seems that the world is equally committed to destroying everything godly. Herod is a case in point (cit. S8—565:9-18). The cruelty of Herod’s edict is unthinkable. Yet no degree of evil can overthrow the healing power of Christ. Religious dogmatism and pride are still determined to stamp out the message of Christian Science. While I work regularly to find ways to join with our Christian cousins of other faiths, we sadly saw a Christian film last week, that preached evil wasn’t an “absence of good,” but a powerful “presence” working against good. This belief proclaimed in the movie is grounded in the false theology that there are two opposing powers in the universe. Admittedly, evil parades a false sense of power, but it can only be vanquished by the correct understanding that God is the only power.

Mary Baker Eddy was well aware that her theological position of God’s supremacy stood in direct opposition to the traditional teachings of good and evil as equal in power (cit. S11 293:28). This may have been one of the reasons she persevered in regularly stating that God prepared her for her mission and that Christian Science was given to her through divine power alone (cit. S9—107:3-10), (cit. S10—108:1-4).

The “equipollence” of God denoted in citation (cit. S12—SH 110:9), refers to the fact that her recognition of God as supreme led her to understand the logical nothingness of evil. Equipollence is “when two propositions signify the same thing, though differently expressed.”

Christian Science doesn’t make sense if we view the world based on sense evidence, or human reasoning. Christian Science is beyond time or human beliefs. It is revealed by God and demonstrable in practical ways. It is imperious—which means commanding, powerful, dictatorial, and authoritative; it’s inviolate—meaning unhurt, uninjured, unprofaned, unpolluted, unbroken; and it’s forever available for everyone to practice (cit. S13—98:15).


Section 3: We All Have Divine Authority to Heal

Throughout history people have tended to prioritize rule enforcement rather than internal reformation. Jeremiah foretold a new covenant in which the very hearts of men were infused with the spirit of the law as well as of the letter (cit. B8— Jer. 31:33 this). As with all true prophesy, the coming changes weren’t a product of human reasoning, they were ordained by God. Paul also emphasized God’s hand in the Christian mission. The gospel is established, anointed, sealed, given in earnest. (cit. B9—II Cor. 1:21, 22). “Sealed” here refers to a wax seal proving that the correspondence was authentic and unadulterated.

In both the stories of Peter’s mother-in-law (cit. B10—Matt. 8:14, 15), and of the women’s healings (cit. B11—Luke 8:1-3), it’s mentioned that all these women ministered to Jesus. Contemporary Professor of Biblical Exposition Dr. Thomas Constable points out that it may have been more difficult for women to become disciples than for men, “since women of that time were very closely bound to the family-involving a sharp break with social expectations and normal responsibilities” (Dr. Constable’s Expository Notes). Jesus’ mission included everybody irrespective of age, gender or nationality (cit. B12—I John 4:14).

Science and Health agrees that Jesus’ mission confirmed prophecy, and that what were deemed miracles throughout Jewish history were natural proofs of divine power (cit. S14—131:26-30). Similarly, modern healings through Christian Science prove Jesus’ healings also to be natural. The correlation of Jesus’ healing method to Christian Science healing runs throughout the textbook. Jesus derived his authority from God and so do we (cit. S15—26:12). That method included Jesus’ ability to see men as God sees them rather than accepting what the material senses were reporting (cit. S16—476:32-4). Jesus confirmed this method when he said, “I and my Father are One” (John 10:30). This angered the Pharisees in much the same way Mary Baker Eddy’s declaration that “Christian Science and Christianity are one” angered the theologians of her time.

Constantly reinforcing her claim that her discovery was biblical and divinely ordained, she addresses public doubt in the Preface. Physical healing in Christian Science is not a product of the human mind. Healing is divine Principle in operation—as natural as light eliminating darkness. It’s proof of “a divine influence EVER-PRESENT in human consciousness” [emphasis added] (cit. S17—xi:1-24). It’s practice and method aren’t reserved for a male-dominated clerical hierarchy but are available to everyone (cit. S18—37:22-25).


Section 4: The Comforter

The theme of the light shining in the darkness runs throughout Scripture and is repeated many times by Paul (cit. B13— II Cor. 4:6). Theologian Adam Clarke observes:
“As sure, therefore, as God is the author of the light and the creator of the universe, so sure is he the author of the Gospel; it is no human invention; and is as far beyond the power of man’s wisdom and might, as the creation of the world is beyond all created power, energy, and skill.”

According to John’s Gospel, Jesus uttered these words immediately after Judas left to betray him. “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him” (cit. B14—John 13:31 Jesus) This same light glorified Jesus’ mission and our own as well.

 Coffman’s Commentaries on the Bible make the point that Jesus, rather than being a helpless victim, accepted his mission willingly—in order to bring about the fulfillment of the prophecies. He writes:

John wished to stress that the sufferings and death of Christ were not forced upon Jesus by circumstances out of his control…It was the Saviour’s obedience to God’s will that glorified both himself and the Father with whom he was one. Far from cowering before the blackness of the gathering storm, Jesus sent the traitor to perform the act that would trigger its release.

The commentary goes on to say that the storm to follow was not the one the Pharisees expected. What they thought would be the end of Jesus and his mission was actually the beginning of his victory over the grave, and the impetus that would launch his mission to endure throughout time.

John also records two remarkable statements (cit. B15—John 14:12, 25, 26) that Christian Scientists accept without reservation:

  • Jesus’ declaration that his followers would do greater works.
  • The promised Comforter would explain how to do them.

No doubt the disciples and Paul felt the weight of those words. But we sometimes forget that Paul felt the constant need to substantiate his mission as well as we do. He often underscored that God begins this holy work, and God will also perform it (cit. B16—Phil. 1:2, 6 he). We too, can trust that God will guide the work in our lives as well.

Though the idea that the promised Comforter would appear almost two thousand years after Jesus, and that it would be realized by a woman seems absurd to many. But the Comforter is a biblical idea. Jesus promised it would come. Why wouldn’t it be Christian Science?

Mary Baker Eddy did not side-step the issue. She points out that the promised Comforter would teach us all things (cit. S19—271:20-22). Also, though the Master practiced healing he only taught his students the generalities of his method. Christian Science teaches us the “how.” It reveals the divine Principle of healing (cit. S20—147:24).

On page 123 of Science and Health, the author describes the two parts of her revelation:

  1. It’s discovery through the Comforter as promised by Jesus.
  2. The proof of the EVER-OPERATIVE divine Principle which indicates the “eternality of the scientific order and continuity of being” (cit. S21—123:19-29).

After recounting a healing through Christian Science (cit. S22—382:24) we have an arresting statement as to the “how” of healing: “Become conscious for a single moment that Life and intelligence are purely spiritual, — neither in nor of matter, — and the body will then utter no complaints” (cit. S23—14:12-15, 25). This approach seems simple enough, but it still describes an aim. The process of achieving that aim requires study and practice. The practice involves recognizing that the consciousness of “nothing but God” is entirely outside of human reasoning. It is revealed through the receptivity of angel thoughts which give us understanding and divine authority.


Section 5: The Little Book

Further biblical support for the divine origin of Christian Science is found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. He explains that there are some spiritual truths that are not completely understood at this juncture, but they will become clearer as our spiritual understanding increases (cit. B17—I Cor. 13:12 now). Paul’s language evokes comparisons to Moses who saw God clearly face to face, and to other prophets who saw obscurely through dreams and visions.

John had a prophetic vision while exiled on Patmos, but it was a clear one. A mighty angel holding a little book and a directive to read it and share the message before many people (cit. B19—Rev. 10:1, 2, 10 (to ;), 11). Ah, there’s another angel. The similarities of the angel holding a book to the discovery of Christian Science cannot be overlooked.

In his explanation of this angelic directive Theologian Albert Barnes (1798-1870) provides more to ponder:
“The word “prophesy” here is evidently used in the large sense of making known divine truth in general; not in the comparatively narrow and limited sense in which it is commonly used, as referring merely to the foretelling of future events…. The meaning is, that, as a consequence of becoming possessed of the little volume and its contents, he would be called to proclaim divine truth, or to make the message of God known to mankind…. The effect of thus possessing the “little volume,” or of the “open book” of revealed truth, would ultimately be that the message of life would be carried with power before princes and rulers, and would influence them as well as the common people.”

Barnes’ description could easily be applied to the discovery of Christian Science and the writing of Science and Health. The author could not help but notice the imagery of a “little book,” She tells us without reservation, the angel “clothed with a cloud” prefigures divine Science” (cit. S24—558:9-16). It may seem obscure at first, but as we grow in understanding, it has “a light above the sun.” She also mentions the “little book.” Notice that here, she doesn’t dictate an answer, but she presents the question, “Did this same book contain the revelation of divine Science…?” (cit. S25—559:1-8). It’s up to us to find out through demonstration.

Unquestionably, she was convinced of the divine origin of her discovery, and that Jesus foretold and promised it would come. Although much of the emphasis over the years by Christian Scientists has been on physical healing, the Discoverer tells us this is just to prove its divine origin, and that the “higher mission of the Christ-power [is] to take away the sins of the world” (cit. S26—150:4).

Proof that her claims are legitimate lay with us—with our individual demonstrations (cit. S27—546:27). The Discoverer had full confidence that we would be able to prove it for ourselves (cit. S28—547:6). Each of us are pioneers of this holy practice. Truth is revealed and available to us all (cit. S29—174:14, 20).

The questions are. “Are we available to the Truth?” “Are we open to our angels, listening to them, and obeying their direction?”

Can I get a “YES!!” and an “AMEN!


GREAT NEWS! Thru 2023, gifts will still be MATCHED to:

  • Complete needed facility RENOVATIONS for CedarS JR. LEADERSHIP’s upcoming 50th summer!
  • Support CedarS OPERATIONS excellence, horse program & needed GIVING TREE items

We hope you’ll enjoy a 3-minute video made to inspire donations from “Giving Tuesday” thru year-end with our vision for the JL 50th Project and for CedarS as a whole at these links:
Learn More about the JL 50th Project

Give to the Junior Leadership Renovation Fund

Donate to the Giving Tree


 GEMs of BIBLE-BASED application ideas (from Cobbey Crisler & others) will be emailed later this week.  You can always check for in-process GEMs before then at CedarS INSPIRATION website, whether or not you’ve  SUBSCRIBED here for this free, inspirational offering.


Also later in the week, look for Ken Cooper’s
”POETIC POSTLUDE”
contributions related to this Bible Lesson.


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