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Wait on God and Embrace the Process!
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on:

“Probation After Death”
for April 19—25, 2021

by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. Godfrey, IL / (630) 830-8683; cell/text (630) 234-3987

For AUDIO click on

Are you used to getting things fast? These days a wide variety of goods and services are at the end of our fingertips and the click of a mouse. We’re not used to waiting for things. To wait requires patience. In fact, the subject of this Lesson implies the need for patience. Probation means: “the act of proving; trial; examination; any proceeding designed to ascertain truth” (Student’s Reference Dictionary). How does this apply to prayer? In Christian Science there is an expectation of quick healing, and if things take more time than we expected we can be tempted to get frustrated and discouraged. None-the-less, we persevere because we have hope. Our hope isn’t that eventually time will allow the body to heal itself, nor in the latest scientific discoveries. Our hope is fueled by knowing that we are in the process of ascertaining the truth about ourselves as children of God. Like the psalmist in the Golden Text, our “expectation is from him” (Ps 62:5).

In the Responsive Reading Peter’s first epistle speaks of a “lively hope” fueled by Jesus’ resurrection. At the same time, it acknowledges that there are certain “seasons” of life in which we endure “heaviness through manifold temptations” and trials by fire that lead to the “salvation of [our] souls.” Trials are a proving ground. Most of us would rather avoid trials by fire, but knowing trials are proofs of God’s care and bring us to clearer understanding gives us hope. It should be noted that Peter is commending those who have not had first-hand experience with Jesus and still, even through trials, are filled with joyful expectation. Some of those reading this week’s Lesson might not yet have seen personal proof of the healing power of Christ. If so, consider this an invitation to join in this “lively hope.”

SECTION 1: A Solid Foundation for Hope

I was listening to a YouTube discussion between a Buddhist monk and a physicist on the nature of reality. A friend suggested I look into it, and I was intrigued because I’ve heard some pretty metaphysical concepts coming from physicists over the years. But this particular physicist was a total atheist. He believed in nothing after death, and even went so far as to say that all living things basically have an expiration date—which is to say you get so many heartbeats, and that’s it—game over. He was proud of that viewpoint. The Buddhist monk avoided debating theology, but he pointed out that, to date, very little empirical research has been done on “consciousness,” and what many people call the “soul.” He suggested that perhaps the physicist might open his mind to entertain the possibility of something beyond empirical measurements, and that more efforts could be made to research consciousness.

The limited concept of life and consciousness held by that physicist was one of the most depressing things I’ve ever heard. I pondered how different existence would seem to me if I believed that. I would be without hope, and without God.

Good news though—we have the Bible filled with evidence that gives us reason to hope in eternal life. While there are today, as in Bible times, many believers who have “not seen,” and still believe; it should be acknowledged that there are also untold numbers today, who have seen and experienced first hand the healing power of Christ. For those who have seen, nothing can dim their faith and hope in God.

Jeremiah is one who had first hand experience that enabled him to share this insight regarding the relationship of God and man: “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end….And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord” (citation B1—Jeremiah 29:11 I know, 13, 14 (to 🙂).

Paul also makes this remarkable statement: “…in him we live, and move, and have our being” (cit. B2—Acts 17:28). As we’ve discussed many times before, the majority of Bible scholars and theologians take Paul’s words metaphorically. But Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer, and Founder of Christian Science, takes them literally. To me, Paul’s words are “my strength and song,” that enable me to sing with the psalmist, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord” (cit. B3—Ps. 118:14, 17).

The Christian Science textbook, Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures, doesn’t reason from empirical, material sense evidence. The author writes, “We all must learn that Life is God” (citation S1—SH 469:9 only). This follows Paul’s line of thought that God who made all things, cannot dwell within the confinements of matter. God, being the giver of all life, is Life itself. This Life of all things, cannot be defined or limited to a finite number of heartbeats, and is certainly not dependent on a body for its existence. Nothing can contain or erase it (cit. S3—SH 289:32).

The physicist and the monk had opposing views of life after death. Another view comes from traditional Christian theology which sees death of the body as a doorway that brings the faithful immediately to an eternal life. Mary Baker Eddy had another view. She posits that life is “never attainable through death,”—that the only way to Life is to continue “in the pathway of Truth both before and after that which is called death” (cit. S4—SH 487:3-6). The confidence in that declaration is built on the author’s personal experience. Notice in citation 5 of Science and Health that she embraces the process of ascertaining the truth before death as well as after (SH 239:16). As we learn our way in Christian Science, we too, will eventually behold the reality of eternal life and all the glories accompanying that awareness (cit. S6—SH 264:28).

SECTION 2: What Do You Expect?

With expectations placed squarely on God, the psalmist is fully convinced that God is the strength of his life (cit. B4—Ps. 27:1,8). With God on his side, he isn’t afraid of anything. Proverbs assures us that placing our expectations and hope in God is about as secure a place as we can be. But those who look to the world for security, satisfaction, and peace will always be frustrated, because there is no safe place in worldly thinking (cit. B5—Prov. 10:28). In his letter to the Romans Paul observes that those who are earthly minded contemplate and seek fleshly things, and those who are spiritually minded seek heavenly things. Then he warns us that to focus on things of the flesh leads to death (cit. B6—Rom. 8:5-9). He says this is because the carnal, or fleshly mind, is not subject to the law of God. That means there is nothing compatible between flesh and Spirit. That might seem a little too black and white for some of us. We like to think that we can find a gentler approach—a way to merge the two. But these twain never meet. So, the only way to reach Spirit and Life is to part ways with the flesh.

Contemporary Pastor Mark Dunagan acknowledges the human tendency to look for gray areas noting that some argue that sin is permissible, “just so long as your heart is right.” But he points out that James 1:14 tells us something goes awry in our heart when people allow themselves to be “carried away” by their own lusts.

Dunagan continues:

Minding the flesh and serving God are two things that cannot be made to harmonize! So much for those that claim “Christianity has nothing to do with my personal life”. Many people fool themselves into thinking that they can serve God acceptably and yet hold on to a mental perspective that is filled with immoral and godless thoughts. Paul says, “as long as a person allows their heart/love/mind/affections to be centered on the things of this physical world, there is no way that such an individual is going to subject themselves to the law of God. Therefore, how ridiculous to say that my gospel teaches that Christians can continue in sin!

As we know, giving up the ways of the flesh is easier said than done. The flesh despises being dumped and puts up a fight. Here’s where we have to get serious. The teachings of Christian Science echo Paul’s sentiment, and declare that the flesh and evil are not to be accommodated or managed, but rather, destroyed. We all like to contemplate spiritual things and imagine ourselves as being holy to some degree; and we hope that maybe some day in the future, we’ll just suddenly lose interest in the flesh and straightway be spiritually minded. But we have to do the work to get there. Thinking about it isn’t enough. We have to strive for it (cit. S7—SH 10:12-26). Our textbook is blunt about our hesitancy to embrace this endeavor, naming our slavery to “fashion, pride, and sense” as primary deterrents (cit. S8—SH 68:2). Our remedy is to “cherish nothing which hinders our highest selfhood.”

It’s been said that every “yes” is a “no” to something, and vice versa. So, remember that every “yes” to spirituality and goodness, is a “no” to materiality (cit. S9—SH 213:11). If you find it difficult to say “no” to temptation and worldly thinking, try saying, “yes” to Spirit. Remember, there’s no compatibility between them, so focusing on Spirit will aid in resisting evil. By the same token, focusing on material things interferes with our efforts toward spirituality. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. So make your choice, and take your stand.

It’s popular today to say, something like, “all roads lead to truth.” But Science and Health states, “There is but one way to heaven, harmony, and Christ in divine Science shows us this way. It is to know no other reality—to have no other consciousness of life—than good, God and His reflection, and to rise superior to the so-called pain and pleasure of the senses” (cit. S10—242:9). While it’s true that everyone will eventually wake up to the reality of eternal life, you really can’t expect to get there through indulgence of the material senses. At some point, even that road will have to be given up for a spiritual path.

SECTION 3: The Way Is Straight and Narrow—Read that again!

On Instagram, it’s common to see some pop wisdom ending with the phrase, “Read that again.” That’s what this section does. In case the point made in Section 2 didn’t quite “land,” Section 3 underscores it. We tend to remember only what we want to hear, so this important point is repeated: “The way is straight and narrow” (cit. B9—Matt. 7:13,14).

Notice that this section is introduced by Luke 4:14 (cit. B7) which mentions that Jesus returns “in the power of the Spirit.” It refers to his emergence from the wilderness victorious after a hard fought battle with Satan. The adversary promised him everything, including a shortcut that would allow Jesus to bypass the trials he was to face. But Jesus resisted, and remained steadfast in obedience to God, and in faithful adherence to his mission.

In Luke 10:25-28 (cit. B8) a lawyer questions Jesus. In his commentary on Luke, a prolific contemporary of Mary Baker Eddy, Joseph S. Exell (1849-1910) points out that people would generally expect a lawyer to be sincere when questioning someone of Jesus’ stature, and he would ask an honest question. But this lawyer is baiting Jesus. Exell writes, “He asked a right question, but he asked in the wrong spirit.” Have you ever done that? I have. Sometimes you know the right answer before you ask it, but on the odd chance you’ll get an answer more to your liking you ask it anyway. The Christ always gives us the answer we need, even if we’d rather it be something else. The Christ always keeps us on the right path.

Jesus said we have but to ask and we shall find our answers plainly. Worldly opinion casts a very wide net and tolerates all sorts of possible ways to go. But the way to Spirit and eternal life is straight and narrow. Nobody said following that way would be easy. Human nature rebels at every turn. Sometimes we pay dearly for attempting to enter the gate to life another way, but Paul assures us that our present sufferings are nothing compared to the benefits we’ll receive from obedience (cit. B10—Rom. 8:16, 18, 19).

Our textbook reiterates the theme of this section: “The way is straight and narrow which leads to the understanding that God is the only Life” (cit. S12—SH 324:13). What follows is an acknowledgement that this path isn’t easy. It’s warfare. But we don’t often act with the urgency of warfare. We sort of drift along and try to get by with as little hardship as we imagine we can get away with. The author of Science and Health doesn’t mince words. She basically says we can’t lay around and pay no attention to spiritual directives while expecting to get a free pass to eternal heavenly life (cit. S13—SH 409:28). This hearkens back to the old theological belief that dying gets you into heaven. Science and Health says if you don’t pay attention to spiritual teachings here, you won’t be ready for spiritual life in the hereafter. The only way to get there is to begin right now living according to spiritual law and following Jesus’ example (cit. S14—SH 192: 27-29).

This requires intention, dedication, and obedience, and it can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. In fact, it’s a natural thing for all of us to do. We may not understand all of it right now, but we will eventually. Just as Jesus told us, all we have to do is ask, so here, all we have to do is begin where we are, and practice what we learn (cit. S15—SH406: 20-25). Truth doesn’t change. What was true centuries ago is still true today. Our part is to ask, trust, learn, and obey by implementing what we learn. It may not be what we want to learn, but that’s not our choice. If we want to get there, pay attention, and obey (cit. S16—SH495: 2-3, 20).

SECTION 4: Hard Fought Proof

In the Section 3 we saw that Jesus didn’t take the tempter’s bait by bowing down to worldly methods and bypassing the difficult work that lay ahead of him. Jesus faced more challenges than most of us can imagine, and he earned the standing to expect others to follow that narrow path too. His example infuriated the religious leadership of his time to the point where they condemned him to death (cit. B11, Mark 14:55,56, B12—Mark 15:1, 25). Had Jesus taken a worldly path, or gone with the flow of public opinion, they might not have crucified him. But, then he wouldn’t have given us evidence of eternal life either. Everything he taught would have remained theoretical.

However difficult, Jesus obediently met the challenge, and as the Scriptures tell us, he overcame the grave, and was seen multiple times by his disciples and others. He appeared first to Mary Magdalene (cit. B13—Mark 16:1, 5-7, 9, 10). Jesus’ victory over the grave, offered proof of all he had said, and it was the event that cemented his message and changed the world. As Paul puts it in The Amplified Bible, “the fact is that Christ (the Messiah) has been raised from the dead, and He became the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep [in death].”

Though all Christian churches base their message and existence on Jesus’ resurrection, there are differing views as to what actually happened. Mary Baker Eddy’s understanding of that event is based on her understanding that God is the only Life, and that since God is Life itself, nothing can erase it for anyone. She notes that Jesus could have escaped from his enemies thereby bypassing the agony of the crucifixion. Most theologians take that to mean he could have used miraculous power to destroy his enemies or give in to their taunts to come down from the cross—but it seems to me, that when she says he “had power to lay down a human sense of life for his spiritual identity” she was saying that he could have ascended without the crucifixion. However, he allowed men to attempt to destroy him in order to fulfill his mission—to prove that nothing could destroy our Life (cit. S17—SH 51:6). Matter doesn’t have life to give or to lose because God is our Life. As Mary Baker Eddy saw it, Jesus spent his three days after the crucifixion in consecrated prayer in order to prove everything he taught (cit. S18—SH 44:5).

Science and Health defines resurrection: “Spiritualization of thought; a new and higher idea of immortality, or spiritual existence; material belief yielding to spiritual understanding” (cit. S19—SH 593:9). As we examine each phrase, we notice that this definition is unique in Christian theology. Each phrase describes a condition that each one of us can accomplish. Resurrection isn’t only coming back from the dead. It’s waking up from a belief of life in matter, and realizing that what we call “death” isn’t the end at all.

In fact, in Christian Science, we’re expected to progress out of worldly belief through spiritualization of thought (cit. S20—SH265:5). This isn’t some nebulous theory, but a practical path for all to follow (cit. S21—SH31:14-17). So if Christian Science teaches that death of the body is not the stepping-stone to life, what is it, if anything, that dies? It’s our false material sense, and sin. As we let go of the mortal we seem to be, our real, eternal life is revealed (cit. S22—SH296:10).

SECTION 5: Out of Defeat Comes the Secret of Victory

This section poses some interesting questions. Jesus’ capture, trial, and crucifixion had happened very quickly. Only a week beforehand they seemed to be entering Jerusalem in triumph, but now the disciples were crestfallen. The one they thought to be the redeemer of Israel had been executed. As two of them walked to Emmaus, could their disillusion and grief have been so strong that they didn’t recognize Jesus when he approached them? If we read this citation out of context, we miss the fact that these men had already heard that Jesus’ tomb was found empty, and there were reports that he was alive. Yet still, they couldn’t comprehend that it was true. Part of their disappointment seems to be that Jesus didn’t fulfill the mission in the way they expected.

As Jesus walked with them they recounted the events of the past three days to him, and expressed their disappointment. Jesus called them “fools” and “slow of heart.” How could they be so unwilling to accept all that the prophets had written, and all Jesus had taught just because it didn’t fit in to their limited concepts? Jesus re-assumed his role as teacher and schooled them in all the Scriptures said about him. Though they’d reached their destination, they still didn’t quite get the message. They felt moved to invite Jesus to stay and eat with them. He consented and as he blessed and broke bread and gave it to them their eyes were finally opened.

As we consider this account, think about a time when you might have had an apparent negative reversal of fortune. Things were going great and then the rug was pulled out from under you. Nothing went the way you hoped it would have. In such times the Christ is still patiently there for us, reminding us of Scripture and staying with us when we need more help, until we get the message. We can find comfort in recognizing the lessons each of us must learn as we progress in our spiritual understanding. Some lessons are very hard. As Jesus’ students felt the need for him to stay with them without necessarily knowing the outcome, or who he was, we too, can follow our inclination to stay with the Christ until we find our answers.

The scriptures are filled with examples of defeat being turned into victory through healing, and obedience to divine direction. For Paul Jesus’ victory over the grave was proof that even when faced with the most threatening of situations, the Christ shows us the path to victory. (cit. B16—1 Cor. 15:55, 57).

To Mary Baker Eddy, the walk to Emmaus was proof of a “probationary and progressive state beyond the grave” (cit. S23—SH46: 5, 20-26). Notice that in her description of the events around the crucifixion she uses the words, “after what seemed to be death.” To the senses, it can certainly seem that sin, disease, and death are realities. Especially in the case of death, the evidence of the senses seems to be irreversible. But it isn’t. Although those around him had given up, Jesus hadn’t. Jesus continued working and praying throughout the whole experience. Not only did Jesus prove that the appearance of death was not as final as everyone believes, but he also demonstrated that death is not the stepping-stone to eternal life. Even after what seems to be death, there is still work to do until we rise completely beyond all material conditions. This is true for all of us. We, like Jesus, “must depart from material sense into the spiritual sense of being” (cit. S24—SH 41:6).

SECTION 6: Hitting a Wall? Keep Moving!

If anyone knew about the struggle involved in spiritual growth it was Peter. In his second letter he urges us to “grow in grace” (cit. B17—2 Pet. 3:18). Many consider their conversion, and spiritual awakening as an act of grace, but conversion and awakening are just the first steps. If we don’t continue to grow, we will remain infants in faith, or our faith will wither away. Peter had faced more than his share of ups and downs. According to the gospels, his first encounter with the risen Jesus was after a night of fishing without yielding a catch. Now, even after seeing his risen Master since the crucifixion, he is still experiencing a great deal of remorse and lethargy. He tells his fellow disciples he’s going fishing, and they join him (cit. B18—John 21:2-6, 9, 12, 14). What else are they to do? It seems they’re on their own and have lost the impetus to carry their Master’s mission forward. Have you ever felt that way? You have had extremes of elation and dejection, and after a lull you just want to go back to the ease of something comfortable…

As in Peter’s first encounter with Jesus, they again catch nothing during the night; and in the morning, Jesus tells them to cast their nets on the right side. Once again their nets fill with fish, and at once they realize that it’s Jesus on the shore. When they get there, he already has breakfast waiting for them. From that day forward, the disciples leave their old lives behind, and fully embrace their Master’s cause. At some point in our spiritual journeys, we will leave all our worldly ways behind for the pursuit of spiritual life.

Paul’s letter to the Colossians refers to Christ, as “our life” (cit. B19—Col. 3:4). Dunagan writes, “The Christian greatly gains by giving over their life to Christ. Carefully note, that when the Christian gives up “self”, they give up something very small, very unimportant in the long run. In giving up “self”, we gain “life,” and we will eventually gain eternal glory.”

Mary Baker Eddy expected Christian Scientists to fully embrace the Christ too. That doesn’t mean we have to all quit our jobs. It means we have to quit letting the world define us and incorporate spiritual pursuits into our lives. We are to celebrate Jesus’ victory over the grave and over material life itself (cit. S25—SH35: 10). We are also expected to obey and follow Jesus’ example by drinking his cup, partaking of his bread, and being baptized with his purity (cit. S26—SH31: 17-22). That is—to be willing to do the work it takes to understand and demonstrate what we’re taught. In the last three citations of this Lesson (cits. S28—254:10, S29—SH485:14-17, S30—SH326:20-21) our Leader promises that as we wait on God, and honestly seek Truth, God will guide us safely along the path. She doesn’t expect us to leap into this blindly, but rather, to take it step by step. Beginning aright is no small task. She doesn’t pretend it will be easy, but she does promise that if we approach the task honestly and sincerely, with true motives, God will show us the way.

Please join us each week for a 7pm CDT Hymn Sing! You can sing along with CedarS host musicians and hundreds of worldwide friends hymns that you all request. Click here for a link and fuller details.

Invite family, church and other friends and even neighbors to join us by Zoom EVERY week at 7pm Central Time for CedarS Sunday Hymn Sings. (A precious prelude precedes each sing at 6:45pm Central Daylight-savings Time (CDT.) We encourage singing along in Zoom’s gallery view to share the joy of seeing dear ones in virtual family-church reunions that bless all generations.

To protect privacy and copyrights, these “brief, but spectacular” sessions are NOT recorded. So, calibrate your time-zone clocks, mark your calendars, and remind friends, so that no one misses any of these inspiring, weekly reminders of our precious, spiritual oneness with each other and with our ever-loving, Father-Mother God who owns and embraces us all!

Lovingly singing prayers and praise to God for 30 minutes each Sunday is such a warm, “Welcome Home” tradition to bless the start of each week with joyous, peaceful GRACE. (Our 2021 theme.) We have loved singing-in this grace with longtime as well as first-time friends—not only from ALL 50 of the United States, but also from 21 other countries! So far, our “Hymn Sing family” has clicked or dialed-in from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, England, Germany, Ghana, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, New Zealand, Pakistan, Paraguay, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Scotland, Spain, South Africa, Switzerland, as well as from each of the United States! In the universal language of divine Love, thestill, small voice’ of scientific thought reaches over continent and ocean to the globe’s remotest bound.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, p. 559:8–10)

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