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Editor’s Note: The following background information and application ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson for this week are offered primarily to help CedarS campers and staff see and demonstrate the great value of daily study of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp. If more information or the text of this Lesson is desired, please see the Director’s Note at the end. The citations referenced in the “met” (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. The Bible and Science and Health are the ordained pastor of Churches of Christ, Scientist. The Bible Lesson is the sermon read in Christian Science church services throughout the world. (Other reference books are fully noted at the end.)

We “Won’t Get Fooled Again” – Lesson application ideas for: “MATTER”
(The Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson for September 12-18, 2005)
by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. of Bartlett, Illinois

It looks to human sense as though everything is matter and that matter is substantial and real. The material senses fool us into believing the material view of creation. This Lesson gives us a different picture. The Golden Text begins with God’s call to all His creation to come to Him. We are reminded that God is the only God. “There is none else.” This is an unqualified statement of spiritual fact. But it flies right in the face of what appears to the material senses.

The Responsive Reading points out that in “the beginning of eternity” there was the “Word” or Logos. In Greek, the word had two meanings: “(A) the word or that by which the inward thought is expressed, (B) the inward thought itself” (Greek-English Lexicon, Lindell and Scott). As used in the New Testament both meanings apply. God’s Word is within Him, is one with Him and expresses His divinity. “The Word is not only the Creator of the world, but is also its Life and Light”-the sustainer and instructor of creation (Dummelow). The light “stands in eternal contrast and opposition to the darkness.” The firmament is a “fixed spot in the midst of chaos from which a start can be made” (Abingdon).

As light “stands in eternal contrast and opposition to the darkness,” so Spirit stands in eternal contrast and opposition to matter. As you study this Lesson note how often the power of Spirit overturns the seeming power of matter. Everything God made was good-everything was “perfect for the purpose for which God designed it” (Dummelow). God’s creation is spiritual. The rest of the Lesson explains away the false belief that matter was part of that creation. Once we get the real picture we can’t be fooled by the senses any more.

SECTION I – Spirit Is the Creator
This section is about the true creation. It’s interesting that Psalm 104 (B1) is older than the first chapter of Genesis (Interpreter’s). But still there is no question about the origin of creation. Matter had nothing to do with it. The next citation (B2) confirms that God reigns forever. “…Since God’s authority governs the whole sweep of history, it will eventually be recognized by all mankind” (ibid.). Even though matter appears to have been given a part in creation, the pre-eminence of Spirit will eventually be recognized. Paul states that if we are to know the things that God has made, God alone can provide those answers (B4).

Science and Health makes a clear distinction between what God has made and matter. Matter is a human concept (S&H 1). The word “concept” means an image that one holds in thought when the eyes are closed. This is different from a “perception” which is an image seen with one’s eyes open. So matter isn’t really an object or a condition. It is an “error of statement”-a false presentation of what’s really there. This false view is held in mortal mind with eyes shut (no spiritual sense). It is not the view we have of reality when our eyes (our spiritual sense) are open. God never made matter. This is a significant point that is sometimes overlooked or misunderstood. Matter is completely false. Sometimes it’s even beautiful, but it’s “always erroneous.” As our understanding of God grows, we will see more of the real creation (S&H 2). Notice the words that Mrs. Eddy uses in connection with matter: “unlikeness, error of statement, mortal phenomenon, it disappears.” On the other hand, Spirit is “the only real, all-power, all-science, all-presence, the only substance.” Reasoning from the standpoint of Spirit, metaphysics “explains away matter” (S&H 5).

SECTION II – There Can Be Only One
One of the great things about the book of Revelation is that in it, the victory is claimed before the battle is over. Citation B6 is an example of that. It anticipates the coming of the kingdom of heaven. That’s how we need to think regarding the battle of matter versus Spirit. Even though it seems that the battle is still going on, we can rejoice that Spirit is already the victor. Elihu held his tongue while his elders argued their religious philosophies about Job’s condition. Finally, Elihu spoke up. He said the Spirit (B7) moved him. He declared the impartial justice of God. “He [God] is the one who designs the universe and all his works and dispensations are absolutely just, since in no way does He show regard to human pretensions” (B8) (Interpreter’s). Elihu had a powerful idea from God. He waited until the time was right to speak up. The idea of Spirit being all and matter being nothing is a powerful idea from God too. Sometimes it may seem wise for us to be quiet about it. But when the time is right we need to declare the truth. Matter is no more capable of expressing God than is the dust (B9). Spirit can only produce a spiritual creation (B10). Matter cannot be the product of Spirit.

Science and Health confirms this line of reasoning. It is impossible to work from two standpoints. Two contradictory statements cannot both be true (S&H 7). Spirit and matter are contraries. Either Spirit is all or it isn’t (S&H 8). There simply cannot be two powers in charge. If God is true, matter is false (S&H 9). There’s no in-between. To Mrs. Eddy this was really important. She says it is “the doctrine of absolute Christian Science” (S&H 10). She equates matter with evil and states that it “has neither intelligence nor power.”

SECTION III – Matter and Spirit Are Not Partners
Often we hear that God made the earth, the trees and all the animals and man. But did God make matter? Not according to the Bible and Mrs. Eddy’s writings. God, Spirit fills all space (B 11). The Psalmist prays to be delivered from “confusion” (B 12). We can echo his prayer. We never want to get confused about matter and spirit. Mortal mind wants us to think that God made matter. But that’s confusion. God is Spirit. Matter is the opposite of Spirit. God cannot make anything unlike himself. The well-known verse in citation B 13 indicates that we can never leave God’s presence. Interpreter’s Bible Commentary puts it like this: “The universe from top to bottom and from side to side is filled with the presence of God and is under His control.” There’s no mention of matter in that sentence. God’s universe is spiritual.

“Everything in God’s universe expresses Him” (S&H 11). That means if something doesn’t express Him, it’s not from God and therefore, not real. If God is All-in-all, there is nothing but Spirit and its ideas. There is simply no room for matter in God’s universe (S&H 12). When we really start to understand the allness of Spirit, we begin to see that matter is nothing (S&H 13). In the previous section we mentioned that there was “no in-between” with matter and Spirit. Mrs. Eddy states it bluntly. “The conventional firm, called matter and mind, God never formed” (S&H 14). How much clearer can that be? Just in case her readers missed it the first time, our Leader says another way: “…matter did not originate in God…matter is neither substantial, living, nor intelligent.” So what does that mean for matter? Read on….

SECTION IV – Matter Disappears in the Presence of Spirit
What can be more powerful than the word of God? At the sound of His voice, the earth melts (B 15). The spiritual reality of God’s creation replaces the material view of creation. “The goal to which history moves is universal knowledge of God and the submission of all men to him” (Interpreter’s). The Psalm urges us to “be still.” Abingdon’s puts it this way: “desist, refrain from all lack of confidence in me, from all enmity against me, recognize who I am!” We need to recognize God’s power and the nothingness of matter. The same commentary says of Bible citation 16, “When God’s plans and those of men collide, the human schemes come to nothing.” That’s what happens between matter and spirit. Matter comes to nothing. Spirit’s victory is a foregone conclusion.

S&H 16 states that matter disappears “before the supremacy of Spirit.” Matter disappears because matter is nothing to begin with. It has no substance at all. The only place it seems to have substance is in a false mortal consciousness (S&H 19). But Spirit is real, and as light (being something) eliminates darkness (being nothing), so Spirit excludes matter. This understanding “resolves things into thoughts” (S&H 17). The objects of matter seen in the light of truth reveal spiritual ideas. The lies of matter simply cannot stand up to the power and presence of Truth. The more spiritual our consciousness becomes, the less we’ll be conscious of matter. Then we’ll comprehend more of the spiritual reality.

SECTION V – Matter Can’t Help You
The woman healed in this story had the beginnings of faith. She had not been helped by material means at all. In fact, medical efforts made her condition worse. So she reached out to something else. There was a superstition in those days that the garments of holy people could bring healing. The tassel she reached for was supposed to be the holiest part of the garment. Even though she didn’t have complete faith in spiritual means, Jesus took the time to instruct her. He stopped what he was doing to make sure she understood that it was not the garment that healed her. It was her faith. In this story the woman’s faith progressed until it was pure enough for healing. The next time you are faced with a tough situation, think about what you are putting your faith in. Is your faith in the person praying for you? Is it in your own prayers? Or is it in God?

S&H 21 points out that faith in God, “the divine Principle of health” sustains us “under all circumstances.” If we think we aren’t good enough ourselves to heal and be healed spiritually, we are sometimes tempted to think material methods can help us. But Mrs. Eddy says that the problem that seems to require material methods for healing is the result of our faith in those material methods (S&H 23). So the first thing to do would be to put our faith back with God. Matter can never help us. Material methods need human approval before they can even pretend to have power (S&H 24). But the laws of Truth destroy those beliefs. God doesn’t need human approval to be effective. His law is true no matter what. Putting all our faith in His law gives us the power to overthrow the lies of matter (S&H 25). So even if you have just a little faith to start with, keep on praying. The Christ will instruct you the rest of the way and make your faith perfect.

SECTION VI – “…the end of the matter”
The people of Athens worshiped all kinds of gods. There were so many that they never quite knew which god was supposed to be helping them. They didn’t want to offend any of those gods so they built an altar to the one they might have missed. Sometimes it seems that way today. There are all kinds of things that people worship. Some worship money, some their bodies, some idolize individuals, some bow down to every health law that is popular at the time, some bow down to medical laws, and many genuinely try to worship God. But often loyalties lie in more than one place. Paul set the Athenians straight by reminding them that God made the world and He didn’t need man to give Him any help or a place to stay. We actually live in God (B 21). We’ve always lived in God, even before the earth ever existed (B 22). God’s rule is timeless. “From the remotest imaginable past to the furthest conceivable future he remains the same” (Interpreter’s). The last citation (B 24) acknowledges the end of “the arrogant and devastating rule” of material beliefs. “To the holy people the dominion would be given, for the kingdom belongs to God and his saints” (Abingdon).

The kingdom of heaven is the only reality of being. “All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation” (S&H 26). If one accepts the Scientific Statement of Being, how could one think that matter and Spirit have anything to do with each other? It’s certainly true that Spirit and matter contradict each other. But only one can be true (S&H 28). Our devotion should not be ignorantly placed in the multitude of false material laws. We should stick steadfast to God’s law-the law of Spirit. We need to realize how powerful the truth is to replace the material picture with the reality of Spirit (S&H 29). We can never reach truth through matter. The only way to get connected with truth is through an acknowledgement of the “supremacy of Spirit” (S&H 30). When we do, we will see that we are forever linked to God. We never lived in matter. God never made it. We are spiritual and at one with God forever. And we “won’t get fooled again!”

Camp Director’s Note: The above sharing is the latest in a long series of CedarS Bible Lesson “mets” (metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians.  This document is intended to initiate further study as well as to encourage the application of ideas found in the Weekly Bible Lessons as printed in the Christian Science Quarterly and as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms.Originally sent JUST to campers, staff and CedarS families who wanted to continue at home and in their home Sunday Schools the same type of focused Lesson study and inspiration they had felt at camp, CedarS lesson “mets” are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way a substitute for daily study of the lesson in the books. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension, background and daily applicability to some of the ideas and passages being studied. The Lesson-Sermon speaks individually through the Christ to everyone, providing unique insights and tailor-made applications for each one. We are glad you requested this metaphysical sharing and hope that you find some of these ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor.) 

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