CHAPTER XXIVAgnes M. Lawson
Hints to Bible Study
The Colorado College of Divine Science
Christianity followed Judaism as naturally as the fruit follows the blossom, for one is the fulfillment of the other. A little over a half century after Palestine had become a Roman province a child of humble parentage was born in an obscure village of that province. As the child grew he revealed a comprehension of life and exercised powers hitherto unknown as being inherent in man. His advent was of such importance that besides dividing our history into two great sections it has caused an understanding of the purpose of the Creator in and for men to steadfastly unfold in the consciousness of the race.
Before the revelation of an inner and spiritual world which Jesus called “The Kingdom of God,” the human race was ignorant of the destiny of man or the dominion which he might have over his body and the earth. Up to this time the visible had seemed to be of such a nature and solidity that control of it was considered the dream of a poet or the result of supernatural interference, which peoples of unscientific ages so readily accept.
Someone has said that the greatest discovery of the nineteenth century was Jesus Christ. He was rediscovered and rescued from the superstitious misconceptions regarding him, in which he was thought of as a superman of extraordinary powers which were, and ever would be, beyond the rank and file of the race. A new interest was given Christianity with the rescue of the thought of its founder from a supernatural being to that of a man who was but a member of the human family with powers not extraordinary, but the ordinary powers all men possess will they but believe in them and use them.
This brought about the renaissance of Christianity and it is studied now, not as something supernatural to which all men must give superstitious credence, but as a revelation of spiritual law which all men may comprehend and apply. “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free,” is the fiat of Christianity. This is the positive assertion of one who has perceived the principle of life and demonstrated its exactness.
Booker T. Washington has told us, “Freedom is not a bequest, it is a conquest.” Freedom is both a bequest and a conquest. Christianity establishes the fact that everything that is exists in principle in completeness. Principle is the way things are in the spiritual world; in other words, the way God thinks of them. The eternal quest of man is for principles, for when he masters the principle of anything he possesses the thing itself. Freedom is a bequest then in that these life principles exist for man’s benefit. The conquest of these principles through our comprehension of them is the promised freedom of Christianity.
The disclosure of the spiritual world revealed by Christianity brings the end of our quest. We may now indeed find the “journey’s end at every step.” Christianity invites us to enter this realm of light, love, peace and perfection, not at some future time but now.
Christianity is more than an evolution, it is a revolution. It reveals a spiritual creation in the consciousness of the Creator, perfect, eternal, finished. This Creation, like the mind of the Creator, is without “variableness or shadow of turning.” Time and space conceptions of finite sense are eliminated as we put off “mortality,” the race beliefs of life, “and put on immortality,” God’s consciousness of His universe.
Man is the central figure of the Kingdom, he is the “Son and heir” to all that the Father possesses. Christianity reveals man as being created by God, not in the sense that man is later in time than God, that there was a time when God was and man was not, but since God is Mind, man, the Idea of God, is an eternal consequence of this Mind.
The founder of Christianity discovered the relationship of God to man and of man to God. Man expresses his Creator in fullness and freedom when he knows the truth. Jesus revealed the nature, spirituality, love and substance of God. He said the Kingdom is here and now, that it becomes apparent to us as we put away sin (the discords of sense) and that it was the Father’s good will that we have the Kingdom. God is Life and the purpose of life is its own expression. God is Love and the purpose of love is to express love. God is Light and the “darkness” of material beliefs does not exist but is merely the result of our failure to perceive this omnipresent Kingdom.
Life has fixed and eternal principles even as mathematics and music have. These principles must be comprehended and applied; man rises into the resurrection and the life, out of his misconceptions of sense. He must work out his own salvation, through his perception of Reality. Reality is the Kingdom, the Soul, eternally perfect. Sin, sickness and death are ignorance of life; love, joy and eternal life are knowledge of truth. Knowledge is what we know; we can know only what we have experienced. Knowledge can never be received from another.
The spiritual realm is omnipresent. The author of Ben Hur has this to say of it: “There is a kingdom on this earth though it is not of it; a kingdom of wider bounds than the earth; wider than the sea and the earth though they be rolled together as finest gold and spread by the beating of hammers. Its existence is a fact as our hearts are facts and we journey through it from birth to death without seeing it. Nor shall any man see it until he has known his own soul, and in its dominion there is glory such as has not entered imagination, original, incomparable, impossible of increase.”
This is the Real and to enter the life of the Soul is to be in it and of it. On many occasions I have consciously experienced this–and many others known to me personally have also been aware of it. Jesus said: “The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” That is, it must be within one’s consciousness.
When aware of this realm one has a sense of buoyant life and health, a sense of the spirituality of the body and of radiant joy. Having once in consciousness experienced this realm, the fundamentals of Christianity are readily comprehended.
The central doctrine of Christianity is the incarnation. Man is the incarnate word of God held steadfastly in God consciousness, a spiritually perfect being. This includes the spiritual body of man which is the only body he has. Man is never in the body finite sense perceives, which is but a picture in his mentality. To know the truth of the body is to place it in its sustaining principle, incapable of discord, for we are individual entities in perfect bodies, our eternal identity in God.
Man comes to know himself because God knows him eternally. A realization of the dignity and value of our lives comes to us through the revelations of Christianity. Infinity can have no useless ideas, something new is to be revealed in each. “The whole is the sum of all its parts.” Jesus redeemed the prostitute, he recalled the publican to a sense of life’s value, for life is not to be squandered in sensuous pleasures, but held as a sacred trust for the expression of God’s original idea. When we have found this we have found ourselves in God and henceforth life is free, spontaneous, joyous expression.
As man reconstructed his conception of astronomy, changing its basis from the Ptolemaic to the Copernican system, thus eliminating a mortal belief that the earth is the center of the solar system and substituting the truth that the sun is the center, so Christianity demands another basis for life than the human conception of it. Christianity’s initial command is, “Repent ye,” demanding a complete and radical change of thought. Man is not mortal nor has he a material body. He is an idea in God’s mind, sinless and deathless. He is eternally a citizen of the spiritual world even when he is ignorant of its existence.
The education of man consists in learning accurately the temporal facts of his unfoldment and learning definitely the established truths of his eternal verity. The Gospel is the “good news” the truth brings to us. It uncovers Reality thus delivering us from the evils of mortal belief. The Gospel is the power to conform our concepts of life to God’s eternal truth.
There is a perfect method given in Christianity for the task which confronts humanity in the mode of thinking called prayer in the New Testament. Man works out his own salvation. The original meaning of certain words brings to our knowledge the purpose of the sacred writers. (Testament, being a witness, making one’s last will; a covenant.–Webster.) The New Testament then is a later revelation of God’s will, his last will. A covenant binds the two contracting parties.
Agreement is the working basis of Christianity, the method of transmitting God’s power to man and it reveals the eternal unison of God and man. There is no line of demarcation where God the cause ends and man the result begins, so there must be perpetual agreement between them; if they cannot be separated they are one, there can be no disagreement in absolute unity.
In spiritual creation man exists in eternal completeness and supply, not only for every need he has now but also for every need he ever will have. The eternal action of God consists in his sustaining thought of Creation. This thought of God is the principle of man, for God sees man always in exactly the same way and this persistent thought of man in God’s consciousness is reality. “The ultimate test of the reality of a thing is its persistence,” Herbert Spencer tells us, and this thought of man as God thinks of him does persist and man is never satisfied until he accepts this truth and rests in it.
Prayer as taught by Christianity is the process of getting into the stream of God’s will and receiving our inheritance. Prayer is a state of pure receptivity and acceptance on man’s side, of gracious bestowal on God’s side. True prayer is never petition, it is contemplation of the truths of life and establishing these facts in consciousness.
In agreement with God, healing of thought, health of body, freedom of expression, come into our consciousness, and man possesses all that enters his consciousness. “For whosoever hath (in his consciousness), to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not (in his consciousness), from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.” Luke 8:18.
Agreement is the law of Christianity because it is unity and unity is love. God is life and all life is on the inside of this universal life. The thing which finite sense imperfectly perceives exists in perfection in divine Mind. In spiritual creation there is nothing nor anyone to disagree with; agreement extends to the relationship between man and man. Only in affiliation can we accomplish our purposes with each other. “Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” Matt. 18:19.
Since life is one and that One pure Spirit there can be nothing to disagree with, therefore we are told to “resist not evil” and to agree with even our adversary. The adversary can be nothing but a wrong belief, “the devil,” therefore instantly agree with it; it is nothing and there is nothing to oppose our full expression of life. Thus we take all power to harm us out of everything or any one. The only power the adversary has we give it by our belief in it as power. All power is God’s, there can be no other power.
In disagreement we repel, in agreement we receive and attract. The former holds us in bondage to evil beliefs, the latter enables us to live the life of truth and freedom. To live in spirit and in truth gives us the “New Tongues” of Christianity. Life, love, competency, power, truth, are the life bringing words of the New Era; sin, sorrow, materiality, death, are the obsolete language of our former ignorance.
The great discovery of Jesus was, “The flesh profiteth nothing.” The life of man and his body are in Spirit alone. “Satan hath bound him,” Jesus said of the one who was under the material delusion being rendered impotent by the limitations of his own erroneous beliefs. “It is the Spirit that quickeneth,” that is, changing our material belief of body to a spiritual conception of it.
Forgiveness of sin is the Biblical term for correcting our misconceptions of life to the Truth. We correct our material errors in direct ratio to our perception of God’s finished Creation. This is another of Christianity’s revolutionary ideas, that it is man not God that forgives sin. It is the false concept of life which has sinned and man’s perception of Reality enables him to correct the errors of sense, in both his own mentality and also that of others. There is no forgiveness of sin save as the sin is corrected and abandoned.
Man’s responsibility is clearly defined in Christianity. “Whose sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them: and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” Every advance of the human family is by the correction of the errors in the thought of the race. As we make our accounts tally by making them square with the principle of mathematics, correct our unmusical discords by the fixed fundamental rules of music, we forgive sin, a violation of spiritual law by the application of the unerring accuracy of spiritual principles. This restores us to unity, peace and truth; a false sense of life miscreates “all the ills that flesh is heir to.” True vision enables us to live in God’s eternal love and life.
To “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils,” is the natural result of the forgiveness of sin. In fact there is nothing to cast out but sin (an evil belief), and wholeness results. The whole process which confronts the Christian worker is to hold consciously in vision the Real, thus giving to one’s self the supreme joy of knowing that “I have filled the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run.”
For joy, radiant, soul-filling joy, is the purpose of Christianity. “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might be in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15:11. Life is an ecstasy and of unfailing interest while we remain with the vision. Nothing is hopeless and our service to the race is incalculable in its light, for every one that sees aids in the freeing of the race from its delusion of power in the material misconceptions.
Every one of us is a distant thought in God consciousness, a channel through which an idea is to be expressed.
Frederick Froebel, the apostle of individuality, says: “Every human being has but one thought peculiarly and predominantly his own, one fundamental thought, as it were, of his whole being, the keynote of his life’s symphony, a thought which he simply seeks to express and render clear with the help of a thousand other thoughts, with the help of all he does.”
Life is a symphony and each has his part in it, and not to yield ourselves without reservation to the Power is to fail “to do the will” which enables us to “know the doctrine.” As we individually emerge from the isolation of the self to the unison of the Self, the stately and harmonious rhythm of the great solar systems each majestically “about the Father’s business,” will be apparent in our lives. Then in the universal birth of the Christ idea, may the angelic anthem be heard, “Peace on earth, good will to men.”
* * * * *
Hints to Bible Study
Table of Contents