"Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32

Thought for the Week - click here for last week's message 

PROBATION AFTER DEATH 

Webster’s defines probation as “a period of examination and evaluation, of testing and trial” to determine fitness.  Some religions incorporate this probationary period in their theology on the presumption that man is a sinful mortal needing redemption, and much of what is presented as newsworthy today would support that notion.   Yet, from the beginning the Bible indicates that “God saw everything He had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Gen.1:31)   The subsequent Adam and  Eve fable is simply an attempt to define and justify sinfulness and its inevitable penalty.   Yet, when a child in school gets a wrong answer or fails to progress, we don’t assume incapacity. 

Instead, we recognize a mistake that needs correction.   To bear witness to the truth—to its remarkable and unassailable perfection--was Christ Jesus’ mission.   Of himself he declared:  “…I am the light of the world:  he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (KJV John 8:12)  (Note: Inasmuch as Mrs. Eddy used the King James Version in her writings--with one or two exceptions, I feel strongly that we should continue to use that version.  It was the outcome of 30 scholars vastly more familiar with the original texts that anyone today can be.)      

Can we be “lifted up from the earth” here and now?  Certainly.  But it is evident that, with the ubiquity of all forms of media today, as well as the aggressiveness of the medical approach to health and healing, we need to be far more alert to the corrupting effect of what we see and hear as well as to the anxiety that most news reporting engenders.   Yes, we need to be informed but not deceived.   Jesus described his mission this way:  “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.”  (KJV John 12:46)   

Because God’s commandment is “life everlasting,” and because good alone is real, we want to express and experience that goodness now and always.  What is it that dies?  Whatever is false or wrong.  As the Psalmist put it:  “…thou hast delivered my soul from death;  wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?  (Ps.56:13)   And Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, writes of walking “worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God…” (1:10)   Hence, Mrs. Eddy’s conclusion that “Life is deathless…is the origin and ultimate of man…gained by walking in the pathway of Truth both before and after that which is called death.”  (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 487:3-6) 

She also insists on the necessity of dropping the mortal (sense of things) for the immortal.   Yes, there is both “progression and probation”  in “earth’s preparatory school.”   The lesson uses the example of Enoch who “walked with God” and was “translated that he should not see death.” (Gen.5:22-24)   And we read in Proverbs that “In the way of righteousness is life;  and in the pathway thereof there is no death.” (Prov.12:28)  Mrs. Eddy insists that “Man is deathless, spiritual. He is above sin or frailty.  He does not cross the barriers of time into the vast forever of Life, but he coexists with God and the universe.” (S&H 266:29-32)  

Nevertheless, we are reminded that “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”  (Gal.6:7)  Hence, our aim is to follow Jesus’ example and prove in some measure that “Life is real, and death is the illusion.”  (S&H 427:3)    The lesson includes the account in Matthew, Chapter 17, of Jesus’ transfiguration before Peter, James, and John.  The definition of death as “An illusion, the lie of life in matter, the unreal and untrue; the opposite of Life,” is also included. (S&H 584:9)   How reassuring it is to know that … (our) Father’s good pleasure is “to give (us) the kingdom.”  (Luke 12:32) 

All the same, we have to watch our thinking—it governs our experience.  As Mrs. Eddy puts it:  “Be watchful, sober, and vigilant.  The way is straight and narrow which leads to the understanding that God is the only Life.”  She calls it a “warfare with the flesh”—with matter’s false claim to constitute Life.  How do we win this warfare?  By walking “in newness of life” daily.  Moreover, we can expect a “probationary and progress-ive state beyond the grave” gained by ascending now beyond a material, limited sense of existence.     

Jamae van Eck