It Pays to Know God

 

Arnold H. Exo, C.S.B., of La Jolla, California

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:

Sometimes it is said − by those who do not understand how Christian Science heals, or who believe that it cannot heal at all − that those who are healed in Christian Science "would have gotten well anyhow." Many times over the years I have had this said to me by some of those who have heard of the Christian Science healings I have had. Of course I couldn't prove in any of my healings that I would not have gotten well without Christian Science treatment. But neither could those who resort to material systems, such as drugs, psychiatry, diet, and the like, prove that they wouldn't have gotten well without such material systems. But this I do know, that materia medica had no help for me at the time of my birth, and during the two years which followed.

And that's what it means to me to say, "It pays to know God." It means the saving of a life − my own!

I arrived very unexpectedly one midnight about two months ahead of schedule. My uncle, who was a very fine family doctor, was called to our home to attend my mother. After examining me carefully, he took my father to one side and said: "There's nothing a doctor can do for him. He won't last the night out." According to my mother I was not only very tiny, but deformed and barely alive.

After "Uncle Doc" left, Father sat beside Mother's bed. There they were, my mother and father, all of a sudden faced with a situation for which they hadn't planned.

My father had become a Christian Scientist in the early nineties, several years before he met, courted, and married my mother, who at that time was a member of another Protestant denomination. But by the time that I, the first of their six children, had arrived, she too had become a Christian Scientist.

When I grew old enough to understand, my parents told me how they had prayed that night, how they had read from the Bible, and from "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. And how, as they read and prayed, they understood more clearly than they had ever understood before that, as the Bible says, "God is love" (I John 4:8). They reasoned that since God is infinite, everywhere, His love is everywhere, embracing humanity, including me in His love; and that in that love of God there could be only life, health, and strength.

My mother and father found much comfort and inspiration that night in reading the twenty-third Psalm from the Bible. It quieted their fears, and with this quieting of their fears they were convinced that God's love and power could and would heal me.

Two verses of that twenty-third Psalm, the first and the fourth, were especially helpful as they prayed for me, their firstborn, whose spark of life seemed very low: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. . . . Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me" (Ps. 23:1, 4). By the time the sun came up that morning, they had found their peace. And as for me, I had survived that first night.

It took two years before I was well and strong. But during those two years my parents never once faltered in their confidence that God would heal me. To them those two years were not the important thing. To them the important thing was that I lived. To them the important thing was that they had proved, just as thousands of others have proved since Mary Baker Eddy discovered Christian Science over a century ago, that when we really begin to understand God, healing as Christ Jesus healed follows.

 

Many Are Healed Every Year

Now I wish to emphasize that the many Christian Science healings I have had over the years are by no means unique. Rather my healings, including the one at my birth, are typical of the thousands upon thousands of Christian Science healings of virtually every kind of human ill. I doubt that you would find it easy to convince any of those who were healed through Christian Science that "they would have gotten well anyhow." The fact is that many hundreds of them had tried material methods of healing before they turned to Christian Science, usually as a last resort.

Over the years thousands of those healed in Christian Science were so grateful that they sent accounts of their healings to The Christian Science Publishing Society for publication in one of the Christian Science periodicals. During the past 80 years over 45,000 of these testimonies have been published − and let me say that only a relatively few of the many thousands of healings which take place every year are submitted for publication.

Several years ago, in an article in a national professional magazine, the writer of the article questioned the validity of approximately 500 Christian Science healings which were published over a consecutive four-year period in The Christian Science Journal. This journal, published monthly, is only one of the several Christian Science periodicals which regularly carry testimonies of Christian Science healings.

The critic wrote that he had examined these 500 testimonies and that, in his judgment, many of them − such as healings of asthma, blindness, deafness, cancer, broken bones, heart disease, pneumonia, tumors, and acute appendicitis, to name but a few − were not convincing. In his judgment, the sicknesses of which the testifiers said they had been healed by Christian Science had been self-diagnosed instead of being diagnosed by a medical doctor. This critic felt that these testifiers weren't as sick as they thought they were.

But a more careful study of these testimonies shows that, contrary to the findings of the critic, a substantial number of the 500 testifiers did have medical diagnoses before turning to Christian Science, and said so in their testimonies. In fact many of those healed not only had had medical diagnoses, often extensive ones, but most of them had had major surgical operations, or extensive medical treatment to correct what the medical diagnoses had revealed. When the medical treatment, or surgery, or both, failed, the sick turned to Christian Science. And they were healed! Here is a list of some of these healings: ". . . 4 cases of cancer, 8 of tumor, 21 of broken bones, 7 of pneumonia, 7 of appendicitis, 22 of heart disease, 21 of tuberculosis, 6 of asthma, and 3 or less of diphtheria, blindness, peritonitis, scarlet fever, arthritis, spinal meningitis, diabetes, gallstones, epilepsy, tetanus, polio, uremic poisoning, pelvic ovaritis, smallpox, pyorrhea, hernia, deafness, curvature of the spine, jaundice, dropsy, bronchial catarrh, abscessed teeth, ulcerated eyes, and paralytic stroke."

In quite a few of these cases the healing was instantaneous, including one of the cancer cases. And in most of the cases reputable surgeons or physicians said that, based on their diagnoses, there was no hope.

So when I say to you that "It pays to know God," I speak not only from the standpoint of my own experiences, but from the record of thousands who have been healed by means of Christian Science since Mary Baker Eddy discovered it over 100 years ago − and by thousands I do not mean just five or six thousand. I mean many, many thousands. And this tide of healing goes on. Each day, all over the world, Christian Science healings are taking place. These healings add to the already massive record that the Christ is just as present and able to heal in this age as it was back through the centuries, whenever men and women were willing to make the effort to glimpse clearly enough the nature and essence of God.

 

No Shortcuts

There can be no shortcuts to this knowing of God, such as for example, that you could come to know Him more quickly through the use of hallucinatory drugs. Meher Baba, a noted nonsectarian religionist of India, is quoted as saying: "If God can be found through any drug, God is not worthy of being God." Mr. Baba explained that drugs could give only the cheapest shadows of a spiritual experience.

More recently Dr. Armand Nicholi, Jr., who is senior staff psychiatrist at Harvard University, was discussing the notion held by some students in universities and colleges, that drugs can bring either insight or a moral or spiritual satisfaction. He said that it is ". . . tragic that they would turn to dangerous drugs to fill needs that drugs can't fill but the gospel can." Almost 100 years before Dr. Nicholi, Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health, "It is our ignorance of God, the divine Principle, which produces apparent discord, and the right understanding of Him restores harmony" (p. 390).

In this statement Mrs. Eddy brings into focus two basic points having to do with success in healing as Christ Jesus healed.

The first point is that it is our ignorance of God which underlies all the discords which afflict mortals − discords such as sickness, fear, lack, insanity, limitation, and so on. The second point is that the right understanding of God lifts us out of this ignorance and we are healed. One of Christ Jesus' statements confirms this. He said: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3).

What then is God whom to know aright brings healing and harmony into the lives of mortals like you and me?

Earlier in this lecture I quoted the Bible statement, "God is love." I brought out that at my birth my parents reasoned that, ". . . since God is infinite, everywhere, His love is everywhere, embracing humanity, including me, in His love; and that in that love of God there could be only life, health, and strength." The twenty-third Psalm, which helped my parents so much that night, likens God to a shepherd whose sheep, symbolizing humanity, need never want. Just now I quoted a passage from Science and Health in which Mrs. Eddy refers to God as "divine Principle" − meaning, as she explains in her writings, that God and God alone is the primal and only cause of all real being.

The Bible has literally hundreds of passages which explain the nature and essence of God. Here is one statement which, in a large measure, summarizes all of them: "The Lord he is God; there is none else beside him" (Deut. 4:35). That is to say, there is nothing truly real but that which He is or He creates.

Now do you begin to see why my parents had no hesitancy in trusting me to God's care during those first two years of my life; and why, during our youth, whenever any of their six children had need of healing, our parents unhesitatingly trusted God to heal us? And taught us to trust God?

To them, "the Lord, he is God; there is none else beside him," meant just that. To them it meant that their children could have no better physician than God − God who is not only loving but who is Love itself − and no better healing agent than the Science of Christ.

 

God's Healing Christ, Truth

What do we mean by the Christ? Not a human person, but the true idea of God, that right understanding of divinity which, as I brought out earlier, "restores harmony."

This Christ, this right idea of God, enabled such patriarchs as Abraham, Jacob, and Moses, to do their great works. Centuries later it enabled such prophets as Jeremiah, Hosea, Elijah, and Elisha to demonstrate the supremacy of God. They not only healed sick bodies, but in some instances increased the supply of foodstuffs, such as oil and meal. (See I Kings 17:8-16; and II Kings 4:1-7)

Then a few centuries later came Jesus, the son of the Virgin Mary. He was the greatest human being who ever lived because he understood God better than anyone else who ever lived. And he proved that he had the true idea of God by doing the greatest healing work of anyone who ever lived. Because he had this Christ, Truth, he is called Christ Jesus, or Jesus the Christ.

Once, after he had instantly healed a man of blindness and dumbness, the Pharisees challenged the Master's method of healing by means of the Christ, the right idea of God. They said, "This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils" (Matt. 12:24). The Master denied this. He said, "I cast out devils by the Spirit of God" (v. 28).

In today's manner of speech this exchange between the Master and the Pharisees might have gone something like this: First the Pharisees − "This blind and dumb man was healed by suggestion, by human thought-transference, not by the power of God as Jesus claimed." Now comes the Master's reply, as it might have been stated today − "Not so. I healed the man by God's revelation to me of His truth that He, God, is the all-powerful good, and I accept this without reservation."

How could human mental suggestion, which is but a manifestation of an ignorance of God, possibly heal the ills resulting from an ignorance of God? Could the false suggestion, the lie, that 2 plus 2 is 5 ever correct the lie that 2 plus 2 is 5?

Again I go back to that statement from Science and Health I quoted a little while ago: "It is our ignorance of God, the divine Principle, which produces apparent discord, and the right understanding of Him restores harmony." This fact applies today just as much as it did in Jesus' day, and just as it did in the days of Jeremiah, and Elijah, and just as it did in the days of Moses and Abraham. And just as it did even before Abraham. Truth − that is, the "Spirit of God" − always has been true and always will be true, throughout eternity.

 

"The Spirit of God"

The Bible contains some of the most ancient and God-inspired writings of mankind. In its opening verses it tells us that "the Spirit of God" healed − the very self-same "Spirit of God," or Christ, Truth, by means of which Jesus, centuries later, cast out devils. The Christ, Truth, always casts out devils − that is, ignorance and lies about God, made manifest as darkness, and void, and formlessness; or appearing in human lives as deafness, and dumbness, and poverty, and war, and violence.

Let me read the opening verse of the Bible: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). Here in the very first verse of the Bible we have Truth declaring itself − that God is the sole creator. In Science and Health, in referring to this passage Mrs. Eddy writes: "The infinite has no beginning. This word beginning is employed to signify the only, − that is, the eternal verity and unity of God and man, including the universe" (p. 502).

The second verse begins: "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep" (Gen. 1:2).

What have we here? Is this God's creation − formlessness, and void, and darkness? These are the devils, the lies about God and His creation − lies which Truth, the "Spirit of God," casts out. That's what the next words of the Bible tell us: "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light" (Gen. 1:2,3).

Referring to the passage from the Bible I have just read, Mrs. Eddy writes: "Divine Science, the Word of God, saith to the darkness upon the face of error, 'God is All-in-all,' and the light of ever-present Love illumines the universe. Hence the eternal wonder, − that infinite space is peopled with God's ideas, reflecting Him in countless spiritual forms" (Science and Health, p. 503). Further on she continues: "Immortal and divine Mind presents the idea of God: first, in light; second, in reflection; third, in spiritual and immortal forms of beauty and goodness."

God's creation never was touched, and it never can be touched. The ignorance of God, manifested in the Bible allegory as darkness, and void, and formlessness never touched the creation of God. And in this age the same ignorance of God, manifested as cancer, and heart disease, and drug addiction, and immorality, and wars, and violence, and poverty, can never touch your real being and mine.

To demonstrate this fact of being, we must let the Christ, Truth, "the Spirit of God," move upon the waters of our ignorance, and wash away the lies about God.

That's the way the spiritual understanding of God brought by Christian Science heals. It sweeps away the darkness, the ignorance of God − the darkness called cancer, the darkness called disease, the darkness called drug addiction, divorce, immorality, wars, hate, and depression. When that darkness, that ignorance of God, is swept aside, there stands God's creation, including God's perfect man, never touched, never dying, never sick, never lacking, but reflecting God "in spiritual and immortal forms of beauty and goodness."

You may say that this is a miracle. But Christian Science doesn't say so. Christian Science says that healings through prayer, through knowing God, are never miraculous in the sense that they set aside law. Spiritual healings are a natural response to a spiritually awakened thought, to a "Let there be light," so that we may see the truth of God and of ourselves, and help the sick to see it too.

 

How Prayer Heals

This is no abstraction. Christ, Truth, reaches the human situation and corrects whatever needs correcting. The way you and I avail ourselves of the Christ, Truth, is through prayer.

A number of years ago, long after I had established my own home, I had to prove that God's healing Christ, Truth, was just as available to heal me as it was in Biblical times − "or else." And by "or else" I mean that unless I was healed, and healed quickly, I wouldn't be around very long. At least that is the way things looked to me from the standpoint of my fears. And I must admit that I was afraid. And I was ill, in pain, and getting sicker every day.

Here briefly is how I went about utilizing the Christ, the true idea of God, in healing myself. To begin with I reasoned that, as Christian Science reveals, my pain was basically an outward manifestation of some kind of an ignorant belief about God, a belief which I was unwittingly accepting as true, that is, as sent from God.

I said to myself: "Now look here, you know, as Christian Science reveals, that the very essence of God is intelligence. And since He is your God, you possess, without limitation, all the intelligence you need to be able, first of all, to know God rightly; and then, secondly, to know that this right understanding of God can and will heal you. It will heal you by casting out of your consciousness any ignorant concepts about God − ignorant concepts made evident in your body as the pain."

Then I turned to the Bible, to the Lord's Prayer, the prayer which Christ Jesus gave in his Sermon on the Mount, the prayer which reveals so much of God's nature and essence, and how to use this revelation in healing.

As you perhaps know, the Lord's Prayer, as given in the Gospel of Matthew (see Chap. 6:9-13), starts out like this: "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name."

As I dwelt on this first part of the Lord's Prayer, I reasoned that since God is perfect, then His very presence constitutes a powerful, all-pervading harmony which could and would wipe out both my fears and my pain. I reasoned that my understanding and acceptance of this fact constitute the kind of worship or adoration of God which results in healing.

Then the next part of the Lord's Prayer goes like this: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." This part of the Lord's Prayer reassured me that the powerful harmony of God, as brought out in the first part of the Lord's Prayer, is active and powerful right here in earth, including right where I was; and that, regardless of how much I hurt, I was not and never could be separated from God's healing presence and power.

And then what comes next? "Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." To me this part of the Lord's Prayer was the logical follow-through of the facts of God as set forth in the first two parts. First, that God, by His very nature, is infinitely harmonious. Second, that this harmony of God is ever present, right here on earth just as it is in heaven. And now thirdly, that this harmony of God, manifested in earth, could and would meet my urgent need for the removal of both the pain and its organic cause, whatever that cause might be.

Then comes the final part of the Lord's Prayer, "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever." This reaffirmation of the opening part of the Lord's Prayer − that God is all-powerful, and ever harmonious Love − bolstered my conviction that the Christ, Truth, would heal me; and I resolved to stand steadfast in this expectancy, regardless of how much the pain kept on throbbing.

 

Quick Healings and Slow Healings

And it did keep on throbbing. And I kept on standing in my conviction that the Christ, the right idea of God and the healing power of that right idea, as set forth in the Lord's Prayer, would heal me. And it did. It took ten days to do it. But the main thing is that I was healed through a better understanding of God brought to me by the Lord's Prayer. I had proved to myself that the healing Christ was as ever present as God is, and would heal me, just as the Christ, the right idea of God, when accepted in consciousness, always has healed, and always will heal.

While it took me ten days to demonstrate my healing, many Christian Science healings are gained in an hour or less; and often as quickly as Christ Jesus healed. But because we are not as yet as skilled as he was, and as we someday will be, many of our healings take days, even months, and sometimes years. As I said before, my healing at my birth took two years. Sometimes we fail to heal ourselves, or others. But we keep right on seeking a better understanding of God in order to do a better job of healing.

 

Mary Baker Eddy's Discovery

It took Mary Baker Eddy years of research and study of the Bible before she gained sufficient spiritual understanding of God to discover and demonstrate how Christ Jesus healed.

From her girlhood she was religiously inclined and a diligent student of the Bible. One time, when she was about twelve, she disputed the doctrine that God knew evil, and sent it to punish man. Even at that early age she realized intuitively that God didn't make, use, or know evil.

In her early twenties she was widowed. And she had been chronically ill for years. She had tried about every medical healing method available in her day, but had received no permanent help. In her extremity she turned again to her Bible to learn more of God and of how Christ Jesus healed.

Her search went on for some twenty years until one day the breakthrough came. She was healed when she glimpsed, more clearly than she had ever done before, the spiritual meaning of a Bible passage she was reading. Let her tell it in her own words. She writes: "As I read, the healing Truth dawned upon my sense", and the result was that I rose, dressed myself, and ever after was in better health than I had before enjoyed" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 24).

This was in 1866. In the remaining almost forty-five years of her human existence she researched her discovery. She sought to learn not only how the understanding of God heals but the full potential of this understanding in overcoming the ills of the world. She sought this understanding in the only practical way it could be learned and tested − through healing and through teaching others to heal. And over the years she healed many of all sorts of diseases − cancer, enteritis, shortened limbs, bone disease, deafness, blindness, dumbness, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and diphtheria, to name but a few.

Mrs. Eddy not only tested and proved her discovery through her outstanding healing work, but in her writings, consisting of many articles and books, she set down a full explanation of her discovery so that in the generations to come others could heal as she did. This fact, that today, almost sixty years after Mrs. Eddy's passing, thousands are every year being blessed by Christian Science, stamps both her and her discovery as great among the world's great.

Mary Baker Eddy discovered how Christ Jesus and his early followers healed, and in her writings thoroughly explained her discovery. Her aim was that in the centuries to come others too would be able to heal as Christ Jesus and his early followers healed. And she went even further. So that what she discovered would always be presented to mankind in both its original purity and in an orderly and dignified manner, befitting the greatness of her discovery, she founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, and provided for its activities.

 

Overcoming the Last Enemy

Even though she made a great contribution to mankind, Mrs. Eddy was criticized during her lifetime, and still is criticized by those who do not understand the Science of Christianity which she discovered and founded. One criticism of Mrs. Eddy is that, while she taught that sin, disease, and death are not known to God, and therefore are unreal and have no power over man, nevertheless she herself died; and that Christian Scientists die.

While Christian Scientists have not yet made the demonstration of overcoming the "last enemy," as the Bible calls death, nevertheless in the hundreds and hundreds of healings every year of all kinds of diseases, increased longevity is being demonstrated, because death might have followed had these sick not been healed.

As an illustration of how this understanding of God which Christian Science brings can heal, consider the face of someone you know whose thoughts are so filled with love that he always speaks kindly and helpfully, never harshly, never critically. Have you ever noticed that there is always something fine in the face of such a person, something noble − a beauty which runs much deeper than mere surface prettiness?

Now compare such a face with the face of one whose state of thought prompts him to take offense at the slightest provocation, or of one who gossips, or of one who criticizes, or of one who is lazy, or not always honest. Quite a difference, isn't there?

This is a very simple illustration. But it shows how closely related are one's thoughts and one's body. Doesn't it stand to reason that if one's face is molded either for better or for worse by one's thoughts, that one's heart, or any other part of the body, is likewise touched, for better or for worse by one's thoughts? And that the same applies to one's home, and marriage, and daily activities, and world?

Eventually death from whatever cause will be wiped out. But it may take many generations before this stage of development is reached. In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy writes: "I have never supposed the world would immediately witness the full fruitage of Christian Science, or that sin, disease, and death would not be believed for an indefinite time" (p. 348).

 

Continued Healing

Very few people realize how important is one's understanding of God in one's life, and in the lives of others. It was their understanding of God, brought to them by Christian Science, which enabled my parents to save my life at my birth. It was the understanding of God which has brought healing to thousands upon thousands since Mary Baker Eddy discovered Christian Science over 100 years ago − a discovery which will, down through the centuries, continue to bring healing to mankind through revealing to mortals the true nature and essence of God.

Your body, and your consciousness, and your life are as one. Doesn't it stand to reason then, that the better one's understanding of God, the better one's body and one's life? The Bible puts it this way: "With all thy getting get understanding. . . . And the years of thy life shall be many" (Prov. 4:7,10).

Healing as Christ Jesus healed, that's why it pays, and pays, and pays to know God.

 

1969 Arnold H. Exo

All rights reserved

 

 

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