Are we awaiting a future salvation?
Growing up in a Jewish family, I was taught that Jesus was a good man and an inspirational teacher, but not the Messiah. It was expected that, among other things, the Messiah would usher in the Messianic age, bringing an end to all war, disease, death, poverty, etc. Yet our lives teach us that transformation of even a modest flaw in our character takes devotion of thought and a commitment to spiritual growth. It seems logical, then, that rather than being able to make the changes for each of us, let alone all of us, the promised Messiah would make plain the means by which we can increasingly win our salvation, individually and—ultimately—collectively. As the Apostle Paul said, we are to “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).
So I was glad to learn of the teachings of Christian Science, which explain the Messiah’s role as our Way-shower. These teachings share the Jewish expectancy that all worldly evil will be vanquished as a result of the Messiah. But this redemption is seen as coming about through humanity yielding, individual by individual, to the deeper, divine reality of being, which would be proved by the Messiah, or Christ. (These two terms, Christ and Messiah, describe the same idea. The Jewish Messiah, or Anointed One, became known more widely through the Greek term Christ as this God-bestowed salvation began to be understood as universal in scope.)
As the promised Messiah, Christ Jesus is our Way-shower. He showed God’s nature as Spirit, the all-good creator, with unique clarity. His healings proved that we are each truly the expression of God’s all-good, spiritual nature. He also showed that such spiritual truths about God, and about our true identity as God’s creation, aren’t divorced from our day-to-day experience but demand that we live these truths in loving our neighbor. Fulfilling this demand ranges from embodying qualities such as patience, forgiveness, and kindness, to growing into the deeper demonstration of the Christly love that heals, which Jesus so powerfully exemplified.
In demonstrating this healing love, Jesus revealed the route to salvation—the way in which we’re called, and able, to follow in his footsteps. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, describes it this way: “Though demonstrating his control over sin and disease, the great Teacher by no means relieved others from giving the requisite proofs of their own piety. He worked for their guidance, that they might demonstrate this power as he did and understand its divine Principle” (p. 25).
Spiritually perceived, we live in a Messianic age without beginning or end.
Humanity’s salvation unfolds through such individual understanding and proofs of divine Principle, God, which evidence everyone’s truly God-governed nature. You can read about several of these proofs in the articles and testimonies in this week’s Sentinel, in which the precepts of spiritual healing that Jesus taught and lived are applied. Each such demonstration of our “control over sin and disease” attests to the underlying reality of humanity’s timeless freedom from all fettering, material beliefs. In this way, universal salvation is well underway as the unfolding, collective evidence of our eternal spiritual freedom from matter and its limitations.
As the prophesied Messiah, Jesus epitomized such freedom. He embodied the true idea of God, which is Christ, eternally revealing the reality of all existence as entirely spiritual. His proof of this ideal earned Jesus the title of Christ, yet Christ, the Messiah, infinitely transcends the person of Jesus. Christ is the changeless and universal self-revealing of God in our lives, which heals and saves “yesterday, and to-day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8). Christ awakens human consciousness to what is and isn’t real. It exposes sin and disease as misapprehensions of our truly spiritual identity, which must give place to that all-harmonious identity as God’s offspring. This yielding of the material distortion to the spiritual fact occurs as we faithfully follow in Jesus’ footsteps, understanding divine Truth and living that understanding by loving ourselves and our neighbor. This is what brings healing.
Spiritually perceived, we live in a Messianic age without beginning or end. Referring to everyone’s true, spiritual nature, an article in Mrs. Eddy’s Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896 says, “Man as God’s idea is already saved with an everlasting salvation” (p. 261). Seeing everyone’s identity as forever saved, because forever one with Spirit, is uncovering our true status in a spiritual universe that’s as free of evil as its sole Maker, God.
On this basis, spiritual seers living before and since Jesus have proved Christ’s healing ever-presence in incidents that seemed like miracles, but were practical illustrations of how our lives eternally are. Like those seers, instead of waiting for a future world salvation, we can actively bring its fulfillment ever closer by here and now uncovering the “everlasting salvation” in which God always sees all of us holy, harmonious, safe, and free.
Tony Lobl, Associate Editor