Many of us may know that ''gospel'' means ''good news.'' Christ Jesus' disciples, filled with love for God and man, set out to give news of such supreme importance to so resistant a world, that they must have known persecution would face them at every step.
Would they have done what they did for mere pious, hopeful belief? They had to be motivated by something far greater than that. The Bible record of their actions and of later events in Rome, when Christians in thousands faced certain death unflinchingly, clearly show all the hallmarks of deep and abiding conviction.
What was it that inspired and impelled them? Cleopas and another disciple were on their way to Emmaus. Filled with sadness after their Master's crucifixion, they were sure all was lost; that the Messiah everyone had expected would save their nation, was dead. 1
Suppose you or I had been one of the two. What would have been our reaction, when in a flash of realization and beyond all possible doubt, we knew that the man who had joined us on our journey was the man who had been crucified three days before, as alive as ever? What if we had been one of those who saw him in that locked and barred house in Jerusalem? 2 We would have had visible proof that the Saviour had demonstrated life as continuing after what had seemed to be death. We would have seen that spiritual being must therefore transcend completely all that a temporary, matter-bound, mortal existence seems to say of us.
Here was the greatest news there could ever be. It still is. And through its acceptance, fear for our mortal sense of self, so vulnerable and limited, would begin to recede. Realizing we have the eternal now of immortality to live and be in, we would be far less inclined to squabble and fight for transitory power or possessions. We too would want to tell everyone the good news.
Catching a glimpse of this good news today might well send one to research the New Testament to see if the eternality of life really was the high point of Jesus' teaching. One can readily see it was. Many times Jesus referred to eternal life in one way or another. Speaking of God, his Father, he said, ''I know that his commandment is life everlasting.''n3
And another time he said, ''Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.''n4
Surely there could be no promise greater than this. Volumes could be written about what it means. Could there be anything more wonderful than so to understand and accept what Christ Jesus had to say about eternal life, that one would walk unafraid through every phase of human experience?
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science and founder of this newspaper, spent the latter half of her nearly ninety years, in the face of immense opposition, in the endeavor to help humanity awake to its spiritual birthright -- eternal life. In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which she wrote, there are numerous references to immortality and eternal life. For instance, the first of the six Tenets, or important points, of Christian Science, reads, ''As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life.'' 5
It is essential to look away from the limited, mortal, material sense of life in order to catch a glimpse of the meaning of Christ Jesus' resurrection and ascension -- in order to discern something of man's eternal spiritual perfection as God's image. An understanding of these events, two of the most important the world will ever know, would lift such great weights of fear from human thought that human bodies would naturally respond and healing follow. And this is happening today through Christian Science practice.
There is no space here to further develop the point, but this is what Christian Science is about. Luminous peaks of spiritual enlightenment, of what life truly is, spur inquiry and guide our footsteps along eternal paths.
1 See Luke 24:13-32. n2 See John 20:19. n3 John 12:50. n4 8:51. n5 Science and Health, p. 497. DAILY BIBLE VERSE God hath given to us eternal life, and this life in in his Son. I John 5:11