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Thu, July 10, 2014

What Does Christianity Say About the Nature of Jesus? Five Critical Claims

By By J. Warner Wallace

For over two thousand years, seekers and believers have examined the person of Jesus in an effort to understand who He was and what He said about Himself. All of us, whether we are believers or not, believe something about the man named Jesus. Did He really live? Was He just a man? Is He God? Christianity describes Jesus as more than simply a wise teacher or inspired prophet, and what we believe about Jesus defines us as Christians. Those who believe Jesus is the eternal, uncreated Creator of the Universe are within the Christian family; those who think He is something less may be theists, but they aren’t Christian theists. As we examine the claims of the Christian Scripture, let’s step toward the Biblical Jesus and consider some of the possibilities as we examine some of the groups who hold to differing views about the nature of Jesus of Nazareth

1. Is He A Real Man?

2. Is He A Great Moral Teacher?

3. Is He A Prophet of God?

4. Is He A Prophet of God with Supernatural Powers?

5. Is Jesus God?

 

See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.

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This article is pretty wonderful, in my opinion...it is evidntial analysis of some of the primary Christian tenets, and the religious groups that believe them, so that by the end, you can't help but realize-from the evidence-that Jesus WAS God, incarnated on earth...Anyone who loves Jesus will enjoy this article. And it looks like he's a very interesting author of other similar books. When you go to the article, you'll see more about Mr Wallace at the bottom.

Everyone wants to know more about Jesus these days. If they're like me, they just want MORE of Jesus. What we have had, via Scripture, since his life here is pretty scanty; and, we've read the same New Testament stories, by the same authors for generations. Yet, we know that Jesus lived a full human life - he was an infant, a toddler, an adolescent, a teenager, and he grew to manhood for 30 some-odd years before his story really starts. All of the author's evidences of Jesus are hard-won, for he has had to glean them through deductive reasoning, using (mostly) the NT alone. And he does a great job.

Maybe you wish there was more to the story. I always have...

Doesn't it seem reasonable to think that-somewhere-there's a repository of Jesus' entire life...every minute recorded by the angels?

Wouln't it be nice if some of that record of Jesus' life was given to us, here in the midst of 21st century life, so that we might study his life much more fully? Imagine Jesus as an inquisitive five year-old, as a student of music and astronomy, as sole support for his family when Joseph died unexpectedly, as a seasoned traveler in his young adulthood...how many more people did he meet, and what did he say to them?

Well, it IS nice - nice to actually have a lot of those stories that anyone can read. I am referring to The Urantia Book...maybe you've heard of it? In it, we read Jesus life in a week-to-week - and often a day-by-day - account. This account was indeed, recorded by angelic beings when Jesus lived here.

Could it be true that God has not stopped speaking to his children? Could it be that a loving heavenly Father looked upon this planet and perceived how valuable it would be for this world's peoples to discover the real Jesus - the God/man who lived a full life in the flesh?

Does it seem reasonable to think that Jesus' life - his family relationships, his response to hardship, his sense of duty, his friendships, his heartaches and his victories - that this life of Jesus and how he lived it might be of value to human beings in this day and age?

I am not as skilled as the author of the article above, but I am trying to appeal to that in all of us that wants evidence. I can't offer proof that Part IV of The Urantia Book, wherein is found this very same life and teachings of Jesus, is the actual life of Jesus, but I can say that when I first found The Urantia Book, I wept reading just the table of contents of Part IV. So much to read and discover! And there was no looking back, as it rings truer and truer as the years pass.

As we delve through Part IV of The Urantia Book, we actually DO begin to see and observe his life - long before he went into public ministry. His childhood, his adolescence, early manhood, and those later years right before his public ministry...lessons are embedded in every page on how to live a spirit-led life.

Well, I can only offer and share my own experience. I loved the article above, and if nothing else, you should read it. But I also hope you'll do yourself a favor, and check out The Life and Teachings of Jesus as Part IV of The Urantia Book.

To anyone who is fearlessly seeking Jesus, who is seeking MORE of Jesus: This book is for you...

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Fri, May 23, 2014

Faith Insight: Revelation tells us about Jesus

By By Steve Evenson

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants — things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John” (Revelation 1:1).

We are living in a time of massive change. It seems almost impossible now, particularly for the younger generation, but 30 years ago we had no personal computers, no cellphones, no DVD or BluRay players, no smartphones and no Internet. These few items have changed our lives as much as all the inventions from the dawn of time until 1980.

The era when the biblical author wrote the book of Revelation also witnessed a significant change in technology. The turn of the first Christian century witnessed a transition from scrolls to the codex style of book making. A scroll consisted of a single long sheet of paper, made from animal skins or papyrus reeds, rolled up on a stick. Constructing a codex involved gluing or sticking many pieces of paper together at one end, much like the books you have had in your hands.

See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.

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This article discusses the Bible, the Book of Revelation, technology, and how technology affects revelation. And this should be of great interest to Urantia Book readers, in that all previous revelations of God to mankind have been in the form of personages: Caligastia, Adam and Eve, Melchizedek, and Jesus; The Urantia Book is an epochal revelation on an equal par with these previous four revelations, but in the form of a book.

It was not until about 600 years ago that the printing press was invented; and it is only in the past 50 years or so that the miracle of the internet began to make its presence known as a disseminator of information to the world. I feel sure that the revelators well knew of this coming development when The Urantia Book was given to our world, back in the early days of the twentieth century.

What scrolls and papyrus were in Biblical times, the internet is to us in our modern age.; And, what the Book of Revelation was to its times, The Urantia Book is to our times.

The revelation of The Urantia Book is a modern-day example of God's continuing communication with us. In it, we learn:

92:3.5 Only two influences can modify and uplift the dogmas of natural religion: the pressure of the slowly advancing mores and the periodic illumination of epochal revelation. And it is not strange that progress was slow; in ancient days, to be progressive or inventive meant to be killed as a sorcerer...Evolutionary belief in ghosts laid the foundation for a philosophy of revealed religion which will eventually destroy the superstition of its origin.

101:2.12 Revelation as an epochal phenomenon is periodic; as a personal human experience it is continuous.

103:0.2   As natural religious experience continues to progress, periodic revelations of truth punctuate the otherwise slow-moving course of planetary evolution.

As helpful as the Bible has been - as inspired as those books may be - one can't help but realize that the world is in sore need of new ways to apply spiritual principles to modern problems; expecting that the Bible is God's last word to us mortals can only hold the world back.

When we realize that God has never stopped trying to talk to us through periodic revelations, and DOES talk to each of us continuously in our "personal human experience,"  it becomes more and more reasonable to look into this revelation that is The Urantia Book .

In this revelation, all the gaps in our knowledge are filled in - knowledge about the universe, its composition and its purpose and what all those blazing stars and galaxies are for - knowledge about the earth's history and its formation and destiny - knowledge about the evolution of life on earth and the purposes of evolution - and knowledge about Jesus, who he was, why he came here, and where he is now. And that's only a partial list of the information we can find in The Urantia Book .

Revelation in the Bible, and revelation in The Urantia Book...

Even though presented over 2000 years apart from each other, each has the potential to inspire, but The Urantia Book has the additional potential to EXPLAIN the Book of Revelation and put it into correct context. And it carries us through and forward to an even greater revelation of God's goodness and love to his children on earth. 

The title of this article: "Revelation tells us about Jesus," was the first thing that caught my eye, though. I was of course, thinking about the revelation of Jesus found in The Urantia Book; of course, the author of the article is speaking about the Book of Revelation found in the Bible.

The Urantia Book has several references to this very important book of the Bible, including its authorship and its content. I hope you find these passages interesting and informative:

139:4.14 When in temporary exile on Patmos, John wrote the Book of Revelation, which you now have in greatly abridged and distorted form. This Book of Revelation contains the surviving fragments of a great revelation, large portions of which were lost, other portions of which were removed, subsequent to John’s writing. It is preserved in only fragmentary and adulterated form.

45:4.1 At the center of the seven angelic residential circles on Jerusem is located the headquarters of the Urantia advisory council, the four and twenty counselors. John the Revelator called them the four and twenty elders: “And round about the throne were four and twenty seats, and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment.” The throne in the center of this group is the judgment seat of the presiding archangel, the throne of the resurrection roll call of mercy and justice for all Satania. This judgment seat has always been on Jerusem, but the twenty-four surrounding seats were placed in position no more than nineteen hundred years ago, soon after Christ Michael was elevated to the full sovereignty of Nebadon. These four and twenty counselors are his personal agents on Jerusem, and they have authority to represent the Master Son in all matters concerning the roll calls of Satania and in many other phases of the scheme of mortal ascension on the isolated worlds of the system. They are the designated agents for executing the special requests of Gabriel and the unusual mandates of Michael.

47:10.2 John the Revelator saw a vision of the arrival of a class of advancing mortals from the seventh mansion world to their first heaven, the glories of Jerusem. He recorded: “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire; and those who had gained the victory over the beast that was originally in them and over the image that persisted through the mansion worlds and finally over the last mark and trace, standing on the sea of glass, having the harps of God, and singing the song of deliverance from mortal fear and death.” (Perfected space communication is to be had on all these worlds; and your anywhere reception of such communications is made possible by carrying the “harp of God,” a morontia contrivance compensating for the inability to directly adjust the immature morontia sensory mechanism to the reception of space communications.)

It is wonderful to know - not only more about John's authorship, but also what it actually is that he was seeing in his visions. This is the gift of revelation...

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Fri, May 16, 2014

Jesus and the man born blind

By By Tempo News - Staff

As [Jesus] passed by He saw a man blind from birth. He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is,” but others said, “No, he just looks like him.” He said, “I am.”

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.” So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath.” [But] others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”

They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him and the one speaking with you is he.”

 He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.

The light that makes one see or renders one blind

See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.

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This is such an interesting story - both in the Bible and in The Urantia Book. In the Bible story, rendered in this article with appropriate commentary, we see a fairly straightforward accounting of a pretty amazing miracle; however, in The Urantia Book, we learn the Master's reasoning behind the miracle. And the story takes on new life and new meaning.  In the Bible story, emphasis is placed on the bilnd man, the miracle, and the teachings about antecedent sin. In The Urantia Book, we see also the bigger picture - how this miracle was a means by which Jesus was actually forcing the hand of the Pharisees, as well as imparting a lesson on miracle-working itself.

Here is the full Urantia Book story

In this story, we read, in the 1st paragraph:

164:3.1 The next morning the three went over to Martha's home at Bethany for breakfast and then went immediately into Jerusalem. This Sabbath morning, as Jesus and his two apostles drew near the temple, they encountered a well-known beggar, a man who had been born blind, sitting at his usual place. Although these mendicants did not solicit or receive alms on the Sabbath day, they were permitted thus to sit in their usual places. Jesus paused and looked upon the beggar. As he gazed upon this man who had been born blind, the idea came into his mind as to how he would once more bring his mission on earth to the notice of the Sanhedrin and the other Jewish leaders and religious teachers.
Further:
164:3.6 Jesus entered into the discussion of this case with Nathaniel and Thomas, not only because he had already decided to use this blind man as the means of that day bringing his mission once more prominently to the notice of the Jewish leaders, but also because he always encouraged his apostles to seek for the true causes of all phenomena, natural or spiritual. He had often warned them to avoid the common tendency to assign spiritual causes to commonplace physical events.

164:3.7 Jesus decided to use this beggar in his plans for that day's work, but before doing anything for the blind man, Josiah by name, he proceeded to answer Nathaniel's question. Said the Master: "Neither did this man sin nor his parents that the works of God might be manifest in him. This blindness has come upon him in the natural course of events, but we must now do the works of Him who sent me, while it is still day, for the night will certainly come when it will be impossible to do the work we are about to perform. When I am in the world, I am the light of the world, but in only a little while I will not be with you."

164:3.8 When Jesus had spoken, he said to Nathaniel and Thomas: "Let us create the sight of this blind man on this Sabbath day that the scribes and Pharisees may have the full occasion which they seek for accusing the Son of Man."

Jesus then proceeds to perform the miracle of restoring Josiah's sight. Further on in the section, more information is revealed as to the means of performing the miracle:
164:3.12 Jesus made use of the clay and the spittle and directed him to wash in the symbolic pool of Siloam for three reasons:

1. This was not a miracle response to the individual's faith. This was a wonder which Jesus chose to perform for a purpose of his own, but which he so arranged that this man might derive lasting benefit therefrom.

2. As the blind man had not asked for healing, and since the faith he had was slight, these material acts were suggested for the purpose of encouraging him. He did believe in the superstition of the efficacy of spittle, and he knew the pool of Siloam was a semisacred place. But he would hardly have gone there had it not been necessary to wash away the clay of his anointing. There was just enough ceremony about the transaction to induce him to act.

3. But Jesus had a third reason for resorting to these material means in connection with this unique transaction: This was a miracle wrought purely in obedience to his own choosing, and thereby he desired to teach his followers of that day and all subsequent ages to refrain from despising or neglecting material means in the healing of the sick. He wanted to teach them that they must cease to regard miracles as the only method of curing human diseases.

164:3.16 Jesus gave this man his sight by miraculous working, on this Sabbath morning and in Jerusalem near the temple, for the prime purpose of making this act an open challenge to the Sanhedrin and all the Jewish teachers and religious leaders. This was his way of proclaiming an open break with the Pharisees. He was always positive in everything he did. And it was for the purpose of bringing these matters before the Sanhedrin that Jesus brought his two apostles to this man early in the afternoon of this Sabbath day and deliberately provoked those discussions which compelled the Pharisees to take notice of the miracle

Again, in The Urantia Book, we see the familiar Biblical stories, heretofore fairly dry and straightforward, but now fleshed out and rife with detail and new meaning as to the Master's purposes and deliberations.

The Urantia Book is a wellspring of these kinds of stories...retellings of the events of Jesus life and teachings that offer modern-day mankind a whole new view of Jesus - a whole new way to understand him and his mission of revealing the loving heavenly Father to a new generation, and for the edification of all humanity.

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Tue, May 06, 2014

If Jesus Never Called Himself God, How Did He Become One?

By By NPR - Fresh Air

NPR Interview Highlights

On a major difference between the first three gospels — Matthew, Mark and Luke — and the last gospel, John

“ During his lifetime, Jesus himself didn't call himself God and didn't consider himself God, and ... none of his disciples had any inkling at all that he was God.

- Historian Bart Ehrman

You do find Jesus calling himself God in the Gospel of John, or the last Gospel. Jesus says things like, "Before Abraham was, I am." And, "I and the Father are one," and, "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father." These are all statements you find only in the Gospel of John, and that's striking because we have earlier gospels and we have the writings of Paul, and in none of them is there any indication that Jesus said such things. ...

I think it's completely implausible that Matthew, Mark and Luke would not mention that Jesus called himself God if that's what he was declaring about himself. That would be a rather important point to make. This is not an unusual view amongst scholars; it's simply the view that the Gospel of John is providing a theological understanding of Jesus that is not what was historically accurate.

See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.

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The search for the real Jesus goes on...

As Urantia Book reader/students, we are given a unique perspective on this subject of Jesus' divinity. Even the fact that an entire part (out of four parts) of this amazing epochal revelation is devoted to Jesus attests to the significance of this subject. Part I of The Urantia Book is devoted entirely to God and his creation; Part IV is devoted entirely to the life and teachings of Jesus, who, we are taught, WAS and IS the revelation of this same God to the entire universe of Jesus' making. He was, in fact, the fourth epochal revelation of God to our world, and even after 2000 years, his life and his teachings are still making waves and influencing people every day. The complete restatement of that life and those teachings are included in The Urantia Book for the edification of modern-day humankind.

So, what DOES Jesus say about his divinity? In the article above, the author correctly quotes Jesus, and The Urantia Book corroborates these statements - and adds to them further.

Jesus declares:

157:6.10 “No man in this world now sees the Father except the Son who came forth from the Father. But if the Son be lifted up, he will draw all men to himself, and whosoever believes this truth of the combined nature of the Son shall be endowed with life that is more than age-abiding.”

157:6.11 “We may not yet proclaim openly that the Son of Man is the Son of God, but it has been revealed to you; wherefore do I speak boldly to you concerning these mysteries. Though I stand before you in this physical presence, I came forth from God the Father. Before Abraham was, I am. I did come forth from the Father into this world as you have known me, and I declare to you that I must presently leave this world and return to the work of my Father.”

Also see

157:6.13 “Nevertheless, I tell you that the Father and I are one. He who has seen me has seen the Father. My Father is working with me in all these things, and he will never leave me alone in my mission, even as I will never forsake you when you presently go forth to proclaim this gospel throughout the world.

And, here, Jesus talks to Pilate:

185:3.4 “Then you are a king after all?” said Pilate. And Jesus answered: “Yes, I am such a king, and my kingdom is the family of the faith sons of my Father who is in heaven. For this purpose was I born into this world, even that I should show my Father to all men and bear witness to the truth of God. And even now do I declare to you that every one who loves the truth hears my voice.”

And, here is a statement by the revelators of The Urantia Book about this reality of the divinity of the "Son of the Eternal Son," aka, Jesus:

6:1.4 When a Son of the Eternal Son appeared on Urantia, those who fraternized with this divine being in human form alluded to him as “He who was from the beginning, whom we have heard, whom we have seen with our eyes, whom we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, even the Word of life.” And this bestowal Son came forth from the Father just as truly as did the Original Son, as is suggested in one of his earthly prayers: “And now, O my Father, glorify me with your own self, with the glory which I had with you before this world was.”

The gospels are fragmentary accounts of Jesus life; nonetheless, they are in essence, the only written evidence of Jesus' life that we have had up until the indictment of The Urantia Book.

To read more about the gospels, and how they came to be, please see THIS LINK. In this explanation, we see that the gospels of Matthew Mark and Luke had questionable authorship at best...and so, the fact that these statements are not contained therein is not a cause for doubt about the truth of Jesus' divinity

We live in a time when many things are coming to light...as mentioned above, the search for Jesus goes on, and for those who have ears to hear and eyes to se, The Urantia Book will satisfy that search fully...

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Mon, April 07, 2014

Jesus and Buddha on Suffering: A Lenten Meditation

By By Paul Wallace

It's Lent, the season of honesty. And the honest truth is: I hate suffering. I want it to go away, but it doesn't, so I try to get away from it.

Here in Atlanta there's a long straggly fellow who's always hanging around a particular exit ramp. He holds up signs asking for help. He doesn't walk up to my car. He just stands there looking at me. I don't look back. I sit and stare at the light, praying for green and despising his suffering because it suggests my own. I despise him because he is a mirror. When the light finally changes I hit the gas and turn the corner and immediately I feel better. But suffering -- his and mine and the world's -- has only increased.

In seminary I had a New Testament professor who said something I will always remember. He said that of all the world's religions he preferred Buddhism and Christianity because these two alone are sufficiently pessimistic about the human condition. Both, he said, turn toward suffering and look it in the eye without flinching. Buddhism does so through its hard-as-nails philosophy of detachment and Christianity does so by placing suffering at the exact center of its narrative. And although they do so differently, both insist that something -- something unspeakably good -- lies beyond suffering.

Suffering is everyone's problem. Jesus knows it and Buddha knows it, and they suggest a solution: invite suffering in. Be hospitable to it. Offer it a meal. Look the tall stranger in the eye, they say. But if I do I'll die, I say. Yes, they say, but the only thing that will die is what you think you are: your ego.

See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.

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Yes, suffering is certainly an ever-present reality in our world...it is hard to avoid it...hard to just "hit the gas and turn the corner" and put it behind us, as this writer so aptly phrases it. Whether it is a personal kind of suffering that we experience in our lives, or whether it is the considerable suffering of the world-at-large, we always have a choice: be a part of the problem, or be a part of the solution.

Jesus taught the triumph of good over evil, the triumph of love over hate, the triumph of truth over falsehood...and yes, I'd have to agree with this writer that the main thing that can stand in the way of these victories is pandering to, and over-indulging, our little selves.  When we forget to see the big picture, when we look through the eyes of ego, when we have too narrow a view of reality, we can get wound up in suffering, and lose the lesson altogether.

I was raised a Catholic, where I was taught that suffering is redemptive, that even little children can "offer it up," or use suffering for the good of another. As an adult, I still use this strategy at times, as it really does seem effective at assuaging the pain of physical problems, and even other kinds of pain, such as emotional or psychological...

The Urantia Book gives us some food for thought as regards suffering...quite unique ways of viewing what we think of as suffering: for example:

Some of the amazingly fortuitous conditions occasionally prevailing on the evolutionary worlds may be due to the gradually emerging presence of the Supreme, the foretasting of his future universe activities. Most of what a mortal would call providential is not; his judgment of such matters is very handicapped by lack of farsighted vision into the true meanings of the circumstances of life. Much of what a mortal would call good luck might really be bad luck; the smile of fortune that bestows unearned leisure and undeserved wealth may be the greatest of human afflictions; the apparent cruelty of a perverse fate that heaps tribulation upon some suffering mortal may in reality be the tempering fire that is transmuting the soft iron of immature personality into the tempered steel of real character. ~ The Urantia Book, (118:10.9)

The universe view that is offered in Urantia Book teachings tends to put all of life's problems into a new a fresh package...taking the sting out of much of suffering's barbs by providing a goal that can definitely help the believer to transcend life's suffering, even while being in the midst of it...being thankful above all for ALL of life's circumstances is always a good perspective.

Here's a short vignette from The Urantia Book, where Jesus instructs Nathaniel about suffering:

At another of these private interviews in the garden Nathaniel asked Jesus: "Master, though I am beginning to understand why you refuse to practice healing indiscriminately, I am still at a loss to understand why the loving Father in heaven permits so many of his children on earth to suffer so many afflictions." The Master answered Nathaniel, saying: "Nathaniel, you and many others are thus perplexed because you do not comprehend how the natural order of this world has been so many times upset by the sinful adventures of certain rebellious traitors to the Father's will. And I have come to make a beginning of setting these things in order. But many ages will be required to restore this part of the universe to former paths and thus release the children of men from the extra burdens of sin and rebellion. The presence of evil alone is sufficient test for the ascension of man—sin is not essential to survival.

"But, my son, you should know that the Father does not purposely afflict his children. Man brings down upon himself unnecessary affliction as a result of his persistent refusal to walk in the better ways of the divine will. Affliction is potential in evil, but much of it has been produced by sin and iniquity. Many unusual events have transpired on this world, and it is not strange that all thinking men should be perplexed by the scenes of suffering and affliction which they witness. But of one thing you may be sure: The Father does not send affliction as an arbitrary punishment for wrongdoing. The imperfections and handicaps of evil are inherent; the penalties of sin are inevitable; the destroying consequences of iniquity are inexorable. Man should not blame God for those afflictions which are the natural result of the life which he chooses to live; neither should man complain of those experiences which are a part of life as it is lived on this world. It is the Father's will that mortal man should work persistently and consistently toward the betterment of his estate on earth. Intelligent application would enable man to overcome much of his earthly misery.

...good food for thought in this season of preparation for the Master's powerful declaration of liberation from the wages of sin and death - the resurrection. Even though suffering may be a given in this life, we have the ability to overcome completely the doom and gloom - simply by  entrenching ourselves fully in the kingdom and using our God-given capabilities to use it - or temper it -  for a higher good. Knowing that evil may be our natural estate, and also knowing that evil can be overcome by goodness, and by intelligent application of kingdom principles, is freeing indeed.

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Thu, April 03, 2014

Book Review: The Final Days of Jesus

By By Denny Burk

Justin Taylor and Andreas Köstenberger have produced a little gem of a book in The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived. The book aims to set forth from scripture just what the title suggests. The authors explain exactly how the last week of Jesus’ ministry unfolded, from Palm Sunday through Resurrection Sunday. They write,

“This book covers Jesus’ final days. In these pages you will read the eyewitness accounts of what the most important person who ever lived said and did during the most important week of his life… We will put the accounts together in roughly chronological order” (p. 13-14).

To that end the body of the book comprises chapters that correspond to each day of the week (see table of contents below). For each event in the final week of Jesus’ life, the scriptural text appears and is followed by concise commentary on that text. The commentary is very well done and will prove helpful to anyone wishing to get an informed perspective on these critical days of Jesus’ life.

I really appreciate what Köstenberger and Taylor have achieved in this book. There is a vast wasteland of skeptical commentary on the gospel accounts of Jesus life. But this is not that kind of book. They treat the gospels as reliable eyewitness testimony.

See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.

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It is so exciting to find the internet abuzz with Jesus. Every day, we see article after article - book after book - movie after movie - celebrating and lifting the name of Jesus up for all to see and consider. The thirst for knowledge about Jesus goes on unabated in this 21st century after his life in the flesh. This particular book looks like a good effort, but sadly, no recent book, article, or movie out there today can do proper justice to the amazing story of Jesus' last days.

As Urantia Book readers/students, we are privy to a unique and remarkable accounting of-not only Jesus final days-but of his entire life, covered in a nearly day-to-day chronicle that awes the reader with its thrilling narrative.

Part IV of The Urantia Book is the most complete and replete retelling of this God/man's life and teachings available anywhere on the planet. It is written by those who were true eyewitnesses to the power and majesty of Jesus' deceptively simple, humble life, and the tremondous impact it made, and still makes, on our lonely little world; and not only on our world, but millions of other worlds in this universe of Jesus' making. Reading it and gleaning the lessons on life through this retelling constitutes one of the highest achievements to which any of us can aspire: "to know the religious life of Jesus and how he lived it."

196:1.3 To “follow Jesus” means to personally share his religious faith and to enter into the spirit of the Master’s life of unselfish service for man. One of the most important things in human living is to find out what Jesus believed, to discover his ideals, and to strive for the achievement of his exalted life purpose. Of all human knowledge, that which is of greatest value is to know the religious life of Jesus and how he lived it.

In conjunction with this book review above, the reader may be pleased and excited to learn that this last week of Jesus life in The Urantia Book - while not essentially different in fact - is quite different in detail, content, and meaning. It is indeed, the "greatest story ever told," and your reading of the Urantia Book account will add immeasurably to your understanding and your appreciation of Jesus and his mission to our world.

Please click on  THIS LINK to go to the True Easter Story now. 

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Thu, March 27, 2014

Jesus’ resurrection: What really happened?

By By JAY PARINI

Easter morning arrived with a holy hush, the day after the Sabbath, with little fanfare. The gospels pass over the Resurrection, and we never actually see Jesus waken, rub his eyes, stand and stretch. We don’t even see the rock that sealed the tomb actually rolled away. The joyous resurrection of Jesus happens off-stage, as it were. The first inkling of change occurred when some of the women close to Jesus came to visit his tomb. The gospel narratives vary on who turned up in the garden first: Mary Magdalene alone or with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with Salome (Mary’s sister or the mother of James and John). In John, the story plays out in suspenseful detail as Mary Magdalene visited the tomb by herself to mourn. To her amazement, she found the stone removed. In panic, she ran to tell Peter and another (unnamed) disciple, who hurried back to the tomb and discovered it empty, much to their distress and confusion. They assumed that someone had stolen the body. Meanwhile, Mary Magdalene sat outside the tomb by herself, crying softly. She could hardly believe the things that had happened in the past few days, and the missing body of Jesus was really too much to bear.

Huge questions confront anyone thinking about Jesus. Did he really rise from the dead? Was there an actual Resurrection? If so, what would that look like? A large number of Christians throughout history have imagined a resuscitation, refusing to countenance the slightest hint that the Resurrection should be regarded as something beyond human understanding. I myself would argue this: life and death are mysterious, at best, and the membrane between the living and the dead is a porous one, perilously thin. Jesus rose from the dead, the scriptures say. I see no reason to doubt this. And yet a literalistic belief in the Resurrection cannot be, as many fundamentalist churches insist, the only important part of the “good news” of Christianity. The message of God’s love in operation in the world trumps everything and must be regarded as the necessary extension of the idea of rebirth, the social basis for true spiritual enlightenment. Nowhere more so than here does it matter that we find a proper balance between the literal and the figurative, giving full weight to the concrete meaning while relishing the mythic contours of the story.

The fundamentalist view of the cross, with its emphasis on the sacrificial or “substitutionary” aspect of the Crucifixion, evolved in the Middle Ages and solidified with Martin Luther’s insistence on the single, simple, and stable meaning of scripture; the text of the Bible itself became a mighty fortress that resists symbolic interpretations. (I would note that early in his career Luther was much more amenable to symbolic readings of scriptural passages.) To many, the idea of Christ as sacrificial lamb becomes the whole of the Christian message, to the disparagement of every other reading, leading to an exclusionary view of salvation. Yet the apostle Paul himself warned early Christians in his second letter to Corinth that to become an able minister of the new covenant one should not read the scriptures in ways that undercut their fullest meanings, “for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life” (II Corinthians 3:6).

See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.

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This article is quite lengthy, and well worth the read. The passages above are the passages that I wish to expand upon in this blog.

It is a quite beautiful account of the resurrection of Jesus, written by a man who is focused on looking for the human side of Jesus - an endeavor that is every bit as satisfying as simply accepting Jesus as the divine Son of God. He was, of course, both - son of man and Son of God. However, owing to the scarcity of information that we were left with in the Bible, much thought, reflection and imagination has to be undertaken to wrap one's mind around this amazing event. As the author says,

"The gospels pass over the Resurrection, and we never actually see Jesus waken, rub his eyes, stand and stretch. We don’t even see the rock that sealed the tomb actually rolled away. The joyous resurrection of Jesus happens off-stage, as it were."

And of course, he's right. Nevertheless, Christians and others who want to know about this event have only had these scanty Biblical accounts which say virtually nothing about the resurrection except after the fact. Even so, it is a testament to the power of the Scriptures that for these past 20 centuries, just these accounts have been sufficient to inspire generations of believers.

Now comes the 21st century, and still people are yearning to know more about Jesus. The internet is full of his name, book after book is written, exploring the different facets of his life and teachings...and his death and resurrection, as this article (excerpted from yet another book) does.

What if I told you that the every second of the resurrection was recorded by the angels; every question you may have had about it, answered; every niggling doubt you may have harbored, resolved?

Well, it's true. Part IV of The Urantia Book contains the entire life of Jesus, including every detail from his crucifixion, his resurrection, and his subsequent resurrection appearances. The Urantia Book account is indeed a center-stage presentation.

Rather than try to tell you what it says, I want to give you some links to The Urantia Book story, so that you can read these details for yourself, and come to your own conclusions whether it is a more satisfying and illuminating account than you have ever read. I am referencing the same events that are covered in the article above:

(NOTE: The Urantia Book authors use a term: "Morontia," which is a tern designation a state of existence midway between the material and the spiritual.)

Please see: the whole of Paper 188 The Time of the Tomb, which also includes The Burial of Jesus

Paper 189 deals with The Resurrection, and includes the details of the disposition of Jesus' material body, as well as Jesus' first appearance - to Mary Magdalene, and why he was not at first recognizable to her and the others.

The Urantia Book tells us that Jesus appeared to nearly 1000 people, in nineteen separate appearances, between the time of his death and the time of his resurrection, on Thursday, May 18, 30, A.D.  The following links will take you to all of them

Paper 190

Paper 191

Paper 192,  and

Paper 193

Finally, the author of the article above states:

"To many, the idea of Christ as sacrificial lamb becomes the whole of the Christian message, to the disparagement of every other reading, leading to an exclusionary view of salvation."

This is a profound observation. And in The Urantia Book, we are given two additional amazing "other readings" - treatises that give all believers a greatly expanded view of the meanings behind these world-changing events.

Please see: The Meaning of the Death on the Cross and, Lessons from the Cross

Everyone who loves Jesus can be grateful for the Bible and its accounts of Jesus' life in the gospels. Doesn't it always make you want to know even more? We all know that there are many details not covered in the Bible; but now, we have been given this amazing restatement of Jesus' life that is Part IV of The Urantia Book. It is a greatly expanded view of this God/man who we all love so dearly - a new way to look at him and his life - a new and inspiring re-telling of his matchless life and teachings for the minds of modern truthseekers.

Please have a look. Compare and prayerfully reflect...maybe you'll find some new insights, some new inspirations, some new validation that Jesus truly was ( and still is) the greatest human being ever to have lived.

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Tue, March 25, 2014

Was Jesus divine? Publisher hedges bets with Bart Ehrman’s new book

By By John Murawski

Set side by side, the book jackets look almost like matching woodblock prints of a bearded, haloed figure. The titles mirror each other, too, featuring the same trio of names: Jesus, God, Bart Ehrman.

On one of the volumes, “How Jesus Became God,” Ehrman is clearly the author; but in the reversed “How God Became Jesus,” Ehrman is the nemesis of a concerted rebuttal.

So what gives?

The two books are an unusual publishing experiment, in which HarperCollins arranged to have a team of evangelical scholars write a counterargument to its hot-selling superstar writer. Ehrman and the evangelical team exchanged manuscripts and signed nondisclosure agreements so as not to pre-empt each other, but otherwise worked independently for their own HarperCollins subsidiaries, HarperOne and Zondervan.

Ehrman makes the provocative assertion that Jesus did not consider himself divine but was deified by his followers, and that early believers scattered clues about their all-too-human mythmaking throughout the New Testament.

“I’ve never, ever written a book that, in my opinion, is as important as this one, since the historical issues are of immense, almost incalculable importance,” Ehrman said. “The assertion that Jesus is God is arguably the single most important development in Western civilization.”

See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.

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Again, Jesus takes center stage...now at question is his divinity. It's a good thing that this is publisher offers an almost-instantaneous rebuttal, but as Urantia Book readers, we stand perplexed once again at the direction of this scholarly piece, and the attention that its's getting...

Perhaps it's the sheer mystery of this incarnation that is such a stumbling block for some. Even the revelators voice their inability to understand how this could have happened; nonetheless, they KNOW it happened, and report it in great detail.

120:4.5 "Urantia mortals have varying concepts of the miraculous, but to us who live as citizens of the local universe there are few miracles, and of these by far the most intriguing are the incarnational bestowals of the Paradise Sons. The appearance in and on your world, by apparently natural processes, of a divine Son, we regard as a miracle—the operation of universal laws beyond our understanding. Jesus of Nazareth was a miraculous person."

See this section called "THE INCARNATION—MAKING TWO ONE"

And see also, the entire paper called "The Bestowal of Michael on Urantia" to read all the details of this miraculous event in our planet's history.

In the end, it seems clear that believing in the fact of Jesus' divinity is  a matter of faith. But, once you know more about the life and teachings of Jesus,  it becomes far easier to adore this God/man as just who he claimed to be. Jesus several times declared that "He who has seen me has seen the Father." And when you read his life, see the miracles he performed, the healings he effected, and the transformations that he experienced in his own personality as he discovered for himself his own divinity, it is impossible to deny that he truly is the Son of God, as well as the son of man. 

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Fri, March 14, 2014

JESUS to Release in High-Definition for 35th Anniversary

By By Music Times

On the heels of the theater debut of Son of God, JESUS – the most watched film in history, with billions of views – has now been re-mastered in high-definition with a new musical score in Dolby 5.1 surround sound in honor of its 35th anniversary.

The classic, re-titled The JESUS Film, will show in a handful of theaters starting March 24. For those in areas outside of the theater releases, a partnership with Cinedigm and Mission Home Video will make the high-definition video available on Blu-ray, DVD and digital format. The videos will hit retail and online stores nationwide on April 1, 2014.

The JESUS Film is an authentic portrayal of Christ’s birth, ministry, death and resurrection as told in the biblical account from the Gospel of Luke. Nearly every word that Jesus speaks in the film is quoted directly from Scripture. To make sure His words were accurate, 450 leaders and scholars reviewed the script. Historical accuracy was ensured using clothing, pottery and other props made with first-century methods to portray a 2,000-year-old Palestinian culture.

Dr. Erick Schenkel, Executive Director of The JESUS Film Project®, a ministry of Cru, talked about the project in a press release, saying, "When the original JESUS film was released 35 years ago, it was ahead of its time. Yet, while the film has introduced billions of individuals around the world to the person of Jesus, few in the U.S. have ever seen it. We believe this new re-mastered version will give audiences an accurate picture of who Jesus is and why individuals around the world have chosen to follow Him, shown with production values they have come to expect."

See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.

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Again, we have the opportunity to see a film about the life of Jesus.  We think it is remarkable how many books, articles and movies about Jesus are flooding the stream of consciousness these days through various media.

Here at TruthBook.com we look on all of this with great interest, and not a little wistfulness as well. Knowing what we know - having at our fingertips the accurant restatement of the Master's life and teachings as revealed in The Urantia Book - it is difficult to keep seeing all of these noble attempts to portray Jesus for the masses, while the "rest of the story" is yet to be known by most of the world.

How do we get this story out to those who are looking for Jesus? This is our mission here at TruthBook, and we are doing our best to find those seekers after the truth, but it is slow going.

In the end, it is our opinion that any publicity for Jesus is good publicity...that all attempts to lift Jesus up should be applauded and encouraged. And so, we highly recommend this movie to our visitors.

But of course, we always have to add that for the most complete biography ever written about Jesus life and teachings, Part IV of The Urantia Book is the richest source on the planet today. Read it and share it!!!!

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Fri, March 07, 2014

Was Jesus Guilty of Bibliolatry?

By By Russell and Duenes @wordpress

Some people seem to think that there’s a real danger today of “bibliolatry” in evangelical Christendom. In other words, we should be clear that Jesus himself is central to our faith, and he is the one we must worship, not the Bible, lest we be like the Pharisees, who knew every word of Scripture, but missed Jesus himself. The words in the Bible must not be exalted above knowing Christ. But was the Pharisees’ problem that they held the Scriptures in too high a regard? Do we miss Jesus when we put ponder and puzzle over the Scriptures at great length, and bank on its total truthfulness, infallibility and inerrancy? De we commit “bibliolatry?” And then I wondered, if evangelicals can be guilty of “bibliolatry” today, if they can somehow worship the Bible itself, would Jesus himself be guilty of bibliolatry based on whatever criteria modern accusers are using? I would think so.

When Jesus was attempting to repel the devil, he said, “It is written…It is written…It is written.” His answers were Scripture and only Scripture. Jesus said that “until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of the pen shall by any means disappear from the Law until everything accomplished.” Then comes the kicker: “Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” When Jesus cleansed the leper, he immediately sent him do what “Moses commanded” in the law. When John the Baptist asks whether Jesus is the One, Jesus responds by alluding to Isaiah 61. Jesus explains who John the Baptist is by quoting Scripture. Jesus describes his own ministry by analogy to Jonah in the fish and the Queen of Sheba coming to hear Solomon. When Jesus is explaining the truth about marriage and divorce, he explains it almost entirely in reference to Genesis 1. He speaks to the Rich, Young Ruler in terms of the Ten Commandments.

See "Link to External Source Article" below to read further.

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Did Jesus rely overmuch on the Scriptures? In both the Bible and The Urantia Book Jesus is shown to have cited Biblical truth many times. In Jesus' day, there were those who held these writings as sacred, holy, and inerrant. And this is still true today; in addition, we now have the New Testament that is held as equally inerrant by many.

This may seem like a conundrum...However, Jesus was very wise in his choice of passages with which to instruct his followers. Consider this passage from The Urantia Book:

From "The Positive Nature of Jesus' Religion"

159:5.1 At Philadelphia, where James was working, Jesus taught the disciples about the positive nature of the gospel of the kingdom. When, in the course of his remarks, he intimated that some parts of the Scripture were more truth-containing than others and admonished his hearers to feed their souls upon the best of the spiritual food, James interrupted the Master, asking: “Would you be good enough, Master, to suggest to us how we may choose the better passages from the Scriptures for our personal edification?” And Jesus replied: “Yes, James, when you read the Scriptures look for those eternally true and divinely beautiful teachings, such as:

“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

“You should love your neighbor as yourself.

“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying, fear not; I will help you.

“Neither shall the nations learn war any more.”

159:5.7 And this is illustrative of the way Jesus, day by day, appropriated the cream of the Hebrew scriptures for the instruction of his followers and for inclusion in the teachings of the new gospel of the kingdom. Other religions had suggested the thought of the nearness of God to man, but Jesus made the care of God for man like the solicitude of a loving father for the welfare of his dependent children and then made this teaching the cornerstone of his religion. And thus did the doctrine of the fatherhood of God make imperative the practice of the brotherhood of man. The worship of God and the service of man became the sum and substance of his religion. Jesus took the best of the Jewish religion and translated it to a worthy setting in the new teachings of the gospel of the kingdom.

Here is another enlightening story from The Urantia Book regarding Scripture:

One day, the apostle Nathaniel asked Jesus point-blank: “Master, could you trust me to know the truth about the Scriptures? I observe that you teach us only a portion of the sacred writings—the best as I view it—and I infer that you reject the teachings of the rabbis to the effect that the words of the law are the very words of God, having been with God in heaven even before the times of Abraham and Moses. What is the truth about the Scriptures?”

When Jesus heard the question of his bewildered apostle, he answered:

159:4.2 "Nathaniel, you have rightly judged; I do not regard the Scriptures as do the rabbis. I will talk with you about this matter on condition that you do not relate these things to your brethren, who are not all prepared to receive this teaching. The words of the law of Moses and the teachings of the Scriptures were not in existence before Abraham. Only in recent times have the Scriptures been gathered together as we now have them. While they contain the best of the higher thoughts and longings of the Jewish people, they also contain much that is far from being representative of the character and teachings of the Father in heaven; wherefore must I choose from among the better teachings those truths which are to be gleaned for the gospel of the kingdom.

159:4.3 “These writings are the work of men, some of them holy men, others not so holy. The teachings of these books represent the views and extent of enlightenment of the time in which they had their origin. As a revelation of truth, the last are more dependable than the first. The Scriptures are faulty and altogether human in origin, but mistake not, they do constitute the best collection of religious wisdom and spiritual truth to be found in all the world at this time.

159:4.4 “Many of these books were not written by the persons whose names they bear, but that in no way detracts from the value of the truths which they contain. If the story of Jonah should not be a fact, even if Jonah had never lived, still would the profound truth of this narrative, the love of God for Nineveh and the so-called heathen, be none the less precious in the eyes of all those who love their fellow men. The Scriptures are sacred because they present the thoughts and acts of men who were searching for God, and who in these writings left on record their highest concepts of righteousness, truth, and holiness. The Scriptures contain much that is true, very much, but in the light of your present teaching, you know that these writings also contain much that is misrepresentative of the Father in heaven, the loving God I have come to reveal to all the worlds.

159:4.5 "Nathaniel, never permit yourself for one moment to believe the Scripture records which tell you that the God of love directed your forefathers to go forth in battle to slay all their enemies—men, women, and children. Such records are the words of men, not very holy men, and they are not the word of God. The Scriptures always have, and always will, reflect the intellectual, moral, and spiritual status of those who create them. Have you not noted that the concepts of Yahweh grow in beauty and glory as the prophets make their records from Samuel to Isaiah? And you should remember that the Scriptures are intended for religious instruction and spiritual guidance. They are not the works of either historians or philosophers.

159:4.6 “The thing most deplorable is not merely this erroneous idea of the absolute perfection of the Scripture record and the infallibility of its teachings, but rather the confusing misinterpretation of these sacred writings by the tradition-enslaved scribes and Pharisees at Jerusalem. And now will they employ both the doctrine of the inspiration of the Scriptures and their misinterpretations thereof in their determined effort to withstand these newer teachings of the gospel of the kingdom. Nathaniel, never forget, the Father does not limit the revelation of truth to any one generation or to any one people. Many earnest seekers after the truth have been, and will continue to be, confused and disheartened by these doctrines of the perfection of the Scriptures.

159:4.7 “The authority of truth is the very spirit that indwells its living manifestations, and not the dead words of the less illuminated and supposedly inspired men of another generation. And even if these holy men of old lived inspired and spirit-filled lives, that does not mean that their words were similarly spiritually inspired. Today we make no record of the teachings of this gospel of the kingdom lest, when I have gone, you speedily become divided up into sundry groups of truth contenders as a result of the diversity of your interpretation of my teachings. For this generation it is best that we live these truths while we shun the making of records.

159:4.8 “Mark you well my words, Nathaniel, nothing which human nature has touched can be regarded as infallible. Through the mind of man divine truth may indeed shine forth, but always of relative purity and partial divinity. The creature may crave infallibility, but only the Creators possess it.

159:4.9 “But the greatest error of the teaching about the Scripture is the doctrine of their being sealed books of mystery and wisdom which only the wise minds of the nation dare to interpret. The revelations of divine truth are not sealed except by human ignorance, bigotry, and narrow-minded intolerance. The light of the Scriptures is only dimmed by prejudice and darkened by superstition. A false fear of sacredness has prevented religion from being safeguarded by common sense. The fear of the authority of the sacred writings of the past effectively prevents the honest souls of today from accepting the new light of the gospel, the light which these very God-knowing men of another generation so intensely longed to see.

159:4.10 “But the saddest feature of all is the fact that some of the teachers of the sanctity of this traditionalism know this very truth. They more or less fully understand these limitations of Scripture, but they are moral cowards, intellectually dishonest. They know the truth regarding the sacred writings, but they prefer to withhold such disturbing facts from the people. And thus do they pervert and distort the Scriptures, making them the guide to slavish details of the daily life and an authority in things nonspiritual instead of appealing to the sacred writings as the repository of the moral wisdom, religious inspiration, and the spiritual teaching of the God-knowing men of other generations.”

159:4.11 Nathaniel was enlightened, and shocked, by the Master’s pronouncement. He long pondered this talk in the depths of his soul, but he told no man concerning this conference until after Jesus’ ascension; and even then he feared to impart the full story of the Master’s instruction.

The revelation about Jesus' life and teachings from The Urantia Book is so valuable a resource to us modern-day people. What Jesus says here is so sensible, so logical, and so believable. Jesus had a remarkable discernment when it came to recognizing and utilizing truth, no matter from where he found it. We could do no worse than to follow his lead in this, as well as in all other aspects of living a successful spiritual life.

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