Tue, September 11, 2018
Deliverance from fear
By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders
All of us go through seasons of fear. Sometimes, there are good reason to have fear; oftenimes, though, it is what The Urantia Book calls "unreasoned fear" that can get its grip on our minds, and lead to great distress - needless distress. This article in the Christian press: Remedy for worry comes from placing our faith in Jesus by Matt Mylin is quite good, and helps us see this issue from the Christian, Biblical perspective. Below, we'll blog on this topic using Urantia Book teachings; but first, a snip or two from the article to whet your interest:
"Have you ever worried about someone or something? Worry is a natural response when the uncertainty of life collides with the human desire to know. In those moments, is it really that simple just to follow the directions from the song "Don't Worry, Be Happy," or even the words of Jesus? As part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life — whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing?" (Matthew 6:25 NLT) Then Jesus said to look at the birds and the flowers as our example. It seems like he is saying, "If the birds and the flowers don't get stressed out about life, you shouldn't get stressed out either."
"I don't think it's possible to just will our way out of worry; however, I do believe there is a remedy for worry that comes from placing our faith in Jesus.
"Jesus did not say, 'Do not work,' 'Do not plan' or 'Do not be responsible for what you need to do to live.' He simply said, 'Do not worry.' "
Click to read more
Worry and fear have been companions of mine for much of my life. Can you relate? Not everyone can, and for those who cannot, I applaud and even envy you. It has taken me many years to overcome the toxin of fear and its effects upon my inner - and outer - life. The teachings of The Urantia Book have been a large part of my victory over fear. I still struggle at times, but the bulk of that destructive emotion has been tamed and subdued through spiritual means. It is possible to recognize this nemesis and address it before it becomes a problem.
For many souls, fear is born at an early age, when circumstances of life hurl one into uncertain situations that DO feel very threatening, and actually ARE threatening to one's well-being. Unfortunately, though, the stain of fear, panic, or anxiety can be imprinted on a developing person, coloring their entire subsequent life - even after the original stimulus has been long relieved. Maybe it is a remnant from our legacy of our animal origins, but in modern life, fear plays far too great a role for some of us. Maybe you are one of them. I hope tto lend a hand to you here, friend.
One passage in The Urantia Book that has been helpful to me is this somewhat obscure one, in the papers on world religions; this passage is from the section about Buddhism:
131:3.3 Those who avoid evil by seeing things as they are gain joy by thus embracing the truth.
This is a comforting thought. Seeing things as they ARE - not as I fear they MIGHT be - is a reality check. Fear is evil; embracing it ourselves, or or fostering it in others is likewise evil. That is why we are so often admonished to overcome it. Fear is a "spirit poison."
Unless we are being faced with a real and immediate threat, worrying about what COULD happen in the future, or what HAS happened in the past is placing my life on a plane of unreality. Seeing things as they are - right now - is a far safer course. Not only seeing the facts of the NOW, but being grateful for the fact that there's really nothing going on RIGHT NOW that I need fear (unless in a case of real physical danger!). Knowing that God is present to me in this moment, and this moment alone can return my mind to sanity.
Symptoms of fear include anxiety and chronic worry; these can lead to more serious repercussions: a pervasive sense of doom or dread, panic attacks that can make one's heart rate accelerate, racing thoughts that overwhelm one's rational mind altogether and that leave one breathless and one's will paralyzed. Fear can also lead to depression, and worse.
As an important aside: if you find yourself a victim of fear, if you feel helpless, suffering under the clouds of nameless dread and panic, I urge you to try the spiritual tools and Urantia Book teachings outlined here; but if that is not helping you, please find professional help as soon as possible. These are issues that can escalate if not addressed. You are not alone.
Long after the causes for fear have been erased, the phenomenon of "unreasoned" fear can rear its ugly head. The Urantia Book's teachings help us to identify and defuse it:
48:7.4 Few persons live up to the faith which they really have. Unreasoned fear is a master intellectual fraud practiced upon the evolving mortal soul.
"Unreasoned" is the qualifier; "faith" is the antidote. Living up to that faith - seizing on it - can defuse unreasoned fear
When we really examine our fears, one question we might ask ourselves is:
Is something happening right now that is fearful? Am I in danger? If the answer is no, then fear is not reasoned. Am I projecting into the future or into the past? That fear likewise, is not reasoned. Bring your mind back to God, to reality...cling to him as a child clings to its parent's hand and claim his help and protection in full faith that it is yours.
In the article I cite above, the author has done a good job of helping us see that fear - apart from prudence and reasonable care of oneself - is a terrible trap. He talks about the birds, and how they spend their time feeding, and preparing safe nests as a means of prudence and insurance against future troubles, and this is a good lesson for us, too. The exercise of prudence and care in all of our affairs can help us avoid occasions of fear, also. What Jesus tells us in The Urantia Book echoes the bible, but expands on it, as is usually the case:
165:3.4 Jesus says: "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And yet, when these birds flit about in quest of their sustenance, not one of them exists without the knowledge of the Father, the source of all life. To the seraphic guardians the very hairs of your head are numbered. And if all of this is true, why should you live in fear of the many trifles which come up in your daily lives? I say to you: Fear not; you are of much more value than many sparrows.
And this is significant, for this admonition was given during a sermon called" "Trust and Spiritual Preparedness."At this time, Jesus was well aware of the plots that were underfoot to derail his mission and arrest him, and worse. If anyone might have embraced a sense of fear and foreboding, Jesus might have. But he did not. He states:
165:3.3 "Soon, very soon, will the things which our enemies now plan in secrecy and in darkness be brought out into the light and be proclaimed from the housetops. But I say to you, my friends, when they seek to destroy the Son of Man, be not afraid of them. Fear not those who, although they may be able to kill the body, after that have no more power over you. I admonish you to fear none, in heaven or on earth, but to rejoice in the knowledge of Him who has power to deliver you from all unrighteousness and to present you blameless before the judgment seat of a universe.
Read the entire sermon HERE
And one of the best Jesus stories of all is this one, as the Master comforts and advises "The Young Man who was Afraid."
The sure antidote
As mentioned, FAITH in God and his goodness is the sure antidote to fear. Knowing that he is in charge and that his will for us is only good and loving. And I might add that living in the NOW is also a necessary antidote. Being entirely present in the moment, connecting with God through sincere prayer, relaxing the body with meditation techniques such as mindful breathing or the 4-7-8 technique can greatly reduce anxiety and place the mind on a more positive, prayerful course. Both of these techniques can be accessed through a Google search; as a former sufferer, I highly recommend them. They can be accessed in a moment, with just a switch in thinking - a choice to feel better.
We are intricate, sensitive beings; the mechanisms of our minds and bodies are intertwined; and Spirit can be the mediator between these two, if we so choose. As with so many other eathly matters, connecting with our Spirit-within can allay fear and put our minds at rest, which in turn will make our bodies follow suit. This promise is outlined here
116:6.1 In the evolutionary superuniverses energy-matter is dominant except in personality, where spirit through the mediation of mind is struggling for the mastery. The goal of the evolutionary universes is the subjugation of energy-matter by mind, the co-ordination of mind with spirit, and all of this by virtue of the creative and unifying presence of personality. Thus, in relation to personality, do physical systems become subordinate; mind systems, co-ordinate; and spirit systems, directive.
There are many manifestations of fear that we can recognize; this blog has been pointed towards the kind of nebulous, unnamed fear that poisons our rationality; the kind of fear that paralyzes our will and leaves us shaking and quaking. The kind of fear that distracts and derails our minds. But fear as a general topic is one that we could all could likely use help with. Not all fear is of the debilitating kind...The Urantia Book offeres all of us practical wisdom to understand fear.
Please see our topical study of Urantia Book (and Jesus') teachings on the subject of FEAR ... including a history of us and how fear played such a major role in our evolutionary development.
Finally, this passage about the faith of Jesus, and how that faith made him a force to be reckoned with. And we can follow Jesus in this regard - by placing our trust in the heavenly Father just as he did:
196:0.11 In the earthly life of Jesus, religion was a living experience, a direct and personal movement from spiritual reverence to practical righteousness. The faith of Jesus bore the transcendent fruits of the divine spirit. His faith was not immature and credulous like that of a child, but in many ways it did resemble the unsuspecting trust of the child mind. Jesus trusted God much as the child trusts a parent. He had a profound confidence in the universe—just such a trust as the child has in its parental environment. Jesus' wholehearted faith in the fundamental goodness of the universe very much resembled the child's trust in the security of its earthly surroundings. He depended on the heavenly Father as a child leans upon its earthly parent, and his fervent faith never for one moment doubted the certainty of the heavenly Father's overcare. He was not disturbed seriously by fears, doubts, and skepticism. Unbelief did not inhibit the free and original expression of his life. He combined the stalwart and intelligent courage of a full-grown man with the sincere and trusting optimism of a believing child. His faith grew to such heights of trust that it was devoid of fear.
Happy trails to all...and a faith-filled,journey be yours, free from fear!
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Thu, September 06, 2018
The Power of Revelation
By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders
I think all of us would agree that hearing or reading someone's first-hand accounts of an event - their testimony - carries a lot of weight...much more than second-hand reportage. This article: Testimony of Jesus changes lives by Mitch Ivey is the author's testimony as a result of reading the accounts in the gospel of John, supposedly an eyewitness accounting of Jesus' life; and that inspiration builds upon itself and engenders the author's own personal witness as to the power of Jesus in that life. We will blog below about this gospel of John as clarified in The Urantia Book - as well as my own testimony of the power of Jesus - but first, here's a snippit or two from the article:
"As a believer, I'm encouraged by the testimony of the Apostle John. As it says at the end of the book in John 20:24-25 (NKJ): "This is the disciple who testifies of these things and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen."
"John's testimony, a firsthand witness to the events of Jesus' life, has been written and passed on for generations. As people have read those testimonies about this man Jesus, people throughout the world have experienced transformed lives through a living relationship with Jesus. John's testimony is full of power as it's being passed down the generations.
"John shares his testimony of watching Jesus heal the lame man at the pool of Bethesda, feeding 5,000 on a country hillside, seeing Lazarus rise from the dead, eating breakfast by the sea with the resurrected Jesus and much more."
Click to read more
While the Bible itself may be thought of as a testament - a witness - to the revelation that was Jesus' incarnation on earth, The Urantia Book truly represents that revelation in the fullest way that has ever been seen on earth. Anyone who is ready to know more about the Master and his life owes it to him/herself to have a look at it.
In these perilous times, the true and unadulterated teachings of Jesus stand as a promise for all peoples of all religions that brotherhood is possible, that love is the greatest reality, and that all of us are part of the vast family of God. His powerful religion of the spirit is a religion for everyone and is "destined to conquer an empire of materialistic secularism and to overthrow a world sway of mechanistic naturalism."
When read as a whole piece, the Life and Teachings of Jesus in The Urantia Book supply a narrative of the Master's life that is unparalleled anywhere on the planet. It contains all the true events of Jesus' life that are familiar from the Bible - and it supplies all the missing years, all the missing events, all the missing teachings - as well as supplying color, detail, and context for all of it. The Bible may be the basis for the Master's life, but The Urantia Book expands and coordinates it to the nth degree.
When I discovered The Urantia Book, one of the first sections that attracted me to it were the papers on Jesus' life. I had been raised Catholic, and my main exposure to Jesus had been from the gospels that are read during each Mass. For me, those gospels were sufficient to inspire in me a life-long reverence for, and a belief in Jesus. The words of the Master always rang true for me, even when the church itself seemed to veer from those simple teachings.
Through all of my "wilderness days" the simple beauty of the "Lord's Prayer," the inspiring parables of the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, the Good Shepherd ... the miraculous events like the turning of the water into wine, the feeding of the 5000, the cure of the woman who touched his hem ... these stories and events stayed with me. I did turn my back on the church, but I never turned my back on Jesus.
Finding those events, those miracles, anew in The Urantia Book - so full of detail, so replete with inclusions of Jesus' thinking and state of mind, so corroborative of his loving nature were like "coming home." I can remember the tears welling up in my eyes as I was filled with immense gratitude for this revelation of the essesnce of Jesus as I had always believed him to be, but in greater detail and color and context than I had ever dreamed of having.
Reading the accounts of his simple, yet powerful life - his pure and original teachings - awoke in me a renewed love for him, and a renewed determination to "follow him" with more purpose than I had ever had before. The Urantia Book - and most especially the Jesus papers - changed my life.
Another element of The Urantia Book that was a life-changing revelation for my soul was the explanation by the revelators of the true purpose of Jesus' incarnation to our world.
Having been raised to believe that Jesus was the sacrificial lamb, destined to die a cruel death by the mandate of what I was taught to be a cruel and wrathful God, I always felt great sympathy and tenderness towards Jesus; I felt so sorry for him having to take on the sins of the world, and at the same time, felt a good deal of indignation at such a god who would demand such a price to be paid by such a loving and innocent person. That indignation rose to such a level that - while I always loved Jesus, I had a hard time loving God. The Urantia Book explains it so simply here:
2:6.1 "Man might fear a great God, but he trusts and loves only a good God. This goodness of God is a part of the personality of God, and its full revelation appears only in the personal religious experience of the believing sons of God ... The olden concept that God is a Deity dominated by kingly morality was upstepped by Jesus to that affectionately touching level of intimate family morality of the parent-child relationship, than which there is none more tender and beautiful in mortal experience."
And so, learning that one of the main purposes of Jesus' incarnation was to reveal God to our creature eyes - not to redeem a sinful and sorry people through a fictitious doctrine, my spirit was baptized with a whole new paradigm in which to appreciate not only Jesus, but God the Father as well.
The Urantia Book's revelations about the true nature of the Universal Father was a powerful revelation for me. I felt the scales fall from my eyes as I began to appreciate the truth about God - a God that I always feared and worried about; a God who said he loved me on one hand, but a God who required the murder of his innocent Son as a sacrifice. I have come to believe that this vengeful God of the Bible - this seemingly irrational and capricious God - is not accurate. Reading the life of Jesus, whose incarnation was to reveal God to us, one cannot further entertain such damaging and fearful ideas any more. Following the simple religion that Jesus himself followed and taught can give anyone a whole new appreciation for the God of love that Jesus revealed to us.
In my view, fear of God - an understandable fear, given the writings of the Bible - is one of the worst maladies to afflict the human race. The Urantia Book relieves us of that fear; it introduces a revelation of God the Father as I had never before even imagined. We discover a personal God - a personality from whose personality all of our personalities spring; a God who can truly know and be known; a loving person whose nature is only love, and whose only attitude towards creation is one of love. What a concept! And through the incarnation of Jesus, we are able to truly see the nature of this loving Father.
142:2.2 Said Jesus: "Our Father in Paradise is changeless. But the concept of his nature has enlarged and grown from the days of Moses down through the times of Amos and even to the generation of the prophet Isaiah. And now have I come in the flesh to reveal the Father in new glory and to show forth his love and mercy to all men on all worlds. As the gospel of this kingdom shall spread over the world with its message of good cheer and good will to all men, there will grow up improved and better relations among the families of all nations. As time passes, fathers and their children will love each other more, and thus will be brought about a better understanding of the love of the Father in heaven for his children on earth. Remember, Jacob, that a good and true father not only loves his family as a whole—as a family—but he also truly loves and affectionately cares for each individual member."
Over the past 2000+ years, all the world has really had in the way of testimony or information about the Master's life has been the four gospels of the New Testament. These gospels did not appear in the form we have them now until around 1380 AD, when they were translated from the Latin into English by John Wycliffe. The events, the quotes of Jesus and others, the timelines, have undergone extensive manipulation, editing, and revision before the actual finished product was completed.
Nevertheless, what has come down to us through the centuries has been enough to inspire countless followers of Jesus, just like me and the author of the piece above. And we can only be grateful that this "river of knowledge" has been put together and has flowed down to these days; otherwise, the life of Jesus might have been lost forever except in oral histories. The authors of The Urantia Book tell us that "these records, imperfect as they are, have been sufficient to change the course of the history of Urantia for almost two thousand years."
The author of the piece above speaks of having eyewitness acounts. He posits that the gospel of John is one such account - an eyewitness accounting of certain events in Jesus' life. But, is it?
One might rightly be curious about The Urantia Book's revelation in light of the article that I have cited above as well as my own testimony. I invite anyone to click on the following links to discover the truth of this revelation - how it was mandated - and whose accounts were referenced
It begins this way:
"The basis of this narrative was supplied by a secondary midwayer who was onetime assigned to the superhuman watchcare of the Apostle Andrew."
This angelic midwayer (see "authors of The Urantia Book" above) is most certainly an eyewitness to events that occurred during Jesus public ministry.
And here's a fascinating statement - an acknowledgment - by the chief midwayer of the revelatory commission:
As we can see, the Bible records have most certainly been employed, including the information from John; but then we also find out exactly where they originated; and that origination does not always lie with the stated author.
Learn more about the current records that we know as the Bible. See Previous written records, wherein we read about the gospel of John and its true authorship:
121:8.10 The Gospel of John. The Gospel according to John relates much of Jesus' work in Judea and around Jerusalem which is not contained in the other records. This is the so-called Gospel according to John the son of Zebedee, and though John did not write it, he did inspire it. Since its first writing it has several times been edited to make it appear to have been written by John himself. When this record was made, John had the other Gospels, and he saw that much had been omitted; accordingly, in the year A.D. 101 he encouraged his associate, Nathan, a Greek Jew from Caesarea, to begin the writing. John supplied his material from memory and by reference to the three records already in existence. He had no written records of his own. The Epistle known as "First John" was written by John himself as a covering letter for the work which Nathan executed under his direction.
Who was John Zebedee? He was the fourth a postle - one of the first six - and his biographical sketch can be read HERE. John also was the author of the book Revelations, which he wrote when in exile on the island of Patmos.
You have always loved the Bible, and discoveriong Jesus in The Urantia Book is like reading the Bible in technicolor and on the wide-screen! with a cast of thousands but a one-pointed message of the love of the Father to all mankind, revealed by Jesus.
https://truthbook.com/urantia-book/part-4-the-life-and-teachings-of-jesus START HERE!
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Fri, August 10, 2018
The Tired Atonement Doctrine
By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders
In recent years, it's been refreshing to perceive subtle changes in Christian thought - at least to my eyes. From an emphasis on blood atonement and the wrath of God, I have seen an increase in emphasis on the love of God for all of his children - the goodness of God and his mighty works in peoples' lives - gratitude to God for all he does for us. So, it is with dismay that I saw this article today called: What Jesus did — for us By John Roberts, in which the spectre of the atonement for mankind's assumed inherent sinfulness is once again raised and promoted - even celebrated. We'll blog about these ideas below, but here are a few snips from the article:
"Today we're going to look a bit deeper into the purpose of the Incarnation. We ask, "Why did the eternal Son of God become a man?" and the short answer is, "To atone for our sin and reconcile us to God."
"We are separated from God. We have no holiness before Him. We are entirely disposed to commit sin. We are therefore rightly condemned to eternal ruin. Each and all of us have hell as our certain destiny. Bad news, indeed. Very bad.
"...His holiness and love provided a just means to forgive our sin and reconcile us to Him, the great work of Christ that we call His "substitutionary atonement."
Click to read more
Should we fear God - or love him?
Finding The Urantia Book is for many like finding a cool spring in the middle of a dry, dusty desert. Reading this revelation from on high is refreshing and invigorating; one of the most soul-satisfying revelations is that of the loving and good nature of God as revealed in its pages. Like the article that I cited above here, many of us were raised to believe in a God that is quite different. It takes a lot of effort to find real love in these views of God:
The seemingly senseless God who would create a vast family of children in holiness and then condemn them to the stain of inborn sin;
the vengeful God whose idea of justice includes killing a highly favored innocent child for the sins of other, guilty ones;
the wrathful God who keeps a place of eternal torment for those guilty children who don't toe the line.
I think it's really a shame that so many people have fear of God. But with these kinds of ideas about God, who can blame people for being afraid of him? I was one of those, too. God was always a nebulous presence that seemed scary and not altogether rational. What is rational about killing an innocent child because a guilty one sinned? And how do we please such a god?
A wonderfully refreshing part of The Urantia Book starts right off the bat in PART I - all about God and his creation. Reading that part, I first became aware of the fact that God is a person...wait, what? God is a person? Yes, we learn in The Urantia Book that God is the "Father of personalities." Here's more about God's personality:
1:7.1 When Jesus talked about "the living God," he referred to a personal Deity—the Father in heaven. The concept of the personality of Deity facilitates fellowship; it favors intelligent worship; it promotes refreshing trustfulness. Interactions can be had between nonpersonal things, but not fellowship. The fellowship relation of father and son, as between God and man, cannot be enjoyed unless both are persons. Only personalities can commune with each other, albeit this personal communion may be greatly facilitated by the presence of just such an impersonal entity as the Thought Adjuster.
"Only a person can love and be loved."
And it suddenly made perfect sense to me, especially when I read more about that personality of God and also about the reality of personality itself. Here's a great link to our study on Personality that you might find instructive.
Knowing that God is a person with a personality is truly a revelation; now, it became possible to approach God, person-to-person. Trusting child to loving parent. Not only that, but the faith relationship that we establish between ourselves and our loving heavenly Father is one that bears fruit; it can be acted out - it can be lived, providing ample evidence in an individual life of the goodness of God. Such a relationship becomes the most important relationship possible for the child of God - a relationship of love with unlimited potential for growth.
How can one "act out" a belief in atonement, how can one live a life of progress and spiritual growth through fear of the unpredictable one who demands it?
1:6.8 God is spirit—spirit personality; man is also a spirit—potential spirit personality. Jesus of Nazareth attained the full realization of this potential of spirit personality in human experience; therefore his life of achieving the Father's will becomes man's most real and ideal revelation of the personality of God. Even though the personality of the Universal Father can be grasped only in actual religious experience, in Jesus' earth life we are inspired by the perfect demonstration of such a realization and revelation of the personality of God in a truly human experience.
When we know Jesus - when we hear him say that "He who has seen me has seen the Father," this is another huge evidence that God is a loving, tolerant, forgiving Father. Never in The Urantia Book do we see Jesus being anything less that a loving personality. He may become "indignant at sin" but he always loves the sinner.
Atonement - does it make sense?
Another of the greatest revelations of The Urantia Book for me was its teachings about the truth of the atonement doctrine. When I first read these teachings, it was as if I could finally exhale and relax a little bit. After all, the idea of the atonement is an idea that makes me pretty squeamish about God; but the book is abundantly clear on the subject of atonement. And when you read the passages about the love of God being a parental love, it's easy to see how a loving Father could never do what God's always been accused of.
The Urantia Book does not teach that mortals are separated from God; nor do the teachings of Jesus imply that we are inherently sinful, carrying some inborn sin that requires blood sacrifice to eradicate. These harsh doctrines are, in my view, primitive ideas carried over from primitive times, when blood sacrifice was thought to appease angry gods. With the arrival of The Urantia Book, we are given a view of God that is far more uplifting; a view that puts our minds at rest, clears up confusion, and helps all children of God recognize the family-centered, cosmic citizenship that we can all enjoy to the fullest.
From my own personal point of view, the atonement doctrine simply does not make sense, and is really a terrible confusion foisted upon the mind of mankind. If we posit a loving God, how can that loving Father condemn a child to eternal torment? How can a loving Father condemn an innocent child to die for other, sinful ones? Why does an eternal creator need vengeance? Can God do things that are not good?
Even if we compare this vision of God with a flawed human parent, how can we reconcile the idea that the wrathful God seems less compassionate than many earthly fathers? Shouldn't God be the model of fatherly love? If a human father would not do such awful things to his children, how do we accept this kind of belief about our Spirit Father - our Creator? In fact, the actions ascribed to God in the Old Testament might earn jail time for an earthly father in our 21st century world - and rightly so. The adolescent Jesus, when faced with the Scriptural ideas of the wrathful God, said to his father, Joseph:
125:0.6 "My father, it cannot be true—the Father in heaven cannot so regard his erring children on earth. The heavenly Father cannot love his children less than you love me. And I well know, no matter what unwise thing I might do, you would never pour out wrath upon me nor vent anger against me. If you, my earthly father, possess such human reflections of the Divine, how much more must the heavenly Father be filled with goodness and overflowing with mercy. I refuse to believe that my Father in heaven loves me less than my father on earth.”
2:6.1 In its true essence, religion is a faith-trust in the goodness of God. God could be great and absolute, somehow even intelligent and personal, in philosophy, but in religion God must also be moral; he must be good. Man might fear a great God, but he trusts and loves only a good God. This goodness of God is a part of the personality of God, and its full revelation appears only in the personal religious experience of the believing sons of God.
More sane advice for believers about the fallacy of atonement
From: The Goodness of God
Righteousness implies that God is the source of the moral law of the universe. Truth exhibits God as a revealer, as a teacher. But love gives and craves affection, seeks understanding fellowship such as exists between parent and child. Righteousness may be the divine thought, but love is a father's attitude. The erroneous supposition that the righteousness of God was irreconcilable with the selfless love of the heavenly Father, presupposed absence of unity in the nature of Deity and led directly to the elaboration of the atonement doctrine, which is a philosophic assault upon both the unity and the free-willness of God.
The affectionate heavenly Father, whose spirit indwells his children on earth, is not a divided personality—one of justice and one of mercy—neither does it require a mediator to secure the Father's favor or forgiveness. Divine righteousness is not dominated by strict retributive justice; God as a father transcends God as a judge
103:4.4 Jesus swept away all of the ceremonials of sacrifice and atonement. He destroyed the basis of all this fictitious guilt and sense of isolation in the universe by declaring that man is a child of God; the creature-Creator relationship was placed on a child-parent basis. God becomes a loving Father to his mortal sons and daughters. All ceremonials not a legitimate part of such an intimate family relationship are forever abrogated.
The death on the cross - what does it mean if not atonement?
That's a fair question. The horror of the cross of Jesus has always been seen as God's will so as to fulfill the sacrificial nature of the Son. In The Urantia Book, we discover that the death on the cross was not God's will for Jesus at all; nevertheless, when the death on the cross appeared to be the natural end of Jesus' life, the Father did desire that Jesus submit to his fate, and Jesus accepted that. He could have died of any number of maladies or even old age...but that was not how his life played out. The cross was his fate, but it was a fate decided by wicked men - not God.
The Urantia Book is entirely sympathetic to the idea of Jesus' devotion to this idea as the true meaning of that terrible death on the cross; its teachings set us straight and present us Jesus as devoted Savior, not sacrifice. In that section we learn:
The cross of Jesus portrays the full measure of the supreme devotion of the true shepherd for even the unworthy members of his flock. It forever places all relations between God and man upon the family basis. God is the Father; man is his son. Love, the love of a father for his son, becomes the central truth in the universe relations of Creator and creature—not the justice of a king which seeks satisfaction in the sufferings and punishment of the evil-doing subject
The triumph of the death on the cross is all summed up in the spirit of Jesus' attitude toward those who assailed him. He made the cross an eternal symbol of the triumph of love over hate and the victory of truth over evil when he prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." That devotion of love was contagious throughout a vast universe; the disciples caught it from their Master. The very first teacher of his gospel who was called upon to lay down his life in this service, said, as they stoned him to death, "Lay not this sin to their charge."
Mortal man was never the property of the archdeceivers. Jesus did not die to ransom man from the clutch of the apostate rulers and fallen princes of the spheres. The Father in heaven never conceived of such crass injustice as damning a mortal soul because of the evil-doing of his ancestors. Neither was the Master's death on the cross a sacrifice which consisted in an effort to pay God a debt which the race of mankind had come to owe him.
Before Jesus lived on earth, you might possibly have been justified in believing in such a God, but not since the Master lived and died among your fellow mortals. Moses taught the dignity and justice of a Creator God; but Jesus portrayed the love and mercy of a heavenly Father.
Jesus lived and died for a whole universe, not just for the races of this one world. While the mortals of the realms had salvation even before Jesus lived and died on Urantia, it is nevertheless a fact that his bestowal on this world greatly illuminated the way of salvation; his death did much to make forever plain the certainty of mortal survival after death in the flesh.
If you are someone who has always had a niggling uneasiness about God - a tendency to fear him and be afraid of his wrath, I urge you to do a little reading about him in The Urantia Book. An excellent place to start is with Paper 1 of Part I - The Universal Father.
And after you've read about God, you'll find him anew in the life of our human brother, Jesus, in PART IV - the Life and Teachings of Jesus. And truly, once you have found out more about God in Part I and then see the Father by seeing Jesus in PART IV, your fear of our wonderful Father will evaporate.
Jesus told us that the truth would set us free - and that was one of his aims in coming here - to tell us the truth about the heavenly Father...the truth about our familial child/parent relationship with him. And when we finally know the truth about God (personified in Jesus), we are then free to live lives of originality and true freedom before him. We can actually partner with him through the ministry of his indwelling Spirit and co-create our lives with him - lives of joy, peace, truth, beauty, and goodness - not fear.
Jesus was always positive in his teachings; knowing this, we must also know that God the Father is a positive deity. There's little of the positive in the atonement doctrine, but a lot of sorrow...little of the goodness of God, but a lot of fear.
Isn't it time to put this tired doctrine to rest? The teachings of The Urantia Book - and the life of Jesus - give us abundant reasons to do so.
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Sun, August 05, 2018
Repentance and rebirth
By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders
Repentance...it sounds kind of old-fashioned or quaint in this high-tech and sophisticated world we live in; but is it an idea to scoff at? Or, is it something that we should take seriously? This article: Gems from Jesus by John Curtis explores the idea of repentance in light of Biblical (Christian) perspective, and we'll blog about it in light of Urantia Book teachings below. But here is a good snip from the article - and good advice for any follower of the Master.
"Repentance is not just giving up a particular sin. Repentance is a complete change of perspective of disposition. Repentance is a change of direction, focus, purpose. Repentance is giving up our claim to the right to our self and abandoning ourselves to the lordship and love of God; to trust in His Good News."
Click to read the article
I occasionally like to explain the value of The Urantia Book for the newcomer to this blog who may wonder why we here at TruthBook embrace it and dedicate ourselves to its promotion and dissemination. When I see an article like the one referenced above from the Christian press, I often find it a good opportunity to expose the reader to a parallel view of the same topic - using Urantia Book teachings. This is just by way of a gentle introduction.
The Urantia Book is full of practical and life-changing teachings - most valuable are the teachings of Jesus in Part IV. While some Christian people are reluctant to even question the inerrancy of the Bible, many have come to these pages with an open mind and heart. The Bible is based upon the life and teachings of Jesus; Part IV of The Urantia Book is the restatement of that life of Jesus as preserved over the centuries by the spiritual eyewitnesses who were actually there. If one can believe that God has never stopped communicating with his children, it will be easy to imagine that he would want to share this kind of knowledge with us, so as to provide an up-to-date guide with which to navigate our 21st century existence here. Jesus' true story and his illuminating teachings do that for us. The revelators tell us that knowing his "religious life and how he lived it" is the most valuable knowledge we can have.
Just as Jesus used Old Testament scripture in his ministry, so The Urantia Book employs hundreds of Bible stories and teachings in its pages, too - many from the New Testament. The purpose of this revelation is to present the original, unequivocal teachings of the Master for a whole new generation of his followers. This "restatement" of his teachings restores the original meanings of Jesus life and mission to our world - This includes the original words of the Master, correcting centuries of ambiguity, confusion, and outright (though possibly unintentional) error.
Does Jesus advise repentance?
It is John the Baptist's message of repentance that has survived the centuries to inform subsequent believers what is needed to get right with God. His message: "Repent, for the kingdom is at hand!" inspired countless souls to seek God's grace. But when Jesus embarked on his public life, his message was somewhat different, emphasising faith more strongly than repentance - a most comforting message:
137:8.17 "John came preaching repentance to prepare you for the kingdom; now have I come proclaiming faith, the gift of God, as the price of entrance into the kingdom of heaven. If you would but believe that my Father loves you with an infinite love, then you are in the kingdom of God."
Nevertheless, he still honors the act of repentance:
159:1.2 "If a kindhearted man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, does he not immediately leave the ninety and nine and go out in search of the one that has gone astray? And if he is a good shepherd, will he not keep up his quest for the lost sheep until he finds it? And then, when the shepherd has found his lost sheep, he lays it over his shoulder and, going home rejoicing, calls to his friends and neighbors, `Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' I declare that there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety and nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Even so, it is not the will of my Father in heaven that one of these little ones should go astray, much less that they should perish. In your religion God may receive repentant sinners; in the gospel of the kingdom the Father goes forth to find them even before they have seriously thought of repentance.
"You have been taught that divine acceptance comes after your repentance and as a result of all your works of sacrifice and penitence, but I assure you that the Father accepts you even before you have repented and sends the Son and his associates to find you and bring you, with rejoicing, back to the fold, the kingdom of sonship and spiritual progress. You are all like sheep which have gone astray, and I have come to seek and to save those who are lost."
150:5.5 "You cannot buy salvation; you cannot earn righteousness. Salvation is the gift of God, and righteousness is the natural fruit of the spirit-born life of sonship in the kingdom. You are not to be saved because you live a righteous life; rather is it that you live a righteous life because you have already been saved, have recognized sonship as the gift of God and service in the kingdom as the supreme delight of life on earth. When men believe this gospel, which is a revelation of the goodness of God, they will be led to voluntary repentance of all known sin. Realization of sonship is incompatible with the desire to sin. Kingdom believers hunger for righteousness and thirst for divine perfection."
Why do we need to repent if all we really need is faith?
Perhaps not everyone is in need of repentance; there are those who are able to fully accept this love of the Father so generously given without the need to renounce an old way of living. Their transition into the kingdom may be a gentle one, without undue conflict. But in my own experience, repentance was a practice that was valuable when I was transitioning from a distinctly "worldly" life to life in the kingdom - from a life centered in self-will to a life centered on God's will...acceptance of the Father's goodness and generosity can only lead one to repent any old way that does not include him. And this is an important distinction.
Living a life of self-will will surely result in a life that will stand in need of repentance; hence, when one is ready to move up to a better way of life, it is important to renounce the old ways in order to make room for the new. If the old life is ingrained, new strategies must be found to replace the old; old values must be upgraded.
This process is one that accompanies the phenomenon of being "born of the spirit ," or as Christians are likely to call it: being "born again." In the new birth, one sees clearly that, whereas a self-willed life is limiting and ultimately self-defeating, the new life of the spirit has a refreshing, open-ended potential. For when one begins identifying oneself with God's ways and God's will, The Urantia Book tells us that there is "no limit" to such a partnership!
118:5.2 In the beginning the Father does all, but as the panorama of eternity unfolds in response to the will and mandates of the Infinite, it becomes increasingly apparent that creatures, even men, are to become God's partners in the realization of finality of destiny. And this is true even in the life in the flesh; when man and God enter into partnership, no limitation can be placed upon the future possibilities of such a partnership.
How long does repentance take? Will we remain a penitant forever?
Again, in my own experience, the process of repentence can be a lengthy one, but it does not have to be an attitude that one adopts for the rest of one's life; nevertheless, even though one may be able in an instant to change one's mind about where one is heading, adapting oneself to the new life of the spirit can take awhile. This is especially true if one has lived a long time in a worldly and self-willed way. The act of repentance can mark one's life in such a dramatic way that it remains forever a milestone against which to measure the entire future life.
Entering the kingdom may only take one mental decision, but the old ways and the new ways may be in some conflict until one has completed the process of rebirth. For a certain length of time, one can have one foot in the kingdom and one foot in the world, straddling the two worlds, as choice after choice is made and after enough personal experience accrues as to the rightness of the new ways. Jesus calls this period the "fringe of conflict:"
159:3.7 Forewarn all believers regarding the fringe of conflict which must be traversed by all who pass from the life as it is lived in the flesh to the higher life as it is lived in the spirit. To those who live quite wholly within either realm, there is little conflict or confusion, but all are doomed to experience more or less uncertainty during the times of transition between the two levels of living. In entering the kingdom, you cannot escape its responsibilities or avoid its obligations, but remember: The gospel yoke is easy and the burden of truth is light.
But after enough time, repentance becomes less prominent as the new realities of the kingdom take precedence. Repentance can be thought of as scaffolding for the new life. It is not punishment; it is not an occasion for guilt; instead it is a point in time at which one renounces a way of life that did not include God and adapts to a whole new way of life that includes him in everything.
What is it like being born of the spirit?
Being born of the spirit can happen in an instant; or, it may take a longer time. It is a process that varies with the individual. The Urantia Book explains it this way:
103:2.1 Religion is functional in the human mind and has been realized in experience prior to its appearance in human consciousness. A child has been in existence about nine months before it experiences birth. But the "birth" of religion is not sudden; it is rather a gradual emergence. Nevertheless, sooner or later there is a "birth day." You do not enter the kingdom of heaven unless you have been "born again"— born of the spirit. Many spiritual births are accompanied by much anguish of spirit and marked psychological perturbations, as many physical births are characterized by a "stormy labor" and other abnormalities of "delivery." Other spiritual births are a natural and normal growth of the recognition of supreme values with an enhancement of spiritual experience, albeit no religious development occurs without conscious effort and positive and individual determinations. Religion is never a passive experience, a negative attitude. What is termed the "birth of religion" is not directly associated with so-called conversion experiences which usually characterize religious episodes occurring later in life as a result of mental conflict, emotional repression, and temperamental upheavals.
But those persons who were so reared by their parents that they grew up in the consciousness of being children of a loving heavenly Father, should not look askance at their fellow mortals who could only attain such consciousness of fellowship with God through a psychological crisis, an emotional upheaval.
But regardless of the conditions of rebirth, over time, when one is finally "quite wholly" within the kingdom, this process of repentance becomes largely a thing of the past, as one has now seen and experienced life in the new way and - once one has seen those glories, it is highly unlikely that that person will return to the old, sad ways. Life lived selfishly gives way to life lived in the service of God and in service to others - the hallmarks of the gospel of the kingdom of Heaven. As Jesus so clearly explains above:
"When men believe this gospel, which is a revelation of the goodness of God, they will be led to voluntary repentance of all known sin. Realization of sonship is incompatible with the desire to sin. Kingdom believers hunger for righteousness and thirst for divine perfection."
And what is this gospel?
The gospel of the kingdom, as explained in the teachings of Jesus in The Urantia Book is a gospel that is different than the traditional Christian gospel. It is an active gospel that contains an potential eternity of unfoldment in its embrace. The traditional Christian gospel tells the story of Christ as the sacrificial lamb, risen from the dead. The gospel of the kingdom - the gospel taught by Jesus - consists of two elements: The Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of the children of God. God is our Father and all people (being fellow children of God) are spiritually related as any earthly family is related - brothers and sisters with one common Father.
This gospel of the kingdom provides for endless adventure with knowing God - and the endless satisfaction of service. The most appealing part of this gospel is the fact that it is another example of the open-ended potential of the Spirit-led life.
The reality of God is an eternal reality; one will never reach the end of the exploration of God and our relationship with him. And the fact of brotherhood and sisterhood with all people is also an eternal opportunity for service. There are always going to be people around us - people with varying needs that we might be able to meet. Looking for those needs and our chances to serve becomes a life-changing focus for the kingdom-dweller.
A new life indeed!
Please see our studies that explore Urantia Book teachings about the topics in this blog:
Born of the Spirit
The Gospel of the Kingdom
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Tue, July 17, 2018
Calling all Second-Milers
By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders
Evangelism - sharing our faith with a hungry world - is something that Jesus asked us to do. He asked us to proclaim the good news into all the world! How many of us do that? Hiow many of us would LIKE to do that? What stops us? If you're like me, what gives us pause is the HOW of it - HOW do we do this effectively? This very good article titled: Sent out by Jesus by Bret Fear has some wonderful, practical suggestions on this topic; and we'll blog further about this idea using Urantia Book teachings below, but here are a few snips from the article - I recommend it!
"At a recent conference, I had the opportunity to participate in "street evangelization." At a hotel near O'Hare Airport, our group boarded a bus and headed to Millennium Park. On the way, we received instructions: "Go out by two, approach an individual, and ask if he or she would like prayer or is in need of a miracle. If opposed, wish the person a good day and move on. If he or she is open, visit and eventually pray with or over the person." Our final instruction: "Pray the Lord will send you to individuals who could use grace and are in need of prayer." Everyone on the bus fell into silent prayer. When we arrived at our designation, we left our belongings on the bus and stepped into the heart of Chicago. And then the bus drove off, leaving us a bit shell shocked."
Click to read the entire article, with details on the outcome of their adventure
I am inspired after reading this article, and it gets me to thinking about the possibility of actually doing something like this with others (and I share an experience of my own below). I would never do this alone, nor would I suggest that anyone else attempt this kind of evangelism alone. Just as the Master sent out the Kingdom workers two-and-two, we should also enlist a partner, or even a group of "twos" with whom to share the adventure, should we be so led. Such fellowship lends safety, and such a shared service will strengthen the faith of each of us.
You might want to read the article in full to find out how this group fared; I can share one or two things here, though. The author states: "Though it may sound simple, evangelization can be intimidating. Street evangelization seems particularly daunting; yet it's often easier evangelizing strangers than friends, co-workers or family members. " and: "Truthfully, it often felt awkward. However, we also experienced grace-filled encounters." That's the prize, isn't it?
Ready for more inspiration?
Of course, we don't have to go out into the streets and byways like the apostles or even like this group mentioned in the article, it's true. We can simply minister as we pass by and continue to go about doing good like Jesus did; nevertheless, a mission-oriented foray with friends and believers armed with matchless goodwill and the gospel of the Kingdom of heaven might really appeal to some of us. It does to me. Perhaps it might be a goal to work towards for some committed Kingdom-dwellers...are you one of them?
Here's some practical advice from The Urantia Book that explores some of the nuts-and-bolts of the Master's evangelizing style, so that any potential evangelist - individually or as a group - can have a blueprint for success. I have broken up the text to highlight each idea:
"Always the burden of his message was: the fact of the heavenly Father's love and the truth of his mercy, coupled with the good news that man is a faith-son of this same God of love.
"Jesus' usual technique of social contact was to draw people out and into talking with him by asking them questions. The interview would usually begin by his asking them questions and end by their asking him questions. He was equally adept in teaching by either asking or answering questions.
"As a rule, to those he taught the most, he said the least. Those who derived most benefit from his personal ministry were overburdened, anxious, and dejected mortals who gained much relief because of the opportunity to unburden their souls to a sympathetic and understanding listener, and he was all that and more.
"And when these maladjusted human beings had told Jesus about their troubles, always was he able to offer practical and immediately helpful suggestions looking toward the correction of their real difficulties, albeit he did not neglect to speak words of present comfort and immediate consolation.
"And invariably would he tell these distressed mortals about the love of God and impart the information, by various and sundry methods, that they were the children of this loving Father in heaven."
We can discern a pattern here:
Before we start, we might want to pray with our partner that God go before us to bring seekers across our path. Together, reinforce the message that we wish to convey and pray for God and his unseen helpers to direct seekers to us, or us to them.
First: ask questions. "Can we pray with you today?" may be a good ice-breaker question to ask.
Second: Listen to what is being said, even if it seems like a rejection. Listen and reflect what you hear. If the person expresses a strong rejection, just move on, but always listen respectfully first for clues to real needs.
Third: (and this may be the greatest challenge) discern the real need of the person before you; offer prayer and if asked, advice. If our aim is to minister to the homeless, we might want to have a list of resources available before we embark on our journey - where the nearest social services are located, for example. Maybe we might even have a little cash on hand to share, if we can afford to do that, or food/restaurant coupons.
We may be able to offer advice on difficult relationships or on the value of prayer - or just be a listening ear. If we don't have ready advice, prayers are always appropriate for the solution to the problem at hand. But all people, regardless, need sincere understanding, tolerance, and a reason to feel refreshed by the Spirit-led attention they receive from us, and optimistic enough to face the rest of their day, knowing that someone cares for them. We might want to let their need determine our response, always praying for that one opening into which we can drop some of our good news of the kingdom and their place in it.
We should always strive to leave people the better for having met us that day, whether they accept us or not.
What did Jesus ask us to do?
Here's another list of of some very practical advice that Jesus mentioned in his "Instructions for Teachers and Believers," and in his resurrection appearances (some of this advice is paraphrased from Urantia Book text):
Again, these advices can be followed whether you're ministering in your day-to-day life to those you happen to meet, or if you're planning a real tour...
Always respect the personality of man.
Overpowering arguments and mental superiority are not to be employed to coerce men and women into the kingdom.
Make your appeals directly to the divine spirit that dwells within the minds of men. Do not appeal to fear, pity, or mere sentiment. In appealing to men, be fair; exercise self-control and exhibit due restraint.
Do not indulge in sarcasm. Be not cynical.
In preaching the gospel of the kingdom, you are simply teaching friendship with God.
Extend sympathy to the brave and courageous while you withhold overmuch pity from those cowardly souls who only halfheartedly stand up before the trials of living.
Offer not consolation to those who lie down before their troubles without a struggle (but DO offer encouragement to overcome!). Sympathize not with your fellows merely that they may sympathize with you in return.
Proclaim the good news of the heavenly kingdom: sonship with God, brotherhood with men/women, and ever-ascending citizenship in the eternal universe.
Lead men/women into the kingdom: When you have presented to mortal man the good news that God is his Father, you can the easier persuade him that he is in reality a son of God.
Do not strive with men—always be patient.
Teach that man's whole duty is summed up in this one commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your mind and soul and your neighbor as yourself."
Show forth the fruits of the Spirit.
Minister to the sick and strengthen those who are fainthearted and fear-ridden.
Be excited about what you can give to those who live in dire spiritual poverty.
Ever be wise in your choice of methods for presenting the good news.
"Pray the Father of truth to shed abroad in your hearts a new and greater love for your brethren. You are to love all men as I have loved you; you are to serve all men as I have served you."
"Fear not the resistance of evil, for I am with you always, even to the end of the ages. And my peace I leave with you."
"Let faith reveal your light to the world; let the revelation of truth open the eyes blinded by tradition; let your loving service effectually destroy the prejudice engendered by ignorance. By so drawing close to your fellow men in understanding sympathy and with unselfish devotion, you will lead them into a saving knowledge of the Father's love."
"Carry the good news to those who sit in darkness. This gospel of the kingdom belongs to all who believe it."
"Devote your life to proving that love is the greatest thing in the world."
"Minister to the weak, the poor, and the young. Preach the gospel without fear or favor; remember always that God is no respecter of persons. Serve your fellow men even as I have served you; forgive your fellow mortals even as I have forgiven you."
"Persevere as one who has been ordained by God for this service of love."
"Cease to fear men; be unafraid to preach the good news of eternal life to your fellows who languish in darkness and hunger for the light of truth."
"Love men with the love wherewith I have loved you and serve your fellow mortals even as I have served you. By the spirit fruits of your lives impel souls to believe the truth that man is a son of God, and that all men are brethren. Remember all I have taught you and the life I have lived among you. My love overshadows you, my spirit will dwell with you, and my peace shall abide upon you."
It's not for everyone, but for you "second-milers..."
Are you inspired yet? I remember a few years back, a partner and I embarked on a one-day mini-mission of mercy during the Christmas season. We both had a little bit of disposable income at that time, and so we got in the car and headed to downtown Denver, looking for people we thought might appreceiate an unexpected gift of cash and spiritual ministry for the holidays. It was a truly memorable adventure.
We met a mother hitchiking with her two small children who really appreciated our help, a panhandler on the street, an outdoor sign-painter at work, a woman who thanked us and instantly went off to the liquor store with the money (!), a lame man struggling to cross the street, a flower seller at a gas station, a mother of three in a hospital parking lot who was overjoyed to receive a little bit of extra cash at Christmas, and a father of many children who was down on his luck. And there were more - we met and ministered to 14 people that day. Most were so appreciative, and many accepted our offer to pray with them for God's help. We shared the gospel as best we could, explaining that all the money belongs to God and we just wanted to share it with them. He loves them, and so do we.
But I won't lie; it was not easy, and we only did it that one time. However, I reflect back on that day with fondness. I kept notes on all who we met and as I read my notes, I remember each one and wonder where they are now. To this day, I pray for their welfare.
In the end, our aim must be to fulfill the Master's mangate to proclim the gospel to all; the way we do it remains open to our imaginations and our Spirit-inspired creativity.
195:10.5 In winning souls for the Master, it is not the first mile of compulsion, duty, or convention that will transform man and his world, but rather the second mile of free service and liberty-loving devotion that betokens the Jesusonian reaching forth to grasp his brother in love and sweep him on under spiritual guidance toward the higher and divine goal of mortal existence. Christianity even now willingly goes the first mile, but mankind languishes and stumbles along in moral darkness because there are so few genuine second-milers—so few professed followers of Jesus who really live and love as he taught his disciples to live and love and serve.
Are YOU a second-miler?
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Wed, July 11, 2018
Being here now
By MaryJo - A Pilgrim's Ponderings
When I saw this title: God Talk: Following Jesus by keeping your eyes forward by Roxanne Cunningham, I immediately thought of the Urantia Book's admonition to "disown the past." Also, of other teachings of this great blue book regarding the value of learning to live in the present. Please see our blog below for more about these topics, but first, here's a short snip from this nice article:
"...sometimes we can find ourselves holding on to the past and letting it dictate who we are. It's like trying to drive using only the rearview mirror. It can be harmful. I remember in about 5th grade I was heading into class at school. I was moving rather quickly but also looking back at others who were trying to beat me to class. Suddenly, bam, I ran into a steel and concrete pole. I am 63 years old and I still remember the giant knot on my head! I remember the pain. Spiritually speaking, I have things from my past that if I allow them to be my focus and fail to follow Jesus' lead I will crash in an awful way. So, I take a quick glance back, remember from where I have come, His great mercy toward me and quickly put my eyes back on Jesus."
Click to read more...
Disowning the past
The story of Jesus' thwarted meeting with his mother is one that is covered in the Bible at: Mt 12:46-50; Mk 3:31-35; Lk 8:19-21, but none of these Bible accounts tell much of the story. Only in The Urantia Book do we get the kind of detail and context that makes this amazing revelation "of greatest value" when studuying the life of Jesus.
This touching story takes place soon after the feeding of the five thousand, followed by Jesus momentous epochal sermon in the Capernaum synagogue. This was the time of the "sifting of the kingdom," in which many followers fell away when Jesus refused to be their king. Jesus now took the offensive against the Jewish authorities in his mission, and in the midst of a hasty flight from the agents of Herod who were bent on arresting Jesus, his family arrives to see him, expecting him to receive them. He meant to, but circumstances in the moment dictated otherwise. As a result, the rift between Jesus and his family widened. Here's the story. Note especially the commentary at the end of this section which I have bolded:
"It was just another of those instances in which his earth family could not comprehend that he must be about his Father's business. And so Mary and his brothers were deeply hurt when, notwithstanding that he paused in his speaking to receive the message, instead of his rushing out to greet them, they heard his musical voice speak with increased volume: "Say to my mother and my brothers that they should have no fear for me. The Father who sent me into the world will not forsake me; neither shall any harm come upon my family. Bid them be of good courage and put their trust in the Father of the kingdom. But, after all, who is my mother and who are my brothers?" And stretching forth his hands toward all of his disciples assembled in the room, he said: "I have no mother; I have no brothers. Behold my mother and behold my brethren! For whosoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, the same is my mother, my brother, and my sister."
"And when Mary heard these words, she collapsed in Jude's arms. They carried her out in the garden to revive her while Jesus spoke the concluding words of his parting message. He would then have gone out to confer with his mother and his brothers, but a messenger arrived in haste from Tiberias bringing word that the officers of the Sanhedrin were on their way with authority to arrest Jesus and carry him to Jerusalem. Andrew received this message and, interrupting Jesus, told it to him.
"Mary and Jesus' brothers thought that Jesus did not understand them, that he had lost interest in them, little realizing that it was they who failed to understand Jesus. Jesus fully understood how difficult it is for men to break with their past. He knew how human beings are swayed by the preacher's eloquence, and how the conscience responds to emotional appeal as the mind does to logic and reason, but he also knew how far more difficult it is to persuade men to disown the past.
"It is forever true that all who may think they are misunderstood or not appreciated have in Jesus a sympathizing friend and an understanding counselor. He had warned his apostles that a man's foes may be they of his own household, but he had hardly realized how near this prediction would come to apply to his own experience. Jesus did not forsake his earth family to do his Father's work—they forsook him. Later on, after the Master's death and resurrection, when James became connected with the early Christian movement, he suffered immeasurably as a result of his failure to enjoy this earlier association with Jesus and his disciples."
Read the entire story HERE
Mary and Jesus' family were hurt because Jesus would not - could not - drop everything and see them. And then, as he tries to tell his listeners that they are as important to him and his mission as members of his blood family, Mary hears those words that caused her to collapse with shock.
But as the text indicates, the family were all more or less living in a fearful past, remembering past imagined slights and his supposed "neglect" of them. Not only that, Mary was full of fear for Jesus. She had been swayed by the emotional appeal of the Pharisees' lies about his health, his mental stability, and the possibility that he would disgrace them all. She was distraught and "torn between love and fear, between mother love and family pride."
Not only did they fail to grasp the message that he was speaking loud enough for them to hear- words of hope, of assurance - they failed to grasp the importance of what was really happening at that moment and had let all of these past worries influence them so much that they wanted to stop his work. They looked back and saw fear; they looked back and saw worry; they looked forward and saw disaster. This put them at immediate odds with Jesus and his purpose.
Only Ruth, who "believed wholeheartedly and continuously in the divinity of his mission on earth" remained fully present, steadfast and supportive of her brother, saying: "I will tell my brother that I think he is a man of God, and that I hope he would be willing to die before he would allow these wicked Pharisees to stop his preaching." But one of the brothers promised to keep her quiet about that.
Avoid being driven by fear
Poor Mary - of course, any mother can understand her upset at Jesus' words, but it was only as a result of unfulfilled expectations and unresolved antagonisms from the past as well as fear for the future. Had she and the others understood more of what was happening, and the importance of Jesus' mission that he was even then trying to accomplish, they might not have had such hurt feelings, but would have been more supportive.
We can all take a lesson from this story about the value of trying our best to stay in the present moment as much as possible, not dwelling on either the past or the future, except as it may inform and enlighten the present moment.
But we must reject the "mental poisons" of fear, suspicion, and intolerance when seeking that kind of guidance/wisdom. It seems to me that much of Jesus' family reactions were born of such distressing emotions.
Living in the present, maturing into the future
We learn from the Urantia Book teaching that God is present only in the now - he is the great "I AM." It's never I WAS, or I WILL BE - always "I AM."
2:1.5 No thing is new to God, and no cosmic event ever comes as a surprise; he inhabits the circle of eternity. He is without beginning or end of days. To God there is no past, present, or future; all time is present at any given moment. He is the great and only I AM.
118:1.7 To become mature is to live more intensely in the present, at the same time escaping from the limitations of the present. The plans of maturity, founded on past experience, are coming into being in the present in such manner as to enhance the values of the future.
We can certainly forgive Mary and Jesus' family for their failure to appreciate these values; certainly Jesus understood clearly what his words and actions meant to them and forgave them for their misunderstanding of him. Theirs was a truly unique situation, as anyone can imagine. He certainly had no intentions of causing pain or anguish; but he could not tailor his mission to accommodate the hurt feelings of even his family members.
But after all, who among us has not done the same things in our lives? Haven't we all been guilty of living too much in the past? or the future? Wouldn't we all benefit from taking these teachings to heart and learning to appreciate the past, future AND present as one large continuum, learning to live fully with God in the present moment (which is ONLY where he can be found)? Trusting that as we become true partners with God that he will help us live our lives fully in the present with lives of originality and freedom?
The information that we obtain from our study of The Urantia Book can enrich our lives by helping us to delve more deeply into what it means to be a living, learning child of God. Information really is powerful. And when we know better, we do better. And when we do better we are happier, more productive friends, workers, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers - and fearless workers for the kingdom.
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Mon, July 02, 2018
Jesus: CEO of the Universe
Now, HERE is an interesting take on the life of the Master: Jesus as a great business executive! The article is a book review called : Fortune 500 executive reveals why Jesus was the greatest business executive of all time by Religious News Service (RNS). Even after studying only the Gospels, the author of this new book featured in the review called: Jesus & Co.: Connecting the Lessons of The Gospel with Today's Business World by Bruce L. Hartman gleaned valuable lessons about what a brilliant strategist and executive Jesus was. And we agree. The Urantia Book provides ample evidence of these findings. We'll blog on that below, but here's a good snip about what's in the reviewed book and its author:
Earning his Master of Divinity (2013) and Doctorate (May 2018) from Drew University Theological School, Hartman writes, "Who is Jesus to our current Marketplace? He is the founder of the largest organization in the world. He worked his way up from the bottom of the marketplace. If he booked a speaking tour in contemporary times, he would sell out every venue on the tour. He is a gifted strategist and keeps the road straight. He has been there and knows our issues. But most importantly his words and presence are as available to us today as they were for the first-century marketplace".
Click to read the review
The preliminary executive conference
When reading the life and teachings of Jesus in The Urantia Book, one discovers who Jesus really was, where he came from, the details of his mission to this world, and, in the ensuing story, how he implemented and carried out that mission. It didn't just happen; it was skillfully and artfully planned, as one might expect. Jesus of Nazareth - Christ Michael of Nebadon - can truly be thought of as chief executive of our world and our universe.
In order to understand the vast scope of the process by which Jesus ended up here as the Babe of Bethlehem, we have to start by understanding the bestowal process undergone by any Creator Son. Six times, over the course of about 1 billion years, Christ Michael of Nebadon had assumed the form of one of the six different types of creatures who then lived on various worlds in the universe of his making. Six times he surrendered his existence in Salvington to commune and exist among the different orders of life that he had created. Why?
119:0.4 The purpose of these creature incarnations is to enable such Creators to become wise, sympathetic, just, and understanding sovereigns. These divine Sons are innately just, but they become understandingly merciful as a result of these successive bestowal experiences; they are naturally merciful, but these experiences make them merciful in new and additional ways. These bestowals are the last steps in their education and training for the sublime tasks of ruling the local universes in divine righteousness and by just judgment.
120:0.1 To live such identical lives as he imposes upon the intelligent beings of his own creation, thus to bestow himself in the likeness of his various orders of created beings, is a part of the price which every Creator Son must pay for the full and supreme sovereignty of his self-made universe of things and beings.
Read about the six previous bestowals HERE.
Immediately prior to Michael's final bestowal on the planet of his choosing - ours - Christ Michael of Nebadon, the creator of this universe - received his final bestowal commission from his brother Immanuel with details about his upcoming incarnation to earth (Urantia). In reading this commission, we grasp that this seventh and final incarnation as a creature of flesh and blood was one of the riskiest and challenging of all the other bestowals that had come before. On his other bestowals, Michael had incarnated as a fully developed being; on Urantia he would willingly incarnate as a helpless baby.
Read the seventh bestowal commission HERE
The mission to earth
The story of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem is well-known, but his ensuing infancy and childhood are not, nor are the processes by which he became aware of his true identity. The Urantia Book provides us with details available nowhere else about all of those years. We learn how he gradually became aware of who he was and where he had come from - and most importantly, what his mission was to be. By the time he was 14 years-old, during the visit to Jerusalem for the Passover, Jesus was first called to be about his Father's business. And this supernatural visitation from a celestial messenger set the tone for the rest of his life.
From his early years working with Joseph at the crossroads of the caravan trades, where he would come into contact with people from all parts of the known world, to his Mediterranean trip, where "he met and loved all manner of men, rich and poor, high and low, black and white, educated and uneducated, cultured and uncultured, animalistic and spiritual, religious and irreligious, moral and immoral," Jesus' aim was to learn all he could about mortals, to minister to them along the way, and to plan the future mission that would reveal the Father to a whole universe.
The importance of the tour of the Mediterranean regions is outlined here. And we see the wisdom and planning that even then were paramount in the mind of Jesus as he considered the rest of his mission to the world and the entire universe:
129:3.5 In all your efforts to decipher the meaning of Jesus' life on Urantia, you must be mindful of the motivation of the Michael bestowal. If you would comprehend the meaning of many of his apparently strange doings, you must discern the purpose of his sojourn on your world. He was consistently careful not to build up an overattractive and attention-consuming personal career. He wanted to make no unusual or overpowering appeals to his fellow men. He was dedicated to the work of revealing the heavenly Father to his fellow mortals and at the same time was consecrated to the sublime task of living his mortal earth life all the while subject to the will of the same Paradise Father.
129:3.6 It will also always be helpful in understanding Jesus' life on earth if all mortal students of this divine bestowal will remember that, while he lived this life of incarnation on Urantia, he lived it for his entire universe. There was something special and inspiring associated with the life he lived in the flesh of mortal nature for every single inhabited sphere throughout all the universe of Nebadon. The same is also true of all those worlds which have become habitable since the eventful times of his sojourn on Urantia. And it will likewise be equally true of all worlds which may become inhabited by will creatures in all the future history of this local universe.
By the end of the Mediterranean tour
"By the end of this tour Jesus virtually knew—with all human certainty—that he was a Son of God, a Creator Son of the Universal Father. The Adjuster more and more was able to bring up in the mind of the Son of Man shadowy memories of his Paradise experience in association with his divine Father ere he ever came to organize and administer this local universe of Nebadon. Thus did the Adjuster, little by little, bring to Jesus' human consciousness those necessary memories of his former and divine existence in the various epochs of the well-nigh eternal past. The last episode of his prehuman experience to be brought forth by the Adjuster was his farewell conference with Immanuel of Salvington just before his surrender of conscious personality to embark upon the Urantia incarnation. And this final memory picture of prehuman existence was made clear in Jesus' consciousness on the very day of his baptism by John in the Jordan."
An executive encounter with rebels
After completing the Mediterranean tour, Jesus spent a year of solitary travel. At the end of that year (his 31st), Jesus was led by his inner spirit to Mt Hermon, "that he might finish his work of mastering his human mind and complete the task of effecting his full consecration to the remainder of his lifework on earth."
It was part of his mission to our world during these days that he did the necessary but unpleasant task of confronting the forces of darkness and defeating them - reclaiming the future administration of the planet from the traitorous reign of Caligastia. It was on the slopes of Mt Hermon, as Jesus enjoyed "unbroken communication with his Paradise Father," that he asked for and endured what has come to be known as the "great temptation". And he emerged victorious over these rebels. He exercised to the full his executive powers over those who had betrayed all of us.
During the subsequent time of waiting for his mission to be fully formulated, Jesus submitted to baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist, who had been proclaiming the coming Kingdom all over Palestine. And this momentous event in Jesus' life was immediately followed by the "forty days."
A second executive conference
It was at the baptism that he became fully and finally aware of his true identity; he was able to remember his previous existence and he was then able to make definite plans for his public work. The forty days' sojourn was an extremely important time of planning for him. On this forty-day sojourn, he conferred with Gabriel, his chief executive officer, for the first time since leaving Salvington. And after this conference he formulated decisions as to how he would exercise the powers and personalities that he now knew were available to him.
You can read about those decisions HERE
Planning the apostolic missions
In the matter of the choosing of the apostles and their time of training, we learn in the Urantia Book that this process was quite lengthy - one year - during which he and the apostles tirelessly trained for, practiced, and planned, their public missions. There was nothing haphazard about the process.
Again, this was strategic and brilliant planning on the part of the Master - a deliberate executive delegation of duties to the ambassadors of the emerging kingdom of Heaven. He began by the selection of the first six; then a program of education and experience followed. He then had the first six select another six, providing for the "each one teach one" method of introducing the new arrivals to the established plan of puclic mission work. Those details can be accessed by starting HERE
The final executive meeting
The last of what I call Jesus' "executive meetings" was shortly after Peter's confession, when he was summoned again to the Mount, there to receive confirmation that his mission was acceptable to God. This was the occasion of the Transfiguration, witnessed by the three apostles. But the private three-hour meeting that Jesus took part in - with Father Melchizedek and Gabriel - was truly an executive meeting of the highest order. It was following that meeting that the Son of Man understood and accepted his final fate; he accepted that he would likely be killed for his efforts to establish the Kingdom.
It was not the Father's will that he be killed, but Jesus understood at that time that it was the Father's will that he live his earthly life to its natural end. Jesus fully and willingly accepted his fate - not as a reluctant sacrificial lamb, but as a deliberate and fully-informed Sovereign devoted to his duty of completing the mission he had set out to accomplish - that of revealing the loving Father to our mortal eyes.
A good movie
I have given you, faithful reader, a lot of links in the piece above. I hope you'll follow some of them and read more about these momentous, significant times in the life of Jesus and appreciate the underlying order, planning, and thought that went into every phase of his earthly existence, from beginning to end - just such planning that befits an executive personality; an administrator of the highest order.
And here, I'd like to recommend a Urantia Book-based feature-length movie on all of these matters that will be of interest to anyone wanting to know more about Jesus as regards his abilities as an executive.
Produced and directed by David Kantor, "Re-Imagining Jesus" is a brilliant visual and scholarly exploration of the Master's mission ... the conditions at the time and how Jesus took full advantage of placing himself in the right places at the right times ... how he planned the public missions, and how he strategized so as to have the fullest impact possible on his world.
Click here to see the movie online. And you can also find it at Amazon Prime.
Discovering (and re-discovering) Jesus as the amazing Creator Son who became the Son of Man is truly an inspiring discovery; discovering the brilliance of his mission as the Son of God should thrill anyone who has any interest in how and why this humble carpenter of Nazareth was able then, and still is able today, to influence and inform world affairs in such a significant way. Even though he has left us in a physical sense, Jesus still sojourns with every one of us, always guiding his children into the knowledge of all truth through his Spirit. Like every good executive, he always honors and values his workers and his friends, guiding them as they go through their lives in service to him and for the extension of the Father's kingdom.
His mission was planned and well thought-out. Had it had the chance to fully develop and flower, I think it's safe to say that our world would be far better off than it is. We mourn the fact that his mission was cut short as a result of wicked decisions made by wicked men, but we celebrate that he chose us for his mission to the universe of his making. Despite the tragic interruption of that mission, it was sufficient to change the course of world history - and still continues to do so even today.
What else might one expect from the greatest executive mind in the universe?
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Mon, June 25, 2018
Jesus images - Inspiring New Collections
By Mary Jo
I am not sure exactly what the Professor's book entails, but I am sure that there are those who read this blog who will be interested enough to read his book, and who will gain good info from it. For me, it seemed like a great chance to share once again some great features that we have on TruthBook insofar as images of Jesus. The article is titled: Professor's new book examines images of Jesus and is written by Kari VanDerVeen. See our blog below, but here's a bit about Professor Wilson's book, with a statement that makes a lot of sense to me about the way people make images of Jesus:
"St. Olaf College Professor of Religion Charles Wilson lays out new guidelines for theologians and Jesus researchers alike in his latest book, Inventing Christic Jesuses: Rules and Warrants for Theology.
"The book, published by Cascade Books, examines the existing pool of Jesus research to reveal how contemporary Jesus historians have transformed Jesus' image. Wilson looks at images of Jesus in the Third Quest for the historical Jesus and uncovers our natural tendency to invest personal values, interest, and age in the constructed figure of Jesus."
Click to read the article
I do agree with the results of the Professor's thought regarding images of Jesus, namely that artists tend to use their own "personal values, interest, and age" when it comes to imagining the Master. I expect it has always been so.
We hear from our visitors from time to time who are concerned that they don't see enough images of Jesus that depict him as Jewish man - darker-skinned, blacker hair...or from those who dislike the images of Jesus that show him as a too-white, anemic, dreamy-eyed person.
The authors of The Urantia Book feel strongly about images of Jesus, too, as opposed to the reality of the man:
141:3.6 The pictures of Jesus have been most unfortunate. These paintings of the Christ have exerted a deleterious influence on youth; the temple merchants would hardly have fled before Jesus if he had been such a man as your artists usually have depicted. His was a dignified manhood; he was good, but natural. Jesus did not pose as a mild, sweet, gentle, and kindly mystic. His teaching was thrillingly dynamic. He not only meant well, but he went about actually doing good.
About ten years ago, the director of the foundation that owns TruthBook began commissioning paintings of Jesus and events from his life; primarily paintings of events that are only found in The Urantia Book.
Over the years, we have amassed over thirty of these modern paintings, and more are in the works. Scenes familioar to Urantia Book readers such as Rebecca's Marriage Proposal (seen here), The Death of Joseph, The Two Courtesans, The Young Man Who Was Afraid, and The Chinese Merchant; there are also several beautiful renderings of Jesus as a child, such as The Death of Joseph, The Drawing on the Schoolroom Floor, and Jesus Falls Down the Steps. All of these and more can be found at TruthBook's Religious Art Gallery.
Also in the Gallery is a page dedicated to traditional, classic paintings of Jesus done by old masters - and a few modern masters, too. There are hundreds of these that you can persuse HERE. And many of these will be very familiar to UBook readers as well as Christians, and others who are followers of the Master.
In both the old and the new, there are images of Jesus that belie the artists' "personal values, interest, and age," as mentioned in the article above; as a result (and as has always been the case), the paintings are the product of an artist's interpretations, and are not always universally appreciated. But since no one has ever known how Jesus looked, we have to leave the interpretations up to those who love Jesus and who have the talent to paint him the way they imagine him. The important thing is to have an image that can help illuminate a story, an event, from Jesus' life. Imaging always enhances story-telling.
Nevertheless, we feel that most of these newer paintings reveal a much more robust portrayal than many of the older paintings that depict Jesus as a "mild, sweet, gentle, and kindly mystic."
In the end, our aim was to memorialize many of the Urantia Book stories that the world has never heard...to provide a visual gallery of modern fine art that will enrich many future generations of the Master's followers.
It is interesting how the images of Jesus change as time goes on. We like to think that the newer images - the newly commissioned paintings - depict the Master in a truer way. And we hope you agree. Incidentally, not all the newer images are of unknown stories from PART IV of The Urantia Book; many of the events of the Master's life in this modern gallery are very well-known and beloved by all. For example, there are two new and stunning interpretations of Jesus by Walter Rane with angelic presences that are far more Urantia Book-accurate than any we've seen. These are paintings of The Resurrection of Lazarus and the Healing at Sundown - both well-known stories. Have a look for yourself!
Again, please go HERE for the newest Jesus paintings.
Go HERE for the more traditional images.
Our art gallery contains even more images that might be of interest to you...
Don't forget to visit:
Unique Animal Drawings and
What Would Jesus Do?
Be prepared! One could spend many worthwhile hours in our gallery; one thing that makes this so is that with each image, we have included the Urantia Book text that is appropriate, so that, especially in the Jesus galleries, one can enjoy a real personal communion with the Master as the stories come to life!
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Thu, June 14, 2018
Evil and sin - what's the difference?
By MaryJo - A Pilgrim Ponders
Sin is a very interesting topic . On the face of it, sin seems a pretty straightforward proposition: if you do the wrong thing, you've sinned. But is it that simple? This article that came across my view this week: What is sin? What is Christianity? by Tim Hughes is a pretty good read regarding sin and Christianity - even quite Jesusonian in its final analysis of sin. We'll blog below about sin and how the teachings of Jesus in The Urantia Book enlighten this topic , but first, here are a few snips from the article - worth a read:
"If you think of Christianity as a set of rules to follow, then you're missing the point. Christianity is freedom in Christ Jesus to be who God created us to be. We are designed to be the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.
"I would contend that, as we focus on Jesus and make obedience to His will and His way our priority, we won't be violating the law. If I'm following the second command Jesus gave, to love my neighbor as myself, then I won't murder my neighbor, I won't steal from him, or covet his possessions. If we are truly walking in love with our Lord Jesus, then we will not be walking in sin. Paul explains what Jesus did for us: "He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit" [Romans 8:4 (NKJV)]."
Click to read more
When I was a child, I was told that certain behaviors were sinful: the ten commandements, of course, as well as lying, stealing, cheating on a test, disobedience, eating meat on Friday (I was a Catholic child), divorce, and many others. I grew up with a laundry list of sins that I tried hard to avoid, but did not always succeed. I developed a nagging conscience, a good deal of guilt, but not a real sense of righteousness.
When I left the Church as an adult and struck out on my own in a spiritual sense, I began to see that life was not always black or white - peoples' actions were often tinted in shades of grey, including my own. I often failed to do right things, not out of malice, but through ignorance and confusion, mainly, all the while being vaguely fearful and filled with guilt. But finally finding Jesus' teachings in The Urantia Book has really helped with that quandry once and for all. I now understand that one needs a firm foundation of reality from which to act responsibly and with right intention.
In the matter of conscience, The Urantia Book teaches:
92:2.6 Conscience, untaught by experience and unaided by reason, never has been, and never can be, a safe and unerring guide to human conduct. 103:2.10 A misguided conscience can become responsible for much conflict, worry, sorrow, and no end of human unhappiness.
It might be helpful for all of us to read Jesus' clear definitions of evil sin, and iniquity in light of the article above, written from the standpoint of traditional, Pauline Christianity.
While as you will see, we both reach the same conclusion, the teachings of the Master in The Urantia Book on this topic constitute a vastly superior and expanded discussion of this very important topic that can be of immediate use when once we understand it in more detail, not the least of which is an expanded understanding of God.
What did Jesus teach?
Jesus was once asked by his apostle, Thomas: "Why is it necessary for men to be born of the spirit in order to enter the kingdom? Is rebirth necessary to escape the control of the evil one? Master, what is evil?"
And Jesus said:
148:4.2 "Do not make the mistake of confusing evil with the evil one, more correctly the iniquitous one. He whom you call the evil one is the son of self-love, the high administrator who knowingly went into deliberate rebellion against the rule of my Father and his loyal Sons. But I have already vanquished these sinful rebels. Make clear in your mind these different attitudes toward the Father and his universe. Never forget these laws of relation to the Father's will:
"Evil is the unconscious or unintended transgression of the divine law, the Father's will. Evil is likewise the measure of the imperfectness of obedience to the Father's will.
"Sin is the conscious, knowing, and deliberate transgression of the divine law, the Father's will. Sin is the measure of unwillingness to be divinely led and spiritually directed.
"Iniquity is the willful, determined, and persistent transgression of the divine law, the Father's will. Iniquity is the measure of the continued rejection of the Father's loving plan of personality survival and the Sons' merciful ministry of salvation."
Just a point of clarification here: In my opinion, the evil of "unintended transgression" may exhibit itself as unthinking unkindness towards others ... lying, selfishness, unforgiveness, intolerance, idle gossip, or any other of a myriad behaviors that mark our relations with our fellows. And many of these behviors are born of a simple lack of wisdom/maturity. We don't willfully intend to violate God's law, but we make errors in judgment without real thought.
And he went on to say:
"Men are, indeed, by nature evil, but not necessarily sinful. The new birth—the baptism of the spirit—is essential to deliverance from evil and necessary for entrance into the kingdom of heaven, but none of this detracts from the fact that man is the son of God. Neither does this inherent presence of potential evil mean that man is in some mysterious way estranged from the Father in heaven so that, as an alien, foreigner, or stepchild, he must in some manner seek for legal adoption by the Father. All such notions are born, first, of your misunderstanding of the Father and, second, of your ignorance of the origin, nature, and destiny of man.
"The Greeks and others have taught you that man is descending from godly perfection steadily down toward oblivion or destruction; I have come to show that man, by entrance into the kingdom, is ascending certainly and surely up to God and divine perfection. Any being who in any manner falls short of the divine and spiritual ideals of the eternal Father's will is potentially evil, but such beings are in no sense sinful, much less iniquitous.
This entire discourse on Evil, Sin, and Iniquity can be found HERE
About CHOICE in regards to sin:
130:1.6 "Your Father in heaven, by endowing you with the power to choose between truth and error, created the potential negative of the positive way of light and life; but such errors of evil are really nonexistent until such a time as an intelligent creature wills their existence by mischoosing the way of life. And then are such evils later exalted into sin by the knowing and deliberate choice of such a willful and rebellious creature. This is why our Father in heaven permits the good and the evil to go along together until the end of life, just as nature allows the wheat and the tares to grow side by side until the harvest."
170:2.23 Jesus taught that sin is not the child of a defective nature but rather the offspring of a knowing mind dominated by an unsubmissive will. Regarding sin, he taught that God has forgiven; that we make such forgiveness personally available by the act of forgiving our fellows. When you forgive your brother in the flesh, you thereby create the capacity in your own soul for the reception of the reality of God's forgiveness of your own misdeeds.
To reiterate: Evil may be unconscious and unintended, but sin is deliberate; iniquity results from the habitual choosing of sin - continued and willful transgression of the will of God. Once we know better, we should be led to DO better.
How does God feel about sin?
Owing to the condition of our fallen world - fallen into darkness as a result of the Lucifer rebellion and the disasters of the Adam and Eve bestowal, we humans know very little about God. And what little we do know of God has come down to us in bits and pieces - traditions from ancient times, and Scriptural ideas and concepts of God that were penned by people who feared him - feared his power and his supposed anger. The OT Scriptures are full of descriptions of sinful acts and the wrath of God shown towards those who transgress. And even today, many of us harbor concepts of God that lead us to fear him and fear his will for us. But is that portrayal an accurate one?
With the arrival of The Urantia Book and its sweeping revelation regarding the nature of God and his loving personality, we can come to understand God much better; furthermore, we can learn to approach and truly love him - not as a stern, fearsome judge, but as a loving parent who has only our good as his primary concern. When we come to know God in this way, it becomes far easier to choose him and his will for us, which is always good, true, and beautiful. We grow interested in seeking and doing that will in our daily lives because making that choice results in greater personal happiness.
159:3.10 "Increasing happiness is always the experience of all who are certain about God."
156:5.13 Every day a true believer lives, he finds it easier to do the right thing.
As one of the revelators of The Urantia Book states in the section called The Love of God:
"I find it easy and pleasant to worship one who is so great and at the same time so affectionately devoted to the uplifting ministry of his lowly creatures. I naturally love one who is so powerful in creation and in the control thereof, and yet who is so perfect in goodness and so faithful in the loving-kindness which constantly overshadows us. I think I would love God just as much if he were not so great and powerful, as long as he is so good and merciful. We all love the Father more because of his nature than in recognition of his amazing attributes."
And from The Urantia Book's sane, cogent teachings we learn more about the concept of sin as regarding God. Let's look together at this passage so we can all appreciate its meanings together:
God loves the sinner and hates the sin: such a statement is true philosophically, but God is a transcendent personality, and persons can only love and hate other persons. Sin is not a person.
It is my opinion that the vast majority of us are simply erring children, not unlike the children that we ourselves have. Much of this is due to misunderstandings and immaturity of character. But I suspect that most of us want to do the right thing. Most of us don't like sin any more than God does. God loves us and understands us with all of our weaknesses and handicaps.
God loves the sinner because he is a personality reality (potentially eternal), while towards sin God strikes no personal attitude, for sin is not a spiritual reality; it is not personal; therefore does only the justice of God take cognizance of its existence.
God lives within us and knows our hearts; he lives within us as the Thought Adjuster; he helps us recognize goodness and strive to achieve it, thereby growing a soul of immortality status. This is what makes all of us "potentially eternal." The closer we get to God the more spiritually real we are; conversely, the more we consciously sin, the less real we become because by choosing sin, we remove ourselves further from God, who IS the greatest reality.
Even though we all are subject to unintended evil, actual sinning is a bigger step, as sin is, as Jesus explains above, a conscious choice. Committing an evil act, while not good, is often unconscious; evil, as described by Jesus, is a lesser offense. Nevertheless, neither evil nor sin are on God's radar, until and unless they become conscious choices by a personality; that is when they become subject to the law of justice.
Here, we see the results of a sin-identified (unreal) personality:
The love of God saves the sinner; the law of God destroys the sin. This attitude of the divine nature would apparently change if the sinner finally identified himself wholly with sin just as the same mortal mind may also fully identify itself with the indwelling spirit Adjuster. Such a sin-identified mortal would then become wholly unspiritual in nature (and therefore personally unreal) and would experience eventual extinction of being. Unreality, even incompleteness of creature nature, cannot exist forever in a progressingly real and increasingly spiritual universe.
All of this is by way of saying that once we know and understand the distinction between evil, sin, and iniquity...once we understand that it is our CHOOSING that determines the nature of our acts, we begin to see more clearly how it is that once we become alligned and committed to God's will, the less will be the likelihood that we will choose sin, and even will lessen the affects of evil in our lives, too. Once we choose God's way and begin to enjoy the benefits of a God-directed, righteous life, deliberate sin becomes unthinkable as we strive for the perfection of God. Jesus reiterates this sentiment:
150:5.5 In summing up his final statement, Jesus said: "You cannot buy salvation; you cannot earn righteousness. Salvation is the gift of God, and righteousness is the natural fruit of the spirit-born life of sonship in the kingdom. You are not to be saved because you live a righteous life; rather is it that you live a righteous life because you have already been saved, have recognized sonship as the gift of God and service in the kingdom as the supreme delight of life on earth. When men believe this gospel, which is a revelation of the goodness of God, they will be led to voluntary repentance of all known sin. Realization of sonship is incompatible with the desire to sin. Kingdom believers hunger for righteousness and thirst for divine perfection."
We all struggle
Finally, let's all take a breather; I hope that you find, as I have, that seeing God in the new light of Urantia Book revelation opens up a whole new world of reality and a whole new basis for living a spiritual life, a life built on love, not fear; hope, not dread; optimism, not despair. Please follow the links I've provided in this piece so that you can gain even more insight into the loving heavenly Father of us all. And in the meantime, I offer these wonderful, positive teachings of the Master to ease your soul about sin and the human condition:
156:5.8 Do not become discouraged by the discovery that you are human. Human nature may tend toward evil, but it is not inherently sinful. Be not downcast by your failure wholly to forget some of your regrettable experiences. The mistakes which you fail to forget in time will be forgotten in eternity. Lighten your burdens of soul by speedily acquiring a long-distance view of your destiny, a universe expansion of your career.
156:2.7 Said Jesus: "My disciples must not only cease to do evil but learn to do well; you must not only be cleansed from all conscious sin, but you must refuse to harbor even the feelings of guilt. If you confess your sins, they are forgiven; therefore must you maintain a conscience void of offense."
We are all works in progress. Choosing righteousness - taking full responsibility for our own spiritual growth - is the most positive step we can take for avoiding the ravages of sin. And once we know God as he is, righteousness becomes a simple choice. While we all may still fail at times, our progress will ramain sure.
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Sun, June 10, 2018
Friends with God; Jesus shows the way
By Mary Jo
Is it really possible to be friends with God? This article that I read recently: Jesus as our friend, we as modern day disciples by Al Earley (Advocate-Messenger) reminded me of the friendliness of Jesus that we learn of in The Urantia Book, and the attraction of that friendliness when it came to the apostles and others. Jesus was a very friendly person. A study of his life gives us clues to creating good relationships with others, and helps us to see the value of sincere friendliness. We'll discuss this idea further in our blog, below. Here are a few snips from the article - a very good read.
"German theologian, Jurgen Moltmann, writes that the marks of a deep and lasting friendship are affection with respect, affection with loyalty, and affection with freedom. I think this is another way of describing the most important ingredient in a relationship, trust. Without trust a marriage has little hope for it will be difficult to develop mutual respect. Without trust friends cannot develop loyalty. With trust marriage is one of our greatest gifts. With trust friends inspire us to do anything for the other.
"When the disciples trusted Jesus they finally believed him. They believed who he said he was, the son of God. They believed who he said God was, the loving father. They believed who he said they were, his friends, and they were ready to give up their lives for him if that is what their friendship with the Messiah, the son of God should mean."
Click to read the article
The Urantia Book advises the reader to study the "religious life" of Jesus and how he lived it. What does that mean - his "religious life?" To some, a religious life may mean a separate compartment of a person's life - a connection to a church - or a life that is lived according to a certain religion's theology, adhering to that religion's rules. But for Jesus, his life was a living and positive exhibition of his religious nature - not a set of dos and don'ts - a philosophy of life that demonstrated the statement that he made more than once: "He who has seen me has seen the Father." I have always found that to be a profoundly meaningful statement. His life was a statement of God's loving, friendly nature. That friendly nature charmed and disarmed all who met him:
149:2.14 On both friends and foes he exercised a strong and peculiarly fascinating influence. Multitudes would follow him for weeks, just to hear his gracious words and behold his simple life. Devoted men and women loved Jesus with a well-nigh superhuman affection. And the better they knew him the more they loved him. And all this is still true; even today and in all future ages, the more man comes to know this God-man, the more he will love and follow after him.
When we are exhorted to become like God - to "be perfect" as God in heaven is perfect, one of the finest paces to start is with the matter of friendliness towards others. In Jesus, we have the perfect example. And learning the depth and breadth of our brother-friend's friendliness can help all of us become better friends with our heavenly Father, and with each other. The Father rules this very universe through the power of his love and we know that love and true brother/sisterhood is the only thing that can change our world for the better.
Jesus, friend to the apostles
To these kingdom workers, Jesus said;
137:6.5 You are now my friends; I trust you and I love you; you are soon to become my personal associates. Be patient, be gentle. Be ever obedient to the Father's will. Make yourselves ready for the call of the kingdom.
How His friendliness affected them:
137:7.2 Throughout these four months these seven believers, one his own brother in the flesh, were getting acquainted with Jesus; they were getting used to the idea of living with this God-man. Though they called him Rabbi, they were learning not to be afraid of him. Jesus possessed that matchless grace of personality which enabled him so to live among them that they were not dismayed by his divinity. They found it really easy to be "friends with God,"
138:7.6 Jesus enjoined them to devote themselves to fishing for two weeks, adding, "And then will you go forth to become fishers of men." They fished in three groups, Jesus going out with a different group each night. And they all so much enjoyed Jesus! He was a good fisherman, a cheerful companion, and an inspiring friend; the more they worked with him, the more they loved him. Said Matthew one day: "The more you understand some people, the less you admire them, but of this man, even the less I comprehend him, the more I love him."
138:8.9 The disciples early learned that the Master had a profound respect and sympathetic regard for every human being he met, and they were tremendously impressed by this uniform and unvarying consideration which he so consistently gave to all sorts of men, women, and children. He would pause in the midst of a profound discourse that he might go out in the road to speak good cheer to a passing woman laden with her burden of body and soul. He would interrupt a serious conference with his apostles to fraternize with an intruding child. Nothing ever seemed so important to Jesus as the individual human who chanced to be in his immediate presence. He was master and teacher, but he was more—he was also a friend and neighbor, an understanding comrade.
138:9.1 Through the dark hours of the Master's death, in the hearts of these apostles all reason, judgment, and logic were set aside in deference to just one extraordinary human emotion—the supreme sentiment of friendship-loyalty. These five months of work with Jesus led these apostles, each one of them, to regard him as the best friend he had in all the world. And it was this human sentiment, and not his superb teachings or marvelous doings, that held them together until after the resurrection and the renewal of the proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom.
139:1.11 Every one of the apostles loved Jesus, but it remains true that each of the twelve was drawn toward him because of some certain trait of personality which made a special appeal to the individual apostle. Andrew admired Jesus because of his consistent sincerity, his unaffected dignity. When men once knew Jesus, they were possessed with the urge to share him with their friends; they really wanted all the world to know him.
And as we begin to know Jesus better - as our friendship with him grows and we gain experience with him and trust in him - it will be natural to share him as much as we can with others. As we lift him up in our own lives, he will draw even more of our sisters and brothers to him, and into the kingdom.
His influence on others
This famous story of Jesus at Simon's banquet reveals the startling effects of Jesus' natural and unaffected friendliness on his friends - and his foes:
138:3.6 As the dinner progressed, the joy of the diners mounted to heights of good cheer, and everybody was having such a splendid time that the onlooking Pharisees began, in their hearts, to criticize Jesus for his participation in such a lighthearted and carefree affair. Later in the evening, when they were making speeches, one of the more malignant of the Pharisees went so far as to criticize Jesus' conduct to Peter, saying: "How dare you to teach that this man is righteous when he eats with publicans and sinners and thus lends his presence to such scenes of careless pleasure making." Peter whispered this criticism to Jesus before he spoke the parting blessing upon those assembled. When Jesus began to speak, he said: "In coming here tonight to welcome Matthew and Simon to our fellowship, I am glad to witness your lightheartedness and social good cheer, but you should rejoice still more because many of you will find entrance into the coming kingdom of the spirit, wherein you shall more abundantly enjoy the good things of the kingdom of heaven. And to you who stand about criticizing me in your hearts because I have come here to make merry with these friends, let me say that I have come to proclaim joy to the socially downtrodden and spiritual liberty to the moral captives. Need I remind you that they who are whole need not a physician, but rather those who are sick? I have come, not to call the righteous, but sinners."
138:3.7 And truly this was a strange sight in all Jewry: to see a man of righteous character and noble sentiments mingling freely and joyously with the common people, even with an irreligious and pleasure-seeking throng of publicans and reputed sinners.
138:3.8 Jesus and the apostles remained that night in Matthew's house, and as the people went to their homes, they spoke of but one thing: the goodness and friendliness of Jesus.
And here at Gerazim, soon after Jesus' friendly encounter with the woman at the well that profoundly changed her life, Jesus taught:
143:6.4 The theme of Jesus' teaching on Mount Gerizim was: That he wants all men to see God as a Father-friend just as he (Jesus) is a brother-friend. And again and again he impressed upon them that love is the greatest relationship in the world—in the universe—just as truth is the greatest pronouncement of the observation of these divine relationships.
Clues about how to be more friendly
We may not be able to rise to the level of living that Jesus did, but here we have clues - attitudes and actions that Jesus took with people that he encountered in everyday life. We can go and do likewise to the best of our ability:
When on the Mediterranean tour:
130:7.1 Most of the time en route to Carthage Jesus talked with his fellow travelers about things social, political, and commercial; hardly a word was said about religion. For the first time Gonod and Ganid discovered that Jesus was a good storyteller, and they kept him busy telling tales about his early life in Galilee.
130:7.2 When Ganid inquired what one could do to make friends, having noticed that the majority of persons whom they chanced to meet were attracted to Jesus, his teacher said: "Become interested in your fellows; learn how to love them and watch for the opportunity to do something for them which you are sure they want done," and then he quoted the olden Jewish proverb— "A man who would have friends must show himself friendly."
And from "As Jesus Passed By"
171:7.1 Jesus spread good cheer everywhere he went. He was full of grace and truth. His associates never ceased to wonder at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth. You can cultivate gracefulness, but graciousness is the aroma of friendliness which emanates from a love-saturated soul.
171:7.4 Jesus could help men so much because he loved them so sincerely. He truly loved each man, each woman, and each child. He could be such a true friend because of his remarkable insight—he knew so fully what was in the heart and in the mind of man. He was an interested and keen observer. He was an expert in the comprehension of human need, clever in detecting human longings.
171:7.5 Jesus was never in a hurry. He had time to comfort his fellow men "as he passed by." And he always made his friends feel at ease. He was a charming listener. He never engaged in the meddlesome probing of the souls of his associates. As he comforted hungry minds and ministered to thirsty souls, the recipients of his mercy did not so much feel that they were confessing to him as that they were conferring with him. They had unbounded confidence in him because they saw he had so much faith in them.
The constant friend to all, still at our side
From: The Farewell Discourse
180:4.4 As the Master paused for a moment, Judas Alpheus made bold to ask one of the few questions which either he or his brother ever addressed to Jesus in public. Said Judas: "Master, you have always lived among us as a friend; how shall we know you when you no longer manifest yourself to us save by this spirit? If the world sees you not, how shall we be certain about you? How will you show yourself to us?"
180:4.5 Jesus looked down upon them all, smiled, and said: "My little children, I am going away, going back to my Father. In a little while you will not see me as you do here, as flesh and blood. In a very short time I am going to send you my spirit, just like me except for this material body. This new teacher is the Spirit of Truth who will live with each one of you, in your hearts, and so will all the children of light be made one and be drawn toward one another. And in this very manner will my Father and I be able to live in the souls of each one of you and also in the hearts of all other men who love us and make that love real in their experiences by loving one another, even as I am now loving you."
194:3.16 Before Pentecost the apostles had given up much for Jesus. They had sacrificed their homes, families, friends, worldly goods, and positions. At Pentecost they gave themselves to God, and the Father and the Son responded by giving themselves to man—sending their spirits to live within men. This experience of losing self and finding the spirit was not one of emotion; it was an act of intelligent self-surrender and unreserved consecration.
Jesus was a friend in his physical life and he remains a friend now; only now, he is a friend to all in the inner life of each of us - a friend who is as close as a thought. For me, the two most poignant and important sentences in these last paragraphs are these:
"And in this very manner will my Father and I be able to live in the souls of each one of you and also in the hearts of all other men who love us and make that love real in their experiences by loving one another, even as I am now loving you."
Finding and sharing the love of God becomes far more doable when we understand his love better through the life of Jesus - our human brother who lived a human life like ours. That matchless love of Jesus has drawn countless souls to him and still influences his followers today. Discovering and accepting the love of God provides us with rich inner experience - spiritual experience that can be real-ized and passed along, one to another. The benign virus of love is real and contagious, once it has received a home in the human heart. It cannot be contained.
"This experience of losing self and finding the spirit was not one of emotion; it was an act of intelligent self-surrender and unreserved consecration."
And this can be our attitude - our choice. In order to truly love, we must be willing to allow our larger Self - our inner guiding Spirit - to gain mastery over the lives we lead.
100:4.5 If you could only fathom the motives of your associates, how much better you would understand them. If you could only know your fellows, you would eventually fall in love with them.
100:4.6 You cannot truly love your fellows by a mere act of the will. Love is only born of thoroughgoing understanding of your neighbor's motives and sentiments. It is not so important to love all men today as it is that each day you learn to love one more human being. If each day or each week you achieve an understanding of one more of your fellows, and if this is the limit of your ability, then you are certainly socializing and truly spiritualizing your personality. Love is infectious, and when human devotion is intelligent and wise, love is more catching than hate. But only genuine and unselfish love is truly contagious. If each mortal could only become a focus of dynamic affection, this benign virus of love would soon pervade the sentimental emotion-stream of humanity to such an extent that all civilization would be encompassed by love, and that would be the realization of the brotherhood of man.
Don't put it off: Start today to read and study the "religious life" of Jesus. The links and passages in our blogs are a slight sampling of the riches in the pages of The Urantia Book. We "modern-day disciples" can learn a lot from that sincere study. And on our Truthbook site we have many pages and features that can point the way to a closer walk with Jesus and God - visit us soon!
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