Shocking Teachings of Jesus: The Kingdom of God by Steve Myers This title was tantalizing...what shocking teachings is he talking about? What a pleasant surprise to discover the author is talking about a shift from the traditional focus of Christianity on the atonement, or Jesus as Savior, to a focus on Jesus' teachings about the Kingdom. He maintains that Jesus' gospel was really about bringing heaven down to earth by establishing the kingdom...that sounds pretty good! And it is somewhat more consistent with Urantia Book teachings than many of the articles that we see.
The author does veer off into an idea that Jesus did not preach that we would go to heaven, instead the idea was to bring heaven to earth, but by and large, I like the things he says about the Kingdom. Christians will love it as it cites many Biblical reference on the kingdom. We'll blog about Urantia Book teachings of Jesus regarding the Kingdom of Heaven below, but here are a few snippets of this article to whet your curiosity, too. By the way, if you visit the link for this article, you can listen to it, or you can bring up the transcript and read it, as I did. It's worth a read!
"Most realize that Jesus preached the gospel. Now that word gospel means "good news" or the "good message" but what exactly is that good message? Can you explain it?
"This is where things can get a little hazy. Many think that the gospel of Christ is a message exclusively about Jesus himself. It's summed up in the idea: "Just believe in Jesus and be saved." Now many focus almost entirely on the messenger and overlook the message He brought.
"Now you may wonder: "Is that distinction really that important?" Absolutely, and this may shock you. If you fail to understand His central message, you will fail to grasp the whole point of His teachings, the reason for His coming and why He promises to come again. You'll also fail to comprehend dozens of vital prophecies throughout the Bible. You see Jesus' true message ties all of these things together in a theme that's truly good news and that has great implications for you, for your future, and for the entire earth.
"So what was Jesus' message? In Luke 4:43, Christ in His own words described His purpose: "I must preach the good news of the Kingdom of God in other towns, too, because that is why I was sent" (NLT).
"His message was the good news of the Kingdom of God. Do you know what Christ was talking about? This Kingdom is the focus of Jesus' message, yet it has often been misunderstood or even ignored."
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We could not agree more about the general theme of this article. Jesus' establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven in the hearts of his followers was one of the central purposes of his earthly sojourn and mission. We'll supply Urantia Book teachings here to follow which will help all believers know and understand how important this mission was to Jesus, and to the world that was to follow. As always, the teachings of The Urantia Book in Part IV are a breath of fresh air - a narration of the Master's life by the spiritual eyewitnesses of that life that fills in so many details that are missing in Scripture.
But first of all, we want to answer the question that the author poses about what the gospel of Jesus was. In the Bible, the author explains, the gospel is summed up in believing in Jesus and being saved by that faith.
But the real gospel of the Kingdom, as revealed in The Urantia Book and taught by Jesus, is that God is our Father and we are all members of the family of God...all members of the brother/sisterhood of human beings. And this is the cornerstone of the Kingdom.
170:2.1 The Master made it clear that the kingdom of heaven must begin with, and be centered in, the dual concept of the truth of the fatherhood of God and the correlated fact of the brotherhood of man. The acceptance of such a teaching, Jesus declared, would liberate man from the age-long bondage of animal fear and at the same time enrich human living with the following endowments of the new life of spiritual liberty:
1. The possession of new courage and augmented spiritual power. The gospel of the kingdom was to set man free and inspire him to dare to hope for eternal life.
2. The gospel carried a message of new confidence and true consolation for all men, even for the poor.
3. It was in itself a new standard of moral values, a new ethical yardstick wherewith to measure human conduct. It portrayed the ideal of a resultant new order of human society.
4. It taught the pre-eminence of the spiritual compared with the material; it glorified spiritual realities and exalted superhuman ideals.
5. This new gospel held up spiritual attainment as the true goal of living. Human life received a new endowment of moral value and divine dignity.
6. Jesus taught that eternal realities were the result (reward) of righteous earthly striving. Man's mortal sojourn on earth acquired new meanings consequent upon the recognition of a noble destiny.
7. The new gospel affirmed that human salvation is the revelation of a far-reaching divine purpose to be fulfilled and realized in the future destiny of the endless service of the salvaged sons of God.
Truly good news.
A short history of the kingdom
In the paper devoted to John the Baptist, we learn just what the Kingdom of God meant to the Jewish people in the times of Jesus:
135:5.2 About one hundred years before the days of Jesus and John a new school of religious teachers arose in Palestine, the apocalyptists. These new teachers evolved a system of belief that accounted for the sufferings and humiliation of the Jews on the ground that they were paying the penalty for the nation's sins. They fell back onto the well-known reasons assigned to explain the Babylonian and other captivities of former times. But, so taught the apocalyptists, Israel should take heart; the days of their affliction were almost over; the discipline of God's chosen people was about finished; God's patience with the gentile foreigners was about exhausted. The end of Roman rule was synonymous with the end of the age and, in a certain sense, with the end of the world. These new teachers leaned heavily on the predictions of Daniel, and they consistently taught that creation was about to pass into its final stage; the kingdoms of this world were about to become the kingdom of God. To the Jewish mind of that day this was the meaning of that phrase—the kingdom of heaven—which runs throughout the teachings of both John and Jesus. To the Jews of Palestine the phrase "kingdom of heaven" had but one meaning: an absolutely righteous state in which God the Messiah would rule the nations of earth in perfection of power just as he ruled in heaven—"Your will be done on earth as in heaven."
135:5.3 In the days of John all Jews were expectantly asking, "How soon will the kingdom come?" There was a general feeling that the end of the rule of the gentile nations was drawing near. There was present throughout all Jewry a lively hope and a keen expectation that the consummation of the desire of the ages would occur during the lifetime of that generation.
Read more HERE
The Kingdom of God - or is it the Kingdom of Heaven?
There is a subtle difference in these two designations of the kingdom that Jesus came to establish. The Urantia Book explains:
169:4.1 Jesus always had trouble trying to explain to the apostles that, while they proclaimed the establishment of the kingdom of God, the Father in heaven was not a king. At the time Jesus lived on earth and taught in the flesh, the people of Urantia knew mostly of kings and emperors in the governments of the nations, and the Jews had long contemplated the coming of the kingdom of God. For these and other reasons, the Master thought best to designate the spiritual brotherhood of man as the kingdom of heaven and the spirit head of this brotherhood as the Father in heaven. Never did Jesus refer to his Father as a king. In his intimate talks with the apostles he always referred to himself as the Son of Man and as their elder brother. He depicted all his followers as servants of mankind and messengers of the gospel of the kingdom.
169:4.6 Jesus never called the Father a king, and he very much regretted that the Jewish hope for a restored kingdom and John's proclamation of a coming kingdom made it necessary for him to denominate his proposed spiritual brotherhood the kingdom of heaven. With the one exception—the declaration that "God is spirit" —Jesus never referred to Deity in any manner other than in terms descriptive of his own personal relationship with the First Source and Center of Paradise.
Read more about The Father and His Kingdom
And for the most complete description and explanation of the Kingdom, please see Paper 170: The Kingdom of Heaven
The Kingdom is at hand
The article above indicates that the Kingdom is a future estate; however, far from being a future ideal, The Urantia Book teaches us that we can enter the Kingdom NOW. We don't have to wait for a sometime date. It is here - at hand - in all of our hearts, if we only look within and accept. The following passages can be found by clicking on the "Kingdom of Heaven" link just above:
170:2.17 On this afternoon the Master distinctly taught a new concept of the double nature of the kingdom in that he portrayed the following two phases:
170:2.18 "First. The kingdom of God in this world, the supreme desire to do the will of God, the unselfish love of man which yields the good fruits of improved ethical and moral conduct.
170:2.19 "Second. The kingdom of God in heaven, the goal of mortal believers, the estate wherein the love for God is perfected, and wherein the will of God is done more divinely."
170:2.20 Jesus taught that, by faith, the believer enters the kingdom now. In the various discourses he taught that two things are essential to faith-entrance into the kingdom:
1. Faith, sincerity. To come as a little child, to receive the bestowal of sonship as a gift; to submit to the doing of the Father's will without questioning and in the full confidence and genuine trustfulness of the Father's wisdom; to come into the kingdom free from prejudice and preconception; to be open-minded and teachable like an unspoiled child.
2. Truth hunger. The thirst for righteousness, a change of mind, the acquirement of the motive to be like God and to find God.
Jesus introduces the Kingdom at the beginning of his public work
In his first major synagogue speech, soon after the arrest of John, Jesus introduced the kingdom to his listeners. You can read the entire discourse HERE. Among other things, Jesus said:
137:8.6 "I have come to proclaim the establishment of the Father's kingdom. And this kingdom shall include the worshiping souls of Jew and gentile, rich and poor, free and bond, for my Father is no respecter of persons; his love and his mercy are over all.
137:8.7 "The Father in heaven sends his spirit to indwell the minds of men, and when I shall have finished my work on earth, likewise shall the Spirit of Truth be poured out upon all flesh. And the spirit of my Father and the Spirit of Truth shall establish you in the coming kingdom of spiritual understanding and divine righteousness. My kingdom is not of this world. The Son of Man will not lead forth armies in battle for the establishment of a throne of power or a kingdom of worldly glory. When my kingdom shall have come, you shall know the Son of Man as the Prince of Peace, the revelation of the everlasting Father. The children of this world fight for the establishment and enlargement of the kingdoms of this world, but my disciples shall enter the kingdom of heaven by their moral decisions and by their spirit victories; and when they once enter therein, they shall find joy, righteousness, and eternal life.
137:8.8 "Those who first seek to enter the kingdom, thus beginning to strive for a nobility of character like that of my Father, shall presently possess all else that is needful. But I say to you in all sincerity: Unless you seek entrance into the kingdom with the faith and trusting dependence of a little child, you shall in no wise gain admission.
137:8.9 "Be not deceived by those who come saying here is the kingdom or there is the kingdom, for my Father's kingdom concerns not things visible and material. And this kingdom is even now among you, for where the spirit of God teaches and leads the soul of man, there in reality is the kingdom of heaven. And this kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
137:8.10 "John did indeed baptize you in token of repentance and for the remission of your sins, but when you enter the heavenly kingdom, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
Did Jesus disregard our eternal life?
Not at all...The Urantia Book devotes a great deal of time to give us a stunning and comforting view of our eternal career; and Jesus preached often about eternal life, speaking of the Father's mansions, for example:
"The Creator Son, when on Urantia, spoke of the "many mansions in the Father's universe." In a certain sense, all fifty-six of the encircling worlds of Jerusem are devoted to the transitional culture of ascending mortals, but the seven satellites of world number one are more specifically known as the mansion worlds."
167:6.3 Jesus often talked to his apostles about the celestial mansions and taught that the advancing children of God must there grow up spiritually as children grow up physically on this world.
And in his talk about angels, the Master says:
167:7.2 "The angelic hosts are a separate order of created beings; they are entirely different from the material order of mortal creatures, and they function as a distinct group of universe intelligences. Angels are not of that group of creatures called `the Sons of God' in the Scriptures; neither are they the glorified spirits of mortal men who have gone on to progress through the mansions on high. Angels are a direct creation, and they do not reproduce themselves. The angelic hosts have only a spiritual kinship with the human race. As man progresses in the journey to the Father in Paradise, he does traverse a state of being at one time analogous to the state of the angels, but mortal man never becomes an angel.
167:7.6 "Also are these angels very much concerned with the means whereby man's spirit is released from the tabernacles of the flesh and his soul escorted to the mansions in heaven. Angels are the sure and heavenly guides of the soul of man during that uncharted and indefinite period of time which intervenes between the death of the flesh and the new life in the spirit abodes."
We would wholeheartedly maintain that the prayer that Jesus taught us to say "thy kingdom come, thry will be done on earth as it is in heaven" is a mandate for the here and now. It can be achieved here and now ... individually, as each believer dedicates his/her will to the will of the Father, and as more and more believers enter this wonderful dwelling place of love for the Father and service to others, the kingdom will be that much closer to being a reality.
We invite you to click on any underlined link in this piece to expand your view of the thrilling and inspiring teachings on the Kingdom of Heaven, as taught by Jesus.