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Repentance and rebirth

Jesus, repentance, born of the spirit, Christianity, Urantia Book,

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

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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:

Repentance

Born of the Spirit

The Gospel of the Kingdom

Link to External Source Article

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