Are You Willing? Are You Ready?
We are standing on the brink of a spiritual renaissance, the likes of which, has never been seen before….
It is easy to become discouraged when one looks at the divided and factionalized state of this world. How on earth, we might ask, is this planet Urantia, and its mortal occupants, ever going to enter into a status of “light and life”? Whether one looks at the institution of the family, the local community, the nation state, or the broad spheres of religious, cultural, and social life that dominate our existence, one is confronted with the unhappy spectacle of widespread disunity, which is often accompanied by conflict, intolerance, hatred, and aggression. We also behold a world that is rent by extremes: the rise and rise of materialistic secularism is hotly challenged by the disturbing re-emergence of medieval religious fundamentalism. What force, what benign influence could possibly broker a peaceful resolution to these seemingly intractable opposing ideologies? It is understandable that we might feel powerless and insignificant when faced with these apparently insurmountable and incredibly complex problems but in the midst of all this strife and confusion, it would be beneficial for each of us to ponder a pertinent question: Am I a part of the solution or am I a part of the problem?
So what does The Urantia Book have to say about all of this? Not surprisingly, for serious students of the book, it contains explanations and answers that have the potential to illuminate and revive our forlorn spirits. It is truly an incomparable source of good news for a disconsolate generation. Consider carefully the following sequence of quotes:
Do not overlook the value of your spiritual heritage, the river of truth running down through the centuries, even to the barren times of a materialistic and secular age. In all your worthy efforts to rid yourselves of the superstitious creeds of past ages, make sure that you hold fast the eternal truth. But be patient! when the present superstition revolt is over, the truths of Jesus’ gospel will persist gloriously to illuminate a new and better way. [Paper 195:9.1, page 2082.6]
More than seventy five years ago, a Midwayer Commission acknowledged that we do indeed live in the “barren times of a materialistic and secular age”. But we are also told that these times, which stretch back to the 17th Century Age of Reason and the 18th Century Age of Enlightenment, represent our worthy efforts to rid ourselves of “the superstitious creeds of past ages”. We are then told to “be patient”, to not succumb to despair, to cleave to our “spiritual heritage, the river of truth running down through the centuries”. And here’s the good news: this necessary and “present superstition revolt” will come to an end but “the truths of Jesus’ gospel will persist gloriously to illuminate a new and better way”. And if that doesn’t take your breath away, just consider what follows:
But paganized and socialized Christianity stands in need of new contact with the uncompromised teachings of Jesus; it languishes for lack of a new vision of the Master’s life on earth. A new and fuller revelation of the religion of Jesus is destined to conquer an empire of materialistic secularism and to overthrow a world sway of mechanistic naturalism. Urantia is now quivering on the very brink of one of its most amazing and enthralling epochs of social readjustment, moral quickening, and spiritual enlightenment. [Paper 195:9.2, page 2082.7] emphasis added
This is an extraordinary claim!! Indeed, we could call it a prophecy. How could such a change possibly happen? Such a transformation of humanity would appear to be somewhat fanciful when viewed from our limited mortal perspective! Let’s see if we can find some answers.
The religion of Jesus is the most dynamic influence ever to activate the human race. Jesus shattered tradition, destroyed dogma, and called mankind to the achievement of its highest ideals in time and eternity — to be perfect, even as the Father in heaven is perfect. [Paper 99:5.3, page 1091.2] emphasis added
Religion is now confronted by the challenge of a new age of scientific minds and materialistic tendencies. In this gigantic struggle between the secular and the spiritual, the religion of Jesus will eventually triumph. [Paper 195:4.5, page 2075.3] emphasis added
And, sooner or later, these concealed truths of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of men will emerge to effectually transform the civilization of all mankind. [Paper 194:2.8, page 2061.6] emphasis added
The religion of Jesus is the most powerful unifying influence the world has ever known. [Paper 194:3.17, page 2065.5]
These are plain and powerful declarations! Let me summarize the content of these quotes:
The religion of Jesus, (or at least it’s new and fuller revelation)
- will conquer an empire of materialistic secularism and overthrow a world sway of mechanistic naturalism,
- will gloriously survive and persist beyond the demise of the superstition revolt,
- will triumph in the gigantic struggle with secular ideologies,
- will transform the civilization of all mankind,
- is the most dynamic influence ever to activate the human race,
- is the most powerful unifying influence the world has ever known.
To think that the actual religion of Jesus is not only powerful enough to conquer the ideologies and philosophies of materialism, secularism and scientific rationalism, but it can, and ultimately will, unite and transform the myriads of divided and conflicted groups making up humankind today. But in practical terms, how can this possibly happen? By what mechanism or process will the true teachings of Jesus change and unify this world? The following quotes may give us some clues.
Sooner or later another and greater John the Baptist is due to arise proclaiming “the kingdom of God is at hand” — meaning a return to the high spiritual concept of Jesus, who proclaimed that the kingdom is the will of his heavenly Father dominant and transcendent in the heart of the believer—and doing all this without in any way referring either to the visible church on earth or to the anticipated second coming of Christ. There must come a revival of the actual teachings of Jesus, such a restatement as will undo the work of his early followers who went about to create a sociophilosophical system of belief regarding the fact of Michael’s sojourn on earth. [Paper 170:5.19, page 1866.2]
The modern age will refuse to accept a religion which is inconsistent with facts and out of harmony with its highest conceptions of truth, beauty, and goodness. The hour is striking for a rediscovery of the true and original foundations of present-day distorted and compromised Christianity — the real life and teachings of Jesus. [Paper 195:9.5, page 2083.1]
Who is this modern day John the Baptist? Whoever he, she, or they are, one thing is certain: this entity will do a proclamation work comparable to that performed by John the Baptist in the first century, pointing to the impending ministry of Michael of Nebadon incarnated as the God-man, Jesus of Nazareth. And what is the subject matter to be proclaimed by this latter day herald? “A return to the high spiritual concept of Jesus”, “a revival of the actual teachings of Jesus”, “the real life and teachings of Jesus”. The apostles of the first century inadvertently created “a sociophilosophical system of belief regarding the fact of Michael’s sojourn on earth”. The hour is striking (which means now!) for the world to rediscover the true religion of Jesus. But where will this revival come from? The point I am making here is that the world will only experience a spiritual renaissance predicated on the true and actual religion of Jesus because spiritual men and women will be willing to rise up and teach this religion to their fellow mortals.
Religion does need new leaders, spiritual men and women who will dare to depend solely on Jesus and his incomparable teachings. If Christianity persists in neglecting its spiritual mission while it continues to busy itself with social and material problems, the spiritual renaissance must await the coming of these new teachers of Jesus’ religion who will be exclusively devoted to the spiritual regeneration of men. And then will these spirit-born souls quickly supply the leadership and inspiration requisite for the social, moral, economic, and political reorganization of the world. [Paper 195:9.4, page 2082.9]
All Urantia is waiting for the proclamation of the ennobling message of Michael, unencumbered by the accumulated doctrines and dogmas of nineteen centuries of contact with the religions of evolutionary origin. The hour is striking for presenting to Buddhism, to Christianity, to Hinduism, even to the peoples of all faiths, not the gospel about Jesus, but the living, spiritual reality of the gospel of Jesus. [Paper 94:12.7, page 1041.5] emphasis added
So who are these “new teachers of Jesus’ religion”….these “new leaders, spiritual men and women who will dare to depend solely on Jesus and his incomparable teachings”? Who will do the “presenting…to the peoples of all faiths…the living, spiritual reality of the gospel of Jesus”? Perhaps before considering these questions, we should focus on a preliminary, more fundamental question: what exactly is the religion of Jesus?
Contained within The Urantia Book, the 5th epochal revelation, is Part IV, the real life and teachings of Jesus, also known as the 4th epochal revelation. This is where we need to make a clear distinction! It is the 4th epochal revelation, the religion of Jesus that will bring about the planetary spiritual transformation described so dramatically earlier in this article. The religion of Jesus is not The Urantia Book! But it is contained within The Urantia Book. As an aside, I would like to quote from The Publication Mandate, which was released to coincide with the publication of The Urantia Book in 1955. There are several key statements within this text regarding the Urantia Papers that should help us to develop the right perspective regarding our role in these momentous times.
THE TIMING OF THE URANTIA BOOK
(Generally designated as “The Publication Mandate”*)
- “We regard The Urantia Book as a feature of the progressive evolution of human society. It is not germane to the spectacular episodes of epochal revolution, even though it may apparently be timed to appear in the wake of one such revolution in human society. The Book belongs to the era immediately to follow the conclusion of the present ideological struggle. That will be the day when men will be willing to seek truth and righteousness. When the chaos of the present confusion has passed, it will be more readily possible to formulate the cosmos of a new and improved era of human relationships. And it is for this better order of affairs on earth that the Book has been made ready.
- “But the publication of the Book has not been postponed to that (possibly) somewhat remote date. An early publication of the Book has been provided so that it may be in hand for the training of leaders and teachers. Its presence is also required to engage the attention of persons of means who may be thus led to provide funds for translations into other languages.
- “(You) must learn to possess (your) souls in patience. (You) are in association with a revelation of truth which is a part of the natural evolution of religion on this world. Overrapid growth would be suicidal. The book is being given to those who are ready for it long before the day of its world-wide mission. Thousands of study groups must be brought into existence and the book must be translated into many tongues. Thus will the book be in readiness when the battle for man’s liberty is finally won and the world is once more made safe for the religion of Jesus and the freedom of mankind.” (emphasis added)
In the first paragraph cited above, we are told that The Urantia Book “is not germane to the spectacular episodes of epochal revolution, even though it may apparently be timed to appear in the wake of one such revolution in human society.” Moreover, “the Book belongs to the era immediately to follow the conclusion of the present ideological struggle.” I would venture to suggest that the ideological struggle mentioned here is the same one described in Paper 195:4.5…. “In this gigantic struggle between the secular and the spiritual, the religion of Jesus will eventually triumph.” It is stated clearly in this document that “The book is being given to those who are ready for it long before the day of its world-wide mission.” For what purpose? “An early publication of the Book has been provided so that it may be in hand for the training of leaders and teachers.” This is a different agenda to that which the Book ascribes to the religion of Jesus. It is the true teachings of Jesus that will overthrow the barren ideologies of our secular, materialistic age. It is in the wake of this revolutionary process that The Urantia Book will come into its own.
So what is the point I am making here? Let me briefly recap. In order for the religion of Jesus to overthrow or conquer an “empire of materialistic secularism”, it needs to be proclaimed to, it needs to be taught to, and it needs to be presented to a languishing and confused humanity. And when is this due to occur? We are told that “the hour is striking”. We are told that “Urantia is now quivering on the very brink…” I am not aware of any instruction or direction within The Urantia Book compelling us to proclaim or teach the fifth epochal revelation to the world. In contrast, we are exhorted many times to proclaim the true gospel of Jesus. This raises important questions regarding the way we introduce spiritual matters to our fellows.
Now that I have tried to explain what the religion of Jesus isn’t, let me now focus on what it is! In The Urantia Book, the religion of Jesus is broadly synonymous with terms like “the gospel of Jesus”, “the gospel of the kingdom”, and “the kingdom of heaven”. But what is it about this particular religion, what is it about Jesus’ incomparable teachings that gives them the power, when proclaimed, to transform, heal, and unite the world of suffering humanity? To find out, let’s explore the very substance of what Jesus taught.
The religion of Jesus is a new gospel of faith to be proclaimed to struggling humanity. This new religion is founded on faith, hope, and love. [Paper 194:3.2, page 2062.11] emphasis added
The religion of Jesus is salvation from self, deliverance from the evils of creature isolation in time and in eternity. [Paper 5:4.5, page 67.3]
While sojourning at Amathus, Jesus spent much time with the apostles instructing them in the new concept of God; again and again did he impress upon them that God is a Father, not a great and supreme bookkeeper who is chiefly engaged in making damaging entries against his erring children on earth, recordings of sin and evil to be used against them when he subsequently sits in judgment upon them as the just Judge of all creation. The Jews had long conceived of God as a king over all, even as a Father of the nation, but never before had large numbers of mortal men held the idea of God as a loving Father of the individual. [Paper 141:4.1, page 1590.4] emphasis added
In answer to Thomas’s question, “Who is this God of the kingdom?” Jesus replied: “God is your Father, and religion — my gospel — is nothing more nor less than the believing recognition of the truth that you are his son. And I am here among you in the flesh to make clear both of these ideas in my life and teachings.” [Paper 141:4.2, page 1590.5]
And this is illustrative of the way Jesus, day by day, appropriated the cream of the Hebrew Scriptures for the instruction of his followers and for inclusion in the teachings of the new gospel of the kingdom. Other religions had suggested the thought of the nearness of God to man, but Jesus made the care of God for man like the solicitude of a loving father for the welfare of his dependent children and then made this teaching the cornerstone of his religion. And thus did the doctrine of the fatherhood of God make imperative the practice of the brotherhood of man. The worship of God and the service of man became the sum and substance of his religion. Jesus took the best of the Jewish religion and translated it to a worthy setting in the new teachings of the gospel of the kingdom. [Paper 159:5.7, page 1769.9] emphasis added
The Master on this occasion placed emphasis on the following five points as representing the cardinal features of the gospel of the kingdom:
- The pre-eminence of the individual.
- The will as the determining factor in man’s experience.
- Spiritual fellowship with God the Father.
- The supreme satisfactions of the loving service of man.
- The transcendency of the spiritual over the material in human personality.
This world has never seriously or sincerely or honestly tried out these dynamic ideas and divine ideals of Jesus’ doctrine of the kingdom of heaven. [Paper 170:4.8-14, page 1863.6-12]
These quotes contain the essential ingredients, the very substance of the religion of Jesus. It is overwhelmingly a religion of good news; it is indeed the gospel! In essence, it proclaims the loving Fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man. These exalted values together make up the cornerstone of Jesus’ religion. Everything else about life, our personal life, and life in the universe of universes, flows naturally from these fundamental truths.
The living experience in the religion of Jesus thus becomes the sure and certain technique whereby the spiritually isolated and cosmically lonely mortals of earth are enabled to escape personality isolation, with all its consequences of fear and associated feelings of helplessness. In the fraternal realities of the kingdom of heaven the faith sons of God find final deliverance from the isolation of the self, both personal and planetary. The God-knowing believer increasingly experiences the ecstasy and grandeur of spiritual socialization on a universe scale—citizenship on high in association with the eternal realization of the divine destiny of perfection attainment. [Paper 184:4.6, page 1985.1]
The religion of Jesus fosters the highest type of human civilization in that it creates the highest type of spiritual personality and proclaims the sacredness of that person. [Paper 194:3.7, page 2063.5]
The religion of Jesus demands living and spiritual experience. Other religions may consist in traditional beliefs, emotional feelings, philosophic consciousness, and all of that, but the teaching of the Master requires the attainment of actual levels of real spirit progression. [Paper 160:5.12, page 1782.3]
Henceforth will I [Ganid] do my good deeds in secret; I will also pray most when by myself. I will judge not that I may not be unfair to my fellows. I am going to learn to love my enemies; I have not truly mastered this practice of being Godlike. Though I see God in these other religions, I find him in ‘our religion’ as being more beautiful, loving, merciful, personal, and positive. But most of all, this great and glorious Being is my spiritual Father; I am his child. And by no other means than my honest desire to be like him, I am eventually to find him and eternally to serve him. At last I have a religion with a God, a marvelous God, and he is a God of eternal salvation. [Paper 131:10.8, page 1454.5]
But if this religion is to capture the hearts, inspire the imaginations, and revive the souls of a deeply troubled and divided world, then it has to be proclaimed, it has to be taught, and it has to be lived! Who will proclaim this religion of Jesus to struggling humanity? Was it just to be Jesus’ apostles? Or the seventy? Or his first century disciples? But they have long since passed away! If “the hour is striking”, then who today is willing and prepared to do so? If not us….if not me…..then who? While inwardly we may truly desire to be a part of this global proclamation, we may also feel daunted by the prospect! We may not feel qualified. In the face of stiff opposition, competition, or apathy, we may feel out of our depth! The idea of preaching to someone or trying to convert them in the way that fanatical religionists have done over the centuries might disturb and repulse us. How will this revival and presentation of the original and true teachings of Jesus be accomplished? How in this dynamic, divided, and troubled 21st Century world can we effectively teach and proclaim this message to our fellow mortals? Do we simply do what Jesus and his apostles did in the 1st Century? To begin with, let’s look closely at the following two quotes:
Jesus lived on earth and taught a gospel which redeemed man from the superstition that he was a child of the devil and elevated him to the dignity of a faith son of God. Jesus’ message, as he preached it and lived it in his day, was an effective solvent for man’s spiritual difficulties in that day of its statement. And now that he has personally left the world, he sends in his place his Spirit of Truth, who is designed to live in man and, for each new generation, to restate the Jesus message so that every new group of mortals to appear upon the face of the earth shall have a new and up-to-date version of the gospel, just such personal enlightenment and group guidance as will prove to be an effective solvent for man’s ever-new and varied spiritual difficulties. [Paper 194:2.1, page 2060.6]
Christianity has indeed done a great service for this world, but what is now most needed is Jesus. The world needs to see Jesus living again on earth in the experience of spirit-born mortals who effectively reveal the Master to all men. It is futile to talk about a revival of primitive Christianity; you must go forward from where you find yourselves. Modern culture must become spiritually baptized with a new revelation of Jesus’ life and illuminated with a new understanding of his gospel of eternal salvation. And when Jesus becomes thus lifted up, he will draw all men to himself. Jesus’ disciples should be more than conquerors, even overflowing sources of inspiration and enhanced living to all men. Religion is only an exalted humanism until it is made divine by the discovery of the reality of the presence of God in personal experience. [Paper 195:10.1, page 2084.1]
Just as this new religion of Jesus “is the highest concept of religion the world has ever known” [Paper 160:5.7, page 1781.3] so the teaching methods employed by the followers of this religion will be in keeping with its exalted message of truth, freedom, and salvation. It is clear from the above that the true teachings of Jesus need to be restated in a way that will provide a fresh appeal to the hearts and minds of modern humanity. It is not about reviving first century Christianity; we need “a new and up-to-date version of the gospel”! We need to become “overflowing sources of inspiration and enhanced living to all men”. No longer are we to teach by resorting to physical force, the employment of fear or intimidation, the use of clever intellectual arguments, or the application of pressure of any kind:
Pentecost, with its spiritual endowment, was designed forever to loose the religion of the Master from all dependence upon physical force; the teachers of this new religion are now equipped with spiritual weapons. They are to go out to conquer the world with unfailing forgiveness, matchless good will, and abounding love. They are equipped to overcome evil with good, to vanquish hate by love, to destroy fear with a courageous and living faith in truth. Jesus had already taught his followers that his religion was never passive; always were his disciples to be active and positive in their ministry of mercy and in their manifestations of love. [Paper 194:3.11, page 2064.3] emphasis added
These “spiritual weapons” create within us a fragrant aroma infused with truth, beauty, and goodness….the language of divine love! To the extent that we live this religion, that we exemplify in our lives the living truths so brilliantly embodied in the Master’s life, to that extent our fellow mortals will be attracted to us and will want to know what it is that makes us different.
“Let me emphatically state this eternal truth: If you, by truth co-ordination, learn to exemplify in your lives this beautiful wholeness of righteousness, your fellow men will then seek after you that they may gain what you have so acquired. The measure wherewith truth seekers are drawn to you represents the measure of your truth endowment, your righteousness. The extent to which you have to go with your message to the people is, in a way, the measure of your failure to live the whole or righteous life, the truth-co-ordinated life.” [Paper 155:1.5, page 1726.2]
When we truly find God, we are naturally motivated to reach out to our fellows. Joy and goodwill bubble up from our souls, moving us to serve and teach our neighbour the life-enhancing truths of Jesus’ gospel.
Religious desire is the hunger quest for divine reality. Religious experience is the realization of the consciousness of having found God. And when a human being does find God, there is experienced within the soul of that being such an indescribable restlessness of triumph in discovery that he is impelled to seek loving service-contact with his less illuminated fellows, not to disclose that he has found God, but rather to allow the overflow of the welling-up of eternal goodness within his own soul to refresh and ennoble his fellows. Real religion leads to increased social service. [Paper 102:3.4, page 1121.6]
Jesus was undoubtedly the greatest teacher this world has ever seen. He didn’t have to engage in showy displays of piety, nor did he use coercion or formal oratory to get his message across to the people. Individuals were attracted to him because he loved people and he never tired of ministering to them. In this respect, he left a pattern for us to follow as teachers of the religion of Jesus.
Most of the really important things which Jesus said or did seemed to happen casually, “as he passed by.” There was so little of the professional, the well-planned, or the premeditated in the Master’s earthly ministry. He dispensed health and scattered happiness naturally and gracefully as he journeyed through life. It was literally true, “He went about doing good.” [Paper 171:7.9, page 1875.4]
And it behooves the Master’s followers in all ages to learn to minister as “they pass by”—to do unselfish good as they go about their daily duties. [Paper 171:7.10, page 1875.5]
All that remains is for us to personally reflect on the questions…are we willing?…are we ready? The world is poised, waiting to receive and accept the liberating and life-giving truths of Jesus’ gospel. A never-to-be-repeated opportunity lies before us!
Remember that you are commissioned to preach this gospel of the kingdom—the supreme desire to do the Father’s will coupled with the supreme joy of the faith realization of sonship with God—and you must not allow anything to divert your devotion to this one duty. Let all mankind benefit from the overflow of your loving spiritual ministry, enlightening intellectual communion, and uplifting social service; but none of these humanitarian labors, nor all of them, should be permitted to take the place of proclaiming the gospel. These mighty ministrations are the social by-products of the still more mighty and sublime ministrations and transformations wrought in the heart of the kingdom believer by the living Spirit of Truth and by the personal realization that the faith of a spirit-born man confers the assurance of living fellowship with the eternal God. [Paper 178:1.11, page 1931.2]
“Peace be upon you. That which my Father sent me into the world to establish belongs not to a race, a nation, nor to a special group of teachers or preachers. This gospel of the kingdom belongs to both Jew and gentile, to rich and poor, to free and bond, to male and female, even to the little children. And you are all to proclaim this gospel of love and truth by the lives which you live in the flesh. You shall love one another with a new and startling affection, even as I have loved you. You will serve mankind with a new and amazing devotion, even as I have served you. And when men see you so love them, and when they behold how fervently you serve them, they will perceive that you have become faith-fellows of the kingdom of heaven, and they will follow after the Spirit of Truth which they see in your lives, to the finding of eternal salvation. [Paper 191:6.2, page 2044.3]
“As the Father sent me into this world, even so now send I you. You are all called to carry the good news to those who sit in darkness. This gospel of the kingdom belongs to all who believe it; it shall not be committed to the custody of mere priests. Soon will the Spirit of Truth come upon you, and he shall lead you into all truth. Go you, therefore, into all the world preaching this gospel, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the ages.” [Paper 191:6.3, page 2044.4]