My dear fellow readers and students of The Urantia Book,
It’s that time of year again when ANZURA, the Australia and New Zealand Urantia Association, arranges a study day to provide an opportunity for readers to gather together in a study group in their region and read and discuss the same paper on the same day as other readers throughout the world.
This year we invite students of The Urantia Book wherever they might be located, to join us on this special day, Saturday the 28th May, to study Paper 170 – The Kingdom of Heaven.
This discourse by Jesus was counted among the notable addresses of his public ministry. It is rich with instruction and explanation concerning this most vital and recurrent theme of his life and ministry. “The kingdom of God is within you” was probably the greatest pronouncement Jesus ever made, next to the declaration that his Father is a living and loving spirit. (195:10.4; P2084:4) The concept of ‘kingdom’ is possibly of little relevance to us if we find ourselves living in a modern constitutional democracy but for the apostles in Jesus’ day, the term was pregnant with volatile meaning, albeit at odds with what Jesus wanted to convey to his listeners in employing this word-idea.
For us today, “the kingdom of heaven” has a renewed and special significance that Paper 170 draws to our immediate attention. We certainly live in momentous times and the Association has encouraged the constituent local and national conferences to focus on the theme of teaching us to be teachers of the religion of Jesus, in preparation for the crucial work of revival that lies just ahead. This is what Paper 170 alludes to; it stirs us to action and it thrills us with the expectation of global changes, possibly within our lifetime!
So why not make it a date to meet with your local study group just one week from today (Saturday the 28th) to read and discuss this provocative and inspirational Paper? For those of you who do not belong to or have access to a local study group, I will be conducting an on-line study group on this forum over the entire weekend (28th and 29th May) and I would warmly welcome you to participate as part of an online family of readers. I will progressively post sections of the papers throughout the weekend so that people living in different time zones throughout the world will have the opportunity to post their thoughts and engage in fruitful and friendly discussions together.
If you have any questions about the International Study Day, please feel free to respond to this thread. I’m looking forward to sharing this occasion with you all!
In loving service to the Master,
Bob Ghen Sr.Participant
I’m a little confused. Are you offering two separate on-line studies, one for study groups on the 28th, and one for individuals who do not belong to a study group on the 28th and 29th? Or are they combined in some way? I am not in a study group at this time but I would like to at least view the group discussions as well. Will this be possible?
Thanks Brother for clearing this up for me . . .
All best, Bob Ghen Sr.
Thank you for your inquiry. The on-line study group, which will be conducted on this forum, is for individuals who do not belong to or are unable to meet with a study group. I am encouraging all study groups wherever they might be, to meet as they normally would on the weekend of the 28th and 29th of May to study and discuss Paper 170. In this way, the brotherhood of readers throughout the world can come together to focus on this pivotal message all on the same weekend.
Bob, I would love to have your company next weekend on the Forum. Your contribution, no matter how small or large, will be much appreciated!
This is a reminder for the Inter/National Study Day next Weekend – 28/29 May 2016.
We are hoping that many regional groups will get together to study Paper 170 – The Kingdom of Heaven.
The idea is to contact the Host in your Regional Area and join him or her and other readers wherever this gathering is being held.
This is such a fine opportunity for those that seek fellowship or mere contact with other Urantia Book readers, to share insights and discuss the topic at hand. One of the points the Revelatory Commission urged us to do is to meet up with each other and study the concepts, meanings and implications The Urantia Book is so famous for.
You will be lead through Paper 170 by Julian McGarry once again on the online Forum. You will find the topic in the ‘General Discussion’ section at : http://urantia-association.org/forums/topic/international-study-day-saturday-28th-may-2016/
You can log on at any time over the weekend and read the posts. If you want to participate you will need to register if you are not already registered on the Forum. This can be done easily. It is advisable to do this a couple of days earlier to make sure you areorganised and ready to go!
We hope very much that many will join us across the Globe and we hope to hear from you about your experience afterwards in order to share them in the Arena newsletter.
With best wishes,
On behalf of the ANZURA Governing Board
Hello Julian and Rita,
I thought I’d put a link to PAPER 170 HERE for online students and for anyone who wants to get a head start on study. Here’s how it starts out:
(1858.1)170:0.1 SATURDAY afternoon, March 11, Jesus preached his last sermon at Pella. This was among the notable addresses of his public ministry, embracing a full and complete discussion of the kingdom of heaven. He was aware of the confusion which existed in the minds of his apostles and disciples regarding the meaning and significance of the terms “kingdom of heaven” and “kingdom of God,” which he used as interchangeable designations of his bestowal mission. Although the very term kingdom of heaven should have been enough to separate what it stood for from all connection with earthly kingdoms and temporal governments, it was not. The idea of a temporal king was too deep-rooted in the Jewish mind thus to be dislodged in a single generation. Therefore Jesus did not at first openly oppose this long-nourished concept of the kingdom.
(1858.2)170:0.2 This Sabbath afternoon the Master sought to clarify the teaching about the kingdom of heaven; he discussed the subject from every viewpoint and endeavored to make clear the many different senses in which the term had been used. In this narrative we will amplify the address by adding numerous statements made by Jesus on previous occasions and by including some remarks made only to the apostles during the evening discussions of this same day. We will also make certain comments dealing with the subsequent outworking of the kingdom idea as it is related to the later Christian church.
Thank you for giving us all a head start! It gives us a few days to get acquainted with this intriguing paper and to gather our thoughts for the study day this coming Saturday (28th). Of course we are all living in different time zones so sometimes our posts may seem out of sequence but don’t let that stop you from commenting. I will spread the five sections plus the intro over the course of the weekend allowing time for people to post their comments for each section. If anyone has a question regarding the study procedure, don’t hesitate to ask.
Looking forward to hearing from you all!
My dear brothers and sisters and fellow readers of The Urantia Book,
For many of you, Saturday the 28th May has not even begun….for others, it has begun but you are hopefully sleeping peacefully soon to awaken to a brand new day. For those of us much closer to the western side of the International Date Line, the day is already half over. Wherever you may sojourn on this planet, I would like to welcome you all to our International Study Day and in particular welcome those who cannot access a study group in their locality. I warmly invite you to participate in this on-line study group as we read and discuss Paper 170: The Kingdom of Heaven. Mara has kindly posted the introduction to this paper which sets the scene for this in-depth treatment of the ‘kingdom’ concept, as understood and taught by Jesus, our Master. My role is to merely facilitate sharing by participants, whether you be new readers or longterm students of the Revelation. Feel free to make comments and ask questions no matter how humble your contribution may appear to you. We are all learners and students….something you say may inadvertently become the trigger for another’s insightful thinking!
So let us begin!
1. Concepts of the Kingdom of Heaven
(1858.3) 170:1.1 In connection with the recital of Jesus’ sermon it should be noted that throughout the Hebrew scriptures there was a dual concept of the kingdom of heaven. The prophets presented the kingdom of God as:
(1858.9) 170:1.7 Just before the advent of Jesus on earth, the Jews combined and confused all of these ideas of the kingdom into their apocalyptic concept of the Messiah’s coming to establish the age of the Jewish triumph, the eternal age of God’s supreme rule on earth, the new world, the era in which all mankind would worship Yahweh. In choosing to utilize this concept of the kingdom of heaven, Jesus elected to appropriate the most vital and culminating heritage of both the Jewish and Persian religions.
(1859.6) 170:1.13 At different times and in varying circumstances it appears that Jesus may have presented numerous concepts of the “kingdom” in his public teachings, but to his apostles he always taught the kingdom as embracing man’s personal experience in relation to his fellows on earth and to the Father in heaven. Concerning the kingdom, his last word always was, “The kingdom is within you.”
It must have been extremely problematic for Jesus to have to employ the concept of ‘kingdom’ when describing to his followers the impact of the Father’s indwelling spirit on their lives. Jesus didn’t like the term and was aware of all the diverse understandings that religious and political groups had attached to the word.
(1855.2) 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.
Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to share, Julian.
I wonder whether part of the difficulty Jesus experienced was in conveying the personal and individual nature of the Kingdom. This spiritual hunger engages the lives of each person on a very intimate level, at a personal stage and intensity. There seemed to be a need among the early teachers to enlarge the concept to encompass an external event or a social evolution of an entire institution. I wonder whether part of the attraction was the externalization of responsibility for bringing about change. (Location: NSW, Australia)
The more closely man approaches God through love, the greater the reality — actuality — of that man. 117:4.14 (1285.3)
Thank you Angela for those useful comments and for getting our conversation started. We all want to change the world for the better and we naturally seek to do this via external agencies (or ‘kingdoms’). There were some in Jesus’ day and world that understood kingdom as a synonym for revolution….change by force or coercion.
But it has often been the error of the teachers of new truth to attempt too much, to attempt to supplant slow evolution by sudden revolution. (P.1043:3)
Jesus’ apostles were expecting the imminent establishment of the Davidic kingdom and they nourished strong hopes that Jesus would be the one that would take up the mantle of messianic kingship. Just like people today, they were looking for spectacular and physically powerful displays of rulership. But as you rightly point out, Jesus identified the establishment of God’s rule in our hearts and souls as the way to bring about sustainable and righteous change….”the kingdom of heaven within you”.
I hope I can get to meet you some time Angela. I didn’t realise up until now that you reside in Australia. I live with my family down in Tasmania where we will be holding our next National UB conference.
Blessings to you!
Bob Ghen Sr.Participant
As we proceed let us remember that, throughout all of our intellectual discussions and interpretations re: the many facets of “the kingdom” not to overlook the central importance of one’s personal spiritual experience in “doing the will of God” as the factor that validates one’s inclusion in “the kingdom.” Sharing the inner life with God, our adjuster, is the doing of His will. “Nothing more, nothing less.” This is the initial experiential reality of being in the kingdom. This is what must be verified before we begin to share “advanced truth.” Discussions about the realities of the kingdom will fall on deaf ears to those who have not yet begun this inner relationship. Just telling someone that they are a child of God is itself an advanced truth that means nothing to one completely immersed in worldly matters. Seeing that they are first brought into the kingdom, to me means, first whetting their appetite for spiritual experience, and then revealing how easy it is to access the very divinity that lives within them. Our personal experience of being in the kingdom, of pursuing an active, inner relationship with God, precedes all genuine comprehension of the multi-faceted, multi-leveled concepts of the kingdom. Thus, the UB emphasis on first determining the receptivity level of those with whom we wish to share Truth.
I look forward to checking in over the weekend and following the discussions here. And thank you Julian for this valuable service!
All good blessings, Bob Ghen Sr.
BonitaParticipantAngela wrote: I wonder whether part of the difficulty Jesus experienced was in conveying the personal and individual nature of the Kingdom. This spiritual hunger engages the lives of each person on a very intimate level, at a personal stage and intensity. There seemed to be a need among the early teachers to enlarge the concept to encompass an external event or a social evolution of an entire institution. I wonder whether part of the attraction was the externalization of responsibility for bringing about change.
I think the biggest problem Jesus faced in teaching the gospel of the kingdom was the chosen people doctrine. The stage had been set centuries before by the prophets Isaiah, Zechariah, Enoch, Ezekiel and Daniel who outlined the roadmap to the kingdom: evil times followed by world transformation and finally justice where the chosen people ruled and the unrighteous got their just desserts. It really had nothing to do with spiritual hunger at all. It had to do with the politics of the kingdom of good, not the kingdom of God. Even today it is almost impossible to convince people that the kingdom of good is not the kingdom of God.
153:2.6 “Some of you, when you could not find me after the feasting of the multitude on the other side, hired the Tiberias fishing fleet, which a week before had taken shelter near by during a storm, to go in pursuit of me, and what for? Not for truth and righteousness or that you might the better know how to serve and minister to your fellow men! No, but rather that you might have more bread for which you had not labored. It was not to fill your souls with the word of life, but only that you might fill the belly with the bread of ease. And long have you been taught that the Messiah, when he should come, would work those wonders which would make life pleasant and easy for all the chosen people. It is not strange, then, that you who have been thus taught should long for the loaves and the fishes. But I declare to you that such is not the mission of the Son of Man. I have come to proclaim spiritual liberty, teach eternal truth, and foster living faith.
2. Jesus’ Concept of the Kingdom
(1859.11) 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:
(1860.2) 170:2.7 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.
(1860.3) 170:2.8 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.
(1860.4) 170:2.9 These teachings cover the expanded idea of the kingdom which was taught by Jesus. This great concept was hardly embraced in the elementary and confused kingdom teachings of John the Baptist.
(1860.5) 170:2.10 The apostles were unable to grasp the real meaning of the Master’s utterances regarding the kingdom. The subsequent distortion of Jesus’ teachings, as they are recorded in the New Testament, is because the concept of the gospel writers was colored by the belief that Jesus was then absent from the world for only a short time; that he would soon return to establish the kingdom in power and glory — just such an idea as they held while he was with them in the flesh. But Jesus did not connect the establishment of the kingdom with the idea of his return to this world. That centuries have passed with no signs of the appearance of the “New Age” is in no way out of harmony with Jesus’ teaching.
(1860.6) 170:2.11 The great effort embodied in this sermon was the attempt to translate the concept of the kingdom of heaven into the ideal of the idea of doing the will of God. Long had the Master taught his followers to pray: “Your kingdom come; your will be done”; and at this time he earnestly sought to induce them to abandon the use of the term kingdom of God in favor of the more practical equivalent,the will of God. But he did not succeed.
(1860.7) 170:2.12 Jesus desired to substitute for the idea of the kingdom, king, and subjects, the concept of the heavenly family, the heavenly Father, and the liberated sons of God engaged in joyful and voluntary service for their fellow men and in the sublime and intelligent worship of God the Father.
(1860.11) 170:2.16 They looked upon the coming of the kingdom in the hearts of men as a gradual development, like the leaven in the dough or like the growing of the mustard seed. They believed that the coming of the kingdom in the racial or world sense would be both sudden and spectacular. Jesus never tired of telling them that the kingdom of heaven was their personal experience of realizing the higher qualities of spiritual living; that these realities of the spirit experience are progressively translated to new and higher levels of divine certainty and eternal grandeur.
(1861.3) 170:2.21 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.
(1861.5) 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.
(1861.6) 170:2.24 By the time the Apostle John began to write the story of Jesus’ life and teachings, the early Christians had experienced so much trouble with the kingdom-of-God idea as a breeder of persecution that they had largely abandoned the use of the term. John talks much about the “eternal life.” Jesus often spoke of it as the “kingdom of life.” He also frequently referred to “the kingdom of God within you.” He once spoke of such an experience as “family fellowship with God the Father.” Jesus sought to substitute many terms for the kingdom but always without success. Among others, he used: the family of God, the Father’s will, the friends of God, the fellowship of believers, the brotherhood of man, the Father’s fold, the children of God, the fellowship of the faithful, the Father’s service, and the liberated sons of God.
(1861.7) 170:2.25 But he could not escape the use of the kingdom idea. It was more than fifty years later, not until after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies, that this concept of the kingdom began to change into the cult of eternal life as its social and institutional aspects were taken over by the rapidly expanding and crystallizing Christian church.
Thank you Bob and Bonita for your very welcome comments.
Just telling someone that they are a child of God is itself an advanced truth that means nothing to one completely immersed in worldly matters. Seeing that they are first brought into the kingdom, to me means, first whetting their appetite for spiritual experience, and then revealing how easy it is to access the very divinity that lives within them.
How does one whet the appetite for spiritual experience in those who have yet to enter the temple? Knowing that God is my Father who loves me infinitely and yearns for my fellowship……rather than a stern judge, or king, or some blind force of the universe….is a good start! Jesus knew that fear and ignorance prevented people from having that sublime personal experience of knowing God. Hence, if God is our Father, then we must all be brothers! What an extraordinarily marvelous conclusion.
Our Father is not in hiding; he is not in arbitrary seclusion. He has mobilized the resources of divine wisdom in a never-ending effort to reveal himself to the children of his universal domains. There is an infinite grandeur and an inexpressible generosity connected with the majesty of his love which causes him to yearn for the association of every created being who can comprehend, love, or approach him….(P.62:4)
“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.” (P.1537:4)
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