The Master's Ministry
THE UNFINISHED BUSINESS OF
THE FOURTH EPOCHAL REVELATION
– Part 3 –
March 13, 2020
by contributing writer
5. The Historical Consequences of the Failed Mission of the Fourth Epochal Revelation.
As the original teachings of Jesus penetrated the Occident, they became Occidentalized, and as they became Occidentalized, they began to lose their potentially universal appeal to all races and kinds of men. Christianity, today, has become a religion well adapted to the social, economic, and political mores of the white races. It has long since ceased to be the religion of Jesus, although it still valiantly portrays a beautiful religion about Jesus to such individuals as sincerely seek to follow in the way of its teaching. It has glorified Jesus as the Christ, the Messianic anointed one from God, but has largely forgotten the Master’s personal gospel: the Fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of all men.
[Paper 98:7.11; page 1084.10]
Jesus’ programme for the tiny mustard seed of the fledgling spiritual kingdom to become a tree large enough to support the birds of heaven, had hit a snag. But all was not lost! Such is the power and potency of the kingdom message that it would endure for centuries to come, albeit in a dormant, concealed condition, waiting for that glorious day when it would once again emerge to transform the world.
Jesus’ ideal concept largely failed, but upon the foundation of the Master’s personal life and teachings, supplemented by the Greek and Persian concepts of eternal life and augmented by Philo’s doctrine of the temporal contrasted with the spiritual, Paul went forth to build up one of the most progressive human societies which has ever existed on Urantia.
[Paper 170:5.16; page 1865.6. Emphasis added.]
In the first three centuries of our common era, the original kingdom concept taught by Jesus to his apostles had become identified with the Christian church itself, as the following quotes demonstrate:
The concept of Jesus is still alive in the advanced religions of the world. Paul’s Christian church is the socialized and humanized shadow of what Jesus intended the kingdom of heaven to be — and what it most certainly will yet become. Paul and his successors partly transferred the issues of eternal life from the individual to the church. Christ thus became the head of the church rather than the elder brother of each individual believer in the Father’s family of the kingdom. Paul and his contemporaries applied all of Jesus’ spiritual implications regarding himself and the individual believer to the church as a group of believers; and in doing this, they struck a deathblow to Jesus’ concept of the divine kingdom in the heart of the individual believer.
[Paper 170:5.17; page 1865.7. Emphasis added.]
Christ was about to become the creed of the rapidly forming church. Jesus lives; he died for men; he gave the spirit; he is coming again. Jesus filled all their thoughts and determined all their new concept of God and everything else. They were too much enthused over the new doctrine that “God is the Father of the Lord Jesus” to be concerned with the old message that “God is the loving Father of all men,” even of every single individual. True, a marvelous manifestation of brotherly love and unexampled good will did spring up in these early communities of believers. But it was a fellowship of believers in Jesus, not a fellowship of brothers in the family kingdom of the Father in heaven. Their good will arose from the love born of the concept of Jesus’ bestowal and not from the recognition of the brotherhood of mortal man. Nevertheless, they were filled with joy, and they lived such new and unique lives that all men were attracted to their teachings about Jesus. They made the great mistake of using the living and illustrative commentary on the gospel of the kingdom for that gospel, but even that represented the greatest religion mankind had ever known.
[Paper 194:4.6; page 2067.1. Emphasis added.]
Jesus founded the religion of personal experience in doing the will of God and serving the human brotherhood; Paul founded a religion in which the glorified Jesus became the object of worship and the brotherhood consisted of fellow believers in the divine Christ. In the bestowal of Jesus these two concepts were potential in his divine-human life, and it is indeed a pity that his followers failed to create a unified religion which might have given proper recognition to both the human and the divine natures of the Master as they were inseparably bound up in his earth life and so gloriously set forth in the original gospel of the kingdom.
[Paper 196:2.6; page 2092.4]
Wisely or unwisely, these early leaders of Christianity deliberately compromised the ideals of Jesus in an effort to save and further many of his ideas. And they were eminently successful. But mistake not! these compromised ideals of the Master are still latent in his gospel, and they will eventually assert their full power upon the world.
[Paper 195:0.12; page 2070.8. Emphasis added]
It is particularly noteworthy that Jesus was not against the institutionalisation of religion per se. He expected it to happen and could foresee the benefits that it would offer to believers. This fact should not be overlooked by the current organizations making up the Urantia movement. It is something that I will address later in this article.
The church, as a social outgrowth of the kingdom, would have been wholly natural and even desirable. The evil of the church was not its existence, but rather that it almost completely supplanted the Jesus concept of the kingdom. Paul’s institutionalized church became a virtual substitute for the kingdom of heaven which Jesus had proclaimed.
[Paper 170:5.7; page 1864.7]
The church was an inevitable and useful social result of Jesus’ life and teachings; the tragedy consisted in the fact that this social reaction to the teachings of the kingdom so fully displaced the spiritual concept of the real kingdom as Jesus taught and lived it.
[Paper 170:5.10; page 1864.10]
Jesus foresaw that a social organization, or church, would follow the progress of the true spiritual kingdom, and that is why he never opposed the apostles’ practicing the rite of John’s baptism. [Paper 170:5.13; page 1865.3]
In this manner the kingdom became the concept of an age, the idea of a future visitation, and the ideal of the final redemption of the saints of the Most High. The early Christians (and all too many of the later ones) generally lost sight of the Father-and-son idea embodied in Jesus’ teaching of the kingdom, while they substituted therefor the well-organized social fellowship of the church. The church thus became in the main a social brotherhood which effectively displaced Jesus’ concept and ideal of a spiritual brotherhood.
[Paper 170:5.15; page 1865.5. Emphasis added.]
The Christian church, with all its institutional baggage, would become the protective cocoon in which the original teachings of Jesus would lay dormant until the day of its awakening.
Mistake not! there is in the teachings of Jesus an eternal nature which will not permit them forever to remain unfruitful in the hearts of thinking men. The kingdom as Jesus conceived it has to a large extent failed on earth; for the time being, an outward church has taken its place; but you should comprehend that this church is only the larval stage of the thwarted spiritual kingdom, which will carry it through this material age and over into a more spiritual dispensation where the Master’s teachings may enjoy a fuller opportunity for development. Thus, does the so-called Christian church become the cocoon in which the kingdom of Jesus’ concept now slumbers. The kingdom of the divine brotherhood is still alive and will eventually and certainly come forth from this long submergence, just as surely as the butterfly eventually emerges as the beautiful unfolding of its less attractive creature of metamorphic development.
[Paper 170:5.21; page 1866.4]
6. The Re-emergence and Prophetic Significance of the Fourth Epochal Revelation
So far in this essay, I believe I have established the validity of the following assertions:
Michael of Nebadon, our brother, Master, and universal sovereign, incarnated on Urantia as Jesus of Nazareth, brought to this planet the 4th epochal revelation, variously known as “the religion of Jesus” or “the gospel of the kingdom”. He commissioned his twelve apostles to preach this message to the world.
The gospel of the kingdom would have united all nations, peoples, and tongues of the world into a spiritual family had the apostles and disciples of Jesus fulfilled their commission.
The apostles became so enamoured of their Master that they gradually changed his original gospel of the kingdom, the religion of Jesus, to a religion about Jesus.
Over the following three centuries, the concept of the spiritual kingdom became associated with the institutional Christian church.
The core teachings of Jesus’s original gospel have remained embedded within the Christian church in a state of slumber until the time of their foretold re-emergence.
Despite the apparent demise of the kingdom message, we can be totally confident that its original purpose will be fulfilled!
It now remains to be seen what part the 5th Epochal revelation, The Urantia Papers, will play in the revival and fulfillment of the unfinished business of the 4th Epochal revelation. When will the original gospel of the heavenly kingdom emerge as a beautiful butterfly from its larval slumber within the cocoon of the Christian church? How will this happen? What will signal its emergence and what is it destined to achieve? And what role, if any, should we as readers and students of the revelation perform in the outworking of this spiritual drama on the world stage?
The Urantia Book has some amazing answers to these questions, particularly in Papers 195 and 196.
When Jesus finally departed this planet following his morontia resurrection, he sent his Spirit of Truth to live in the hearts of believers to equip them for the critical work of completing the commission he gave to his apostles.
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. B, 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. Emphasis added.]
On the day of Pentecost, the religion of Jesus broke all national restrictions and racial fetters. It is forever true, "Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." On this day the Spirit of Truth became the personal gift from the Master to every mortal. This spirit was bestowed for the purpose of qualifying believers more effectively to preach the gospel of the kingdom, but they mistook the experience of receiving the outpoured spirit for a part of the new gospel which they were unconsciously formulating.
[Paper 194:3.5; page 2063.3. Emphasis added.]
But is it time for the glorious butterfly to emerge from its chrysalis? Does The Urantia Book give us any indication of when that might happen? Well let’s begin with this dramatic statement:
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.]
This quote is taken from Paper 94 which was transcribed more than 80 years ago! And yet it states categorically that the hour was striking then for presenting “to the peoples of all faiths…the living, spiritual reality of the gospel of Jesus”. So what about now? Is Urantia still waiting for the proclamation of the ennobling message of Michael? And where would we find such a message, “unencumbered by the accumulated doctrines and dogmas of nineteen centuries of contact with the religions of evolutionary origin”? Certainly not in the Bible! The answer of course is within the pages of The Urantia Book. Part IV of the book, “The Life and Teachings of Jesus”, is the most comprehensive, detailed, and reliable description of the Master’s life and teachings that the world has ever seen. This is where the original, authentic gospel of Jesus is to be found. But who will proclaim this message? Who will present this incomparable message of good news to the peoples of all faiths?
Here is another quote that emphasizes that we are on the precipice of worldwide social, moral, and spiritual change:
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.]
Once again, where can one find these uncompromised teachings of Jesus, this new vision of the Master’s life on earth? In addition, how could such a vision be transmitted to languishing Christianity? We encounter here a prophetic statement of monumental proportions. This new revelation of the religion of Jesus is destined to conquer the dominant world ideology of secular materialism! But how could such a seemingly unlikely scenario eventuate? Whatever the answer to this question is, we must be close to realizing its fulfilment. “Urantia is now quivering on the very brink…”, and that was transcribed almost 80 years ago!
This extraordinary prediction is amplified by these pronouncements:
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.]
Let me state emphatically before citing additional evidence, that these colossal earth-wide movements are destined to occur as a result of the emergence of the religion of Jesus, also known as the gospel of Jesus or the gospel of the kingdom. Why must this point be emphasized? Because the Urantia movement either tends to ignore these texts or in endeavouring to explain them, it conflates “the religion of Jesus” with the fifth epochal revelation and sees the dissemination of the latter as fulfilling these predictions. But this is manifestly not the case! Since its initial publication in 1955, The Urantia Book is still virtually unknown and unheard of by the world’s masses. It is hardly conceivable that it could “conquer an empire of materialistic secularism” or “overthrow a world sway of mechanistic naturalism”. Which isn’t to say that at some point in the future it won’t enjoy widespread popular acclaim! But now is not the time. The authors of the Papers make that clear, as I will explain later.
The Urantia Book will never be embraced by the bulk of the world’s population as long as their minds are held captive by the ideological propaganda of secular materialism. A spiritualization process must take place first.
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]
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”, the damaging excesses of institutionalised Christianity. 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 then there’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”. The fifth epochal revelation must be preceded by the spiritually transformative power of the fourth epochal revelation, the religion of Jesus!
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.]
The religion of Jesus is the most powerful unifying influence the world has ever known.
[Paper 194:3.17, page 2065.5]
No matter what the apparent conflict between materialism and the teachings of Jesus may be, you can rest assured that, in the ages to come, the teachings of the Master will fully triumph.
[Paper 195:6.2; page 2076.7]
I have asked a series of rhetorical questions concerning the manner in which the kingdom message is to be revived in modern times. Who will deliver this message? Who will proclaim this message to the world? How will this message transform the civilization of all mankind? What is the source and mechanism of the incomparable unifying power of the gospel of Jesus? Let’s now find answers to these highly pertinent, challenging, and critical questions.
Return to MM Navigation