© 1981 Jim McNelly
© 1981 The Urantia Book Fellowship (formerly Urantia Brotherhood)
Thank you all for being here. I’ve titled this talk, “Evolving a Personal Religious Experience; from Belief to Faith to Truth.” I’ve chosen this theme because I feel that the most important message of The URANTIA Book, our fifth epochal revelation, is “how to know God,” as contrasted with “how to know The URANTIA Book.”
When I began reading the book in 1970 , I was in the midst of a deep quest for truth, nearly a matter of life and death. With the social tumult and crisis of the late 1960 's, I had chosen to do things that would be of service to mankind, to seek for an end to wars and for ideals that would improve the planetary condition. Determined not to rest until I had found answers to my questions, I recognized The URANTIA Book for what it was and literally devoured it within a three month period. On page 17391 found a quote that changed my life:
“You are destined to live a narrow and mean life if you learn to love only those who love you. Human love may indeed be reciprocal, but divine love is outgoing in all its satisfaction-seeking. The less of love in any creature’s nature, the greater the love need, and the more does divine love seek to satisfy such need. Love is never self-seeking, and it cannot be self-bestowed. Divine love cannot be self-contained; it must be unselfishly bestowed.” (UB 156:5.11)
After meditating on the nature of love for a few days, I realized that the questions of truth, the nature of reality, and the issue of revelation was this: "Can we love, can we be loved, and from where comes this power of love? Since I was not overly satisfied with myself and was willing to change, I called God’s bluff. I decided to make myself receptive to his love and see what happened.
I then made a list of those things I had been planning on doing, all of the ideas I had of who I was, my potentials, and so forth. Taking all of those ideas and concepts together, I decided to put them all on the back burner. I let go of all preconceptions of who I was and what was important at the time and unreservedly dedicated myself to God’s will without trying to tell him in advance what it was.
Within a matter of seconds I experienced a spiritual down-grasp and was enveloped in the love and presence of God. I knew for certain that I was a child of God and that I and everyone else was loved with an infinite love.
Needless to say, my mind was blown. I had not expected such a profound and immediate response, although I knew inside that anyone could experience the same reality if only they could become total in their desire for his presence. The spirit of God, I knew for a certainty, was within everyone and through a faith link, we could help each other realize the love that was our divine right to experience. At last I had found the secret to making the world a better place and that to the extent that I would learn to love other people and help them to the same illumination, I could be a more complete person and share the presence of God again.
As the experience became more of a memory than a conscious reality, I began to feel a new orientation of my personality. Being a child of God was as much a part of my identity now as was my need to eat and sleep. Appreciating the value of The URANTIA Book in my transformed consciousness, I began seeking out other readers and introducing friends and relatives to its supernal teachings. To my astonishment, many did not find the same level of God’s presence after reading the book. Too many were intellectually accepting what it said without personally finding God.
To a certain extent, that is why I am making this presentation today. I hope to share some thoughts and insights selected from The URANTIA Book with the challenge for others to go beyond belief, through faith, to their own personal religious experience “too sublime for words.” With the thoughts I share, I am attempting to help catalyze the thinking of persons here and now to make some decisions, to make new commitments, to reach a new level of totality and enter their next psychic circle.
Today we find ourselves at a point similar to the place Abner and Paul found themselves after the Master’s ressurrection. What is the Gospel? What was it that Jesus taught? What do we tell those who are waiting for new truth? It would be so safe and easy to repeat the dogma of a new authoritative scripture, as if accepting The URANTIA Book were the same as finding God. Are we to manifest the arrogance of revelation, gloating with unearned knowledge, unquestioned answers, ever ready with quotes and pat answers? Or are we to focalize the total powers of our personality and reach in for a spiritual experience that will illuminate and transform our lives to bring out the brotherhood of man as a living experience?
We are to go beyond the level of believing that The URANTIA Book is true. Its teachings are not real until we have challenged them, until they are tested in our lives. The URANTIA Book is three pounds of ink and paper; the epochal revelation is alive in the experience of those who actualize its words.
I was at a regional conference last year, sitting in a cafeteria overhearing book readers at another table making fun of Christians and Christianity. Across from them at another table, a girl, obviously not a book reader, arose after eating her lunch and said to the persons making the jokes, “If you’re making fun of my Jesus, I think its just terrible what you are doing.”
We have to appreciate that there are millions of per- sons around us who are having deep religious experiences without benefit of our book. There is a reformation occurring within the churches today that is moving more and more to the living Jesus, finding that there is more to his gospel than the stories about him. Polls tell us that nearly one half of all Americans consider themselves to be reborn Christians. It is our challenge to find that common denominator in Jesus that cuts across the belief systems, across generations, over national barriers, and around the world and upon this base to bring about the realization of the brotherhood of man. Beliefs will never unify men, only the faith experience of actually knowing and finding God.
In the book we read that we need to spend less time thinking and more time realizing. We are sadly told that few mortals are real thinkers and that only one in one thousand is a true leader. We are told to have that willingness to go wherever truth leads, to not imprison truth in our hearts and to be prepared to do and be all things in the pursuit of truth.
Our lives are carefully balanced between the need for security and the adventure of freedom. The fear of uncertainty holds us back from new avenues of thinking and realizing. It requires inspiration, enthusiasm, and leadership to open new vistas of creative thinking. The Life Carriers mention that they miss past generations when men had more courage, bravery, heroism, persistence, and devotion.
The Master’s parable of the difficulty of having a camel pass through the eye of a needle gives us an insight into the process of dedicating the will to the doing of the Father’s will. The term “eye of the needle” was in reference to openings in the walls of cities such as Jerusalem that were the only pathways in or out of the city when the main gates were closed for defense. These doorways were only the height of a man, making it difficult for a mounted horseman or a camel with a cargo to pass through. A camel had to have its load removed and then it was coaxed through on its knees, On the other side, the load would be returned to the camel for the trip to the marketplace. In the same way must we be willing to give up our attachments and preconceptions to be able to pass into the new life of spiritual living.
The lesson is not that we are to abandon our lives and plans to pass through the door into spiritual experience, which is the old notion of the death of the ego, but that we must be willing to let go of all of our things, concepts, and pet evils that we carry with us. In this sense, God’s will is nothing in particular, it is not what we think it is, but only a willingness to be receptive to God’s will whatever it may happen to be. Upon unloading our burdens and actually passing through the door, most often God sees our desire and rewards us by returning the self we have given to him with the inspiration to be ourselves and get back to work.
Too many of us are losing the battle to the “yeah-buts.” “Yeah, but what about rent?” “Yeah, but what if nothing happens?” “It would be nice to share God’s love, yeah but what if people won’t like me?” Only living faith and a trust that God is going through all of our life with us can overcome uncertainty.
The important issue is to place God in the center of your life, align your personality around the willingness to do God’s will and then to find God’s will through the Spirit of Truth in every situation by being receptive. There is nothing more tragic than a person so obsessed with what he thinks is God’s will that he has lost touch with reality.
Our Adjuster does just that — adjusts. We can no longer rely on a moral code of what is right and wrong. God’s will is ever growing, shifting, and leading men closer to even higher truth.
If we understand that God’s will is the willingness in all situations to do God’s will, we free ourselves from judging ourselves and others. At any moment a person can return to the ascension plan by seeking the will of the Father. The sign that we have found God, we are told, is the fact that we have gone looking for him. It is written that God’s will is simply the willingness to share the inner life with God.
Stop and think. What is it that is truly ours? We are only borrowers of things, stewards of the land. Everything we have is a gift, including our bodies, minds, personality, and even the Adjuster. Only our wills are our own, truly ours. And it is our free will that is the only acceptable gift that we can give to God in appreciation for all that he has given us.
Can we realize how much God needs us? He needs to experience the sovereignty of will through the Supreme. The prepersonal Adjuster becomes a personal being only by fusing with the mortal who has freely given his will to God, In return for our will, which was a gift to begin with, God gives us inner peace, love, joy, happiness, and eternal life, God gave us our self, that mystery within we call our “I AM,” and it is the one thing he asks for in return.
We can share in the experience of the Trinity as we liberate the Father within through our acceptance of sonship and give the divine spirit an opportunity to function and live a life of love. One by one, men progressively give themselves to God, and as a consequence, the Supreme is realized.
On world after world, life after life, the question is being resolved, “If imperfect free will creatures were given choice, would they chose to be like God?” “If God gave personality to men, would they choose perfection, would they choose love, could they become selfless?”
God is not the Sovereign Lord of the universe merely because he is the original and absolute being. He earns his right to rule through the Creator Sons and the Supreme. God does not rule by decree like Lucifer attempted, but through the free will choice of men. God is sovereign to the extent that he is sovereign in our lives.
In this way, the right to rule is earned and gradually attained. Once the worlds of time and space are perfected and the Supreme rules as the Almighty, the Father will be free to achieve new levels of ultimate and absolute reality that were not experiencible before the era of time and space.
Many of us may be thinking, “I can’t wait to get to the mansion worlds.” We feel that life is too hard, too complex, and confusing, that suffering is overcoming joy. And yet there are those on the mansion worlds dying to come to worlds like ours. It is no great challenge to serve those who are well on their way to perfection. It is the struggling mortals on the worlds of space who have the greatest love need, especially the mortals on the isolated worlds. Over 700,000 Jerusem citizens volunteered to come to our world for duty on the Prince’s staff. They would rather be back on a world where the service and action is, than be sitting around on a perfect world.
Even after attaining perfection the finaliters return to worlds like those of their origin to be of service while waiting for the next universe age. The bestowals of Michael are a series of experiences with created and less perfect beings.
We, too, can become descending sons; we can enlist in the “service” and become finite members of the new Prince’s staff. Through finding God in our lives here and now, we can become ambassadors of the spiritual life while still on earth. The highest service is to love those with the greatest need, and the need is greatest in those around us who have yet to realize that they are sons and daughters of God.
It is supposed to be a natural fact of life that men are the sons of God, It is abnormal for people to think they are simply animals. The 200,000 years of isolation and the absence of revelation have taken their toll. The tragedy is that the men of the world do not know who they are, and through revelation it is now possible for the global identity crisis to be overcome.
There are religions today that are teaching that men are the children of the devil and that they become adopted children of God when they accept a particular belief system. Those outside their cult are therefore going to a fictitious hell and the cult members live in a world of “us and them.” We have to break the back of this false teaching and be unafraid once and for all to proclaim that all men are the children of God and that we can actually feel and experience our sonship as a personal reality.
There is a remarkable quote which says, “When the mental mobilization is absolutely total on any level of the psychic upreach toward spirit attainment, when there exists perfection of the human motivation of loyalties to the divine idea, then there very often occurs a sudden downgrasp of the indwelling spirit to synchronize with the concentrated and consecrated purpose of the superconscious mind of the believing mortal.” (UB 100:5.4) And there is a similar quote on page 1130, “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.” (UB 103:2.1)
There comes a time when there must be a transformation of the consciousness, a new mobilization of the personality, and a new orientation of the spiritual forces within. You don’t just happen across such an experience. No one on the street will hand it to you. It won’t arrive in the mail. You must go out looking for it. You have to want it. Your desire must be so great that you enter into a new level of “totality of motivation.”
Over forty different times in the book the term “wholehearted ”is used. There are similar injunctions such as the consecration of will, the elimination of doubt, the totality of a decision, the supremacy of a choice, and the willingness to believe. Few points are repeated or stressed as much as the need to come to a point in your life where you become absolutely unified, when all elements of doubt are gone.
For those who have difficulty passing through the barriers from belief to faith, from faith to truth, we can trade our mind for the mind of Jesus. If we are overcome by fears, when our worries and anxieties take control and we shy away from a supreme decision, the Adjuster can help us if we only let him break through the barrier of inertia. Through wholehearted prayer, we can ask for help realizing that we cannot do it on our own.
In a sense, we are addicted to our problems and shortcomings. We have our ‘spirits’ of fear, prejudices, self-doubt, and anxieties that keep us from experiencing God, because they keep us from a wholehearted decision. By using the philosophy in Alcoholics Anonymous of “letting go and letting God” we can find the spirit within that can and will overcome our difficulties. There has to be a desire from so deep within that the choice will resonate to the Absolute.
We need to meet God half way. Although God is an absolute being, we are told that he delights in communicating with us, that he wants to share his life with us. He needs us as much as we need him and wants to see with our eyes, to feel with our hands, and to be us. Even Jesus can live again through our lives. We can open our life now, to tell doubt to be gone. “Get the heck out of here, I’m tired of this uncertainty. I want to have a higher experience. I don’t want to keep living with these recurring problems. I want to know God. I’m ready to be reborn.”
You have to want it so bad that you reach an absolute decision where your mind is dominated with the Spirit, and then God can share the common ground with you. When your decisions become absolute, the absolute God can communicate with you. He can share himself with you, he can become one with you. Jesus thaws “… the frozen forms of religion into the liquid liberties of enlightened sonship.” (UB 155:3.8) Ultimately truth replaces the assurance of faith just as faith transcended our belief.
Mota number 16 states, “You cannot perceive spiritual truth until you feelingly experience it, and many truths are not really felt except in adversity.” (UB 48:7.18)
Sometimes you may not have an instant response after reaching a total decision, but you can be sure that your angel and the Adjuster will start testing the sincerity of the decision. They want to know if you really mean it and are going to challenge it through experience, You will find yourself in a crisis where your new decision will be mobilized and you will have to experience for yourself the reality of your choice. If the decision is sincere, the Spirit of Truth will speak to you, sustain you in the conflict, and reveal the Father’s love to you.
The willingness to believe, the willingness to comprehend are the keys to Havona, Half-hearted and partial devotion is unavailing. There is no growth without psychic conflict and spiritual agitation. We contact God through service more than we do through meditation. But only through actual experience can we know of a certainty the reality of revelation and the nature of truth, and they become real as we integrate them into our lives.
There are seven jubilees which we experience in our universe career. The first jubilee can be experienced here and now in the flesh. It comes when we make a solemn oath of our willingness to survive. For an experience that ranks with surviving death, fusing with the Thought Adjuster, arriving on Havona, attaining Paradise, finding the Father, or being mustered into the Corps of the Finality, it must be an incredible experience. If you must ask yourself if you have experienced it, you probably haven’t.
Jesus can share his experience with us as well, an experience that is possible only on an isolated world such as ours — an experience of going from total isolation and darkness into supreme enlightenment in a single lifetime. Only agondonters who grow up on an isolated world without visible spiritual teachers can go from the lowest to the highest in this manner. This new revelation of the Supreme is available to us now. This knowledge of the sovereignty of Jesus as our Planetary Prince and Universe Sovereign is available to any of us for the desiring. Religious experience is not just for the prophets or saints, it is for normal human beings, jerks off of the strect like ourselves. Knowing God does not require that we drop dead and go to a higher sphere; God wants us to know him now.
Already many people are finding God and returning to the ordinary world as ambassadors of a higher spiritual kingdom. Can we truly appreciate the rare opportunity to be of service to God in the flesh on an isolated world? If we slip back into mere security, we’ll be kicking ourselves for thousands of years over the opportunity we missed while alive today in the era of an epochal revelation.
How can there be anything more important than finding God and sharing his love? Whatever it is that may be keeping you from this new experience, get rid of it. In the biblical sense, if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off. Find that thing that is keeping you from your total commitment and eliminate it from your life. The time has come to obliterate the dead center of indecision. You have to go for it. You have to want it. The desire is up to you.
The reality of the presence of God is not just an idea. I know that it is a reality. It is not a fantasy of the imagina- tion. It can be attained and had as our own personal experience. If you set your mind to it, there is no reason why you can’t have a new experience of God this moment.
In conclusion, I wish to share a prayer about the final rest that we will enjoy upon finding Paradise, “‘And there shall be no more sleep. The presence of God and his Son are before you, and you are eternally his servants; you have seen his face, and his name is your spirit. There shall be no night there; and they need no light of the sun, for the great Source and Center gives them light; they shall live forever and ever. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things have passed away.’” (UB 27:1.5)
— Jim McNelly