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Loose Him and Let Him Go September 17, 2019

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion, Uncategorized.
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There’s a story in the Bible about Jesus raising a man from the dead.  The man’s name was Lazarus and he was one of Jesus’ good friends.  When the moment came for the great miracle Jesus stood before the open tomb and, “cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’   And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”  

We who believe the Bible is God’s Word accept this as a true story of actual events.  It can also be seen as an illustration of what happens when we step out of the smothering embrace of the religious systems humans create to reach God and thus accept what God has done to reach us.  When we reject the bewildering straightjacket of rules and regulations humans inevitably devise, and accept that Jesus paid the price, finished the work and welcomes us home He stands at the tomb of our self-help religion and says, “Loose him, and let him go.” 

Once we’ve confessed with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believed in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead we’re made right with God.  And though Jesus has ascended to heaven He didn’t leave us alone.  Just before He left He said, “If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!”  Embracing that and allowing the Spirit of Truth to guide us is the ideal for those who follow Christ. 

Christ’s final command was to take this light to the world.  Instead we built thousands of competing lamps betraying the unity of the Gospel and confusing unbelievers with our multiplicity of slightly different presentations.  But then again it’s easier to make rules than it is to be sensitive to the Spirit of God.  Laws and regulations can appear to bring order out of chaos relieving the pressure of walking by faith in a faithless world.  But these endless rules cannot change us from the inside out.  To paraphrase Ben Franklin: if we seek order and security from religion we’ll never find either one of them. 

When following rules defines the state of our spiritual life we walk in constant fear of crossing the lines, of veering off even if it’s by mistake into the deception of sin.  This fear of deception won’t keep us from deception.  It’ll lead us into it.  We’re called to walk in faith not in fear.  So if we’re walking in fear we’ve already fallen for deception.  The Bible tells us that the only way we can avoid falling for deception is to embrace the Spirit of Truth.    

Think about it. When we open the blinds at night does darkness come rushing in?  No. When we throw open the blinds light rushes out into the darkness.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can’t overcome it.  If we’ll immerse ourselves in what God is calling us to, the unearned grace that flows from the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus, we’ll find the order and security we long for. 

Following God which is walking forward in the light can at first feel like walking backwards in the dark because we’re surrounded by and have been raised in a world that’s in revolt against its creator.  We must dedicate ourselves to following the voice of the Spirit of Truth who lives within us.  It’s vitally important that we learn to recognize His voice so we can recognize it out of all the voices in the world.  When the whole of creation is shaking He’s the rock solid foundation giving us the security of our salvation. 

Does this mean we should abandon all restraint and follow the voice in our head?  First we must know whose voice we’re following, than we must acknowledge that God wrote us a book to explain it all from beginning to end.  His voice will never contradict His Word and His Word shows us exactly how to live moment-by-moment.   

Paul put it this way, “It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. It’s obvious, isn’t it, that the law code isn’t primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever! They are contemptuous of this great Message I’ve been put in charge of by this great God.”  

Because we live in a fallen and evil world some laws and regulations must be imposed to maintain people’s safety to provide external order.  However, rules and regulations must never be imposed to bring about spiritual purposes because only the Spirit can birth spirit. 

The Bible is the operator’s manual for life on earth.  In it God has shared with us the greatest wisdom and the deepest insights.  In it we receive not only the instructions on how to live in this world but also how to be born-again as a glorious Spirit-birthed child of God. It’s not possible to put a price on God’s gift of His revelation.  But even the Bible can be used to weave a web of soul-strangling regulations keeping us imprisoned in the law. 

We must always remember the Bible was given to us to lead us to Christ not to take His place.  The tyranny of the law seeks to confine us in a prison of our own making.  But Christ stands at the door to our cell and says, “Loose him, and let him go.” 

One last thing: Having a Bible we can understand really helps us to understand the Bible.  In the New Testament where Christ quotes the Old Testament He quotes from the Septuagint, a translation in the common language of the day and not from the traditional Hebrew texts.  The New Testament itself was written in the Koine dialect of Greek.  This was the supra-regional form of Greek spoken and written by the people.  I’m not trying to share a lecture on biblical languages.  What I’m getting at is that Jesus and the Apostles used the language of the day so that everyone could understand what they were saying.  They didn’t use the fifty cent words and nuanced meanings of the intellectuals or the technical jargon of theologians.  They didn’t use a language that was no longer spoken or a dialect that was from another era.

Today there are many translations that render the Bible in the language we use every day at work, at the market, and at home without all the thees and thous which no longer form a part of our daily speech.  I’m not saying don’t use a Bible with those words if that’s what suits you I’m just saying use a Bible you can easily understand.  Personally my favorite is the Message but there are plenty of others.  Find the one you’re comfortable with and let it speak the Words of God into your spirit and breathe the Spirit of God into your life.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens 

 

Marley’s Chains May 29, 2019

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion, Uncategorized.
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To paraphrase scripture as presented in the Message we see that not only has the Church become Israel many have become spies only pretending to be Christians, who slipped in to find out just how free true Christians are who seek to pervert the freedom from religious legalism Christ gives us.  They want to build their own kingdoms and feather their own nests by bringing others into the same religious bondage they drag around like Marley’s chains through a life that reeks of the grave.

Now the paraphrase of Romans 2:17-29:

If you’re brought up Christian, don’t assume that you can lean back in the arms of your religion and take it easy, feeling smug because you’re an insider to God’s revelation, a connoisseur of the best things of God, informed on the latest doctrines! I have a special word of caution for you who are sure that you have it all together yourselves and, because you know God’s revealed Word inside and out, feel qualified to guide others through their blind alleys and dark nights and confused emotions to God. While you are guiding others, who is going to guide you? I’m quite serious. While preaching “Don’t steal!” are you going to rob people blind? Who would suspect you?  It is the same with adultery.  And it is the same with idolatry. You can get by with almost anything if you front it with eloquent talk about God and his law. The line from Scripture, “It’s because of you Christians that the outsiders are down on God,” shows it’s an old problem that isn’t going to go away.

Baptism, the ritual that marks you as a Christian, is great if you live in accord with God’s law. But if you don’t, it’s worse than not being baptized. The reverse is also true: The unbaptized who keep God’s ways are as good as the baptized —in fact, better. Better to keep God’s law unbaptized than break it baptized. Don’t you see: It’s not the submerging in water that makes a Christian. You become a Christian by who you are. It’s the submerging of your heart in God, not the water on your skin that makes you a Christian.  And the recognition comes from God, not legalistic critics.

Not only are we warned to avoid the legalism of religion we are specifically warned about false teachers and wolves disguised as Christians who seek to build their own kingdoms and lead others astray.

At the end of the book of Romans Paul warns us; One final word of counsel, friends. Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They’re only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren’t above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents.

And in Philippians 3:17-19 Paul tells us; Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.

I’m not knocking anyone’s beliefs or their traditions.  What I am doing is trying to warn those who want to follow Christ.  We can’t let anyone, anything, or the peer pressure of any community fool us into elevating a system of man over the freedom of Christ.  We should ask ourselves, “How can customs, traditions, holidays, and ceremonies transplanted from paganism to attract or mollify converts as faith in Christ was spread, sometimes by the sword, across barbarian Europe after the fall of Rome save us?”  Anything that obscures the fact that it’s by faith alone that we’re saved and by obedience alone we’re changed is something holding us back from becoming what God created us to be.

Once again turning to Paul, the Apostle of the heart set free, we find in Galatians a stunning rebuke of those trying to turn a living faith into a religious structure.  In Chapter three he says, “What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.

Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”  After faith comes we’re free.  Holding on to the structure of religion may make following easier but making ourselves a slave to it doesn’t set us free.  And Christ came to set us free.

Remember whatever is not of faith is sin and  no one can snatch us out of the hand of God but we can sure jump.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

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