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Here’s a Free Gift July 25, 2018

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion, Uncategorized.
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As a retired pastor I am still amazed at the number of people who came forward week after week repenting of sins and seeking salvation.  It was often the same people week after week.  No matter how much I preached it, no matter how much I taught it, so many never seemed grasp the idea that the cleansing of sins, salvation, and righteousness are free gifts given to us by our Father. 

People would cry, “I’ve been seeking after God for years.  I’ve laid at the altar and pleaded over and over for God to guide me, to save me, to help me, and nothing happened.  I leave the altar the same poor sinner as when I went up there.”  

My heart breaks for any and all who labor under such beggarly results. 

My mind would scream as my voice would say, “Salvation is a gift.  It isn’t necessary for you to go anywhere to get it.  You can find it anywhere.  It isn’t what you do, it’s what Jesus has done.  All there is to getting saved and to becoming a child of God is to receive something for free.  You can’t earn it by doing anything.” 

Most of us have been taught and have accepted that it was all about giving up, surrendering, and confessing sins.  It isn’t.  It is receiving Jesus Christ as our Savior and confessing Him as our Lord.  

I have had people say, “It can’t be that simple.” 

It is that simple.  It’s free and it’s available to everyone, everywhere, at all times. 

Some have asked, “But don’t we have to do something about our sins?” 

No, He has done everything that ever could be done.  And this isn’t some new teaching or revelation.  Our Father God told us about it through His prophet Isaiah long ago, “We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.  And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him.” 

This is speaking about all of us.  We have all gone our own way, done what we wanted without any reference to what God wanted us to do.  We were stubborn and willful yet the Father laid the penalty for all that on Jesus.  Notice there was nothing we had to do to save or help ourselves. 

So how do we get from knowing this in our heads to having this become life in our hearts?  John tells us, “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” 

Once again we do nothing except receive a free gift. 

John also tells us “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  This is the Father giving His Son Jesus as our substitute, as our Savior and all He asks is that we accept Him for what He said He is.  There is nothing for us to do except believe that He paid the debt owed for our sin and that He rose from the Dead to bring us life.  Or as Paul put it, “who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” 

God delivered Jesus to pay the punishment for our sins and He was raised from the dead when He had paid the full measure, and all we have to do is accept that.  We don’t have to do anything to earn what He has already paid for. 

Paul sums it all up well in the next verse when he says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Now besides salvation we have peace.  There is nothing standing between us and God we are at peace and still there is nothing for us to do is there? 

Paul tells us as clearly as can be how this all comes about and what the result is when he says, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 

Look at that a little closer: when we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord that should be the end of us going our own way and doing our own thing.  If you’re anything like I was before I did this that shouldn’t be too hard considering where our own choices and our own things have brought us.  In other words if I relinquish being the Lord of my life and give that place to Jesus I will no longer be separated from God and I will become His child, a member of His family with all the rights and responsibilities that means. 

If we do this what does the Word say?  It says that we will be saved.  When does it say we will be saved?  It happens as soon as we believe.  This isn’t pie-in-the-sky.  This is here and now reality.  What does the Word say we are when we believe?  It says we are now children of God.  Does that mean now or someday way over there in the future when we get to heaven?  No it says we have it now even if we don’t know fully what that means.  Or, as John put it, “now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 

How do we know all this is true?  How do we know that as soon as we confess and believe we are born again into a new life right here right now?  John tells us, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”  

Having learned this do you believe in the Name of Jesus? 

If you do then you have eternal life.  Eternal life is the nature of God.  That means you now have the nature of God.  You are no longer a fallen sinner who needs to beg forgiveness you are filled with the very nature of God.  Peter put it very clearly when he said, “by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”  That corruption is spiritual death and we have escaped it by receiving the divine nature: eternal life. 

So don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to get good enough to get saved, or to see your life change. None of us could ever be that good.  It isn’t about what we do.  It’s about what He has done.  It isn’t about who we are. It’s all about who He is.  He paid the price.  He purchased the freedom of all humans from the grip of Satan, and he extends that freely to all who believe He is who He said He is, that He rose from the dead and that He is the Savior of all who believe in Him. 

Come on.  It’s free and it’s yours for the taking.  Why wait another moment.   You can have it right here right now.  Confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead and it’s yours. 

Got it?  Done it? Now tell someone.  Shout it from the rooftops you are a child of God living an eternal life in fellowship with our Father.  Welcome to the family. 

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2018 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

 

Why is More Important Than How June 27, 2018

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion, Uncategorized.
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Does the immensity of creation ever overwhelm you?  Does the fact that when you lay your hand on the cold hard surface of a table there is actually more space than matter in the table numb your mind?  When you’re sitting on a beach letting the sand run through your fingers have you ever reflected on the thought that there are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on the earth?  Has the image of reality extending as deep through a microscope as it does through a telescope make you grasp for understanding when all you can possibly understand is that you can’t understand this immensity at all?

Science tries to explain it all.

Back in the 1890s Albert Abraham Michelson an American physicist known for his work on measuring the speed of light who received the Nobel Prize in Physics, becoming the first American to win the Nobel Prize in a science put it this way, “While it is never safe to affirm that the future of Physical Science has no marvels in store even more astonishing than those of the past, it seems probable that most of the grand underlying principles have been firmly established and that further advances are to be sought chiefly in the rigorous application of these principles to all the phenomena which come under our notice. It is here that the science of measurement shows its importance — where quantitative work is more to be desired than qualitative work. An eminent physicist remarked that the future truths of physical sciences are to be looked for in the sixth place of decimals.”

In other words the deepest thinkers came to the conclusion there was nothing new to be discovered in physics. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.

Since then the theories of Special Relativity and Quantum Mechanics have shown us that we know a lot less than we thought we did.  I guess it took a genius like Einstein to discover that we aren’t as smart as we think we are.   And yet most of us who figured that out by about eighth grade continue to listen to these geniuses when they tell us they can figure out everything else.

And while science is pretty good at explaining the “how” of things they always leave out the “Why.”

They can tell us there was a BIG BANG (the “Let there be” experience for believers) they even try to tell us how there was BIG BANG, but they never even attempt to tell us why there was BIG BANG.

And to my mind and my heart the why is more important than the how.

Science is great at identifying things.  They are passable at explaining things.  Yet, when it comes to this ultimate question of why, science never utters a sound.

Look at life.  Scientists can identify it.  They can quantify it.  They have attempted to tell us how it became so diversified.  They now even say they can create it.  But they never tell us why there is life.

Have you ever wondered why?

Life is the essence of the universe.  Life is the ultimate goal and it’s the meaning of everything.

The Bible is the why book.  It is the operating manual for life.  It not only tells us how … God created everything.  It tells us why … as a dwelling place for the crown of His creation … humanity.

Why?

In the Old Testament God is specifically called the Father of the nation of Israel (Deut 32:6 ; Isa 63:16 ; 64:8 ; Jeremiah 3:4 Jeremiah 3:19 ; 31:9 ; Mal 1:6 ; 2:10) or the Father of certain individuals (2 Sam 7:14 ; 1 Chron 17:13 ; 22:10 ; 28:6 ; Psalm 68:5 ; 89:26) fifteen times. At times the father imagery is present although the term “Father” is not used (Exod 4:22-23 ; Deut 1:31 ; 8:5 ; 14:1 ; Psalm 103:13 ; Jer 3:22 ; 31:20 ; Hosea 11:1-4 ; Mal 3:17).

In the intertestamental literature the term is also used.  In the Apocrypha     (Wis 2:16; 14:3; Tob 13:4; Sir 23:1, 4; 51:10); and in the Pseudepigrapha (Jub 1:24; 19:29; 3 Macc 5:7; 6:8).

The teaching of the Fatherhood of God takes a decided turn with Jesus, for “Father” was His favorite term for addressing God. It appears on His lips some sixty-five times in the Synoptic Gospels and over one hundred times in John.

Because of Jesus’ use of this metaphor, it is not surprising that the rest of the New Testament also emphasizes the Fatherhood of God. In the Pauline letters God is described as “Father” over forty times. It occurs in blessings (Rom 1:7 ; 1 Cor 1:3), doxologies (Rom 15:6), thanksgivings ( 2 Cor 1:3 ; 1 Thess 1:2-3), prayers (Col 1:12), exhortations (Eph 5:20), and creeds (1 Cor 8:6 ; Eph 4:6). For Paul this fatherhood is based not so much on God’s role in creation but rather on the redemption and reconciliation he has made available in Jesus Christ. This is why Paul refers to “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 15:6 ; 2 Cor 1:3 ; 11:31). It is through the work of Christ that God invites us to call him “Abba, Father.” It is through Christ that grace and peace have resulted and we have become God’s children (Rom 8:12-16 ; 1 Peter 1:3-4 ; 1 John 3:1).

This is not to say that God is male.  He is spirit and as such is neither male nor female.  It is not to denigrate motherhood.  For who among us would desire to live in a world without a mother’s love.  When God is referred as a father, this is simply the use of a metaphor in which he is likened to a kind and loving father.  And if we were to tip our hat to the political correctness of the day by avoiding the metaphor of father as a description and designation for God we would lose sight of the fact that Jesus chose this as His metaphor to address God and that He taught this as the metaphor by which His disciples should address God.

It also loses sight of the continuity established by the use of this metaphor with those who have called God “Father” over the centuries. These include the disciples; the earliest congregations (Rom 8:15 ; Gal 4:6); the earliest church councils (“I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth “); and Christian churches all over the globe who over the centuries have prayed together “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.”

Because of God’s Fatherhood the heart of the Eternal Father longed for children.  This is why He created Adam and Eve and gave them the power to go forth and multiply.  Unfortunately they sinned and fell short of the glory of God.  There was no way back.  They had surrendered their place as God’s companion, the gardener of Eden to Satan and were cast out.

But God in His infinite mercy and love made a way back.

He sent Jesus to live a sinless life and then die as the sacrifice, the payment for all our sins so that all who have faith in Him can be counted as righteous and thus re-united with God.

It’s all summed up in this; if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

We are born lost and rejected, children of sin and children of the devil.  If we turn away from the world and accept Jesus as our Savior we are born again and we become children of God in Christ.

This is the why.  All of creation is for one reason and that is to bring children to God and fulfill the Father’s love that is His heart.

So science may try to tell us how but you see the why is more important than the how.

A short story to highlight the what, the where, and the how:

A scientist says to God, “You’re not so much we have figured out how to make life in our laboratories.”

God says, “Oh, you have.”

The scientist, swelling with pride then says, “Come on let’s have a contest and see who can make life the quickest and the best.”

God smiles and says, “All right.”

God reaches down and picks up a hand full of dirt and starts molding it gently.

The scientist adds some chemicals to a couple of test tubes and starts mixing them back and forth.

God looks over at the scientist and says, “Hey!  Get your own dirt.”

From atom to Adam God has done it all.  So if you find yourself hung up in the how just remember the why is more important than the how.  And if you find yourself questioning God just remember, “He’s the Father that’s why.”

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2018 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

 

 

A Soap Opera That Never Ends Will Finally End Then What? June 6, 2018

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion.
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All my life I’ve been in love with History.  I learned at an early age that if you love reading you can live a thousand lifetimes and if you’re wise you have the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others.  I’ve certainly experienced the former while unfortunately not doing much of the latter.

My love of History metastasized into a love of Political Science.  These two intellectual “Loves of my Life” have given me countless hours of joy lost in reading, mired in thinking, and entertained by speculation.

Now as I enter what are called the golden years, though I believe they might be made of brass, having spent several decades teaching both subjects I feel a need to share some insights not on particulars but instead on something that is usually disparaged and often dismissed, generalities.

Though most have never heard of him many can misquote the writer and philosopher George Santayana who is reported to have said, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”  What he actually said was, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  There is a subtle difference there for learning and remembering are two different things.  This sounds so wise.  It even appears self-evident.  And it apparently, at least to my observation, it’s an oxymoron.  After a daily study of History for sixty years the only lesson I’ve learned is that humanity never learns the lessons of History.

In my classes I tell my students that History is nothing more than the stories of people just like us who lived at different times in what were essentially different worlds.  They had the same bodies and minds that we do.  They felt the same emotions.  They lived, they died, and now it is our turn.  I also tell them that if we don’t learn anything from History that helps us in our everyday life we might as well read fiction.

I know that most people study History because they have to.  I know most people find it boring.  As an exercise in memorizing dates, names, and facts to be later regurgitated on a test and forgotten I can well understand the boring part.  There are so few who can see through to the stories making History so exciting.  So few can lose themselves in the narrative, imagine themselves on the deck of that ship, in the palace with the king, or in the hut with that peasant.  They only see dates, and names, and facts. BORING!

And Political Science who cares about that?  I tell my students who don’t care about it at all that it’s the science of who gets what and if they don’t care about it someone else will and then they get to make the decisions.  So what do you want?  You decide.

Now after decades spent following politics through the lens of History attempting to share with others the insights gained I must tell you all that it’s essentially the equivalent of an ant studying a castle made of sand.  He spends his life telling other ants how wondrous the castle is, how imposing its turrets are, how deep its moat, and how formidable its defenses then the waves come in the castle is gone and the ants have disappeared.

I recently taught a class on American History from 1877 until the present to a class full of millennials.  We used a textbook that was more than a thousand pages long.  It wasn’t until the last few pages that we reached anything the students could remember as having happened since they became aware of the world around them.  That last twenty minutes of the semester really had an impact.

To most people History begins the day they’re born.  For all of us it ends the day we die.  And Political Science ends up being the science of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

In the 4.5 billion years of this planets existence, in the fifteen billion years since the Big Bang the history of humanity doesn’t even take up the last few pages.  It would fill perhaps part of a sentence, a few words such as……………. All things will pass only those things done in Christ will last.

That’s it.  The sum total of all I have learned, all I have discovered, and all I will ever know.  No Christ no peace.  Know Crist know peace.  For those who seek to gain their life will lose it and those who lose their life for Christ will find it.  He is the truth, the light, and the life and without Him there is no truth, or light, or life.

Stop fighting a war that’s already been won.  Stop spinning your wheels running in a race that goes in a circle.  Step out of the darkness and into the light and let this be the first day of the rest of your life.

The stories of those who have gone before teach us nothing if they don’t lead us to Christ.  The politics of this world are an endless loop, a tempest in a teacup, a soap opera that never ends.  It may be engaging to watch like a slow motion train wreck.  It may be exciting, exhilarating, even entertaining but for most of us in a hundred years no one will even know we were here.  In a thousand years no one will remember the compelling arguments of today, the all-important bitter debates about whether we place the deck chair here or there.  Yet in an eternity from now heaven will know whether or not we acknowledged Christ as our Savior, for if we confess with our lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead we shall be saved.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2018 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

 

 

 

What Easter Means to Me March 28, 2018

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion.
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I look at my life before Christ and I am struck by the fact that it doesn’t seem like my life.  I was born again on Palm Sunday in 1980.  I was thirty years old.  That has been thirty-eight years ago.  When I was first saved I mourned for all the years I had spent wasting my life trying to do it on my own.  I remember praying and asking God to give me as many years to serve Him as I had wasted denying Him.  Now, that is just one of the answered prayers in my life.

From the first day I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior I have done have never denied Him and standing on the faith He has given me I never will.  Have I always served Him?  Yes.  Have I always served Him well?  He will be the judge.  Have I ever fallen short of what He would have me be?  Yes, constantly, consistently, and often consciously.  Just as the greatest sinner and the greatest saint I will stand or fall based on His grace.

In my years before Him I lived my life into a dead-end of self-seeking, selfishness, and self-loathing.  Though I denied He even existed He reached out to me.  Though I took His name in vane he loved me.  Though I followed hedonism into every type of sin He washed me as clean as a new born baby, as clean as a new blanket of snow.

Jesus delivered me from alcoholism, from drug addiction, from hatred, from envy, and shame.  He gave me a new life complete with a new wife, a son, a healthy mind, a healthy body, and a new name.

What He has done for me He will do for you.  He loves you as much as He has ever loved anyone.  Your name is written on His hand and no one not sin, not hatred, not failure, and not the devil can snatch you out of His hand.

Trust in Him.  Reach out to Him and He will reach out to you.  He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Being God He did not grasp at that but instead emptied Himself and became a man.  Living a perfect life He was sacrificed for the children of Adam paying the price for every sin and opening the way through faith to become the children of God.  For if we will confess with our lips that Jesus is Lord an believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead we will be saved.

And salvation is not just pie in the sky.  It is not just a far off reward for a life of toil and pain.  Salvation is a right now new life, a life where we will never be alone for He will send His Spirit to live within us.

Don’t let anything hold you back when Jesus wants to hold you up.

This is what Easter means to me life from death and life evermore.  An old song sums it up rather well:

Living he Loved Me
Dying he saved me
Buried He carried my
My sins far away
Rising he justified me
Freed me forever
One day he’s coming back Glorious day

Have a blessed Easter.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2018 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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