Bowden, whose 377 Division I wins rank second all-time, gave the Tampa-area Idlewild congregation the same advice he gave his assistant coaches at FSU upon his retirement after the Gator Bowl in January: Never be afraid to speak out for Christ.
As a young boy, Bowden walked forward during an invitation and joined the church. But it wasn't until he held his first assistant coaching position at his alma mater, Howard University (now Samford University), that he understood salvation is by God's grace alone. Bowden remembered a ministry student at the school explaining to him that heaven is a place for sinners who have been saved. Before then, Bowden mistakenly thought good people went to heaven and bad people went to hell.
With an intense but friendly look, Bowden said he finally understood all those years ago that individuals are saved by grace, through faith and trust in Christ alone. He said he realized what Jesus meant in Matthew 9:12 when He said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick."
"Darn right, I'm a sinner! I haven't shot anybody lately. I haven't stolen anything lately. But you think things you shouldn't think and you say things you shouldn't say," Bowden said.Citing Psalm 8:5 and Hebrews 2:7, Bowden said God created everyone with a purpose, and their job on earth is to find that purpose and live it out."
"Bowden recounted a story about Ronald Reagan a preacher friend once told him. Reagan, then-governor of California and a presidential candidate, invited a group of ministers from all over the country to meet with him in Washington, D.C., in hopes of earning their support.
Bowden's friend, the late D. James Kennedy, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, had the opportunity to ask Reagan how he would answer if he died that day and God asked him why he deserved to be in heaven.
Reagan reportedly answered that he did not deserve to go to heaven, but that he would be admitted entrance to heaven on the basis of John 3:16 and his own personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Bowden said a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the answer to the question of why anyone will get to heaven. "That's the answer to the exam. When we stand before the pearly gates, I done gave you the answer," Bowden said.
I just thought it was kind of interesting. One of the people whose writings we've been discussing recently, Dr D. James Kennedy, although he entered the Church Triumphant nearly three years ago is still in the news today and probably will be for some time to come.