God is Never a Copilot

People will sometimes say, “God is my copilot.”

On the surface and in a western culture this may sound fine at first hearing but it is not biblical.

There are numerous examples in Scripture that point to a complete and utter submission to God as his follower. This puts God in the pilot’s seat and you back with the rest of the passengers of followers. You are either on the plane and therefore with Him or you are not on the plane and therefore outside God.

We are called to imitated Christ.

Eph. 5:1-2
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

As children follow after their parents, we are to do the same with Christ. This clearly puts Him before us. He is the one who has set and will set the direction of our lives as followers.

Philippians 1:21
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

In life, we are to live not simply like Christ but here we see “is” which can be also translated as “equals” (=). That’s how far we are supposed to go in our following after Him – to the very point that people look at us and inevitably see Christ. We should be invoking a double-take out of those who meet us.

If we die, we get to be with Him (the gain part) – by no means should this be taken as a call to suicidal behavior. This reflects that for the true Christian, death is not the end but the beginning of being in God’s presence!

Our savior, Jesus Christ, lives to God – our greatest example.

Romans 6:10-12
“The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.”

We are to be dead to the sin so common in this world and through Christ we are empowered to turn from this sin. This is not our power but it is from Him. What other thing is it we think we need to pilot ourselves toward besides His perfect example?

Exodus 20:3
“You shall have no other gods before Me.”

John 14:6-7a
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.””

Christ is very clear that there is no other way but through Him.

What is it we think we need to be a copilot for? The term “copilot” in this context reeks of pluralistic tendency and suggests that somehow God is just an add-on in life. After all, copilots are not an absolute necessity to flight (though they come highly recommended).

Faith in Christ, however, is a necessity. Not an add-on and not a legit option among many.

With all this in mind, the line should read: “God is my pilot.”

Gospels

Dictionary.com

noun

  1. the teachings of Jesus and the apostles; the Christian revelation.
  2. the story of Christ’s life and teachings, especially as contained in the first four books of the New Testament, namely Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
  3. (usually initial capital letter) any of these four books.
  4. something regarded as true and implicitly believed: to take his report for gospel.
  5. a doctrine regarded as of prime importance: political gospel.
  6. glad tidings, especially concerning salvation and the kingdom of God as announced to the world by Christ.
  7. (often initial capital letter) Ecclesiastical. anextract from one of the four Gospels, forming part of the Eucharistic service in certain churches.
  8. gospel music.

adjective

  1. of, relating to, or proclaiming the gospel or its teachings: a gospel preacher.
  2. in accordance with the gospel; evangelical.
  3. of or relating to gospel music: a gospel singer.

Origin: before 950; Middle English go(d)spell, Old English gōdspell (see good, spell2); translation of Greek euangélion good news; see evangel1

Related forms
non·gos·pel, adjective


Discussion/Explanation

As you can see, depending upon whether the word is singular, plural, or different context, the meaning of the term seems to vary.

The term by itself means as you see in the origins section – good news. The good news of the Scriptures would be the first 4 books of the New Testament (NT) which include Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Each of these books is named after their writers. Each tells the story of Christ. Matthew and Mark are the most alike. Luke has much in common with the first two, but it includes the perspective of a physician as Luke was what we call today a doctor.

These first 3 books of the Gospels are often called the Synoptic Gospels because of their commonalities.

John is unique. This becomes immediately obvious upon reading just the first few verses of John 1. You see an immediate emphasis on the deity of Christ and this continues throughout the book. As such, the story of Christ as God is what you read in John resulting in not all of the same events as in the first 3 being told.


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Epistles

Dictionary.com

noun
1. a letter, especially a formal or didactic one; written communication.
2. (usually initial capital letterone of the apostolic letters in the New Testament.
3. (often initial capital letteran extract, usually from one of the Epistles of the New
Testament, forming part of the Eucharistic service in certain churches.

Etymonline.com

partly from Old English epistol and in part directly from Old French epistleepistre (Modern French épitre), from Latin epistola “a letter,” from Greek epistole “message, letter, command, commission,” whether verbal or in writing, from epistellein “send to, send as a message or letter,” from epi “to” (see epi-) + stellein in its secondary sense of “to dispatch, send” from PIE *stel-yo-, suffixed form of root *stel- “to put, stand,” with derivatives referring to a standing object or place (see stall (n.1)). Also acquired in Old English directly from Latin as pistol. Specific sense of “letter from an apostle forming part of canonical scripture” is c. 1200.


Discussion/Explanation

In short, an epistle is a letter. Many of the New Testament (NT) books were originally sent as letters to provide instruction to a particular group of believers in the times after Christ. We have those letters (most, not all) collected into the NT portion of the Bible.

Books of the Bible that are also called “the Epistles” include:

Romans

1 & 2 Corinthians

Galatians

Ephesians

Philippians

Colossians

1 & 2 Thessalonians

1 & 2 Timothy

Titus

Philemon

Hebrews

James

1 & 2 Peter

1, 2, & 3 John

Jude

That leaves out the Gospels (Mark through John), Acts (which is effectively Luke 2), and Revelation (which is a prophetic work). In other words, almost all of the NT is made of epistles.

Most of these letters were written by Paul. Romans through Philemon are all clearly written by Paul – thereby called the “Pauline Epistles”. Hebrews through Jude are called the “General Epistles” as they are written by others, bearing the author’s name – with the exception of Hebrews.

Hebrews, to this day, is still debated as to who wrote it. There is sufficient evidence to believe that it was written by Paul but the text lacks the evidence to “hit the nail on the head” in regards to nailing down authorship definitively. Some of Paul’s contemporaries are argued for by some scholars and still others just leave the authorship as “unknown”. Regardless, it remains as one of the epistles that makes up the NT.

When next you read any of the Epistles, pay particular attention to the very beginning and end of that letter. You will find a wealth of information in these areas of the text as to who it was originally written for as well as surrounding contextual information.


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Theology – part 2

There are many subcategories or areas of study within theology – each with their own names. You will be seeing these as we progress through this series.

For now, I want to zero in on an issue that some quibble over on the topic and that is in regards to division.

Theological differences have created splits throughout redemptive history. In fact, they have been going on since before Christ came and God’s followers began to be called Christians. The question at the heart here – was this division bad/wrong?

There are those today who see arguments made in regards to theology, see the divisions or lines in the sand drawn, and then proceed to over-react and label anyone standing staunchly on a particular theological position as effectively in the wrong or the downfall of the faith.

Their concern isn’t completely unfounded, sadly, as there are those who like to “major on the minors” as we say and will break fellowship with other believers over the tiniest differences of position. We do need to be aware of our limited-ness as created finite beings; however, this does not mean that God made us incapable of understanding any of His truth.

In fact, there are those from within the ranks of Christ and from without that have a false notion that theology is therefore bad because of their experiences with individuals who did as I’ve described. They are right to be concerned and to point out that there is a problem but their conclusion misses the mark.

Division is NOT the enemy here. Confused?

Christ said of Himself that “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one can come to the Father except through me”. Jesus isn’t mincing words here. He makes it quite clear that there is only one right path that it is through Him. There are NO other ways. As such, a natural division forms – those who come to the Father through Christ and those who do not. In other words, there are two groups of people – those in the Lord, His followers, and those who believe they have a different way commonly referred to as unbelievers.

This is a very simple theology that is quite plain in the Scriptures and it is clear that God is making a division. What’s more, many of the divisions that have occurred within Christendom were the result of heresies – refusals to submit to God’s revealed truth as found in Scripture.

So does theology divide? You bet!

Is it supposed to divide? Again, absolutely!

The people who start shunning theology, as a result, are making a theological stance to avoid anything potentially divisive and the truly sad thing is they commonly take it to the point of denying Scripture or saying they cannot definitively know. Not much of a faith at that point as they can no longer truly stand on anything. Granted there are those who will try but their logic is self-defeating. Either they’ll inevitably drop their claimed position under God or they will come to see their error and begin standing on God’s truth. …or worse they’ll try to insist on falsehoods and call it God’s truth – heresy.

So in summation & to finish:

  1. We shouldn’t make the minor topics of Scripture into major points of contention such that we break fellowship with one another. (I do recognize that this can be difficult as some will argue over what is minor & major)
  2. We engage in theology (the study of God) as we learn more about Him. You are either doing this or you are not; you are either learning truth or falsehood.
  3. Christ Himself divides the world – division is an intent here. Don’t take my word for it. Check out the following: John 14:6, Hebrews 4:12, Matthew 10:34, Revelation 1:16…
  4. We should be patient with one another as we grow in our understanding of God and the faith. We are all of us on a journey before God. When in error we need to be willing to lovingly direct the one in error.
  5. There should be division where people or individuals insist on standing with any view that disregards God’s revealed Word to us found in Scripture.

 

(Click here to see part 3)


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