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.”

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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Justification

Stepping away from the “study of” terms we’ve had up to now, we get to the next term in the series – justification.

Dictionary.com
noun

1. a reason, fact, circumstance, or explanation that justifies or defends:
His insulting you was ample justification for you to leave the party.

2. an act of justifying : The painter’s justification of his failure to finish on time didn’t impress me.

3. the state of being justified.
4. Also called justification by faith. Theology. the act of God whereby humankind is made or accounted just, or free from guilt or penalty of sin.

5. Printing. the spacing of words and letters within a line of type so that all full lines in a column have even margins both on the left and on the right.


Etymonline.com

late 14c., “administration of justice,” from Late Latin iustificationem (nominative iustificatio), noun of action from past participle stem of iustificare “act justly toward; make just” (see justify). Meaning “action of justifying, showing something to be just or right” is from late 15c. Theological sense “act by which the soul is reconciled to God” is from 1520s. Meaning “act of adjusting or making exact” in typography is from 1670s.


Discussion/Explanation

Why would such a legal sounding term be involved with Christianity and the Bible?

To answer this we need to look no further than the books of Genesis and Romans. In Genesis, we have the record of the fall of man where the first humans committed the first sin against God. This cursed mankind with the corruption of sin which impacts us to this day. We stood condemned (in a legal sense) before a just God.

Justification is an important element. God is so holy that our good actions, thoughts, etc. are mere rags by comparison. God is so holy (set-apart) that many early followers feared they would die when in just a fraction of His presence. Our sinfulness has made us imperfect, corrupted beings and it is only through His light and truth that we know to be otherwise.

Christ’s work on the cross brought us salvation from our sin. Any who truly believe in Him can be saved from their sin and no longer face condemnation, thereby becoming justified before God – accounted just. This status is brought to us by Christ alone.

Two chapters come to mind from Romans that specifically talk about justification. These are Romans 4 and 5. Three particular verses would be Romans 4:25 ; 5:16 & 18. These would be a good place to start for further reading and study.

 


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Sola

The 5 solas of the Protestant Reformation are originally written in Latin and each indicate an aspect in the Christian faith with the world “alone” attached, or “sola”.

In my previous post, I addressed the topics of indulgence and salvation as it relates to the Catholic church and the Protestant Reformation. If you have not yet read that, check it out.

In that post, I did a quick run through of these alones and I will expound on them more now.

Sola Scriptura – scripture alone, or “by scripture alone”.

I start with scripture alone as it is by turning to the Scriptures, God’s recorded word to us, that we find the other four alones. Before the reformation, those who would follow Christ could not read the Bible in their own language. Everything about the faith had to be mediated through the priests. Much of the church liturgy (practice) was in Latin which the typical church attender did not understand. As a result, they were left with whatever they were told.

When you compare this time to the early days of Christianity, it becomes clear just how closed biblical information was. In the days of the apostles, the letters that make up much of the new testament were read aloud for the people to hear word-for-word. They were then copied and spread around. Fast forward to rule under the Catholic church and this just didn’t happen beyond the occasional verse or short passage reading. Even much of the schooling people were given didn’t have them interact with the Scriptures.

The Protestant Reformation changed this as you see a sort of “back to the Bible” approach as leading individuals read the Scriptures and then translated the Scriptures so that others could read. These acts were a major stab at the power base of the Roman Catholic church and it proved to be just the first domino in the unraveling of that power.

Sola Gratia – grace alone, or “by grace alone”.

Each of the sola can have their own book on it alone. Sola gratia is no exception. Upon digging into the Scriptures, it became apparent to the reformers that grace is at the root of our salvation. Grace was not something the Catholic church at the time denied but they did, and do, emphasized grace + works in salvation. In this way, the Catholic church could acknowledge God’s involvement but still claim their mediator role as they administered means of additional grace through works (sacraments, observances, etc.) and the benefits of good works.

In grace alone, we see that it is God’s grace extended to use that regenerates our hearts to turn to Him. No power of any church can do this. It is a work of God alone. One can even begin to talk about this grace’s irresistible quality but that is a topic for another time (I did say you can write entire books on this).

This sola may not sound like such a big deal; however, the Scriptures put grace as something given through God. Yes, observing biblical sacraments like communion can also impart grace but this still ultimately comes from God. While the church is a tool of sort in the dispersement of His grace, it is never the source. This sets the stage for the next.

Sola Fide – faith alone, or “by faith alone”.

Ephesians 2:8 directly connects grace and faith to one another. God’s grace extended to us is what allows us to then have faith in Him. God’s grace is what takes root and changes us such that we are able to respond to Him in faith. Notice once again, there’s no authoritarian church involved here. All that is necessary is the hearing of God’s Word (Scripture alone) and the working of God’s grace (Grace alone) in us such that we can respond in faith (Faith alone) and receive salvation.

Not only was the Roman Catholic church trying to keep a monopoly on people’s souls but they had to take it further and bring in purgatory in order to reinforce the sort of good works they wanted. You already had to go to a priest to even have a chance of hearing God’s gospel. Time had definitely turned spiritually dark which is why the Protestant Reformation occurred in the first place. God wasn’t going to let such an order stand which is why you see people like Martin Luther, Zwingli, and John Calvin (among others) come along to change things. The conflicts that came were the result of the disruption brought to the power order that could have been avoided if the Roman Catholic church truly sought to seek God’s truth rather than its own position of power.

Solus Christus – Christ alone, or “through Christ alone”.

As if the previous alones weren’t enough, we see that Scripture speaks of all of this being possible through Jesus Christ alone. He alone paid the price for our sin making it possible for us to be marked clean before a just God. There is nothing we can add to this saint-hood we now claim if we believe in Him.

Scripture is clear that the one work of Jesus Christ is what has freed us to go out and do good things in God’s name. We have no need to lash ourselves or do any sort of other torment to ourselves to be considered saints in the Lord’s eyes, unlike what Catholicism would have you believe. There is nothing more we can add to Christ’s comprehensive work on the cross.

Soli Deo Gloria – God’s glory alone, or “glory to God alone”.

I get the idea that this one is often overlooked and I can remember it not being a big point in my early Christian education as a kid.

Catholicism would have you aim to build a resume of pious deeds that make you seem like a Godly person and that would bring the church glory. By extension, this would bring God glory, but in reality it amounts to little more than falling back to the errors of the pharisees. Why? Because in Catholicism, it ultimately becomes “look at how good I am for the Lord” when it should be “I am nothing compared to the surpassing glory of Christ my God”.

In Solus Christus, the one work of Christ has freed us from our previous bondage to sin. We are now empowered to do what please Him. This brings Him glory. What’s more, God gets even more glory by the works we do in His name as it points people back to Him.

Now, I know some will say – that’s all well and good, but what do I have to gain by bringing God glory? While I’ll admit I believe there to be a bit of selfishness underlying such a question, it isn’t bad to answer it. The answer is fairly simple – we find our greatest fulfillment in our lives when we bring God glory.

 

I think I’ll leave it there. Please feel free to use the resources below to read and learn further. Also, the affiliated Awaken ministry now has a Facebook page. This will be the first post that will also update on the page. Until next time!

Sources & Further Reading:

http://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/the-five-solas-of-the-protestant-reformation.html

http://www.theopedia.com/five-solas

http://www.fivesolas.com/5solas.htm

https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/qna/fivesolas.html

http://www.faithbaptistorlando.com/resources/sermon/2017-10-22/the-five-solas-of-the-reformation-solus-christus