Who is driving?
Solomon wrote in Proverbs 16:9, â€œIn his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.â€ The main theological battles are carried on by bumper stickers today. I am sure that most of you have seen the hindmost part of a vehicle moving away from you with the sacred writ on the back bumper, â€œGod is My Co-Pilotâ€ with the word â€œCoâ€ marked out. The Question of the day: in our life should God the Pilot, Co-Pilot, or navigator?
During my really stupid years when I thought I would have more time for ministry if I ran my own automobile dealership, Melba and I were flying to Fort Worth to pick up four new Simca autos. We would drive and tow bar them back to Aztec in northwestern New Mexico. Linda Dawn was traveling with us on this trip. We were in a â€œpuddle jumperâ€ airplane, a part of the Transâ€“Tree top line. We were buckled in, and the plane began to move. Linda looked up at a solid wall in front of us, no sign of a pilot; She cried out, â€œWho is driving this thing anyway?â€ It was her first flight, and she was all intent on seat belts and the like; suddenly the plane was moving and she saw no pilot. We calmed her fears, and she settled down to enjoy her first high in the sky trip.
Her question is a good one today when it comes to our lives as a Christian. We know who is directing the sinnerâ€™s world and their lives, but how about the saints? In Rally racing, the winner is most often the guy or gal with the best navigator. With all the twists and turns in the road, traffic, and unplanned detours, it is a navigator that is keeping the driver/pilot informed a hundred yards to a quarter mile ahead of exits, turns, problems, so the driver is alert to traverse the trouble area safely and at speed. Pilots in B-27s in WWII lived and died by the talent of their navigator. The pilot has his hand on the stick and controls; the co-pilot is double checking everything that is happening, and ready to step in at a minuteâ€™s notice. But somewhere behind the pilot is a person with all the instruments, radio control, maps, that is plotting the way toward a determined destination. The more cloudy and stormy the weather, the more the pilot and co-pilot are dependent on the navigator to get them to the destination and back home.
So it is with some little experience in Road Rallies, flying, that I suggest that in our Christian life as we fly through the fog of satanic flack, stormy weather, and constantly on our way to an unknown and not yet experienced destination, we need God to be our navigator. He has all the tools to guide us in safely, sometimes on not much more that the WWII song, â€œComing in on a wing and a prayer.â€ Sometimes we get all shot up as well, and we are flying against all odds, and we canâ€™t afford to make an error en route or destination. We are indeed coming in on just one wing and lots of prayer. We need a God that â€œdetermines our steps.â€
I am sure that many of my predestinationalist friends would suggest, â€œJust move over, and let the Lord Drive. He knows where he wants you to go and how to get there. Donâ€™t sweat it; just get out of the way.â€ That sounds so holy and sanctified, but is that what God has in mind? Such a program has us being not much more in this life than a marionette or puppet. God is pulling our strings, and it is His hand that is up the back of our shirt turning our head and causing our jaw to flap. Is that how an image bearer responds or works in harmony with his creator? I think not. I realize that I am perhaps more Armenian in Theology than Calvinistic, but I am still a blend of the two. That is where I see the Bible is on such theology; not hard right wing or hard left wing, but a balanced harmony of the two major evangelistic theologies that help us relate to God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
To begin with, I really believe that we were created by God on the sixth day of creation, and were created in the image of God. We were created with all of His emotions, we were created with creating ability, and we were created with unlimited potential. Go back to Genesis 11, the Lord God, and Jesus Christ came down to watch the rebuilding process after the flood of Noahâ€™s day, and these are the words of God. â€˜â€œIf as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.â€™ So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That was why it was called Babelâ€”because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.â€ This was one of several on line corrections that God made in the navigating of His image bearers.
The second serious correction was that God shortened the days of manâ€™s years from 900 plus to one hundred and twenty (Genesis 6:3). He reduced this to â€œthree score and ten and if by strength, four score (80) years.â€ Then he confused the one worldwide language to dialects so that there was confusion of language and you could not talk with most folks and understand them. The language groups found each other and joined into clans or tribes and settled into areas where they could develop as a family-tribe-nation. That process developed races and slowed down cultural development and general orneriness.
The first serious correction that he made in man, after the days of creation, was when after Adam and Eve fell for the serpentâ€™s ploy, God that had ordained work as a way of life for Adam and Eve, now cursed the ground so that Child birth would come with labor pains, and that there would be painful toil sweat and tears in our labor, and physical death would now be a reality as we grew old, â€œBy the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will returnâ€ (Genesis 3:19).
Now, with the corrections in place, man began his long journey toward Calvary and the open tomb on Easter Morning. A trip with a few navigational maps that God called prophecy. But, it was a trip through dense fog and over harsh deserts. Man and woman arrived at the exact destination, at exactly the right time, not because they were such good pilots, but because the navigational tools were exact and right on target. In fact, the four thousand or more years of the sons of Noah piloting their own paths, they were on the wrong road more often than not. They had a very hard time listening to the navigator. One of the next on line corrections would be a result of the New Birth, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Until this time, the Holy Spirit was a specially designated presence, that came by holy anointing with oil and a charismatic selection that was directed by the navigator from heaven, and never universal to all his children. Now, it was to be different.
John 14:23-26 gives us the vision of how it is to be now for the image bearers; â€œJesus replied, â€˜If anyone loves me, he will obey my teachings. My Father will come to him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teachings. These words you hear are not my own, they belong to the Father who sent me. All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit. whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.â€ No longer will man be traveling by the seat of his pants, navigation as it had been for the past thousands of years. Now he and she will have an opportunity to obey the Father and Jesus, and have their special portion of love, and have their indwelling 24/7/365Â¼. This is why in Matthew 28 that Jesus could say, â€œWe will be with you till the end of the age.â€ We are in total spiritual contact through our indwelling of the holy trinity. The Holy Spirit is to teach us all things and remind us of all things so we can tune in for constant directions and in flight assistance. This is Godâ€™s plan for his born again image bearer.
Now, letâ€™s check out why a very proud father does not do it all himself, but plans for his children to mature and develop into partners with God to accomplish the work that the Father wants done.
We know that we are not saved by Good works, but we are saved to do Good works. Ephesians 2:10, â€œWe are Godâ€™s workmanship (masterpieces), created in Christ Jesus (Born again as we are recreated by Christ), to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.â€ Now understand that it was only to His created Image bearers, that God provided salvation, prophecy, â€œthings angels longed to look into,â€ and gave free will as partners. A part of that Image bearer thing is that we have the ability to create beautiful music and literature of all kinds. We can plan and design vehicles that travel on earth, sea and in the air. We have transplanted hearts, learned to grow new organs, and heal diseases, and correct imperfections in our bodies. We go back to Godâ€™s estimation of our abilities, â€œThere is nothing hidden from them that they can not do.â€
I have been at a number of award ceremonies where my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren as well as my married in-laws were recognized for superior ability and were awarded honors and gifts. I felt as blessed and honored as I stood for my progeny, as if I were getting the award. They are my children. Time and again, I was congratulated for the accomplishments that my progeny accomplished, for only one reason, they are my children. We are told that when we struggle through hardships and reach a goal of accomplishment, that God gets the glory and honor. In fact, one of the things we are constantly told in the Bible to remember is to give God the glory, not to hog it all for ourselves. If He were doing all the driving, and we were just tagging along like a puppet or marionette, God could get no glory from our accomplishments.
God uses our accomplishments to attract sinners to his team. He uses our accomplishments to make us a part of His team that works together to do His work. Ephesians 4:11-16, â€œIt was He who gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers. To prepare Godâ€™s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach the unity of faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is Christ. From him the whole body, joined together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.â€
You have to understand, that after we are made disciples, baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we are taught to do all things now that we have the indwelling of the holy trinity (Matthew 28). Ephesians four tells us how God developed teachers and mentors to teach us all things, and to have direction in putting everything into practice so that we can build up the body so that â€œeach PART CAN DO ITS WORK.â€ That doesnâ€™t sound like the Father wants to do all the work Himself and have us stand over in the corner as He exhausts himself. Yes, God does get tired, that is why on â€œthe seventh day of creation He rested.â€ As well as an example to us. Remember, we have the same emotions. Understand that God doesnâ€™t let infants and children drive their own life, anymore than we let them drive cars on our highway. As we grow up into Christ that is the head, we are allowed to do the work that God has planned for us since before the foundations of the earth were laid.
An even greater reason for God to share the work and driving with us is that when you are God, and omnipotent, nothing is any harder than anything else. God can, and does, at times do everything, and we call it often a miracle; and it is for us, but not for God. In a world controlled by Satan, the prince of the Air, and the vast majority of the inhabitants being secularists or worshippers of pagan religions, there is very little glory for God to accomplish the impossible. The world will just call it a coincidence. The world is not much moved by coincidence or strange happenings, blind luck they claim. But when they see a fellow human being doing something spectacular and seemingly impossible, they sit up and take notice. He places it in the heart of men to reach the lost in the jungle, missionaries on Palm beach at the head waters of the Amazon in Ecuador. They fly in against all advice, they make the contact and they make the plans, fly the airplane in during the only month of the year that there was enough river beach to land the plane and take off. They planned their trip; God was guiding them and preparing to stagger a world. They arrived, allowing the savages to spear them to death even when they were armed with revolvers, saying, â€œWe are ready to meet God, and they are not; we will not kill them in self defense.â€ Then He directs one of their wives, a son, a daughter and a sister in to witness to the murders; in the process winning the majority of the tribe and all of the murderers to Christ. The man, that speared a very white and blonde little girlâ€™s father, baptizes her and the pilotâ€™s son, and then becomes the grandfather to the dead missionaryâ€™s children. When that happens the world of pagans sit up and declares, â€œThat is not natural;
Couldnâ€™t happen; this is too weird.â€ Then Godâ€™s message is listened to, the movies make the main line theaters, and a world pays attention. God knows what he is doing. God didnâ€™t send Jim Elliot, Nick Saint and the others to their death by driving the plane and giving them no choice. They made the decision and Romans 8:28 was, is, and will always be, true, â€œAnd we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.â€ God gave them the free will to choose this day whom they would serve, and they chose Him in a world quaking way, and millions have been reached for Christ because of it. Elisabeth Elliott, Steve Saint, and others have gone on to shatter Satanâ€™s cries â€œthat all Christians are hypocrites, and all they want is money.â€ When God lets his ordinary, garden-0variety, saints do the driving, and he navigates, earth shattering things happen. A naked spear chucker gets taught to pull teeth and do dental work on another pagan that is sitting on a portable dental chair that is carried in on the back of the spear chucker. That spear chucker was taught emergency dentistry by a short term missionâ€™s dentist from Eastside Christian Church in Kentucky. Now this spear chucker not only relieves dental problems of ancient enemies in their neck of the world, but flies halfway around the world and teaches native ministers in the mountains of India how to relieve the dental pain of pagans of another religion in their villages where no dentist would venture. The secularists and unbelievers shake their heads in unbelief, saying, â€œThat is just not natural, it is weird, never heard of the like.â€ Now, understand that God could, with a flick of his finger, or a twinkling of his eye, from a million miles away, relieve the pain of the tooth gone bad. But who would know? Or who would care if an old man or woman walking a village street suddenly had no more tooth pain that day. God knows now to make the greatest impact; he lets his disciples do the driving, and he navigates.
You can ask how does He navigate? God will navigate us into areas of extreme danger, impossible problems, and places with seemingly no way out. What to do? It is not time to bail out; we go to the communications with the navigator. Ephesians 3: 20, 21, â€œNow to Him that is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through out all generations, for ever and ever, Amen.â€ Now for those that felt that all miracles ended with the death of the last apostle, notice that the promise of immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work in us, is to continue through out ALL generations for ever and ever.
Allowing us to be the driver is good training for the world to come, where we will be judges and kingdom workers for God. A lot of people that have read Psalm 23 and John 3:16 and think they know the Bible have a fuzzy idea that heaven will be cloud couches, harps and wings. We are going to be very busy in heaven doing the things that we are trained here to do. The things we have experience and aptitude toward. Proverbs tells parents to â€œtrain up their children in the way they should go (the Hebrew says in the way they are bend, that is in the way they have aptitude) and when they are old they will not depart from itâ€ (Proverbs 22:6). As much as this is a good idea about moral and spiritual maters, it is speaking about occupational matters; donâ€™t attempt to make an accountant out of a grease lovinâ€™ natural born mechanic. Our heavenly father follows his own advice.
We are given a hint of the future in I Corinthians 6:1-6, â€œIf any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints. Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge the angels? How much more the things of life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint even men of little account in the church! (The least in the kingdom is better than the wisest of the secular world) I say this to your shame. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother goes to law against another in front of unbelievers.â€ In other words, God expects the saints, even the least of the believers, to be in the driver seat here on earth in these matters. We no longer go to the high priest and the Urim and Thummim or cast lots (Exodus 28:30). Each born again believer has more direct contact with the triune God than the high priests of old. We are expected to use what we have, or we will be grieving the Holy Spirit.
Revelations 3:21, at the end of the letter to the church of Laodicea, that scholars believes represents the church in the last days, Jesus said write, â€œTo him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcome and sat down with my father on His throne.â€ We will have a place on the judgment throne of God.
In the end time parable that speaks of those that are faithful in the tribulation, Jesus speaks blessings and a promise to the faithful servants that, even in very hard times, brought a blessing back to their master. Here Jesus says at the judgment, â€œWell done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your masterâ€™s happiness!â€ (Matthew 25:23). In the Mount Olivet discourse, this parable takes place at the end of the wrath of God and before the millennium kingdom in Jerusalem for a thousand years when Jesus will be on Davidâ€™s throne and a recreated world will be ruled and judged by the saints. We are given much prophecy about this in the captivity prophets, but very little direction in the New Testament. Revelations 20:1-6 is a prophetic description of â€œI saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to Judge.â€ Could that be the overcomers? We know that this is after the wrath of God, the tribulation; in the next verse we are told,
â€And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their forehead and hands.â€ These will come to life and reign WITH Christ a thousand years. On the way up Olivet on ascension day, the disciples as always, and as all Jews had been during Christâ€™s life, asked: â€˜â€œLord, are you at this time going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?â€™ He said to them, â€˜It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.â€™â€ At that point he gave them their marching orders as well as the marching orders to us, for the current church age. What he is saying, â€œIt is none of your business what God and I are going to do, and You need to get busy with your assignment.â€ I feel this is still true; my business and concern is making disciples in the entire world. When the kingdom comes, and how it is going to happen is still none of my business. I can read prophecy and the few things I know, I read in the Bible, such as we will judge and rule in that time. Why there will be a new temple, why sacrifices will be reestablished, donâ€™t make sense to me, but that is Godâ€™s business and still none of my business. But in this life we are in training to be whatever God has in mind.
In chapter 21 of Revelations we are told that this earth will pass away, be done and over with, burned up if Peter is right, and I believe he is. There will be a new heaven and new earth in which the Holy City, New Jerusalem, where there will be no temple because God will be in the midst with His people; no sun, moon or stars. This is a city nearly 1500 miles cubed. It is larger that western Europe and the oceans about it. There is no room to try to force the prophecies of a reign in Jerusalem to the rule of God in heaven. Nothing fits. You can read the biblical descriptions in Revelations 21 and 22.
The one thing that intrigues me is verse 25-27 of chapter 21 of Revelations; â€œOn no day will its gates (twelve gates made of perfect pearls named for the twelve tribes of Israel, a clear sign of the faithfulness of God, even when we are not) ever be shut, for there is no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be bought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will any one who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lambâ€™s book of life.â€ In chapter 22 in verse 7, that, â€œHis servants will serve Himâ€
Here is Godâ€™s word picture of a city 1500 miles cubed, with streets paved with pure gold, beautiful foundations of precious stones, rivers of pure water, and by our standard of construction there would be 72,400 floors in that new city for mansions or dwelling places for the saints. There was room on the ark for Noah, family, all the animals and a couple of yearâ€™s worth of groceries for all. There is enough room in heaven for all the saints with a lot of people places. Since the gates will never be closed, there must be work outside of the city, as well in, for the saints to do. I can just hear Nancy Gale playing the most exquisite grand piano of all time. Dr. Crawford, Mark Berrier and several of us in a Marrâ€™s hill kind of discussion and teaching with Apostle Paul. Melba and girls, with a few thousand kids gathered at their feet singing Jesus Loves Me. Get behind the wheel and drive, put the pedal to the metal. Put your ears on, and stay in touch with your navigator. The destination is sure.