Are We Robots, Gods, or Co-Pilots?

Most Christians believe that they are justified by faith, a work of their own doing, by deciding to accept Jesus’ offer of salvation. It is only natural then for these same Christians to believe that sanctification is their work (gods) or a partnership they have with God (co-pilots). They present a fallacy on behalf of those Christians who believe justification and sanctification are all of grace. They claim that we believe men are robots. This, we do not believe.

Grace unto salvation is all-encompassing. This monergistic (only God) understanding of salvation begins with God’s decree of election before creation, and it ends with a glorious inheritance in eternity.

Granted, some believe justification is by grace, but they believe sanctification, also known as the Christian life, is grace plus works. What are Christian works if they are not for sanctification? They are evidence of God’s work in and through the born again believer.

We further our answer with a simple principle: he who does the work, gets the glory. In other words, we give credit to whom credit is due. God deserves all of the credit, all of the time. Anyone choosing to dispute this must account for the glory of man in light of the glory of God. Man’s works are filthy rags, whereas God’s works are glorious (Gal 3:5).

God is the builder and architect of everything (Heb 3:4). He has decreed everything, and He is causing all things to work together for good for those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). Christians are being transformed into the image of Christ by His Spirit (2 Cor 3:18). We are objects, not subjects.

The Bible clearly shows us that sanctification is a work of the Holy Spirit (2 Thess 2:13), whose agency employs the instrumentation of the Word of God to accomplish God’s will in the life of the believer (Jn 17:17). In the exercise of His will, He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures (Jas 1:18).

It is the indwelling Holy Spirit who is willing and doing God’s good pleasure in Christian (Phil 2:13). He is in the believer (Jn 14:17) and with the believer, forever (Jn 14:16). The believer was created in Christ Jesus and good works have been prepared for him/her to walk in (Eph 2:10). Paul, who did a bit of work, said, “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me (Gal 2:20b).” Thus, we are not against Christian works, we are simply insisting that God gets all the credit for these works.

One aspect of our Christian life worth considering are biblical metaphors to help us understand our union with Christ.

1. Branches in relationship to a Vine. God’s Spirit, our life, is in us, and He is the One who produces fruit that remains (Jn 15).

2. Slaves in relationship to a Master. Slaves have a will, as do Christians, but slaves are not free to use their will. They are constrained by the will of their master. This is the Christian life. We are free from sin, but we are slaves of Christ (1 Cor 7:22; Eph 6:6).

3. Sheep in relationship with a Shepherd (Jn 10). Sheep eat, sleep, and relieve themselves. Jesus insisted that His followers are sheep. This was to demonstrate their utter dependence upon their Good Shepherd (Ps 23).

4. Stones in relationship to a Temple (Eph 2:19–22). Christians are identified as living stones, who are being fitted for their place in God’s holy, spiritual temple (1 Pet 2:4–5).

5. Heir in relationship to a Testator (1 Pet 1:4). Christians have an inheritance reserved for them in heaven. There is no merit to Christian good works because it is Christ in them who is working. Their eternal rewards on the day of judgment are based on the merits of Christ. An inheritance cannot be worked for, it can only be credited to one’s account.

6. Clay pot in relationship to a Potter (Jer 18; Rom 9:19–21). Our Lord is the Potter and we are clay in His hands. Clay does not accomplish anything by itself, nor with the help of the Potter. The Potter is the One who works everything for His own glory.

7. A passive object in relationship to an active subject. God is the subject of the Bible, and everything else is an object. Christians are objects of God’s mercy, prepared for glory (Rom 9:23). The reprobate are objects of God’s wrath, prepared for destruction (Rom 9:22).

In summary, man forgets he is a mere creature, and a ruined one for that matter. His recovery, in Christ, is solely a work of the Trinity. Sanctification is God’s will for His people (1 Thess 4:3, 7), and His grace is sufficient for us, as He works His providence in every detail of our lives. His plan to make us holy is also His work. He accomplishes all His holy will, so that the believer can boast only in the Lord, “But by the grace of God I am what I am (1 Cor 15:10a).”

In conclusion, a careful study of the Scriptures will reveal the glorious truth of God in us, willing and doing.

A god is free to do his will. Christians have a will, but we are not free to do as we please.

A co-pilot is a backup plan for the pilot. God does not need a co-pilot nor a backup plan. Steve Lawson quips, “If you think God is your co-pilot, one of you needs to get out of the cockpit. That would be you.” There is no synergism in sanctification.

Robots have no will of their own. As noted, Christians do have a will, but our will is not free. Our will, naturally inclined to sin, is being brought into conformity to the perfection of Christ, by the indwelling Holy Spirit. So we can say with Jesus, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.”

I will close with the words of Paul, “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen (Eph 3:20–21).”

David Norczyk

Spokane Valley, Washington

March 4, 2022


Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
David Norczyk

Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher