Sunday, January 5, 2020

The Currency and The Coin

Recently, we were talking about Mercy and Grace and the thought occurred to me that they are like two sides of the same coin.  This led to an exploration of “What coin?” and “From what currency?”  Today’s study is on John 3:16 where we’ll explore some aspects of God’s economy.

John 3:16
 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Things to think about:
The Currency
·      A “currency” is a form of money that can be used in a commercial transaction.  Moreover, it has the backing of a governmental authority, whose promise is sufficient for the establishment of inherent value.
·      I would submit that the currency God trades in is Love. 1 John 4:8 tells us that “God is love.”  Our text above from John 3:16 says it is because “God so loved the world He gave...”  His very nature is rooted in love.
The Coin
·      The incarnation of God’s love is in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ.
·      In our text, it says, “He gave His one and only Son”.
o   1 Corinthians 6:20 and 7:23 both say, “you were bought at a price.”
·      And what price did God pay? God took His perfect Son, He of infinite value
o   1 Peter 1:18-19, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect”
·      Coins have two sides, the obverse and reverse. We started off our study saying that the two sides of God’s coin are Mercy and Grace.  Chief among its uses, money can be used to pay off debt as well to save for the future. 
o   Mercy – not getting what we do deserve.
§  “…that whoever believes in Him should not perish…”
§  Romans 6:23 - the wages of sin is death (that is, eternal separation from God). 
·      This is our debt to God that we cannot pay on our own.
§  Ephesians 2:4-5 – “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions…”
§  Titus 3:5 – “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy…”
o   Grace – getting what we do not deserve
§  “…but have eternal life.”
§  Ephesians 2:5-7, “…it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
·      This is our incalculable inheritance we have received through faith in Christ.
·      God’s entire program is predicated on His love for YOU.  There is nothing you have done that can keep Him from loving you and there is nothing He hasn’t already done to bring you into His love.
·      He has both paid off your sin debt and secured your eternal future.
·      Has our study today helped you understand God’s Love Economy a little better?
·      What should our response be to so great a love?

Monday, November 18, 2019

It's a Toll Road not a Freeway

They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  I don’t know exactly what the road to Heaven is paved with but I do know that it is a toll road and not a freeway. In our passage we see that everybody who aspires to justification before God has a bill to pay.  We will also see that the currency we have on our own to offer to pay the toll is worthless.  So if it’s not a freeway and our money is no good, how do we get to our final destination???

Romans 3:23-25
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that comes by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement through the shedding of His blood – to be received by faith…

Things to think about:
·      The premise here is that a debt has been incurred and must be satisfied. In our verse above it says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  In Romans 6:23 it goes on to say that “the wages of sin is death”
o   Hebrews 9:22 tells us that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin
o   This is in keeping with the Old Testament law of blood sacrifice found in Leviticus 17:11
§  “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”
o   This is clearly NOT a freeway
·      So there is a toll to be paid on the road to salvation and its currency is blood.
o   “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement through the shedding of His blood”
o   God has provided the token for the toll road
o   Salvation is freely offered but salvation is surely not free. 
o   In the same way you can give a gift to someone (and they accept it), that gift is free to him or her but may have cost you quite dearly.
·      “All are justified freely by His grace”
o   Ephesians 2:8 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – it is the gift of God
o   So the toll has been paid if we will take the token offered to us
o   Why are works really counterfeit coins in God’s toll booth?
§  Isaiah 64:6 – “all of our righteous acts are as filthy rags”
·      To be clear, this has to do with salvation, not our good works offered to God after we have accepted His atoning sacrifice. See Ephesians 2:10
o   How do we accept God’s free gift?
§  Hint: it’s in our verse above
§  How would you define faith?
§  Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
·      In what ways does today’s study help you think about the road to Heaven?
o   Has it cast anything in a different light for you?
o   Are you using the right token on God’s toll road?

Monday, November 4, 2019

Artificial Intelligence

The next frontier in computer science is advancing the technology of Artificial Intelligence (AI).  Essentially, AI is the ability for a computer to try and imitate the human mind, hence the name “artificial intelligence”.  Similarly, man’s predisposition is to try and approximate or even replace God’s intelligence with his own.  Not unlike self-driving cars that depend on AI, when we rely on our own form of AI the results can be disastrous!

Proverbs 14:12 – There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death.

Things to think about:
·      Our lives are full of countless examples of decisions we have made or actions we have taken that sounded good for one reason or the other but ultimately led to a bad conclusion.
o   If you can’t relate to this you can stop reading now J
o   And yet, rarely would we knowingly walk into a bad decision so there must be a disconnect between what we think and reality
o   Let’s look at a few suspects that might be culprits leading us to artificial intelligence
·      Feelings
o   “If it feels good, do it!”
o   Unbridled appetites can be a problem.  Most of our appetites are God-given and therefore healthy (food, pleasure, anger, etc.) The problem is when our desires outpace our needs and we act on a feeling.
o   The opposite of impulsiveness is self-control, one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23)
o   What role does impatience play here?
o   What have you learned through experience with regard to controlling impulsive behavior?
·      Pride
o   In Psalm 10:4 it says, “In his pride the wicked man does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.”
o   Pride is an overblown sense of self and one’s abilities.  It is the opposite of subjugating oneself to God’s sovereignty and wisdom.
o   One way this can manifest itself is in not seeking Godly counsel but relying on our own judgment. 
§  Can you think of a time when a feeling of “I know best” didn’t quite work out so well?
§  On the other hand, when have you swallowed your pride a bit and been grateful you did?
o   Other facets of Pride that can justify poor decisions
§  Unbelief in God – the ultimate bad decision!
§  Secretiveness to protect our ego
§  Spending money we don’t have (or should be using for another purpose)
§  What else?
·      God’s Intelligence (GI)
o   So what’s the antidote to AI?  How about GI? J
o   Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge
o   Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, His good, pleasing and perfect will.
o   In what ways have you experienced God’s renewal of your mind?
§  Are there beliefs, habits, or attitudes that you can clearly see now with the benefit of time that God has brought you around to His way of thinking?