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?