Friday, March 28, 2014

Remembering The Future



Tiberias Cylinder – remembering the future.


   This is fiction and the names and places are used fictitiously.  The people and events are "real" to the author.   

   Writers reach into the depths of their psyche to speak of a reality by which to communicate an idea.   What would the "Church of Christ" look like in a different setting?  Say, a Space City of half a million people?  People are still people everywhere.  Problems and situations occur over and over again.  We are hard-wired by our culture and experience.  We react to life and act out our faith and hope.  Look with me.  Rhoderick D. Ice    All rights reserved  © 1999




Rhoderick D. Ice ©





   People streamed out of the large Church on the edge of Nashville.  The morning worship was over and people were going to their cars.  One of the church-elders hurried to catch up with a worshiper.


   "Carl!  Carl Sandor!  Wait up!  I want to talk with you!"


   Carl stopped and turned.  "Brother Steadman, what can I do for you?"


   "Come into the office a moment."  When they were comfortably seated, Everett Steadman spoke.


   "Carl, we elders have talked this over, and we think you are the man we need.  How would you feel about leading a group to visit Tiberias Cylinder?"


   "Tiberias Cylinder?  One of those cities out in space?"


   "Let me refresh your memory.  Back in 1991, a magazine of space exploration, Final Frontier, ran an article about using abandoned fuel cylinders from the Shuttle Missions as 'homesteads in space.'  This idea has now produced a number of Cylinders - huge steel and alloy 'cans' that hold an entire city.  Tiberias Cylinder is the equivalent of Manhattan in New York City - it is home to half a million people.  Some of our relatives live there.  And we have a Church meeting there, with several thousand members.  We need personal contact with them and a report on what they are doing.  We have helped to fund this work and we are interested in their progress.  We want you to choose nine others and go to Tiberias, give them our greetings, stay a month or so, and come back to tell us what good things they are doing.  What do you think?"


   "Well, this is a surprise.  I'll have to talk with my wife.  She couldn't go, of course, what with the children in school.  But I'll give it some thought.  My cousin, Eddie, would jump at such a chance.  How soon would you need to know?"


   "Take your time.  It would be the first of the month."


   "Thank you for this opportunity.  I will certainly get back to you.” shortly."


   They shook hands and went toward the parking lot.






   It seemed only a short time since we had left the spaceport.


   The intercom beeped.  "This is Captain Stevens speaking.  We dock at Tiberias Cylinder at 1000 hours.  Prepared to debark.  Our stopover will be one solar day."


   We hurried to gather our carry-on things.  Thanks to disposable paper clothing and personal items, plus the miracle of recycling, we are able to travel very minimally.  What baggage we had would be off-loaded by the ship's personnel.  We are a group of ten from Earth, going to Tiberias Cylinder, to visit relatives and friends.  My name is Carl Sandor.  I am writing this report to tell you about Tiberias and our experiences there.


   The docking signal sounded.  We picked up our carry-on things, stepped into the airlock, and waited for it to cycle.  Then we walked through into Customs.


   "Look into the opticon eye-identifier."


   A senior citizen, very military in appearance, was sitting at the desk.   As we each stared into the opticon, he read the view screen to check our names and destination.  He gave us temporary resident cards and breathings permits. 


   "Enjoy your stay," he said, and waved us on.



   We stepped through the doorway into Tiberias City.  It took our breath away.  Green things everywhere!  Plants and flowers and potted trees and bushes and vines climbing all over.  The artificial sunlight filtered through fresh green masses of vegetation tumbling from huge hanging baskets, tiers and balconies.


   "Eddie!  Just look at all these green things!  These must be air purifiers!  It's part of the ecology here!"


   "Yeah!' said Eddie.  "Ain't this all impressive!"


   "Back on Earth we don't even give it a thought.  But out here they would have to use every available inch of space to work for the common good.  I'll bet everything out here is like that."


   "And I can feel currents of air, a steady breeze.  That must be from the Recirculators.  The green is essential, but Atmospheric Recirculators would have to do their part too.  This is a closed system of ecology."




   We stood at the edge of a broad street that seemed to be the floor of a deep slot.  Shops and buildings formed its walls.  Some of the angles didn't seem just right.  And we could not see very far because of the curvature.  There were people everywhere!  Just like a shopping mall at Christmas time.  I couldn't believe the crowds!


   “Look at all the people!” said Eddie.  “And what a variety of people!  There’s one dressed in an all white Punjab costume.” 


   I could see a girl with rings in her nose and ears.  Some seemed to have their faces painted in some kind of secret code to identify them.  We have ethnic minorities in Nashville, but this was amazing for us.  We felt out of place in our "suit and tie" clothes.


   We were afraid we would get lost in the crowds.  So we waited patiently for a short time (I looked at my watch).


   "Over there," said Fred.  "I think I see a man working his way through the crowd."


   An older man, huge, in his late 60's, approached from the right.


   "Saluton!  You must be the group from Earth.  I'm Rod Glacio, one of the Church elders."


   He gave each of us a big hug.  "Welcome to Tiberias!  We praise God for you brothers and sisters in Christ!" 



Saturday, March 8, 2014

That Corinthian Church

Wisdom From The Holy Spirit - the Corinthian Church


You’ll remember, friends, when I, Paul,

came to you to speak of God’s triumph

in Jesus Christ - Crucified, Risen, Coming again!

Not with polished speeches, nor the latest

philosophies.  I kept it simple.

But God’s Message came through anyway!

God’s Holy Spirit and God’s power

did it and made clear that your life of faith

is the response to God’s power.

You’ve seen and heard because God

by His Holy Spirit has brought it all out

into the open before you all.

Because of Christ-on-the-Cross,

we now become free people.


      1. Paul's style of preaching.  1 Cor. 2:1-5.

        a. Paul's enemies accused him being weak and trembling.  His opposition said: "For his letters, they say, are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible" (2 Cor. 10:10).  Paul replied: "Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such we will also be in deed when we are present."

        Note: because Paul did write, he still speaks to us and has spoken to countless millions of people down through the ages.  He will continue to speak as long as the world stands.

        Paul was a true Gospel preacher. He tried to “be all things to all men that he might by all means save some.”  He did not have the eloquence of Apollos (Acts 18:24-28).  He was not a "hell-fire-and-brimstone" type of preacher.  Note Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill in Acts 17. 

        b. Did he feel weak and trembling? Note Romans 1:16-17.        "I am not ashamed of the gospel."  Paul is saying that he has complete confidence and trust in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  No weakness or trembling where the Christ of the Gospel is concerned.

        c. Paul did speak with authority.  1 Cor. 5:3-5.  "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ...”    And: "Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction" (2 Cor. 13:10).

        d. Why he chose this style.  verse 4-5.  To put Christ first.  Not with eloquent words of human excellence.  But with convincing proof of the power of God's Holy Spirit.

        e. The Holy Spirit's power.  verse 4-5.  Compare 1 Thess. 1:4-6; Acts 13:52.  "And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit."


      2. Look for God's wisdom.  God reveals His wisdom to us.  Read 1 Cor. 2:6-10.  Compare James 3:17-18.

        a. Paul shows that God's wisdom is not something we discover on our own.  God chooses to reveal Himself to us.   
        b. The rulers did not know this mystery, or they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. 

        c. God's mystery now revealed in Christ is what no one ever thought or imagined.  God's Plan to save the world in Christ.  The future which God has prepared for us.  The quotation is based on Isaiah 64:4; 65:17.


      3. The Holy Spirit links our minds with God.  1 Cor. 2:10-16.  Compare Romans 15:4; 1 John 4:1-11.

        a. God revealed these things through His Holy Spirit.  Note 2 Peter 1:19-21; Matt. 11:25-30.

        b. There is a difference between the spiritual man and the natural man.  1 Cor. 2:10.  The spiritual man stands on a "higher plain" and is able to see with the eye of faith.

        c. We have the mind of Christ.  1 Cor 2:13-15.  "Whoever does not have the Holy Spirit cannot receive the gifts that come from God's Holy Spirit.  Such a person really does not understand them, they are nonsense to him, because their value can only be judged on a spiritual basis.  Whoever has the Holy Spirit, however, is able to judge the value of everything, but no one is able to judge him."

        d. Paul again quotes Isaiah 40:13 in 1 Cor 2:16.  Note Romans 11:33-36.


Preaching Christ in the Book of Acts

    God Himself wants everyone to come to Him and be saved!

    Paul wrote: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”  2 Cor 5:17-19

    And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”  1 Cor 6:11

    “God has made Christians holy by the work of His Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:11; 2 Thes 2:13), and they are therefore called to live as His own holy people (1 Cor 1:2). God has given them everything they need to live a holy life in this world (2 Pet 1:3-4). As a result, their way of life is to be distinctly different from that of the unholy world around them. Every part of their life is to reflect the transforming work of the Holy Spirit (Rom 12:2).”—NLT Study Bible


1. Peter proclaimed God’s Salvation.

    “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:” Acts 2:14-16

    “And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.” Acts 2:21

    “Acts 2:14-36 This is the first of about thirty speeches in Acts and one of the most important, standing as it does at the very inception of the church. It is a typical example of the preaching of the apostles, who proclaimed (1) that the OT promises had been fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is the promised Messiah; (2) that the apostles themselves were eyewitnesses of Jesus' entire public ministry and were his chosen representatives; (3) that people are called to repent of their sins and have faith in God through Christ; and (4) that salvation and the presence of the Holy Spirit are promised to those who respond affirmatively to this message of Good News. This basic message is echoed in the sermons of chs 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, and 13. The same themes characterized Paul's preaching (see 1 Cor 15:3-9). This message was repeatedly preached to both Jews and Gentiles throughout the Mediterranean world; all people are summoned to repent of their sins and turn to God through faith in Jesus Christ.”  —NLT Study Bible


2. The Last Days began at Pentecost.

    Joel said: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.  And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.” Acts 2:17-18

    "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know-- Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.”  Acts 2:22-24

    While cruel men had crucified Jesus, this action had not defeated God's prearranged plan for salvation.  In fact, God raised Him back to life, which David had foretold.  These are facts – things that really happened.  Christians “show forth the Lord’s death till He Comes.”

    “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.” Acts 2:32-33

    “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him."  Acts 5:30-32   

    “Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." Acts 2:38-39

    “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”  Acts 2:46-47


Friday, March 7, 2014

JESUS - Son of Man, Son of God

JESUS - Son of Man, Son of God!

    1. The Book of Revelation shows God is the Power and He loves all people with a tough love.  The Eternal Word came among us to give Life and Forgiveness.

    "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."  John 1:14 

    "But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, "I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!" Jesus said to him, "It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." Matt 26:63-64


    2. Born of a woman.

    "For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:6

    "Beyond destruction there is hope. In the Messiah's kingdom, the darkness would give way to great light, which was to dawn in Galilee and reach the whole nation, and then the whole world. The Messiah's rule would be marked by the vindication of the oppressed and the end of all oppression. He would bring justice and righteousness forever in a kingdom of peace."—NLT Study Bible


    2. Behold your God!

    "O Zion, You who bring good tidings, Get up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, You who bring good tidings, Lift up your voice with strength, Lift it up, be not afraid; Say to the cities of Judah, "Behold your God!"  Isaiah 40:9

    "O Zion, messenger of good news, shout from the mountaintops! Shout it louder, O Jerusalem: God is coming to save and restore human beings. The Lord's rule is not like that of the unjust and powerless rulers whom he will judge. It is compassionate, just, righteous, and powerful. With a powerful arm: God manifested his power in events such as the defeat of the Egyptians and the rescue of his people."  —NLT Study Bible


    3. Raised up from the dead!

    "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"  John 1:29

    "This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News. God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. The Good News is about his Son, Jesus. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name."  Romans 1:1-5 (NLT)

    "Righteous people. The phrase makes us right comes from the law court. It does not mean "makes us good people"; it means "puts us in right standing before God." "It is through faith that a righteous person has life" (or "The righteous will live by faith" Hab 2:4): The prophet Habakkuk had struggled to understand how God could use pagan nations to judge his own people Israel. God reminded Habakkuk that his true people—the righteous—need to live by faith. In Romans chs 1-4, Paul repeatedly insists that only through faith can human beings be made right in God's sight."—NLT Study Bible


    4. The Living Savior!

    "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death."  Rev 1:18