Yesterday we looked at returning God’s word to its rightful place above all else. We looked at how the church has placed reason, experience and tradition above or equal to scripture. For any subject, if reason, experience and tradition give one viewpoint and the bible states something different, the bible is often set aside for man’s views. Daniel said Daniel 7:13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” Matthew 28:18 “Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” The bible is that authority. Tomorrow we will be looking at God’s name being great among the nations. Daniel also said in the same chapter Daniel 7:21 “As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them (that has been happening), 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.” This happened because God’s people rebelled against His word. Daniel 8:12 “Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.” Because God’s word has been rejected and replaced with man’s reasoning, experiences and traditions, truth is nowhere to be found. Everyone does as they please just as Israel did. The last few verses in Judges said, Judges 21:24 “At that time the Israelites left that place and went home to their tribes and clans, each to his own inheritance. 25 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” Then when you turn the page and read the first verse in Ruth you notice there was a famine. Ruth 1:1 “In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land.” Going your own way always spells out disaster. Today in the church, truth has been thrown down and the church is in a severe famine and we were warned it would happen. As Amos said, Amos 8:11 “The days are coming, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.”

        One of the things I try do when I write is not to use the word stories when talking about something that took place in the bible. I try and hopefully successfully to use the word accounts. I do realize that one can cook the books so to speak, but when I think of being accountable, honesty is involved. I do realize that both words are acceptable but with story there can be this sense that it can be made up or embellished. As you often see in a movie, they will say, this is based on a true story. That doesn’t mean it is all true as it could be just a little true or a lot true, you don’t really know, but one thing you do know is that it is a production made for entertainment. Account means “a report or description of an event or experience.” One definition of story is “an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment.” Yes, there are verses like Psalm 107:2 “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.” Acts 11:4 “Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story.” What started as a story has become a factual account.

        We live in a day where fiction and lies have become fact, or so people think and it is hard to see the difference. You see all the time in the news where a politician gives a speech and then after or during there will be someone fact checking. For those who don’t see the fact checking, they think what they heard is truth. It really is amazing how many gullible people there are these days. As far as the church goes, you may have one minister saying one thing and another saying something all together different. This is why testing the spirits is so important. 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” For example, the Catholics teach one thing, and the Baptists teach something altogether different yet they both say Jesus is Lord. That is not possible. One group will say the other is wrong and vice versa, meanwhile, who is telling the truth? In most cases they are both wrong if they are following other gospels, as most churches are these days. The church loves to tell and hear stories. There is a song called “Tell me the stories of Jesus.” The first verse said, “Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear; Things I would ask him to tell me If He were here:” That is odd, as everything you need to know was written down for us. Another song was “Tell me the Old, Old Story” The first verse says “Tell me the old, old story of unseen things above, of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love. Tell me the story simply, as to a little child; for I am weak and weary, and helpless and defiled.” The quick answer is read your bible. 

        The account of Jesus is right there in the bible, and it is not old, but the church treats it that way. They teach this is what happened when Jesus walked the earth; wasn’t it amazing? They don’t say isn’t it still amazing. They talk about the healing power of Jesus and how amazing it was, not is. They tell stories about what happened with the disciples during this one particular time in history. So, it turned into an old story that happened long ago. The bible is not a story book but words that are our life. Deuteronomy 32:47 “They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.” The problem is that when they do this story telling, the story remains a story from long ago not an ongoing interactive event because the bible is the living word of God, not stories about a dead king who was said to be the Messiah. This account in Luke still describes the behavior of the church. After Jesus died and rose from the dead, these two disciples were walking in the wrong direction. The crazy part about this is they knew about the three days, plus they were told He was not in the tomb and that He was alive and they still walked away. Luke 24:13 “Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” 25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” Once their eyes were opened, they ran back to tell the others. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” 33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”
        Today because the church has rebelled against God’s word and treats His words like an irrelevant old, old story that happened long ago, eyes and ears remained closed because the church behaves as if Jesus is still dead. The bible gives us everything we need to know yet as Jesus said, many refuse to believe. John 8:44 “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” We are told Matthew 8:16 “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” If Jesus remained dead, He would no longer be able to take up our infirmities and bear our diseases. Since Jesus is alive, as most in the church proclaim, especially at Easter, then He still should be taking up our diseases and infirmities. For most in the church, the bible is not a living interaction with Jesus but just a story they read about or hearr about and many by their behavior are not quite sure they believe it. So, the bible remains a bedtime story that really has no effect on their life, other than they may go to church. 
        After those two disciples returned, Luke tells us the other disciples still did not believe. Luke 24:38 “He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”  Mark tells us, Mark 16:12 “Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 13 These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either. 14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.” Belief changes everything. Luke 24:45 “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Those who believed were in the upper room at Pentecost. 1 Corinthians 15:6 “After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.” Acts 1:15 “In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty). Mark 16:15 “Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” 
        Today the church does not have the power we were supposed to have. Not only has God’s word been treated as an old story, it has also become mythology or a fable. Mythology is “a collection of myths, especially one belonging to a particular religious or cultural tradition.” A myth is defined as “any invented story, idea, or concept.” “An ancient story or set of stories, especially explaining the early history of a group of people or about natural events and facts.” One definition of fable states, “a short story that tells a general truth or is only partly based on fact.” They don’t say that Jesus was like one of the Greek gods, and don’t have a problem with His existence but as far as the supernatural goes, they have problems with that. Thomas Jefferson rewrote the bible and took out “major scenes like the resurrection or ascension to heaven or miracles like turning water into wine or walking on water. Instead, Jefferson’s Bible focused on Jesus as a man of morals, a teacher whose truths were expressed without the help of miracles or the supernatural powers of God.” Many in the church don’t actually remove these supernatural events like Jefferson, they just chose not to believe them, yet still call themselves Christians. Some even go so far as to say the whole bible is mythology, completely made up and has deceived millions of people. But just because a person does not believe that the supernatural can happen, or they have not seen it firsthand, doesn’t mean they are not truth. That is why experience can be dangerous. Even if you have never yet experienced the power of the gospels, you still believe because the bible says it is possible for all who believe. The bible says to seek, so seek the gifts of the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 14:1 “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.”
        One description I saw for a book said, “As a once devout Christian, I dedicated myself to studying the Bible in an attempt to write the perfect argument for why the Bible is the word of God. (By the way God doesn’t need any help with that, just look up - Romans 1:19,20) Instead, my studies led me kicking and screaming to the conclusion that the Bible is mythology. (that would be satan doing the leading) This book is a collection of essays detailing how I came to the conclusion that the Bible is mythology and Christianity does more harm than good in the world.” (Actually, that is true that the church does a lot of harm but not because the bible is mythology, but because the church doesn’t believe the bible) This person may have been a devout church goer but not a devout Christian who lived by the word of God. Another person said something just as absurd. They said, “reading biblical stories as mythology gives me the freedom to understand their underlying meaning in a way I never did when I was taught as a child that these stories were factually true.” This is what happens when the bible is turned into just a story. This person went on to say and I liked this one, (sarcastic tone) “In an age of science and technology, too much of the Bible is simply unbelievable to today's mind and turns people away from the underlying messages. From a scientific standpoint, many of the "facts" in the Bible are simply wrong. One of many examples: according to Genesis, the universe is just over 6000 years old. According to physics, the Big Bang occurred 13.7 billion years ago.” This person refuses to believe the account of creation, yet chooses to believe in a big boom, boom. 13.7 is pretty precise! (again, sarcastic tone) I have heard it said that they can’t even come to agreement on things 5000 years old, yet 13.7 billion? Humorous is all I have to say. Really all they need to say is I do not believe in God. Scripture responds Psalm 14:1 “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.”
        That is the danger of emphasizing the word of God as just stories. The church is responsible for this lack of belief. It is no wonder, as the church basically treats Jesus as mythological and a person who walked the earth thousands of years ago but has no relevance for today. That is how the church acts. When King Josiah restored the temple, they found the book of the law. Josiah said 2 Kings 22:13 “Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.” God is still angry because the church has done the same. Paul told Timothy 2 Timothy 2:1 “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” This has been happening for generations. This has also happened. 1 Timothy 4:1 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.”

        The bible is the word of the Lord and as Moses said, “They are not just idle words for you—they are your life.” Revelation 2:8 “These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.” Revelation 1:3 “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” Revelation 22:12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”