God Helps Them Who Help Themselves

"The Bible may be the most revered book in America, but it's also one of the most misquoted," reports CNN correspondent John Blake, who assembled the most oft-quoted phantom Bible passages and their real source.

The top five phantom Bible passages:
1. "God helps those who help themselves."
Origin: Benjamin Franklin in "Poor Richard's Almanac"

2. "Spare the rod, spoil the child."
Origin: It's almost in the Bible. This is similar to, but not the same as, Proverbs 13:24: "The one who withholds [or spares] the rod is one who hates his son."

3. "God works in mysterious ways."
Origin: A paraphrase of a 19th century hymn by the English poet William Cowper. "God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform."

4. "Cleanliness is next to godliness."
Origin: Coined by John Wesley, the 18th century evangelist who founded Methodism.

5. "Pride goes before a fall."
Origin: It's close to Proverbs 16:18: "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."

Why do we think these phantom passages are in the Bible? One Bible professor says it's because people like the idea that biblical passages reinforce their own pre-existing beliefs. "Most people who profess a deep love of the Bible have never actually read the book," Rabbi Rami Shapiro told CNN. "They have memorized parts of texts that they can string together to prove the biblical basis for whatever it is they believe in, but they ignore the vast majority of the text."

Ignorance isn't the only reason we think phantom biblical passages are real. We're also just plain confused since many of these phantom verses do reflect actual biblical concepts, good common sense or folk wisdom.

The only sure way to harness the power and witness of the scriptures is to memorize them. Possibly, these folks who often misquoted these sayings, were at one time told the original scriptures from their families, but through the years of non-use, non reading, or trying to influence others with Christian Jargon, they could only recall partial memories. This is a sad commentary, because God’s Word says, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, (without purpose, included for your understanding) but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11.

TCC Ministries

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