Monday we looked at five Bible Malapropisms.
Today we look at the last four in my list. I am sure there are more.
- God moves in a mysterious way. William Cowper wrote this in one of his last hymns in 1774. He based the thought on his recollections of his life and how he saw what he considered to be God’s hand in the events of his life. The Bible does teach that God understands more than we do and that God’s foolishness is wiser than man’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:25) and from that we might surmise that to us God’s way is mysterious. Paul does talk about the mystery of God that the apostles revealed – that is the Gospel, God’s plan for man’s redemption through the Christ. We need to be careful using this “malapropism” to assign actions to God that may not be His doing. Even the inspired apostle Paul said concerning Onesimus running away from Philemon and finding his way to Paul, “For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while . . . “ (Philemon 1:15 – emp.: SMc). If Paul says “perhaps” why should I think I always know?
- Pray and claim your blessing from God. I hear this or something like it every time I watch certain televangelists. It seems their message is more about God blessing your life for your demanding your promises than about you serving God who already blesses you with the greatest gift of all – salvation through His sacrifices Son. I cannot find anything close to this health and wealth message taught in the Bible as something we should believe. The closest I can find are misguided words of Bildad, Zophar, and Elphaz. These three frineds of Job only thought they knew the heart and mind of God. God straightens them out.
- God needed ___(insert name of deceased here)___ in Heaven. This is one of the most unfortunate and harshest statements about God that I hear at funeral homes. Those who say this, like those who say other Bible malapropisms, think of it as a statement of faith and encouragement. To me this particular phrase makes God out to be a self-absorbed, needy, and greedy monster. Consider this: Your god moves in a mysterious way and everything happens for a reason. Since this god needed your mom in heaven more than you needed her, this god took her from you. You have no say and this god does not care about your feelings. Who wants to serve a god like that?!?! Death came into the world, not because of God, but because of Satan and our sin. God does welcome His children home as a reward for a life lived faithfully, but He does not take our loved ones from us – death does. Death that is a part of life – no matter whether natural causes, disease, an accident, or tragedy brought about that death. If you have to say something at a funeral, please simply offer prayer and a shoulder to cry on, tell them you care, but please do not blame God for their loss. **
- Once saved always saved. This is meant as a statement of eternal security. I know we can have confidence in our salvation, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13). But that confidence lies in knowing that God keeps His promise as we continue to walk in faith. Other passages talk about the dangers of turning away from God and salvation, “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:20-22). Those who escaped are those who have salvation, but they return to the world. We must remain faithful to God to have eternal security.
I would love your thoughts and even suggestions on more Bible Malapropisms.
** For a more detailed look at tragedy and death you might what to read this series from 2014 on When Tragedy Strikes
We continue our list from yesterday with five more phrases that sound Biblical, but are not necessarily from the Bible.
- What goes around comes around. This is more associated with the Hinduism/Buddhism idea of Karma than it is the Bible. In our desire for what we consider to be fair, we want others to experience what they dish out. If anything this is completely opposite of what Jesus teaches about loving you enemies and doing good to those who mistreat you.
- Being nice to your enemies will burn them. This thought is a misunderstanding of ” . . . if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Romans 12:20). Here Paul is quoting from Proverbs 25:21-22. Paul’s teaching is that by being nice to your enemy you may change their attitude toward you. They will see that you are repaying them with kindness and their conscience may be pricked.
- Treat others right so you will be treated right. This is selfish action. Jesus did not teach this. He said, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, . . . (Matthew 7:12). Jesus says to treat others the way you want to be treated and never promises that they will return the favor. Some may and some may not, but we should always treat people with loving kindness.
- Cleanliness is next to godliness. According to The Free Dictionary, this phrase first appeared in a sermon preached by John Wesley circa 1778, but is an old Hebrew and Babylonian proverb. There is no Bible verse that says this. The Hebrews did have to be ceremonially clean to enter worship and the thought may come from that, but physical cleanliness has nothing to do with our relationship to God, however, spiritual cleanliness does.
- God appointed the day of your death. Can God know the day of your death and not have predetermined it? Yes. Death is a part of our existence and God being above (outside) of time as we know it cand and does know when you and I will die, but that is not the same as His causing our death, calling us home, or killing us off. Hebrews 9:27 does say, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,” but that is simply a reminder that we will all die. An appointment does not necessarily mean such is written down and unchangeable (Consider Hezekiah in Isaiah 38, God said Hezekiah was about to die, but after Hezekiah pleaded with God he lived 15 more years.)
A malapropism is the misuse of a word, specifically a word that sounds like or is similar to another. Think of “there,” “their,” and “they’re.” Or, “Good punctuation means never being late.” What I am calling Bible malapropisms are not words but phrases and ideas that many think are in the Bible and sometimes quote as if they are in the Bible. Maybe there is a better term for this, but I could not think of one. These Bible Malapropism are simply principles that sound Biblical, but are not. I have a list of about fifteen, let us consider the first five today.
- God helps those that help themselves. No, that is not in the Bible. There is this passage, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Yet that is specific to Christians who refuse to work because of a mistaken understanding of Christ’s return, and they are living off the benevolence of others.
- Everything happens for a reason. This sounds like a statement of faith. It sounds like we are trusting God when we say that, but this is not in scripture. Yet, not everything that happens to us is because God planned it to teach us a lesson or to prepare us for something else. Sometimes things happen because we are living in a fallen world. Romans 8:28 does say, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” That does not say God causes everything. Paul is saying God can and will work for our best no matter the situation we find ourselves in.
- Money is the root of all evil. The passage actually says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:10).
- God will not give you more than you can handle. This sounds great, but is not from the Bible. This statement is closely related to Number 2 above and assumes that what you are going through is from God and He has a reason you are going through it. I think this is a misuse of 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Here Paul is teaching that we there is always a way for us to avoid sin, even in the strongest temptation.
- God wants me to be happy. This is phrase comes up when we want an excuse to do what we want to do. Paul does talk about learning to be content (Philippians 4:11-12) and Jesus in the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-12) talks about becoming blessed or happy, but NOWHERE does God’s Word say that God wants me to be happy by doing what I want to do. God wants me to be Holy in Christ and in that holiness and in serving God through Christ, I find contentment, fulfillment and true happiness.
Quite a few people asked for “A Bible’s Diary” from Sunday morning’s sermon. Every place I found it online listed it as author unknown (if anyone know whom the author is, please let me know so I can give credit). Thank you to whomever wrote it. Here is the piece: • Diary of a Bible:
January: A busy time for me. Most of the family decided to read me through this year. They kept me busy for the first three weeks, now I am not as busy.
February: Someone used me for a few minutes last week. He had an argument and was checking references.
March: Gr…andpa visited us. He kept me on his lap for an hour as he read and studied.
April: I had a couple of busy days. The dad in my house was appointed a leader of something and used me to take his oath of office. Oh btw, I went to church for the first time this year – I love Easter!
May: I have a few grass stains on my pages. Someone pressed some flowers in me.
June: I look like a scrap book, I am stuffed full of clippings. One of the girls got married and before the wedding they looked up 1 Cor 13.
July: They put me in a suitcase today. I guess we are off on vacation. I wish they would leave me at home. The table is more comfortable than staying in this case for the rest of the month.
August: Back home, but still in the suitcase.
September: They finished unpacking and put me back on the table with two new books: True Stories and Funny Stories. I wish they read me as much as they do those books.
October: They used me a little today. One of them sick. Right now I am shined up and in the center of the table . . . an elder must be coming by.
November: Back on the table under the magazines.
December: Christmas is coming. Once they clear all the wrapping paper off of me, they may take me to church again.
This make you think, doesn’t it . . .
When I was in elementary school at Escambia Christian School a local church puppet team would come every so often and perform during chapel. I do not recall all their shows, but one sticks in my mind – well part of it. The narrator posed the question, “What if . . ? Then the puppets would act out scenes depicting a “what if” scenario. The one particular thought I remember is this: A puppet dressed as Col. William Prescott commands his army at Bunker Hill, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.” As the patriots sit and wait, the British soldier puppets march in wearing sunglasses. I still laugh (at least chuckle) when I remember that scene.
But what if . . .
- What if today were your last day?
- What if the Lord were to return today?
- What if? Would you be ready? Would you know without a doubt that you would spend eternity with Him in heaven?
1 John 5:13, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” We can know. We can have confidence.
Yet our sin separates us from God. My sin separates me from God and your sin separates you from God. (Isa 59:2). We need a way back to God. That way is His Son – “Jesus said to him, ” I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). When we are in Christ we can have confidence in our home in heaven.
Are you in Christ? Consider the words of Paul, ” . . . for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ ‘s, then you are Abraham’ s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Gal 3:26-29 emphasis added by me – BSMc).
What if you gave your life to God today?
This morning on the way to the study, Lisa Mason on Birmingham’s 106.9 FM had the following “nearly impossible trivia:” –
The average person does this 15 to 20 times a month. Most answers varied between eating out and washing hair. The correct answer was . . . drum roll please . . . quote lines from movies.
I started thinking. Do I know more movie lines than I do Bible passages? As a preacher, I hope the answer is, “No.” But I do quote movies, especially “The Princess Bride” a lot. So I want to give you a test. There are twenty fill-in-the-blank questions. The odd ones are from movies and the even ones are Bible verses. Which do you know best? Don’t cheat on either one – no Googling, no Bibles or Bible apps. Use your memory. Bonus point if you know the book, chapter and verse.
- “I’m going to make him an _______________ he can’t refuse.”
- “In the ________________ God created the heavens and the earth.”
- “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in _________________ anymore.”
- “You shall have no other _____________ before Me.”
- “Go ahead, make my ________________.”
- ” . . . _______________ this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
- “E.T. ________________ home.”
- “The Lord is my ________________; I shall not want.”
- “Round up all the usual _____________________.”
- “_____________ God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
- “You’re gonna need a _________________ boat.”
- “My people are ______________ for a lack of knowledge.”
- “Houston, we have a ____________________.”
- “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who _________ the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
- Stricker: “Surely you can’t be serious.” Rumack: “I am serious and don’t call me _______________”
- “But seek __________ the kingdom of God and his righteousness . . .”
- “I feel the need, the need for _________________”
- “For in Christ we are all children of God by _______. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
- “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father, ______________ to die.”
- “If we have died with him; we will also ____________ with him;”
So, how did you do?
The last couple of posts cover church growth and congregational friendliness, today I want us to open the Book of Acts and see how the early Church grew. Let’s just call this what it is: Church growth the Bible way.
A quick survey of the book of Acts in the Bible and you quickly realize that the early church grew. No they increased, make that multiplied. Look at the early chapters and the growth of the church:
- Acts 2:41, 47; “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. . . . And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
- Acts 4:4; “But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.”
- Acts 5:14; “And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,”
- Acts 6:1, 7;”Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. . . . And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.”
- Acts 8:4, “Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.”
- Acts 9:31, “And the church in Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.”
There it is! The is a simple Biblical formula that made growth possible.
1. They had peace. Not peace with Judaism. Not peace with Rome. Not peace with the world. Definitely not peace with Satan. But peace with God through Christ and therefore with each other.
2. They were being built up. Encouraged, edified, taught by God’s word and by each other’s example.
3. They walked in fear of God. Yes, fear as in reverence and awe. But also fear as in “this is Creator who spoke the world into existence and who caused the immediate death of two who lied to His Spirit (cf. Acts 5).”
4. They walked in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. They had the promise of Acts 2:38-40. They understood the seal of guarantee that Paul talks of in Ephesians 1:13-14. Their spirit in tune with His produced the fruit of Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
5. All this lead to the final words of this verse “it MULTIPLIED.”
How is the church growing where you are? Are you part of the problem or the solution?