“No, that’s NOT in the Bible!” There are millions of Bibles in America, yet there is an alarming level of biblical ignorance. George Barna leads an organization that conducts research to determine the state of the American Church and culture. His surveys reveal some interesting beliefs: 65 percent believe the Bible “answers all or the most of the basic questions of life.”
But 44 percent believe the Bible, the Koran, and the Book of Mormon teach the same truths. Sicty percent of Americans can’t name half of the Ten Commandments; 63 percent can’t name the four gospels of the New Testament; 31 percent believe a good person can earn his/her way into heaven; 81 percent believe that “God helps those who help themselves” is a direct quote from the Bible.
“God helps those who help themselves” was a topic of one of my sermons. This is really not found in the Bible. God wants people to work and in one case said if they don’t work they shouldn’t be allowed to eat. (II Thessalonians 3:10-12) Paul was dealing with people quitting their jobs and looking forward to the return of the Lord. Paul told them that they needed to get to work.
Proverbs 6:6-7 tells us to observe the ants that work so hard and we all know how a good hard day of work is good for us and those we serve. God wants us to work hard and be a good example to those that work with us. We live in a culture of handouts. In the Old Testament God’s people were to leave some crop or food on the edge of their fields so those who were foreigners or poor could glean from the field. Even they didn’t have the food delivered to them, they had to go glean it from the fields.
“God helps those who help themselves” is still not in the Bible. But these verses are: Deuteronomy 8:17, “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”
In Jeremiah 17:5 we read, “This is what the Lord says, ‘Cursed is the strong one who depends on mere humans, Who thinks he can make it on muscle alone and sets God aside as dead weight.’” (The Message)
The truth is that God helps the helpless. Unless we admit that we have sinned and can not pay for that on our own, then we can’t even be helped by God. “God helps those who help themselves?” NO – NO – NO… “God helps the helpless.” And remember, “When are weak, then He is strong” in our lives.
Dr. Andy Spencer is the Senior Minister of First Church of Christ on Ledbetter Road in Xenia, Ohio.