Ghost Verses

Always believed that the Bible said these words? “God helps those who help themselves.” “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” “God works in mysterious ways.” “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” Well, you’re in for a shocker. They’re not. Actually, those sayings are what CNN’s BeliefBlog called “phantom passages” (Source: And, as religion professor Steve Bouma-Prediger of Hope College in Holland, Michigan pointed out, sadly “people rarely challenge them because biblical ignorance is so pervasive that it even reaches groups of people who should know better”. (Ibid) The “God-helping-the-self-help-people”saying is not in the Bible at all. “It’s actually attributed to Benjamin Franklin, one of the [USA’s] founding fathers.” (Ibid) The “God-acts-mysteriously” was not from the Psalms but was really lifted from a 19th century hymn. (Ibid) The “clean-people-are-godly” saying “was coined by John Wesley, the 18th century evangelist who founded Methodism.” (Ibid) At least, the “sparing-and-spoiling” is a summary of Proverbs 13:24. “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” (ESV) But still it was a misquotation.

Other than biblical illiteracy, surprisingly partly to blame for this situation would be the rise of Bible study groups itself. According to Craig Hazen, the director of the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University in California, “You can see this manifest today in living room Bible studies across North America where lovely Christian people, with no training whatsoever, drink decaf, eat brownies and ask each other, ‘What does this text mean to you?’ Not only do they get the interpretation wrong, but very often end up quoting verses that really aren’t there. (Ibid) How ironic that what was supposed to be the solution to Bible ignorance added to the problem itself! Yes, God gave the pastors and the teachers to equip the believers (Ephesians 4:11-12). But that doesn’t mean that we should solely rely on the experts. Each of us is responsible to rightly handle the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15). We should be like the Bereans, who“received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11) That’s why, here in Makati Gospel Church, we are going through the doctrinal series, Foundations, so that our members would be “rooted and built up in [the Lord] and established in the faith” (Colossians 2:7).

Brethren, let us really learn our Bible.


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