Sometimes we go looking for something, and we are just sure we know where it is. We hunt and search, but it is not where we thought it would be. After a while, that item shows up in another place and we realize we would never have found it in the place we originally searched, because it was not there.
We often get questions from people who ask where in the Bible a certain idea or phrase is found. When I do, I think back to my freshman year in college. I had an idea for a message to submit to the “preacher boys” contest. I wanted to write the best sermon I was capable of writing. I wanted an attention getting start to the message, and I needed to locate that famous verse in the Bible, “God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.” I had heard that phrase many times, and just needed the Scriptural reference for it to make it a part of my introduction. After asking several people, I was referred to the library and a book on famous quotations. I was embarrassed to find that it is not in the Bible, but was written by a hymn writer, many centuries after the Bible was completed!
Not too long ago, a gentleman called here to BBN and asked where in the Bible he could locate the passage that spoke about the seasons of the year becoming indistinguishable as the end of the age approached. He referred to the unusually warm weather we were having for the winter season. When I told him it was not in the Bible, he would not accept my answer. After a little discussion about it, I pointed to Genesis 22 “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” God would not put a verse in the Bible that would contradict a prophecy that He announced until the time period prescribed has run out. The caller finally agreed that the phrase he had heard was not in the Bible.
Perhaps you have heard the phrase, “Cleanliness is next to godliness”, but your study of the book of Proverbs failed to turn that verse up. That is because it is most often ascribed to Ben Franklin, and is not in the Bible. “God helps those who help themselves” also qualifies for a phrase that is not in the Bible. “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) is found in the Bible, and would seem to teach almost the same thing, but it is not the same phrase.
Another caller asked about a phrase that had been quoted to him that would justify a man having relations with a prostitute if his wife was unable to meet his need. This phrase condemned spilling one’s seed on the ground, and thus it taught that the immoral act of fornication was the better of two alternatives. (The idea of spilling one’s seed on the ground is mentioned in Genesis 38:9, but the problem was one of not wanting to raise up children for his brother, who had died, not self gratification.) When I told him the phrase he had quoted was not in the Bible, he offered to bet me that it was. I declined, and told him one could always tell when something was not in the Bible if it violated a clear command of God. “Thou shalt not commit adultery” and “Flee fornication” are biblical verses, so nothing that contradicts them could be biblical.
Perhaps our problem is that we are not familiar enough with what is in the Bible. We, therefore, tend to fall for teaching that sounds like it could be in the Bible. Since we have the Bible to read, let us dedicate ourselves anew to reading its truth. It has been honored by literary experts, hailed by great thinkers, accepted by millions, but read thoroughly by so few. Rather than looking for answers that are not in that Book, let us find the Truth that it teaches. Read it, meditate upon it, seek to understand it.
As the billboard in Florida reads, “Have you read my book? A final exam will be given. God” Have you been doing your homework lately?
For more about this topic see: 0503 Understanding Truth