Everyone seems to love numbered lists – probably because we are all ADD and are much more likely to read short bulletpoints than full paragraphs! Nonetheless, there is practicality to this list: it separates those who know their Bible from those who only echo what they hear others say. How many of these have you ever said?
- God helps those who help themselves: While not found anywhere in Scripture, there is some practicality to this. God is not likely going to answer your prayer to lose 20 pounds if you insist on continuing to eat McDonald’s for five meals a day. Just remember: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. (Also not in the Bible.)
- God will never give us more than we can handle: If this were true, we wouldn’t need Jesus for anything other than salvation. The fact is, God will absolutely give us more than we can handle. It’s part of our sanctification process and how we learn to trust Him more. The promise is we can approach the throne of God confidently to receive mercy and grace in our time of need (Heb 4:16).
- All things work together for good: These exact words actually are in the Bible, but the difference is there is more to this verse – heck, there’s even more to the sentence. I refer to this as the “Romans 8:28 Bumper Sticker” because it is the six-word phrase we like to slap on anyone who is going through a rough patch. Do you have a hangnail? Well, just remember: “all things work together for good!” Did your house burn down? “All things work together for good!” The truth is, whatever life hands us, God will work for our good and His glory if we love Him and are called according to His purpose.
- Jesus said He would build His church on Peter: This is a common misunderstanding of Matthew 16:15-18. It says, “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.'” Looking at the last part where Jesus says “you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church,” we can do some simple 8th grade sentence diagraming by looking at the word “this” and ask what “this” is referring to. If Jesus had been referring to Peter, would He not have said “on you I will build my church”? But the “this” instead refers to the truth that Peter declared, the truth of the gospel that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” If we want to dig a little deeper, we can see the play on words Jesus is doing here. The Greek for Peter is petros which means: piece of a rock, a stone, a moveable pebble. The Greek for the word”rock” in this verse is petra which means: rock, a solid formation, immovable, enduring. See the difference? Jesus is basically saying, “you are a little, moveable piece of a rock, but on this immoveable, enduring boulder, My gospel, I will build My church.”
- God wants me to be happy: We certainly want to believe this! But what if our version of “happy” is actually not best for us or God’s plan for our lives? The truth is: God wants us to be holy (Lev 20:26 & 1 Peter 1:16) which might not (read: likely won’t) jive with our definition of “happy.” That said, God is in no way a killjoy who seeks to “ruin” our happiness. He delights in us! (Psalm 149:4)
- God tells us not to judge others: If there is any verse that even most non-believers know, it is Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, lest you be judged.” These are red letters, straight from the mouth of Jesus so how could they not be true? Such is the importance of context! It is not simply an all-encompassing command to ignore the sin in others’ lives and let everyone do as they please. It is, however a directive to examine our own lives before confronting our brother, in love, about his sin. We actually are supposed to judge others. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 6:3, Paul says that we will judge angels! So yes, we are to judge, in love, for the sake of holiness in the lives of others and unity in the church (1 Cor 5).
- Money is the root of all evil: The verse (1 Tim 6:10) actually says, “The LOVE of money is A root of all kinds of evil. Money is amoral, and therefore cannot, itself be evil. The truth is, the love of anything that we elevate above God, is idolatry. Loving anything more than God only spells trouble for us because nothing but God truly satisfies. Whether it is money or food or relationships or stuff, it will always leave us empty and wanting for more.
- We turn into angels when we die: This is a very popular idea that is completely unfounded in Scripture. Angels are distinctly different beings than people. Hebrews chapter 1 speaks extensively to what angels are and aren’t. But looking specifically at verse 14, it says, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” And don’t forget our verse from point number six: 1 Corinthians 6:3 says we will judge the angels! Simply put, angels are servants of God, but we are children of God. If we became angels upon our death, that would be a demotion!
- This, too, shall pass: This one is kind of comical to me. It’s a nothing statement that we happen to say often! It’s like saying “tomorrow will be a new day.” Of course it will! If it were still socially acceptable, I’d label this one as “duh!”
- Jesus died for you and me: I know I’m going to ruffle some feathers by saying this isn’t exactly true. Do we benefit from Jesus’ death (and resurrection!)? Absolutely yes! A thousand times, yes! But the truth is, Jesus died in obedience to Father God. There’s a song from the late 1990s that says: He took the fall/and thought of me/above all. A nice sentiment, but the Bible gives no indication that this is true. What it does clearly show is Jesus thinking of and crying out to His Father. Romans 5:19 says, “by one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” Philippians 2:8 says, ” He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death.” Lastly, Hebrews 12:2 says, “for the joy that was set before Him [He] endured the cross.” That joy, I believe, is His final act of obedience to God as a man in the flesh and the returning to the presence of God His Father.
I know there are many more than just these ten. Which ones did I leave out that are your favorite “non-scriptural truths”? Thanks for reading!