Episode 174

 Disciple Up #174
Stupid Things Christians Say Pt 4
God Helps Those Who Help Themselves
By Louie Marsh, 8-26-2020

Intro.  It looks like I’ll be doing Hebrews, haven’t decided yet but am close.

The phrase “God helps those who help themselves” is a motto that emphasizes the importance of self-initiative and agency. The expression is still famous around the globe and used to inspire people for self-help. The phrase originated in ancient Greece as “the Gods help those who help themselves” and may originally have been proverbial. It is illustrated by two of Aesop’s Fables and a similar sentiment is found in ancient Greek drama. Although it has been commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin, the modern English wording appears earlier in Algernon Sidney’s work.

 

The phrase is often mistaken as a scriptural quote, though it is not stated verbatim in the Bible. Some Christians have criticized the expression as being contrary to the Bible’s message of God’s grace. A variant of the phrase can also be found in the Quran (13:11).

 

Prevailing views

The belief that this is a phrase that occurs in the Bible, or is even one of the Ten Commandments, is common in the United States. The beliefs of Americans regarding this phrase and the Bible has been studied by Christian demographer and pollster George Barna of The Barna Group. To the statement “The Bible teaches that God helps those who help themselves”; 53% of Americans agree strongly, 22% agree somewhat, 7% disagree somewhat, 14% disagree strongly, and 5% stated they don’t know.

 

Of “born-again” Christians 68% agreed, and 81% of non “born-again” Christians agreed with the statement. In a February 2000 poll, 53% strongly agreed and 22% agreed somewhat that the Bible teaches the phrase. Of the 14 questions asked, this was the least biblical response, according to Barna. A poll in the late 1990s showed the majority (81%) believe the concept is taught by the Bible, another stating 82%.

 

Despite being of non-Biblical origin the phrase topped a poll of the most widely known Bible verses. Seventy-five percent of American teenagers said they believed that it was the central message of the Bible.

 

Barna critiques this as evidence of Americans’ unfamiliarity with the Bible. He said,  It “suggests a spiritual self-reliance inconsistent with Christianity” according to David Kinnaman, vice president of the Barna Research Group. Christian minister Erwin Lutzer argues there is some support for this saying in the Bible (2 Thessalonians 3:10, James 4:8); however, much more often God helps those who cannot help themselves, which is what grace is about (the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, Ephesians 2:4–5, Romans 4:4–5). The statement is often criticized as espousing a Semi-Pelagian model of salvation, which most Christians denounce as heresy.

 

SemiPelagianism is a Christian theological and soteriological school of thought on salvation. Semipelagian thought stands in contrast to the earlier Pelagian teaching about salvation, the Pelagianism (in which people achieve their own salvation by their own means), which had been dismissed as heresy.

 

The Persians

The sentiment appears in several ancient Greek tragedies. Sophocles, in his Philoctetes (c. 409 BC), wrote, “No good e’er comes of leisure purposeless; And heaven ne’er helps the men who will not act.”

 

Euripides, in the Hippolytus (428 BC), mentions that, “Try first thyself, and after call in God; For to the worker God himself lends aid.” In his Iphigeneia in Tauris, Orestes says, “I think that Fortune watcheth o’er our lives, surer than we. But well said: he who strives will find his gods strive for him equally.”

 

A similar version of this saying “God himself helps those who dare” better translated as “divinity helps those who dare” “audentes deus ipse iuuat” comes from Ovid, Metamorphoses, 10.586. The phrase is spoken by Hippomenes when contemplating whether to enter a foot race against Atalanta for her hand in marriage. If Hippomenes were to lose, however, he would be killed. Hippomenes decides to challenge Atalanta to a race and, with the aid of Venus, Hippomenes was able to win the race.

 

The same concept is found in the fable of Hercules and the Wagoner, first recorded by Babrius in the 1st century AD. In it, a wagon falls into a ravine, or in later versions becomes mired, but when its driver appeals to Hercules for help, he is told to get to work himself. Aesop is also credited with a similar fable about a man who calls on the goddess Athena for help when his ship is wrecked and is advised to try swimming first. It has been conjectured that both stories were created to illustrate an already existing proverb.

 

The French author Jean de La Fontaine also adapted the first of these fables as Le chartier embourbé (Fables VI.18) and draws the moral Aide-toi, le ciel t’aidera (Help yourself and Heaven will help you too). A little earlier, George Herbert had included “Help thyself, and God will help thee” in his proverb collection, Jacula Prudentum (1651). But it was the English political theorist Algernon Sidney who originated the now familiar wording, “God helps those who help themselves”, apparently the first exact rendering of the phrase. Benjamin Franklin later used it in his Poor Richard’s Almanack (1736) and has been widely quoted.

 

Islamic texts

A passage with similar sentiments can be found in the Quran:

Indeed Allah will not change the conditions of a population until they change what is in themselves.  Qur’an 13:11

 

It has a different meaning in that it implies that helping oneself is a prerequisite for expecting the help of God.

 

Trust in God But Tie Your Camel is an Arab proverb with a similar meaning. It is also one of the reported sayings of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. According to Tirmidhi, one day Mohammed noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it. He asked the Bedouin, “Why don’t you tie down your camel?” The Bedouin answered, “I placed my trust in Allah.” At that, Mohammed said, “Tie your camel and place your trust in Allah.”

 

Other historical uses

The French society Aide-toi, le ciel t’aidera (Help yourself and Heaven will help you too) played an important role in bringing about the July Revolution of 1830 in France.

 

Aide-toi et Dieu t’aidera (Help yourself, and God will help you) was the motto on the ship’s wheel of the famous UK-built Confederate sea raider CSS Alabama, captained by Raphael Semmes during the American Civil War.

 

Prevalence and assessment

The phrase is often quoted to emphasize the importance of taking initiative. There is also a relationship to the Parable of the Faithful Servant, and the Parable of the Ten Virgins, which has a similar eschatological theme: be prepared for the day of reckoning. However, the argument has been made that this is a non-Biblical concept. That’s what it is.

 

Christian Scripture

While the term does not appear verbatim in Christian scriptures, these passages are used to suggest an ethic of reliance on God.

 

Colossians 3:23 – Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

Deuteronomy 28:8 – The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to.

Proverbs 13:4 – The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.

Proverbs 21:31 – The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.

Matthew 5:3-4 – God blesses those who realize their need for him; and who mourn will be comforted.

I Timothy 5:8 – If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Reliance upon God is not mentioned but is strongly implied.

 

Conversely, instances where Jesus served or healed someone would be evidence of God helping those who cannot help themselves. (See Mark 6:34; Mark 1:30-31; and Mark 10:46-52.)

 

The Real Issue:

 

Are you talking about Salvation or living life every day?

 

If you’re talking about Salvation then you are completely off of what Scripture says and are expounding a heresy.

 

3  For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4  Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5  And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6  just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7  “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8  blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” Romans 4:3-8 (ESV)

 

Mormon view – saved by works, and God fills in whatever gaps are left if you’ve done well.

 

“For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

2 Nephi 25:23 [Book of Mormon]

 

If you are talking about living life then you may have a kernel of truth.

 

For while life must be lived in the Spirit and by the power of God, we are also called upon to have faith and to take the initiative.

 

Proverbs 6:10-12 – A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.

Proverbs 12:11 – He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.

Proverbs 12:24 – Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.

 

Just because I’m working hard doesn’t mean I’m not also trusting God!

 

Paul may say it best here:

 

28  Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29  For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. Colossians 1:28-29 (ESV)

 

But this message is spread throughout the Bible.

 

10  “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (NASB)

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Disciple Up # 171
Stupid Things Christian’s Say, Pt 2
“Everything Happens for A Reason”
By Louie Marsh, 7-5-2020

Links to Sites Quoted From on this podcast:

 https://www.inc.com/thomas-koulopoulos/its-time-to-say-it-everything-does-not-happen-for-a-reason.html

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/finding-purpose/201807/why-we-think-everything-happens-reason

https://ideapod.com/everything-happens-for-a-reason-7-reasons-to-believe-in-this-philosophy/

https://www.christianity.com/wiki/christian-life/does-everything-really-happen-for-a-reason.html

Does everything happen for a reason? Yes.

Scientifically everything has a cause and then has an effect. That effect then often causes other things to happen. So yes, in the physical world everything is caused by something else. Nothing just spontaneously occurs for no reason whatsoever.  So, in the physical world nothing happens without a cause, or a reason for it happening.

Possible Reasons Things Happen

Sinful acts by others or myself

Well intentioned acts (mine or others) that go wrong (Murphey’s Law)

Things break or wear out in our fallen world

Chance that seems random, but may or may not be

Others responding to what I’ve said or done (reaping what I’ve sowed)

Physical consequences of my actions

Several or many different things happening at once

How this works in real life

 If someone you know and love kills themselves and a friend attempts to comfort you by saying, “Everything happens for a reason,” what do they mean? Do they mean that depression resulted in this person killing themselves?

Almost certainly no. When people say this they are referring to some vague and unknown universal power or deity or just “the universe” itself has some sort of plan or purpose and your friends suicide somehow, in some unknown and unknowable way, fits into this mysterious plan.

This is what is so objectionable from a Biblical perspective.  First of all God is not unknowable and secondly who are you to say that everything is part of his plan? What about our free will and our responsibility for what we choose to say and do?

According to the Bible everything that happens is NOT what God wants to happen, and He does NOT make it happen. He allows it to happen, but that’s completely different from causing or approving it. That’s why many things are labeled sin by God, they happen alright but not because they are part of God’s plan or He wants them too.

33  “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34  You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35  The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36  I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37  for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37 (ESV)

  • We are responsible for what we do, think, feel and say, and we will answer for all those before God. That nine-year-old little boy who was killed in Chicago this weekend was NOT part of God’s plan. The reason he was shot was because of sin. The person or people responsible will be held accountable by God.

1  The word of the LORD came to me: 2  “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? 3  As I live, declares the Lord GOD, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. 4  Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die. 5  “If a man is righteous and does what is just and right— 6  if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman in her time of menstrual impurity, 7  does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, 8  does not lend at interest or take any profit, withholds his hand from injustice, executes true justice between man and man, 9  walks in my statutes, and keeps my rules by acting faithfully—he is righteous; he shall surely live, declares the Lord GOD. 10  “If he fathers a son who is violent, a shedder of blood, who does any of these things 11  (though he himself did none of these things), who even eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor’s wife, 12  oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination, 13  lends at interest, and takes profit; shall he then live? He shall not live. He has done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon himself. Ezekiel 18:1-13 (ESV)

  • God does have a plan, but it’s based on FREE WILL. Therefore everything that happens isn’t part of His plan. Yes He knows it will happen and yes He has a way to accomplish His will in spite of those events, but they are still NOT happening for some mystical reason. They are the result of sin, and that’s the bottom line on that!

46  “If they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you are angry with them and give them to an enemy, so that they are carried away captive to the land of the enemy, far off or near, 47  yet if they turn their heart in the land to which they have been carried captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors, saying, ‘We have sinned and have acted perversely and wickedly,’ 48  if they repent with all their mind and with all their heart in the land of their enemies, who carried them captive, and pray to you toward their land, which you gave to their fathers, the city that you have chosen, and the house that I have built for your name, 49  then hear in heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause 50  and forgive your people who have sinned against you, and all their transgressions that they have committed against you, and grant them compassion in the sight of those who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them 1 Kings 8:46-50 (ESV)

 

  • What really offends me about this is just how self righteous it is. I head someone on TV say a while back that they are “a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.” Oh my, how spiritual you think you are! But are you?

 

1  But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3  heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4  treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5  having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (ESV)

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Episode 44

Disciple Up #44
The Disciple & Free Speech
By Louie Marsh, 2-21-2018

General Commands on Speech:

29  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)

6  Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:6 (ESV)

15  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, Ephesians 4:15 (ESV)

Practical Power of Speech:

1  A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. 2  The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly. Proverbs 15:1-2 (ESV)

28  Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. Proverbs 17:28 (ESV)

19  Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; James 1:19 (ESV)

Quotes:

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/freedom_of_speech

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use. Soren Kierkegaard

It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them. Mark Twain

I believe that freedom of speech and freedom of religion go hand-in-hand in America. Kirk Cameron

I live in America. I have the right to write whatever I want. And it’s equaled by another right just as powerful: the right not to read it. Freedom of speech includes the freedom to offend people. Brad Thor

Freedom of speech means freedom for those who you despise, and freedom to express the most despicable views. It also means that the government cannot pick and choose which expressions to authorize and which to prevent. Alan Dershowitz

What Speech Shows Me About Myself

8  but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9  With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11  Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12  Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. James 3:8-12 (ESV)

11  it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Matthew 15:11 (ESV)

34  You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34 (ESV)

God & Speech:

3  Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Psalm 141:3 (ESV)

2   Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. 3  For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words. Ecclesiastes 5:2-3 (ESV)

11  whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:11 (ESV)

36  I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37  for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37 (ESV)

The Disciple Up Low Down On the Disciple & Censorship

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