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Questions for discussion (from Good Word Online):

Leading Question: If we claim inspiration for a prophet, does that mean that everything the prophet says is the result of direct revelation from God?

If we listen carefully to Scripture, we will discover that some of what we have in the Bible came directly from visions, in other words, from direct revelation. Much of Daniel and Revelation would fit in that category.

But it is equally clear that some parts of Scripture involved “research” and some parts simply involved the disciplined intellect of a Spirit-filled man. Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and Luke belong in the “research” category, while Proverbs would fit in the category of the “disciplined intellect.”

The principle of “canon” means that Christians accept whatever is in Scripture as “inspired,” regardless of how it actually became part of Scripture. Thus 2 Timothy 3:16 covers everything in Scripture, whether the work of authors, editors, or compilers. All Scripture is inspired, whether it came by way of vision, research, or simply from the reflections of a disciplined intellect. The following “surprises” reflect aspects of Scripture which are often overlooked, but clearly represent God’s willingness to give freedom to his writers to produce their own messages under the guidance of the Spirit.

  • Use of sources. 1 Chronicles 29:29; Luke 1:1-4.
  • Use of secretaries: Jeremiah 36, Romans 16:22; 1 Corinthians 16:21.
  • Use of editors and compilers: Proverbs 25:1; Jeremiah 51:64 (the addition to the words of Jeremiah of an entire chapter from 2 Kings (2 Kings 24:18, 25:30).

Typically, discovering such “human” elements in Scripture has proven to be very unsettling to some devout Christians. How can the church encourage believers to see the “human” in Scripture while still retaining confidence in the Bible as God’s Word?

Ellen White’s comments on the nature of the revelation/inspiration process are a wonderful resource for Adventists. Her best known statements are found in Selected Message, Book 1, 15-23 and in the “Introduction” to The Great Controversy, v – xii.

Of special interest to Adventists is Ellen White’s statement that it is not the “words” that are inspired, but the “men” who wrote the Scriptures who were inspired (1SM 21). In other words, God gave them the freedom to use their own resources under the guidance of the Spirit.