The Inspiration of the Prophets

Lesson 5

January 31, 2009


Once upon a time a man was given a Bible as a present. He had never held a Bible in his hands before, and he quickly opened it and began reading.

He read about a snake that talked and a bush on fire that didn't burn up. He read about an ax that floated and men who were thrown into a furnace and weren't burned at all. He read about the city of Jericho falling at the shout of the Israelites. He read about people instantly healed from terrible diseases, and then he read about Jesus, who was born of a virgin and later rose from the dead. 

"Wow," he said. "This is the best book of magic I've ever read!"

Leading thought. This little story probably makes you cringe to hear the word "magic" applied to the Scriptures. And yet...When we look to God only for miracles to benefit us or for quick answers to life's questions, is it possible that we are asking God to work magic on our behalf? This lesson is about appreciating fully the power and knowledge of God and being grateful for His willingness to share with us through the Bible and His prophets. No magic involved.

1. "God-breathed." A literal translation of the opening words of 2 Timothy 3:16 is, "All Scripture is God-breathed." Another translation is "inspired by God." Does this mean that the Holy Spirit hovered over Bible writers and dictated to them word for word what they must say? Why would God not choose that method of dealing with His prophets and Bible writers?

2. Humans wrote the Bible. Ordinary folks received special messages and conveyed them to us through Scripture. Should we pay attention to who those ordinary people were? their occupation? training? background? Did these people write in the same style that God would use? What did God influence more: the people who wrote Scripture or the words they wrote? Explain your answer.

3. The recipe. A beautiful description of how men's words become God's Word is provided in Monday's lesson. A person called to speak for God submits his mind totally to God, who infuses that mind with divine thought. In this way the words of the inspired person become the Word of God. What is the process through which the accuracy of the final message guaranteed?

4. Imperfect speech. If God uses imperfect men and women, who use their imperfect memory and writing skills to record the message God has given them, will a sign of imperfection ever be seen in their words? What about human limitations? Are these chosen writers ever able to communicate the full majesty and power of God in a way we can fully understand? Do we ever see in Scripture or other writings a full picture of God and His love?

5. The physical act. Those of us who grew up Adventist have heard many stories about how Ellen G. White received messages from God. Read the description for Tuesday's lesson. She did not speak directly to those in the same room while she was in vision. Why not? Explain how her thoughts and not her words could be inspired by God.

6. Other ways. We have vivid, accurate descriptions of how Ellen White received special messages. In similar ways many people go into spasms or emerge from trances and give speeches about what they have seen or heard. Why does the Adventist church reject these messages? How can an ordinary Christian distinguish between those who falsely claim to have heard from God and those who truly do receive impressions and messages from God?

7. Their saving power. Are we saved by the Bible? Does an understanding of Scripture guarantee us a place in heaven? In the same way, are the testimonies and visions of Ellen White a channel through which we can be saved? In John 5:39 and 40, what does Jesus say about the role of Scriptures in our salvation? What is the only source of our salvation?

Joyce Griffith





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