Authority and Inspiration

What did these men think they were doing, in writing the gospels, letters, and stories that became the Holy Scriptures? Did they realize they were creating parts of the Bible?

When it’s all said and done, there must be something deeper and more significant about the storyline of the Bible than choice of words and grammatical structures. What’s the authority behind the Bible? How could stories written by frail and faulty human beings about God and God’s dealing with the human family have authority? Maybe there’s something to be said for integrity and authenticity, being real with the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the successes and the failures, the faithfulnesses and betrayals, the ups and the downs. One thing is for sure, the Bible doesn’t gloss over much.

It doesn’t whitewash the stories. It tells it all in its attempts to describe how God intersects with humanity, how the Creator attempts to reconcile with a rebellious family, how the Redeemer tirelessly and passionately and tenaciously works to bring about trust and hope and restoration to what God has always wanted for the world. Isn’t there a certain amount of authority that comes from this kind of transparency and honesty?

“The Bible is written by inspired men, but it is not God’s mode of thought and expression. It is that of humanity. God, as a writer, is not represented. Men will often say such an expression is not like God. But God has not put Himself in words, in logic, in rhetoric, on trial in the Bible. The writers of the Bible were God’s penmen, not His pen. . . .

“It is not the words of the Bible that are inspired, but the men that were inspired. Inspiration acts not on the man’s words or his expressions but on the man himself, who, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, is imbued with thoughts. But the words receive the impress of the individual mind. The divine mind is diffused. The divine mind and will is combined with the human mind and will; thus the utterances of the man are the word of God.”1

The Bible is a “book with God’s fingerprints all over it and His breath behind the words.” It has been one of the most revered and beloved and used resources for spiritual seekers down through the ages. It is a source of comfort and hope, of challenge and rebuke, of encouragement and support, a mirror for growth, a light to show the path.

It refuses to let you sit still. It prods you to move forward, to take action, to engage in dialogue, and to launch into adventure. It continually challenges your picture of God and your experience of life. And in the end, maybe all that is enough to find in it true authority and inspiration.2

1. Selected Messages, book 1, p. 21.

2. Adapted with permission from the iFollow Discipleship Resource, ©North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

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