Wednesday: God as Author
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Bible scholars have often been impressed by the incredible literary quality in the Bible. In fact, many secular colleges teach courses on the Bible as literature. They study it, not because they think it is the Word of God but simply for its literary beauty.1

As Christians, we have the blessing not only of enjoying the literary beauty of the Scriptures but of learning the truths about God as revealed in the Bible. No doubt, too, the artful construction of the narratives and the poetry, all influenced by the Spirit of the Lord (yet written out through the words of God’s prophets), goes a long way in helping us understand the truth contained therein.

The apostle Paul, for instance, with his complex theological discourse, regularly punctuates his theology with powerful literary devices. For example, in the first eleven chapters of the book of Romans, Paul gives a comprehensive account of the gospel. Look through these chapters and note the various topics Paul weaves together.

Read Romans 11:33–36. What is happening here after all that came before it?  



Like a hiker who has reached the summit of a high mountain, the apostle—who has taken in the vast panorama of salvation history—now bursts into praise. Before Paul goes on to outline the practical implications of the gospel, he worships.

Paul exhibits this subtle literary rhythm several times in his epistles and letters: intricate theological reasoning interlaced with praise to God before concluding with practical counsel.

The book of Revelation also is filled with an imposing mosaic of literary devices through which God portrays salvation history. Much of the book was taken from the Old Testament. The reader is presented with an exceedingly complex tapestry of words, phrases, and themes borrowed from other biblical writers but now woven together into an entirely new fabric. This final book in the Bible is in a style vastly different from what Paul and the Gospel writers used. Instead, we are almost overwhelmed with a profound aesthetic display carefully structured around seven scenes of the heavenly sanctuary, each one opening with deeper access into the heavenly court.

The book of Revelation is an extensive aesthetic display. God could have furnished John with a standard historical document to present the course of the salvation story. Instead, what we find are stunning pictorial vistas portraying the working out of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, expanding on the imposing apocalyptic display given earlier to Daniel and Ezekiel.

Imagine reading the Bible only as literature. Talk about missing the point! What lessons can we learn about how easily we can have truth right before our eyes and yet miss it completely?

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Wednesday: God as Author — 7 Comments

  1. “God as Author,” I wonder just how far we should carry this. It seems as though Ellen White had a bit different approach to scripture when she said, “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. Look at the different writers” (1SM 21.1).

    For instance, when Paul wrote his letters to his churches they were just that. Letters sent to specific churches in an attempt to straighten out problems in those churches. Today’s pastors use the telephone or email to do those kind of things or better yet they get in the car and travel a hour or so to a particular church to discuss any problems a church may have. In his letters Paul along with other writers used the literary constructs of their day in order to convey the thoughts they had in mind. As an example Paul’s letters have all the elements of good standard letters commonly written during the first century AD within the Roman empire.

    What the Holy Spirit did was to give the writers information and to help them in their writing. It is not as though God moved the writer’s pen for them. Each writer put the ideas down on paper in their own words and in the style that they were accustomed to. So God gave them full freedom to say what they wanted to say and how they wanted to say it. It is as thought God were their personal secretary, librarian, literary scholar, and theologian. God was the resource and help but they did the writing not God.

    Another example is Luke’s gospel. By Luke’s own testimony, “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus” (Luke 1:1-3 NKJV). Notice here that Luke got his information from those who. “delivered them to us.” So the Holy Spirit helped him put it all together rather than give him the information directly.

    When it comes to Revelation, Daniel, or the many other prophets they simply describe what they saw in vision and I am sure the Holy Spirit was with them as an aid in writing by suggesting this or that and bringing things to their mind. So God didn’t override any of the writers of the Bible by lording it over them (Mat 20:25-28) but made it a team effort. That seems to be how love works with God as He serves his creation.

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  2. Sure they are letters from paul to the churches, surely these letters originate from God, surely God move the man of God what to say? yes the letters are inspired from God Himself? Luke 1:37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

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  3. Perhaps we should avoid thinking of "inspiration" as a single methodology.

    Sometimes, people were inspired to write things by impressions. In other cases, like that of Moses, there were direct instructions given. Other prophets, like Ezekiel, were also given explicit instruction. "Thus saith the Lord..."

    As a person grows in their relationship with God, they begin to act and think more in line with how Jesus acted and thought. They become much more impressionable by the Spirit of God, to present things in a way that gets the message that God wants to deliver. God doesn't necessarily change their style of speech or writing -- the writer still sounds like the writer -- but at the same time, the influence of the Holy Spirit upon a life enriches and refines that life, such that the thoughts and words are more in harmony with God's will.

    In general, "inspiration" is not the same as "dictation," although we can point to instances in the Bible where dictation was involved.

    At the same time, "inspiration" is not just a person saying whatever they want, however they want, and still have it be God's words. When we consent to be used by God, there is a great deal of latitude that it gives God to enable us to say what He needs to have said.

    Yes, sometimes God "helps" a person, but other times, the entire train of thought is of God. Inspiration is a nuanced activity that has more than one mechanism or methodology.

    It's a relatively easy concept to convey, but not necessarily an easy one to explain. :)

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  4. "God is the author of truth. He enlightens the darkened understanding and gives to the human mind power to grasp and comprehend the truths which He has revealed." {CCh 54.3} Yes, men wrote the Bible; but technically, the printed words in the Bible are not the Word of God. What is the Word of God? "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17). Truth encompasses all of reality, and since God is Creator, He is the Author of all that exists. In the Bible, we are mainly dealing with unseen realities that we glean through men who communicate His thoughts--His Word--through human language for our understanding. So, there is really no discrepancy from what the SS author is saying about God being the Author and the fact that the Bible writers communicate the thoughts of this Author in human language.

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  5. Watch this!!!

    "One [thing] have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple" (Psalm 27:4). "But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end" (Hebrews 3:6). "For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (2 Corinthians 6:16).

    We can dwell in the temple of God all our days if we let Him come inside us. Then we can behold His beauty--what He is doing in our lives. And wherever we are at, we can behold His beauty around us. What a privilege! God has given Himself--through His infinite sacrifice--to us so that WE may be His Temple. Then as we behold His beautiful glory, we may become it, and others will behold it through us!

    Now we can make sense of the first quote provided in Friday's section. Here is a similar quote: "The present activity of Satan in working upon hearts, and upon churches and nations, should startle every student of prophecy. The end is near. Let our churches arise. Let the converting power of God be experienced in the hearts of the individual members, and then we shall see the deep movings of the Spirit of God. The forgiveness of sins is not the sole result of the death of Jesus. He made the infinite sacrifice, not only that sin might be removed, but that human nature might be restored, rebeautified, reconstructed from its ruins, and made fit for the presence of God. {PH157 26.2}
    We should show our faith by our works. A greater anxiety should be manifested to have a large measure of the Spirit of Christ; for in this will be the strength of the church. It is Satan who is striving to have God's children draw apart. Love, O, how little love we have--love for God and for one another! The Word and Spirit of truth, dwelling in our hearts, will separate us from the world."

    The infinite sacrifice of God is linked with the Holy Spirit and sanctification.

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  6. Thank you A S Baker, may I add to say, God because of His love for humanity simplified His thought using fallen human beings so that we can understand His plan of salvation. As the writers expressed themselves their thoughts navigated along God's will to teach and correct, win and restore humanity to His friendship and love. God's desires us to be with Him the word is His love letter to us.

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