Lesson 4

January 16 - 22

How Inspiration Works

READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Deut. 4:1-9, 27-29; Jon. 1; Luke 24:25-27; Heb. 11:8-10; 2 Pet. 1:19-21.

MEMORY TEXT: "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you" (Deuteronomy 4:2).

KEY THOUGHT: The words of the Bible have been transmitted to us in such a way that they bring us a knowledge of God's plan of salvation and His instruction on how to live the abundant life and bring glory to Him.

Sabbath Afternoon January 16

INSPIRATION IS NOT LIMITED TO THE TRANSMISSION OF THE WRITTEN WORD. Peter states clearly that "the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Pet. 1:21). Although the Scriptures were not written until about 2500 years after Creation, the patriarchs and prophets presented God's messages to those for whom it was intended in oral form before that time. "Enoch . . . , the seventh from Adam, prophesied . . . ." (Jude 14). Go those for od spoke to Noah, and Noah spoke to the world for God. Jacob blessed Joseph's sons when he laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim. Joseph objected, explaining that because Manasseh was the firstborn, Jacob's right hand should be placed on him. Jacob refused, stating under Inspiration that Manasseh's "younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations" (Gen. 48:19). 

Sunday  January 17

THE INSPIRATION OF THE BIBLE (Dent. 4:1-9; 18:15-19; Luke 24:27).

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Moses became the first to write documents that now are part of the Bible. Over the next 1600 years, many more prophets were used by God to prepare the Scriptures for us.

What did Moses claim as the Source of his instruction? What did he predict concerning additional instruction that would come to God's people after his death? Deut. 4:5, 6; 18:18, 19 

"Moses, no doubt, had many of the incidents and much of the instruction vividly in mind when he reviewed them orally to Israel shortly before his death, and recorded them in Deuteronomy. The Spirit directed in the selection of material to be recorded, refreshed Moses' memory to recall it clearly, and 'moved' him in his writing. This is not a record of entirely new information. Interspersed among the historical incidents and reviewed instruction, however, are predictions and further instruction especially revealed to Moses by the Holy Spirit to be recorded under His guidance.'—T. H. Jemison, Christian Beliefs (Boise, Idaho: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1959), pp. 18, 19.

What does Jesus' statement in Luke 24:27 reveal concerning the accepted divisions of the Old Testament Scriptures in His time?  

The order of the Old Testament books. The Hebrew Scriptures were organized as follows:

   The Law-The five books of Moses known as the Pentateuch.

   The Prophets-Four "former" prophets: Joshua, Judges, Samuel (1 and 2), and Kings (1and 2). Four "latter" prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the 12 minor prophets (in one book).

   The Writings-The rest of the books.

The order of the New Testament books. The 27 books of the New Testament are arranged in these five divisions:

   (1) the four Gospels

   (2) the book of Acts

   (3) the fourteen Epistles of Paul

   (4) the seven general Epistles

   (5) the book of Revelation   

Monday  January 18

INSPIRATION AND THE PROPHETS (Jon. 1; Dan. 8:27; Heb. 11:8-10; 1 Pet. 1:10, 11).

There do not seem to be specific qualifications that served the Holy Spirit as a guideline in choosing the Bible writers. God made the choice for reasons best known to Him.

What do the Bible chapters that follow indicate about the prophets noted? Why did God use them in spite of their glaring shortcomings?

     Jonah(Jon. 1) _________________________________________________

     Balaam(Num. 22-24) ___________________________________________

     David(Ps. 51) _________________________________________________  

God had to use sinners because they were all that was available (Rom. 3:23). By God's grace many of the Bible prophets became persons of outstanding character and virtue, despite their human failings. Consider Abraham's experience as outlined in Hebrews 11:8-10.

Abraham, a channel of light and blessing. "When he received the divine call, Abraham was not a man of renown, neither a lawgiver, nor a conqueror. He was a simple herdsman, dwelling in tents, but employing a large number of workmen to carry on his humble employment. And the honor which he received was because of his faithfulness to God, his strict integrity and just dealing.... Abraham's unselfish life made him indeed a 'spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men' (1 Cor. 4:9).... Through Abraham's experience in his religious life, a correct knowledge of Jehovah has been communicated to thousands; and his light will shed its beams all along the path of those who practice the piety, the faith, the devotion, and the obedience of Abraham."—E. G. White, The Youth's Instructor, Mar. 4, 1897.

Note the fact that the Bible writers did not always understand the messages they were asked to communicate. Dan. 8:27. What did they have to do to gain a better understanding? 1 Pet. 1:10, 11.  

For reflection:  The Holy Spirit used the Bible writers despite their failings and frailties.  How does this encourage me today in my spiritual walk and in my service to God?   

Tuesday  January 19


Whether written by David in a palace, Paul in a prison, Moses in the fifteenth century B.C., or John in the first century A.D., the books of the Bible reveal a remarkable unity. This is one of the great evidences that the same Spirit inspired all the writers.

"Unity is one of the clearly recognized characteristics of the Scriptures. There is unity of purpose—the story of the plan of salvation. There is unity in its theme—Jesus Christ, His cross and His crown. There is complete harmony of teaching—the doctrines of the Old Testament and those of the New are the same. There is unity of development—a steady progression from the creation to the Fall and on to the redemption and final restoration. There is unity in the co-ordination of the prophecies. How can it be? The same Spirit who spoke through Moses spoke sixteen centuries later through John the revelator. And in all the centuries between, that same Spirit testified of the same Father-God and the same Messiah, and the same plan for mankind."—Jemison, Christian Beliefs, p. 17.

How did Jesus use the unity of Old Testament prophecies to demonstrate that their fulfillment gave proof of His Messiahship? Luke 24:25-27.  

"The truths of the Bible are as pearls hidden. They must be searched, dug out by painstaking effort. Those who take only a surface view of the Scriptures will, with their superficial knowledge, which they think is very deep, talk of the contradictions of the Bible, and question the authority of the Scriptures. But those whose hearts are in harmony with truth and duty will search the Scriptures with a heart prepared to receive divine impressions. The illuminated soul sees a spiritual unity, one grand golden thread running through the whole."—Selected Messages, book 1, p. 20.

Demonstrate the unity of the Bible by selecting a Bible topic and choosing four texts referring to it from different Bible books. Note how your compilation gives a more complete picture than most individual texts do.

Text Idea ___________________________________________________________

Text Idea ___________________________________________________________

Text Idea ___________________________________________________________

Text Idea ___________________________________________________________  

Wednesday  January 20

INSPIRATION AND HISTORY (John 20:30, 31; 21:25; Luke 1:3, 4; 1 Cor. 10:11).

God's direct control of revelation works through the Spirit to decide what is to be included.

What does John say about the material covered in his Gospel and why he included what he did? John 21:25; 20:30, 31. 

John does not include much of what is covered in the other three Gospels but adds a record of much that has not been included. Even then, we are given records of only a few weeks from the total life and ministry of Jesus.

Whether the information in the Bible "came from personal observation, oral or written sources, or direct revelation, it all came to the writer through the Holy Spirit's guidance. This guarantees the Bible's trust worthiness."—Seventh-day Adventists Believe. . . , p. 10.

What explanations are given for the inclusion of historical accounts in the Bible? 1 Cor. 10:11; Luke 1:4.  

"The Bible reveals God's plan in His dynamic interaction with the human race, not in a collection of abstract doctrines. His self-revelation stands rooted in real events that occurred in a definite time and place. The reliability of the historical accounts is extremely important because they form the framework of our understanding of God's character and His purpose for us.... The Holy Spirit gave the writers special insights so that they could record events in the controversy between good and evil that demonstrate the character of God and guide people in their quest for salvation."—Seventh-day Adventist's Believe. . . , p. 10.

Bible biographies also ground us in our certainty of Inspiration. Contrary to much of what is included in ancient biographies, the Bible faithfully records the errors and weaknesses of the individuals whose lives are portrayed. It makes no excuses for them but portrays what they were and what they became as God worked in them and through them.

"No cover-up shrouds Noah's lack of self-control or Abraham's deception. The fits of tempers that Moses, Paul, James, and John exhibited are recorded.... Scripture makes no excuses for them, nor does it attempt to minimize their guilt. It portrays them all for what they were and what they became or failed to become by the grace of God....." —Seventh-day Adventists Believe. . . , pp. 10, 11.

In what ways does such frank portrayal of Bible characters' failures give us assurance that we can overcome by God's grace? 

Thursday  January 21

AN INFALLIBLE REVELATION (Matt. 5:17, 18; 24:37-39; John 6:32; Titus 1:1-3).

"The Holy Scriptures are to be accepted as an authoritative, infallible revelation of His [God's] will."—The Great Controversy, p. vii.

To what extent did Jesus uphold the authority and inspiration of the Scriptures? Matt. 5:17,18. 

"Jesus accepted them [the Scriptures] as historically accurate and spiritually relevant (Matt. 12:39-41)."—Seventh-day Adventists Believe . . . . p. 11.

Find five Bible references showing examples of Jesus' confirmation of the accounts recorded in the Old Testament. (Examples: Noah's floodMatthew 24:37-39; miracle of the mannaJohn 6:32). 

What about mistakes in copying and other transcriptional errors? The large number of copies of various manuscripts of Sacred Records now available to scholars demonstrates that there have been scribal errors through the ages. This has led to an attempt to restore the original text by what is known as textual criticism. Taking into consideration the thousands of copies of the Bible text in existence, what is amazing is that there are so few errors. But what do we do about the very few mistakes that have been documented?

"No man can improve the Bible by suggesting what the Lord meant to say or ought to have said. Some look to us gravely and say, 'Don't you think there might have been some mistake in the copyist or in the translators?' This is all probable, and the mind that is so narrow that it will hesitate and stumble over this possibility or probability would be just as ready to stumble over the mysteries of the Inspired Word, because their feeble minds cannot see through the purposes of God....

"And He [God] has not, while presenting the perils clustering about the last days, qualified any finite man to unravel hidden mysteries or inspired one man or any class of men to pronounce judgment as to that which is inspired or is not....

"I take the Bible just as it is, as the Inspired Word. I believe its utterances in an entire Bible."—Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 16, 17.

Think on this:  Would you like to see a miracle?  Pick up your Bible and look at it.  It is a real miracle.  As you hold it in your hands, contemplate the way it was produced, transmitted, safeguarded, and the way the Spirit uses it today to reveal Christ and move upon your heart. 

Friday January 22

FURTHER STUDY: "When men, in their finite judgment, find it necessary to go into an examination of scriptures to define that which is inspired and that which is not, they have stepped before Jesus to show Him a better way than He has led us.... Men arise who think they find something to criticize in God's Word. They lay it bare before others as evidence of superior wisdom. These men are, many of them, smart men, learned men, they have eloquence and talent, the whole lifework [of whom] is to unsettle minds in regard to the inspiration of the Scriptures. They influence many to see as they do. And the same work is passed on from one to another just as Satan designed it should be, until we may see the full meaning of the words of Christ. "'When the Son of man cometh shall he find faith on the earth?'" (Luke 18:8).

"Brethren, let not a mind or hand be engaged in criticizing the Bible. It is a work that Satan delights to have any of you do, but it is not a work the Lord has pointed out for you to do."—Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 16,17.

1. Discuss the difference between "criticizing the Bible," as mentioned above, and asking searching questions about it so that we may know and appreciate it more fully. 
2. Sometimes Bible writers did not understand the revelation given to them by God. What implications does this have? What does it tell us about how God works? What does it also tell us about the Bible writers? 

WORD FOR REVIEW: Moved (2 Pet. 1:21). Here the record "implies that the prophets were borne along by the Spirit as a ship is borne along by a wind. They were entirely under the Spirit's motivation."—SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 602.

SUMMARY:  The Holy Spirit "moved" upon the prophets to enable them to present accurately to others the messages God gave them to deliver. The Bible we have today is the inspired Word of God. "The Holy Scriptures are to be accepted as an authoritative, infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the revealer of doctrines, and the test of experience."—The Great Controversy, p.vii

From Buddhist to Believer, Part I

Nola Tudu

Drathai Chureson grew up in Thailand. Her parents taught her to follow the principles of Buddhism: Walk in the middle path and do good to others. They urged her to worship the spirits of her ancestors, who could protect them and ensure a good harvest. "If we refuse to worship the ancestors, some harm might come to us," her mother often warned.

When Drathai was 10 years old, a friend told her about the God who created the world. When Drathai asked to see this Creator God, the girl explained that God is invisible, but He is everywhere. Drathai could see and touch the family's images of Buddha. To her these images were evidence that her family's god existed.

Drathai often wondered whether she was good enough to earn favor with her god. She would examine her actions and resolve to try harder, live better, and hope to gain favor with the deity.

She was 16 years old when an Adventist pastor visited her home and left some Christian magazines. Drathai was impressed by the pastor's concern for people. She began to read one of the magazines that he had left and noticed that they were published by Seventh-day Adventist Christians. She had heard of Christians, but who were Seventh-day Adventists? And why were they so eager to share with others? She found a Bible study enrollment card and sent for Bible lessons. An Adventist in her village brought her a small New Testament to use as she filled out the lessons. Tears came to her eyes as she read the story of how Jesus healed the paralyzed man whose friend lowered him through the roof into a crowded room. (See Luke 5. 7-26.)

But the story of the crucifixion stunned her. How could a Man who had healed people, an even raised people from the dead, allow a band of soldiers and an angry mob to put Him to death? She tried to picture the scene of Jesus hanging on the cross, to imagine His brokenhearted plea "Father, forgive them!" She wondered h He could love people who had rejected Him, even after He had healed them and taught them about God. What kind of God was this anyway?

(continued next week)

Drathai Chureson (left). Nola Tudu is acting director of the Department of Journalism and Communication at Spicer Memorial College.

Join the SSNET moderated email discussion group.  You are also warmly invited to join a group discussion of this lesson Sabbath morning with your local Seventh-Day Adventist congregation.

Editorial Office:  12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904.
Principal Contributor:  Leo Van Dolson
Editor:  Philip G. Samaan
Associate Editor:  Lyndelle Brower Chiomenti
Editorial Assistant:  Soraya Homayouni Parish
Art and Design:  Lars Justinen
Pacific Press Coordinator:  Glen Robinson

Copyright © 1999 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist.  All Rights Reserved.

This page is Netscape friendly.
SSNET Web Site Home page.
Directory of adult SS quarterly Bible Study guides.

Prepared for the Internet by the SSNET Web Team.
Last updated January 12, 1999.