The Nature Of Inspiration

The Nature Of Inspiration

 God knew that the world was about to slide into the morass of scientific unbelief with the writings of Charles Darwin. The theory of evolution degraded man with the belief that he is no more than a chemical reaction growing over billions of years. This teaching, wrapped in a garb of scientific ‘respectability’ has appealed to the minds of countless millions from all classes of society. This teaching, proceeding straight from the realms of darkness, has beguiled the masses.

Is this the reason the SDA church was raised up? The church was raised up at around the same time the theory of evolution was coming into vogue with the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859.

To embrace the Sabbath which upholds the true story of creation was God’s plan at that time.

We have been warned in Scripture that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against unseen spiritual forces. (Eph.6:12) And are warned against the deceptions of “science falsely so called.” (1 Tim.6:20) The blind acceptance of the theory of evolution by the masses shows that there is more at work here than merely human reasoning. The Sabbath commandment reminds us that the world was created in 6 days.

 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. [9] Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, [10] but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. [11] For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.  Exodus 20:8-11 ESV  

It is important on two counts. 

(1) It exposes the lie of evolution. (Exodus 20:11)

(2) It reminds us of the complete rest that is given to us as a gift through Jesus Christ. (Heb.4:3-11)

The sabbath is a valid end time teaching teaching even though most Christians reject the keeping of the 7th day sabbath for a variety of reasons. Many of which are quite valid to the honest mind. Colossians 2:16-17 AMP is a case in point:

Therefore let no one judge you in regard to food and drink or in regard to [the observance of] a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day. Such things are only a shadow of what is to come and they have only symbolic value; but the substance [the reality of what is foreshadowed] belongs to Christ.” The Sabbath is not seen as a New Testament requirement.

If we accept the New Testament at face value this passage of Scripture appears to be telling us that there is a higher calling than the making of one day sacred. Even in the Old Testament the Sabbath itself foreshadowed something greater than a weekly occurrence. Moreover I gave them my sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, so that they might know that I the LORD sanctify them. Eze. 20:12 NRSV.

Ellen White was given a vision of the Ten Commandment with a halo of light around the fourth commandment – the Sabbath? (Test.1 p.754) Is there a contradiction here between the writings of Paul in the New Testament and what Ellen White was shown? How do we reconcile the writings of Paul with the fact, that Ellen White was given a vision emphasizing the Sabbath day? There are important issues of revelation here that need to be addressed. According to Scripture and SDA belief: the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Rev.19:10 As we shall see in this article, by stating that the writings of Ellen White were actually the words of Jesus to his people, we are opening up a whole area of accountability that is not normally addressed.

When Jesus spoke he often used hyperbole or exaggeration in his language.


With the understanding that hyperbole means “exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally” we are equipped to understand more clearly the main thrust of what Jesus was saying and not to be sidetracked into endless minutae. If the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus (as noted above) then could we not expect the same principle to be apparent in Holy Spirit guided writings?

God had a plan to raise up a people and publishing houses worldwide to maintain the truth of the first chapters of Genesis which are exemplified in the fourth commandment. This was to give the hammer blow of destruction to the theory of evolution.

For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them…..” Exodus 20:11

So the main voice in this world against the theory of evolution is from a people who embrace the 10 commandment law and portray it as the line of demarcation between them and a sinful world. If this appears to be contrary to the writings of Paul in the New Testament does it then nullify their message?

What is the needed and relevant truth here? An emphasis on the 4th commandment of the law, or a doctrine that will counteract the theory of evolution. Remember the law is not for those who are surrendered to Jesus Christ: it is for those who deny him.

Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 1 Timothy 1:9 KJV Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in. Isaiah 26:2  

In times of great error and darkness (Charles Darwin – Origin Of Species) God has always maintained a pathway of truth. That will sometimes mean emphasizing what is important at the time to the exclusion of all else. Even to the extent of downplaying or exaggerating other truths! This would explain why God saw fit to emphasize the sabbath which appears to be contrary to the New Testament.

As we discussed above, sometimes in telling a parable Jesus used exaggeration or ‘hyperbole’ to emphasize the point he was making. Hyperbole is an expression that exaggerates and describes something as greatly magnified or diminished beyond the strict line of truth. e.g.

And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. Mark 9:43 ESV 

And of course we have the story of the rich man and Lazarus. (Luke 16:19-31) Even most Protestants would be reluctant to believe that heaven is a place where we can see souls being tortured. Jesus used hyperbole or exaggeration to drive home the important truths he was making.

Just as Jesus didn’t want his church to build an erroneous doctrine from these parables, so in his testimony to the remnant church he didn’t want them to build a completely erroneous doctrine of re-enforcing or re-establishing the law as a necessary requirement for the last generation of Christians. To the honest in heart who reads the writings of Paul openly this would be a grave error.

Galatians 3:23-25 ESV Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. [24] So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. [25] But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 

What are we saying here, that God is capable of deception?

It is a little known fact that God will lay stumbling blocks, even for his own people.

Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will lay stumblingblocks before this people, and the fathers and the sons together shall fall upon them; the neighbour and his friend shall perish. Jeremiah 6:21 KJV  

For the Lord has poured out upon you a spirit of deep sleep. He has closed the eyes of your prophets and seers, Isaiah 29:10 TLB 

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. Proverbs 25:2 KJV 

This principle can sometimes be seen even in the teachings of Jesus. “The parable is more condensed than the allegory: it rests upon a single principle and a single moral….” Wikipedia  

This is a form of test for believers.

For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and [their] ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with [their] eyes, and hear with [their] ears, and should understand with [their] heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Matt.13:15

God saw the insidious nature of the theory of evolution and His way of counteracting this was to raise up a people who embraced the 4th commandment. Even though it would be seen as promoting the law in direct contradiction to the writings of Paul. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Rom.8:2 ESV

Jesus can tell a parable depicting the great gulf between good and evil using shocking symbolism. Luke chapter 16 verses 19-31 is an example of this. Do we really expect Heaven to be a place where the redeemed can see and hear the torment of lost souls when Jesus has made it clear that, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4 ESV) Jesus does not contradict himself. The Lord has given us minds to think and reason with. God is free to emphasize as he will, to forcefully drive home the truth.

Just as a preacher may emphasize the gift of salvation to the exclusion of right living. It’s not that he doesn’t see the responsibility of right living but if necessary he will see the results of legalism and Pharisaism in his flock and preach accordingly. Another preacher may see the result of licentious living in his membership and preach accordingly in line with the law and judgment.

You could say that Jesus was willing to create an allegorical mind picture in order to portray a specific truth. To emphasize a specific truth Jesus was able to couch it in the context of well known stories so that his listeners would be drawn in to understand the main thrust of his message.  This can be seen, not only in Jesus himself but in those who are called to serve him.

There is a modern day theologian whom God is using to denounce the error of eternal torment. In his book “That All shall be Saved”, David Bentley Hart makes the point for universal salvation for all. While not agreeing with all of this man’s theology we would observe that this protestant theologian is closer to the truth than many of his contemporaries.

In this book we see the grappling’s of a highly intelligent man not to mention a world renowned theologian with this doctrine of eternal torment. Unlike many of his fellow theologians he is honest and able to see the massive contradiction in reconciling this teaching with the God of love. True, he is also a God of infinite justice as will be seen in the final judgement – but never keeping souls alive in a sea of eternal torment.

What do ye imagine against the Lord ? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time. Nahum 1:9 KJV

Universalism is not true but it is closer to the understanding of the character of God than the doctrine of eternal torment which portrays God unjustly as a victim of his own creation. The author can be forgiven for having the good sense to so much see the heiniousness in this teaching that he repudiates it to the extent of embracing God’s love for all, which is closer to the truth than enforced eternal suffering. (Rom.11:32) Is God allowing David Hart to teach universalism to counteract the horrible doctrine of eternal torment? The true character of God must be shown.

It is my understanding that David Hart has embraced universalism through his adherence to the doctrine of the immortality of the soul.

That doctrine echoes the first lie told to mankind. “Ye shall not surely die” (Gen.3:4) This is the doctrine that Martin Luther, the father of the reformation, wanted to throw onto the “the dunghill of Roman decretals.”

His conclusion is more understandable when one realizes that he is coming from a position of believing that everybody has an immortal soul that goes on living after the body has died. This doctrine has created insurmountable difficulties. Eternal torment depends upon the the doctrine of the immortality of the human soul. They are inseparably bound together and feed upon one another. In spite of this error, God is still using this man to reveal the truth of God’s character – a very necessary truth at this time.

SDA’s are not cursed with that dilemna for they believe that death is a sleep until the resurrection morning and that immortality is a gift given by our immortal God to the redeemed. (1 Tim. 6:16) But this understanding opens up for them a whole new level of responsibility heretofore unrealized..

The good news is that Jesus gave his life for ALL mankind

While we don’t see universal salvation for all. We do see an opening of the gate (Matt. 7:14) wider than has been previously understood. No one doubts the completed work of Christ for all mankind. And no one doubts the all encompassing work of the Holy Spirit. What is often overlooked is the work of intercession which grasps and utilizes the work of these two members of the Holy Trinity. Prayer and intercession, through the work of the Holy Spirit is what brings Jesus’ salvation to fruition. The way is open to those who may never respond to ‘religion’ and doctrinal teaching. Salvation is for all – not just the ‘religious’. Many will be unaware that they are God’s children.

The following passage of Scripture comes to mind. 

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. [32] Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. [33] And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. [34] Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. [35] For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, [36] I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ [37] Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? [38] And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? [39] And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ [40] And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:31-40 ESV 

Let’s never forget that when the history of this world is behind us:

Love never fails [it never fades nor ends]. But as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for the gift of special knowledge, it will pass away. [9] For we know in part, and we prophesy in part [for our knowledge is fragmentary and incomplete]. [10] But when that which is complete and perfect comes, that which is incomplete and partial will pass away. 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 AMP  

Why mention DB Hart? Because he is one of very few Protestant pastors brave enough to call out the doctrine of eternal torment for what it is – sheer fallacy. He arrives at this conclusion, not through Biblical textual gymnastics, but through an honest understanding of the true character of God.

God can speak to us all individually if we are prepared to read his word and surrender our lives to him. This voice of God in our hearts is more dependable than many religious teachers. This is the New Covenant promise.

31 The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt ― a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the LORD,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. Jer. 31:31-34 NRSV 

It may come as a surprise to many that no one denomination is the holder of complete truth. Even Seventh-day Adventists would have to acknowledge this statement from Ellen White.

There’s no excuse for anyone taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed and that all our expositions of Scripture are without an error. The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for years is not a proof that our ideas are infallible. Age will not make error into truth, and truth can afford to be fair. If the pillars of our faith will not stand investigation, it’s time we knew it.”  Counsels to Writers and Editors p.35

There are those who would criticise Ellen White. They remind us of the fact that portions of her writings appear to be borrowed with no ‘credits’ given. Certain theologians within the church have said that her writings on history and Bible prophecy are incorrect. Others look at the quantity and quality of her writings and believe that this ‘uneducated’ woman could not have done this alone. Her writings glorify God and Jesus His Son thus meeting the New Testament crìteria. It is worth noting that she never claimed to be a prophet, only a “messenger”. Of course she would have used other authors for guidance and information. God does not work in a vacuum. He expects us to use all of the resources we can. This is the nature of inspiration. A persons writings, even inspired writings, will reflect the era in which they lived, the culture in which they lived, and even their personality. God is intimately close to His people. We are made in His image. Every person is unique and loved by God. He doesn’t expect perfection from us. We are mortal and imperfect. He has made provision for us to come into His presence through the merits of our risen Saviour. Our work for Him may be imperfect but His Son died for our imperfection. He can now legally accept us as we are.

She allowed herself to be controlled by her ‘superiors’ even when she knew they were going counter to God’s will. The reader is directed to the article “Why did Ellen White go to Australia”.

God is free to emphasize as He will, to forcefully drive home the truth.

In spite of the weakness and humanity of the recipient, God does not withdraw His calling. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable [for He does not withdraw what He has given, nor does He change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call]. Romans 11:29 AMP

An example of this is the prophet Jonah who was called upon to make a declaration of judgement over the city of Nineveh. As it turned out the prophecy wasn’t fulfilled because the people of Nineveh believed the prophet, turned from their ways, and their city was spared. Because the promised retribution didn’t occur, does that make Jonah a ‘false’ prophet? It merely indicates that God’s inscrutable ways are way beyond our human comprehension.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! Romans 11:33 ESV

Jesus was willing to create an allegorical mind picture in order to portray a specific truth. To emphasize a specific truth Jesus was able to couch it in the context of well known stories so that his listeners would be drawn in to understand the main thrust of his message. This can be seen, not only in Jesus himself but in those who are called to serve him.

Understanding this principle is important in our understanding of the nature of revelation. God speaks with the authority that belongs only to Him. His character is love. He can use hyperbole or exaggeration without fear or favour. A person moving or speaking in the Spirit will not necessarily be understood by the majority. Jesus made this clear.

Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” [11] And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. [12] For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. [13] This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. [14] Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” [15] For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ Matthew 13:10-15 ESV 

This is saying that God’s professed people will not necessarily understand revelation when it comes to them. God’s people are the same today as they were in the past.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, [30] saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ [31] Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. [32] Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. Matthew 23:29-32 ESV 

But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Matthew 13:16 ESV 

God tests His people. Indeed the most privileged among us are not beyond this testing.

 My child, if you are going to serve the Lord, be prepared for times when you will be put to the test. 2 Be sincere and determined. Keep calm when trouble comes. 3 Stay with the Lord; never abandon him, and you will be prosperous at the end of your days. 4 Accept whatever happens to you. Even if you suffer humiliation, be patient. 5 Gold is tested by fire, and human character is tested in the furnace of humiliation. Ecclesiasticus  2:1-5 GNT

This can happen at a personal or a corporate level.

11 The Lord is kind and merciful; he forgives our sins and keeps us safe in time of trouble. 12 But those who lose their nerve are doomed—all those sinners who try to have it both ways! 13 Doom is sure to come for those who lose their courage; they have no faith, and so they will have no protection. 14 Doom is sure to come for those who lose their hope. What will they do when the Lord comes to judge them?15 Those who fear the Lord do not disobey his commands; those who love him will live as he wants them to live. 16 Those who fear and love the Lord will try to please him and devote themselves to the Law. 17 Those who fear the Lord are always ready to serve him. They humble themselves before him, and say, 18 We place our destiny in the hands of the Lord, not in human hands, because his mercy is as great as his majesty. Ecclesiasticus  2:11-18 GNT

All of this is telling us that the nature of inspiration, God’s calling, can be to anyone, anytime. Human reasoning is not sufficient to understand the utterances of God. We need to have our minds open and our hearts surrendered to understand the genuine voice of God.

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