Inspiration - how does God communicate?

God as Source

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. (2 Tim 3:16)

Note that there is no part of Scripture which was created independently of God as the source. This is true, regardless of the exact means by which the writer gathered his information.

Patterns of Inspiration

There are two basic ways in which a writer can receive his message:

  • Visions, dreams, or the real presence of a heavenly being.
  • Research or experiences on the part of the writer, whether as a personal witness (Matthew or John, who wrote what they have seen) or historian (Luke, who investigated).

Luke wrote:

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, [2] just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. [3] With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus. (Lk 1:1-3)

The fact that Luke personally investigated does not exclude inspiration. Even though impossible to prove, we accept by faith that God led Luke to the truth and thus allowed his work to become part of Scripture.

Cooperation between Divine and Human

Ellen White wrote in the foreword to the Great Controversy:

Written in different ages, by men who differed widely in rank and occupation, and in mental and spiritual endowments, the books of the Bible present a wide contrast in style, as well as a diversity in the nature of the subjects unfolded. Different forms of expression are employed by different writers; often the same truth is more strikingly presented by one than by another. And as several writers present a subject under varied aspects and relations, there may appear, to the superficial, careless, or prejudiced reader, to be discrepancy or contradiction, where the thoughtful, reverent student, with clearer insight, discerns the underlying harmony. As presented through different individuals, the truth is brought out in its varied aspects. One writer is more strongly impressed with one phase of the subject; he grasps those points that harmonize with his experience or with his power of perception and appreciation; another seizes upon a different phase; and each, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, presents what is most forcibly impressed upon his own mind--a different aspect of the truth in each, but a perfect harmony through all. And the truths thus revealed unite to form a perfect whole, adapted to meet the wants of men in all the circumstances and experiences of life. [GC, p. vi]


The Bible as well as the body of Ellen White’s writings were created by human beings under the inspiration of God. The message comes from Him, but the words chosen by the writers are not God’s words. While this may at times raise perplexing questions, we nevertheless choose to accept in faith that God watched over His message so that none need to err. This is how the following statement may be understood:

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. (1SM 21)