Dictation vs. Inspiration

Have you ever wondered if God could use you to write Scripture? Sure, we might say, God can do anything and use anyone. It didn’t have to be Haggai or Paul or John of Patmos; that’s just who God chose.


Now, I certainly concede that God could in fact use anyone to do anything. But I also believe that God didn’t dictate the books of the Bible to Zechariah, Moses, and the rest. Instead, as Peter puts it, those men “were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20) to write using their own language, style, personal history, and location the words that God has for his people. In formal theological terms we call this inspiration.

550 vs. 400

So why would I say that God couldn’t use you to write the book of Revelation?

Here’s the reason: The book of revelation has about 400 verses, and scholars say those verses contain around 550 allusions to Old Testament passages.

But here’s the thing, John doesn’t include a single quotation of the Old Testament. He only uses allusions. This means that his writing, his thoughts, his spirituality literally bleeds with an deep, abiding knowledge of the Scriptures.

John didn’t just look up passages that supported his point. And he didn’t memorize a few powerful proof texts to argue and impress. He knew the Scriptures. He lived the Scriptures. The words of God were a part of him that couldn’t help but flow from his pen. The Spirit of God used that embedded knowledge and wisdom to enable John to write a book that contains more illusions than verses.

Access vs. Process

But what about us? You and I have access to dozens of English translations of the Bible, and we have the most powerful search capacities the Church has ever known – right in our pocket computers.

And yet, I would wager that we know much less of the Scriptures than any generation of believers. We have access to the Bible, but we do not know the Bible.

Accessible knowledge can be searched, analyzed, and mashedup, but it cannot transform the heart, mind, and soul. The accessible Bible is merely information. That information can only become knowledge and wisdom when it has been memorized, internalized, mediated upon, and lived.

And until we do that, we’ll never be able to write as John wrote.

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