John Nelson Darby wrote a paper, ‘Inspiration of the Scriptures’, in which he maintained that the authorship of the Holy Scriptures was God Himself. He was countering the assertion, prevalent in the churches, questioning the authorship of scripture, saying that the Bible was the chance writings of various persons, presenting things in the best way they could. Darby showed the divine plan in the gospels despite the apparent factual inconsistencies and differences in the sequence of the Lord’s miracles and other events.
The enemy is set against the Word of God. While most believers acknowledge the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, in much of Christendom the church is seen as having ultimate authority. In intellectual wisdom, theologians see their authority as divinely given. Human intellect takes superior ground. This leads to rationalism.
God’s divine authority is in the Holy Scriptures. The Word of God presents divine truth from God and calls for submission. Through it, in sovereign mercy, the Christian has a renewed connection with God. Sin and flesh had separated us from God. Now we see God revealed even in that state of separation. For this God must be the author — only God can rightly reveal Himself. Otherwise the Word cannot bear witness to the love and purpose of God.
Who was the author of the New Testament? How did it come to be written? What was its purpose? Is the existence of the New Testament an accident, in the historical accounts of four men? Or is the New Testament history the a fruit of divine intention and plan, and is the Holy Spirit its author?
In Peter, Holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:21). The Holy Spirit was the source; the word of the Lord came to them. The writers had individual styles, but the Lord was pleased to use them. He used their memories in the way and sequence that He pleased, producing a witness to Christ, entirely beyond the thoughts of the writer.
Many short-sighted discussions on inspiration leave aside or deny the motive power of the Spirit of God.
The Sequence of the Historical Accounts
Either the Holy Spirit moved the inspired writers to compose their accounts, or He did not. If not, then the existence of the various written accounts of the life of Jesus are a providential accident, and do not show God’s intentions, plans and purposes. Alternatively, God has given His Church an account of the wonderful facts of incarnation and redemption and all that accompanied these great events in a ruined world.
It is absurd to think that the gospel writers’ work was the uncertain fruit of their own research. That would not answer to His intentions in showing us the glory of Christ and the truth as it is in Him?
If Christ is presented in various characters, why should the Holy Spirit not present facts in order to display those characters in the way it was calculated to do, employing human agents to do it? This argument assumes that there is no purpose or plan of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. The moment I believe that there is, I must expect the materials to be selected and arranged according to God’s purpose and plan. Anything else is absurd. The Holy Spirit recalled facts to the evangelists, not in an haphazard way.
Where inspiration is denied, it is easy to think that each evangelist did the best he could, putting the things out of order because he knew no better. If, on the other hand, God desired to glorify His Son Jesus, and in grace give us an adequate account of His life and sufferings, we can easily understand the Spirit of God so ordering various accounts, as to present the various aspects of His path on earth. They consistently unfold the divine nature with true facts, variously arranged by several independent writers.
The four Gospels present Christ differently. Did this flow from the purpose and intention of God, or was it an accident? If it was from divine purpose, I must look for an ordering of the materials according to that purpose. For example, was the deliverance of the demoniac in Galilee before or after Matthew’s call? Was that relevant?
The Presentation of the Historical Accounts
Luke says, Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to compose an account of what is most surely believed among us, as it has been delivered to us by those who were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having accurate knowledge of all things from the origin, to write to thee with method, etc. (Luke 1:1-3). The evangelist contrasts the ground on which he wrote with that of others. Others had had known what had been delivered, but he was on more trustworthy ground. He had thorough personal knowledge of everything from the outset. Paul says of Timothy, Thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, etc. (2 Tim. 3:10). It is not said Luke knew them himself, but παρηχολουθνχότι ἄνωθεν πᾶσιν ἀχριβῶς (having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first – Luke 1:1-3). It would be hard to express personal accurate knowledge more strongly. It has nothing to do with the question of inspiration. The conclusion that Luke derived his materials from other sources is wholly unfounded.
That the selection of facts depended on human agency is still more absurd. It is held that the Holy Spirit helped the writers to recall what Jesus said. What influenced their selection? Could something much more important have been omitted? Such an irreverent thought is absurd. There were many other things (see John 21:25). What was written was sufficient.
The question arises, ‘Who was the author and mover in the history we have of the blessed Lord?’ If it was the Holy Spirit, then was He the source of this history; and had He a purpose in giving it? To suppose that the Holy Spirit left us an imperfect, wrongly arranged, inconsistent account of the Lord Jesus, is in fact the most irreverent and absurd of all theories as to inspiration
The New Testament history bears the proven stamp of perfect divine arrangement. My object is to draw attention to the question which is often silently dropped — Who is the author of the New Testament history? Whose will, purpose or plan is behind this history of the Lord Jesus? Is it a divine or a human one? If the purpose and moving was of the Holy Spirit, I must look for His carrying that purpose out.
A summary of a paper by J N Darby entitled, Inspiration of the Scriptures. Click here for the full article.