James Montgomery Boice was the pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his death in 2000. He was a respected pastor, theologian, author, and speaker. I heard him speak at a conference in Grand Rapids, MI at Seventh Reformed Church back in the mid 90s, and I have several books on my shelves written by him. This quote comes from his book Foundations of the Christian Faith, which was our Theology textbook at Bible college. The book is dedicated “To Him whom to know is life eternal,” which is adapted from John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Boice knew that knowing God was of utmost importance, and he worked to help others come to know God as well.
Here are a several paragraphs from Foundations of the Christian Faith, chapter four, “The Authority of the Scriptures.”
The Bible is authoritative because it is not the words of mere humans, though humans were the channels by which it came to us, but it is the direct result of the “breathing-out” of God. It is his product. But there is another level on which the question of authority may be raised. This relates to the way in which we become convinced of the Bible’s authority. What is there about the Bible or the study of the Bible that should convince us that it is indeed God’s Word?
The human aspect of the authority question takes us a bit further into what we mean when we say that the Bible is the Word of God, for the full meaning of that statement is not only that God has spoken to give us the Bible but also that he continues to speak through it to individuals. In other words, as individuals study the Bible, God speaks to them in their study and transforms them by the truths they find there. There is a direct encounter of the individual believer with God. It was what Luther meant when he declared at the Diet of Worms, “My conscience has been taken captive by the Word of God.” It is what Calvin meant when he declared that “Scripture indeed is self-authenticated.”
Nothing but direct experience will ever ultimately convince anybody that the Bible’s words are the authentic and authoritative words of God. As Calvin said, “The same spirit, therefore, who has spoken through the mouths of the prophets must penetrate into our hearts to persuade us that they faithfully proclaimed what has been divinely commanded.”
The Bible is something more than a body of revealed truths, a collection of books verbally inspired of God. It is also the living voice of God. The living God speaks through its pages. Therefore, it is not to be valued as a sacred object to be placed on a shelf and neglected, but as holy ground, where people’s hearts and minds may come into vital contact with the living, gracious and disturbing God. For a proper perspective on Scripture and for a valid understanding of revelation there must be a constant interworking of these factors: an infallible and authoritative Word, the activity of the Holy Spirit in interpreting and applying that Word and a receptive human heart. No true knowledge of God takes place without these elements. [emphasis mine]