Jesus tells the story of two men who build two identical houses. At least to the naked eye the houses seemed to be the same exact thing on the outside. The two men were obviously skilled craftsmen, they built houses that had great curb appeal. For all intents and purposes the houses would have sold for top dollar to anyone who didn’t know too much about houses. Jesus continues the story and tells us that when the flood came and beat upon the houses one fell and the other stood firm. Why would one fall down and the other stand firm if they were the same? The key is in building a solid foundation. Jesus tells us that one of the men dug down deep and laid his foundation on the rock and did not fall because it was well-built.
Are we as Christians well-built? How deep have we dug down in order to have a solid foundation on which to construct our lives? James Nicodem answers these questions in the second installment of the Bible Savvy Series, Foundation: The Reliability of the Bible. In this little book Nicodem unfolds for the reader four main sections of study which are vital to the lives of Christians. He takes a look at the doctrine of inspiration, the Canon of Scripture, the doctrine of revelation and ends with methods of how we can get this message dug down deep into our soul.
In the doctrine of inspiration we take a look at three areas that affirm inspiration. We dive into the supernatural nature of the Bible as seen in the words of Paul to Timothy in 2 Tim. 3:16, we see the truth that the Bible is literally, “breathed out” by God himself. The word of God “breathed out” for us leads us to the other two propositions in this section. It leads us to believe that the bible is inerrant, or without error, and that it is authoritative.
We move from inspiration to the forming of a supernatural, inerrant, and authoritative book written over the course of roughly 1500 years. How did we get this book and who decided what to put in it? Section two answers these questions and so much more. Nicodem explains with great clarity the forming of the canon of Scripture, both the Old and New Testaments. He dives into a little history of the dogmatic nature of the scribes as they took manuscripts and original documents and tirelessly copied them to form the 30,000 pieces of Scripture that are in existence today.
Nicodem also makes a note regarding the Catholic Church. He stands over against the idea that tradition stands on the same ground as inspiration. He makes the point that God gave us the Testaments and is the only one who can change or add to it, not the Catholic tradition. Man is not inerrant but God is and so it stands that only God can create an infallible word to his people. God did not give man any authority, apart from those He inspired, to create a canon other than is found in the Bible we have today. Many will see the Apocryphal books as inspired but the centuries of Christian Orthodoxy, and even the Bible itself. deny that there is any validity in an inspired Apocrypha.
Along with the dialogue on the canonicity of Scripture I found the qualifications of a book getting into the canon most helpful. Nicodem takes four items which books much fall under in order to qualify for entrance into the canon. He expounds these in a short amount of space yet the explanation is extremely helpful to the reader. He points out that the authorship, accuracy, alignment, and acceptance of the books must all fall in accord with one another. It’s not that man picked these books out because they loved the stories, but because of the rigorous test the book shad to match in order to qualify for canonicity.
Nicodem then moved the reader to the doctrine of revelation. It’s a difficult task to expound this doctrine in such a short amount of pages but Nicodem does a good job hitting on the high points without getting bogged down in heavy theological explanations. He speaks of revelation as being God’s self disclosure to mankind, as do many reformed confessions today. Even Calvin in his institutes spoke of revelation as God’s self disclosure. So when we read the word of God we read about God revealing himself to man for the purpose of redeeming them to himself. What a glorious gospel we have revealed to us in the pages of holy Scripture!
The final section of the book includes an applicatory section which relays to the reader the “hows” of the material which were presented in earlier sections. Nicodem gives us five areas which we can focus on in order to see growth in our lives. He urges the readers to hear, read, study, memorize, and mediate on Scripture. This last section does an excellent job of summarizing all the previous discoveries into a manageable and applicable practice which we can start with today. They aren’t hard ideas to grasp and so Nicodem urges the readers to just do them and see the results flow from the obedience we give to our Lord in these areas.
This second book of the Bible Savvy series presents information to the reader in an easy to read format which is chock full of great theological foundation. We see the logical flow from inspiration to the formation of Scripture ending in a supernatural and inspired revelation which holds authority over the life of the believer. This was a good refresher book for me and I can only imagine it will do the same for many other believers who read it. As in the first book, Nicodem includes the discussion questions at the end of each section for further study. If nothing more than a foundation text, this book will create interest that causes readers to search further the topics presented, which can only lead to more fruitful study.
Foundation: The Reliability of the Bible is the second installment of a four-part series of bible studies from the Bible Savvy series. Check out the whole series on the Bible Savvy website. http://www.biblesavvy.com/bible-savvy-set/
Other Books In the Series: