We finally reach the end of the study and it’s time to put it all together. This last fixture in the Bible Savvy Series, Walk: How to Apply the Bible is all about getting out there and putting in some work. It’s about backing up the study with some practical application instead of letting the text just get stuck in your head and never finding its way down to your heart and your hands. Nicodem spurs us to application by urging the readers to go into a COMA state of mind.
He begins the first section by taking a look at the doctrine of illumination. He uncovers the way in which we can begin to work out our theology, namely the Holy Spirit. He points out that the point of Bible study is not for the mere gaining of knowledge but being transformed by the text. Time and again Nicodem tells the reader that this word is not meant to stay in the brain but needs to become a fire which sparks a renewed life.
He speaks of illumination in three areas of a believer’s life; Source, Condition, and Aim. The source of illumination, as we have mentioned, is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit brings the words of the Bible to life in such a way that engages our minds and clarifies the text. He then points out that certain conditions need to be met in order to be illumined. There must be an obedient vessel, willing to learn and engage the text. He then leads to the aim of illumination which finds itself in a life transformed.
Following illumination the reader is put into a COMA state of mind. COMA is a metaphor used by Nicodem to explain what a study of the text should look like. When reading scripture one must first begin with the context. We must know what was going on at the time of the actual event. Next we must make observations about the text noting anything that may stick out to us or strike us as important. From those two points we can begin to formulate a message, but must be careful not to skew the first two points of the COMA method. The final portion is only vital if the first three points are followed. If the context is misconstrued, then the observations will be off and the message becomes something it was never meant to be. When we get a message from the text which was never meant to be there we end up applying wrong information to our lives.
From the COMA method Nicodem moves the reader onto points of discipline. He points out that we must spend time with the Spirit, develop personal habits, and obtain role models who can show us the way which we should go. Discipline sounds easy but it takes so much time and effort on the part of the individual. Of course we must be careful that we don’t make this study all about our habits and discipline and leave out the Spirit who make us fit for the job.
The appendix includes some helpful COMA studies in various literary genres in order to show the reader how the method works and how one can use it properly. I must admit I have heard of various bible study methods which employ witty metaphors but this one seems to be the most useful and least technical. While at Northwestern College I was taught a method of diagramming scripture in such a way that the text was torn apart, examined then put back together. Extremely useful at times and with certain passages but when books like Isaiah roll around it’s tough to diagram with so few notebooks.
The last book in the Bible Savvy Series is extremely helpful for the new believer, theologically applicable for the seasons believer and accessible to Christians from all denominations and backgrounds. I am glad that James Nicodem and Moody Publishers have provided the Church with some much-needed foundational resources. I’m glad to have this set in my library and to be able to share it with the readers of this blog.
Walk: How to Apply the Bible is the final 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: