I grew up going to Sunday School but never understood how all the Bible stories connected together or how the Old Testament was relevant. I’d get lost in the details or ethical lessons, and couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Then, when I took a hermeneutics class in seminary, the entire Bible came alive when I grasped how the thread of the story of redemption connected every narrative, weaving the entire Bible together into the single story of God’s plan. James L. Nicodem boils it down and presents the essentials to understanding the big picture in the first book Epic, in the Bible Savvy Series.
The Bible Savvy Series consists of four small books that describe four things you must know to get the most out of God’s Word:
1. Epic - The storyline of the Bible
2. Foundation - The reliability of the Bible
3. Context -How to understand the Bible
4. Walk - How to apply the Bible
In book 2, Foundation, Nicodem shows why we can trust the Bible and know it is God’s Words to us. He explains how the Bible was put together, the correct meaning of the word “inspiration”, and how the Bible is supernatural. He points out why it is our authority and not just a place to go for good advice. He emphasizes how we can learn it by hearing it, reading it, studying it, memorizing it, and meditating on it.
Failing to correctly interpret Bible passages results in misunderstanding. In book 3, Context, Nicodem demonstrates how to look at it like a puzzle, to see the big picture so you know how the pieces should fit. He details the vantage points to consider – historical, literary, theological, and immediate settings. By providing some great examples of popular misinterpretations and where we can go wrong, he illustrates how to correctly handle the Word of Truth.
It’s not how much of the Bible you get through that matters, but how much of the Bible gets through you. We seek not just knowledge, but transformation by applying what we learn so we can conform to the image of Jesus Christ. Book 4, Walk, is a culmination of the first three books by expressing how we can respond to what we know. The aim of being illuminated by God’s Word is to apply what you learn. Application is a skill you can acquire, and Nicodem explains the COMA method for Bible reading to develop this discipline, which I am now practicing in my quiet time.
Each book is a little over 100 pages with discussion questions at the end of each of four chapters. While the discussion questions could be accomplished individually, they are designed for a small group with icebreaker questions, reviewing-content questions, and application questions that can help group members get to know each other and inspire each other. A group could meet and go through one book in a month or the entire series in an 18-week session.
This is a series that every Christ follower should read, whether new or mature in the faith. I highly recommend all four books.
I was provided a complimentary copy of the series from Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest review.