WALK: How to Apply the Bible
by James L. Nicodem
Moody Publ. 2013, 132pp
(Book #4 in the Bible Savvy Series)
--Practical steps for moving from text to life--
In this concluding volume of the Bible Savvy Series, Pastor Nicodem lays out a step-by-step guide for applying the Bible to one's own life. He stresses that it is not enough to know Bible facts; they must transform the way we live. For this to happen will require the Holy Spirit's illuminating work and a willingness to submit to what is taught. A valuable preliminary chapter is devoted to these essentials before Nicodem unfolds his nifty methodology for Bible reading and application. For apart from the Holy Spirit's indwelling the Bible will be intelligible but lack personal significance.
The remainder of the book is devoted to teaching believers how to handle the Word as a tool that will change the way they live. Using the acronym COMA Pastor Nicodem lays out four steps that can be used with any Bible passage to gain understanding and apply it personally:
Know the CONTEXT of what you're reading.
Make OBSERVATIONS of the theme, repeated words or concepts, anything striking, facts about God
What MESSAGE is God communicating to you; Is there a timeless principle?[Hint: Is there a Sin to confess? a Promise to claim? an Example to follow? a Command to obey? a Statement about God?]
What APPLICATION can I make to my life. (Be personal and specific. Write it down. Pray about it.)
This methodology is thoroughly introduced with extensive personal examples and numerous practice opportunities both in the text and in the Study Guide following this chapter. Nicodem's "mantra", as he puts it, is: "It's not how much of the Bible you get through that matters, but how much of the Bible gets through you!"(38) So he stresses NOT to hurry through the reading of this book but to stop and try out the COMA steps on a variety of suggested passages and then compare them with his own examples in the appendix until the method is clear and practicable.
Only then does he go on in the concluding chapter to discuss factors that contribute toward spiritual growth: the Holy Spirit, Personal Effort, Godly Habits, and Role Models. I especially appreciate his explanation of the Holy Spirit's work vs. our own efforts. While acknowledging that "The Holy Spirit is the wind in the sails of your spiritual growth" and "The daily discipline you need to apply God's Word to your life…must come from the Holy Spirit"(99) he insists this does not mean no personal initiative is required. Just as in physical training, training in godliness involves rigorous exercise. We must 'make every effort' to be effective and productive in our knowledge of Christ. (II Pet.1:5-8) This includes being intentional in our Bible reading habits.
I highly recommend this little book for any young believer needing to establish a foundation of Bible reading and study. But it would be equally valuable for even long-time Bible readers who may need the nudge to be intentional in applying what they read to life. This simple, yet effective COMA paradigm would be an excellent way to revive a waning (or absent) Bible reading habit for all ages and stages of believers!
Oh, and forgot to mention, I received The Bible Savvy series of books from the publisher in exchange for writing an honest review of my impression of them. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them for every youth in your life and copies for your church library and yourself as well!