Bible Study 101 – The Inductive Approach
The Love of The Word
I am in love with God’s Word. I mean, I have an insatiable hunger to live, breath, walk, talk, and act out His Word. The most precious physical piece of property I possess is my bible. I would give my life to protect that treasure in my home. Bible study is now an important part of my life but it wasn’t always that way.
I was saved at a young age so I have been a believer for as long as I can remember. Although, I have not been a bible lover but a few years. Why, you ask? Probably for the same reasons that some of you are experiencing now. Mainly because I did not understand it and did not know how to approach it. I had all the best intentions but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t figure it out. Until I learned the inductive approach to bible study.
Now, let me get a couple of disclaimers out of the way before we dive in. First and foremost, you can forget about trying to study and understand the bible if you have not been born again. The number 1 requirement to bible study is the mentoring of the Holy Spirit. If He is not present in your life you can read the whole thing cover to cover as many times as you want to but you still won’t understand the spiritual truths of its contents. Secondly, there are many good bible study methods out there and all have their ups and downs, I just happen to respond best to this inductive approach and that’s the one I use. I am confident I understand it well enough to teach it and I feel like you too can learn to study the word using this approach. However, if you choose another route, great! I hope you have as much success with it as I have with this one.
What is Inductive Study
The inductive approach to bible study involves interaction with the text itself. Rather than just reading the word and taking notes, you actually get involved with the word and take a hands on approach to understanding it, while you tear it down to the very root of the text and put it back together with understanding. With inductive study you’re gonna get your hands and the text dirty and have some colorful fun with it as well! By underlining, color-coding, and marking up the text with shapes and symbols you will get to know the text on a deeper and more intimate level. We are going to go through steps by observing the text, interpreting the text, and finally applying the text to our daily lives making the bible more real than it has ever been. All the while we are going to have loads of fun and spend a little dough on pens, pencils, highlighters, etc. Oh by the way, can I borrow 5 bucks for some colored pencils? lol
Avoid The Big Mistake
The first mistake most beginners make when starting to study the bible inductively is to head straight to the first verse and start studying scripture without doing any preliminary investigating or learning. While this will not always be the case in the New Testament, it will be mandatory in a great majority of the Old Testament. A good example of this is the prophets. If you dont know who King Ussiah is and what took place during his reign, (he reigned for over 50 years and Israel enjoyed relatve peace during this time) you will have a hard time understanding the book of Isaiah and several other prophetical books. A good example in the New Testament is the Pauline Epistles. If you haven’t read the book of Acts you will have a hard time getting the full understanding of a greater part of his doctrinal teachings, because he teaches much out of his own personal experiences. These experiences are outlined in the book of acts as well as the history of these epistles. So our first steps will be to review the book outline and read any material that supplicant to the book.
Step one Observation
The first step to the inductive study is observation (But not your everyday reading comprehension exercise) we are talking full blown rip it to shreds observation. We must find every little detail and look under every rock to discover the amount of information required to make a solid interpretation. We will underline and color code names, key words, repeating phrases, make lists and much more. We will learn and apply the 5W1H formula. It calls us to ask the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions multiple times during one single verse of scripture and mark them in such a way that it unlocks the interpretation of the text so we can apply it properly and with sounnd judgement. Furthermore, if you have never marked in your bible let me tell you, this will make your personal bible even more special to you. once your study and you thoughts are recorded on the pages of scripture, your bible will become an increasing treasure to you that will be hard to part with. It becomes a trusted friend to you and your relationship grows with it everytime you write in it.
Step Two Interpretation
In step one the goal was to determine the meaning of the text as it was written in the context and application of the bible writer when he first wrote the book. In other words, what was the practical day to day life meaning of the text? Now we move on to what does it mean for me today, this is interpretation. Again we will be asking several questions to try and arrive at a correct interpretation that will lead us into a smooth and painless application of the text.
Step Three Application
And finally we arrive at the last step in the inductive process. Here, just like before, we must ask questions to get the desired information required to apply the pincipal teaching to our lives. Only this time we will add one more process, resolution. By the time we finish with the text it should be thoroughly examined,interpreted and resolved by application into our daily lives. Completing this step successfully means you are walking in the light of his will one verse, one chapter, and one book at a time. this is sure to lead you down the fast track to spiritual maturity and biblical wisdom.
Now that we have covered the overciew of IBS we can actually start moving forward in our studies and get ready to see some favorable results. In the next installment in this series we will start a new book and begin observing biblical text together. I will also be uploading some free printables you will need that we will use in our studies as they progress forward. I hope you are as excited about diving into bible study as I am. I can’t wait to study with you. For more information on inductive bible study check out the resources available by Kay Author at Precept Ministries.