Inductive Bible Study, a photo by kahunapulej on Flickr.
BIBLE STUDY METHODS
1. Simple reading and listening
2. Meditation – speaking out loud and thinking about a passage of Scripture
3. Topical Bible study – search through the Scriptures to see what the Bible says about one particular topic, such as marriage, money, angels, etc. It helps to have a concordance or computer in doing this kind of study.
4. Inductive Bible study – examine one passage, such as a book of the Bible, very closely, using observation, analysis, and application. This is actually one way to meditate on God’s Word.
INDUCTIVE BIBLE STUDY
1. Observation – Start with prayer asking God to help you understand this passage with both your mind and your heart, then read the passage through. Read it again. Read it aloud or listen to someone else read it aloud. Make sure you understand it. Look up anything you aren’t sure about, or ask someone about it.
2. Analysis – make sure you understand every word used. Look for patterns. Pray for God’s help in interpreting Scripture properly. Is something repeated? What kind of passage is this? Is it history, teaching, prayer, or what? Look for themes and reasons. Look for logical divisions in the text. Can you make an outline from this passage? Compare this passage with other relevant Scripture passages. Underline, highlight, take notes, circle things, etc.– whatever helps you focus on the text and meditate on it. Talk about it.
3. Application – apply this Scripture to your life. Believe God’s Word. Obey what God is saying to you through it. Make any changes and corrections you need to make in your life. Let God help you make these changes.
WHY I LIKE INDUCTIVE BIBLE STUDY
1. It is Biblical. It is really a form of what is called “meditation” in the Bible, which has nothing to do with mystical emptying of the mind and such dangerous nonsense, but with contemplating, thinking about, analyzing, speaking out, repeating, and studying God’s Word. See Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:2, and Psalm 119.
2. It is balanced. The technique encourages study of each passage in context, making it far less likely that someone will go astray based on a misunderstanding based on one isolated fragment of the Bible. The approach to the text keeps asking “What does this mean?” rather than just trying to find proof texts for someone’s pet doctrine.
3. It is relational. Discussion among followers of Jesus Christ is encouraged, as is prayer.
4. It is easy. This isn’t something that requires a seminary degree or special skills. Almost anyone who has participated in an inductive Bible study can lead an inductive Bible study, because it is all about God and what He says in the Holy Bible, and not about the leader. The leader mostly just facilitates the discussion, and hopefully also participates.
5. It can be done for both personal and group study of the Holy Bible. Obviously, there is a richness in a group Bible study in discussing passages together that you don’t get by yourself, but it is still of great benefit to do this on your own, as well.
6. The Holy Bible is well worth studying. The Holy Bible, inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself, reveals an enduring message of God’s love for mankind and redemption offered to all of us.
7. It helps me remember God’s Word.