Alright friends, now we get down to the technical stuff. The nitty gritty. So what is the Inductive Bible Study method? If you already know, fabulous! If you don’t, no worries. Most people I talk to, even those who grew up in the church, have never heard of it.
Inductive Bible Study is a strategy for approaching God’s word. It’s a technical term for an observational style of reading. The inductive strategy uses another fancy-pants theology word called “Exegesis” (go brag to your pastor afterwards that you learned a new vocab word). Exegesis literally means to look for or pull the explanation directly from the text, which in this case is Scripture.
Remember how I mentioned some books, devotionals, and message series are topical?
“How to Be a Better Parent!”
“How to Have More Faith!”
“Five Tips for Living Your Best Life!”
In those instances, the author or speaker already has a specific point to make and they find Scripture that backs up their topic. Or perhaps you’ve done a theme or word study before, looking up as many verses on “love” or “patience” or “fear” as you can. None of these things are inherently bad, they merely produce different results.
What the inductive method aims to do is to read the text, figure out what the text is communicating, and then determine what is to be learned from it. As opposed to saying, “I want to learn about love, let’s look up verses on love,” you might read the story about the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. Despite it being undignified in their culture for a man of status to run, verse 20 states: “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
In this case, you observe the father’s great love and compassion for his rebellious son. And in noting this passage as a parable which intends to teach a lesson, you can deduce that the father’s love in the story therefore connects to the deep love God has for his people, even in their broken state. At that point, you can reflect and determine how that applies to your life today. Hence, why the Inductive Method can be referred to as an observational style as well.
We will discuss Genre, Context, and Application in more detail in the coming blogs, but for today, I wanted to provide you with a tool to begin using. There are much lengthier ones out there, and some that are more concise. This is the length I settled on using. Until you get used to the rhythm of noting the genre and context, observing, and then applying, it’s quite helpful.
Download it, print it off, and tuck it in your Bible. My challenge for you this week is to give it a try. Use the guide and just practice.
Grace and peace to you as you get started!