Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Inductive Bible Study :: Unlock the Bible {15}

After a good start to our spiritual day with Breakfast Bible time, we moved on to open a Literary Lunchbox and look at tools to help us look more closely at the Bible. Sounds like at least some of my readers have found this useful information, which only means God is speaking!

This week we arrive at the biggest meal of the day: Inductive Dinner Delight. I think many of us are familiar with dine and dash dinners, whose spiritual equivalent might be a quick dinner prayer, maybe a few minutes of devotional reading before bed. But right now we are thinking more about the key meals that should form the foundation of our spiritual nutrition.

We call this foundational Bible time Inductive Study.

When a detective goes on the hunt to solve a mystery, he collects clues and attempts to deduce, or reason out, a logical conclusion. He starts with the facts and tries to uncover the big picture.

When a Bible detective goes on the hunt, she starts with the big picture, and breaks it down into elements: what happened there? who is this letter addressed to? did this happen before or after the captivity of Israel? As she does this, she finds the elemental truths behind each passage, and allows them to induce a change in her life.

One published curriculum that teaches this especially well comes from Precept on Precept Ministries. Kay Arthur has been educating people in the methods of Inductive Bible Study for more than twenty years. If you are looking for a strong resource that will equip you to dig out biblical truth for yourself, I recommend anything from her. I will warn you that to get the most out of your study, you will need to invest in a set of colored pencils, and probably be comfortable with the idea of writing in your Bible.

Inductive Study method is simple: Observe, Interpret, Apply.

This builds on a simple premise: A text cannot mean what it never meant. In other words, you can only read a verse and immediately apply it to your current situation, if you do enough research to know that the original audience could have drawn the same application, and that application is consistent with God’s character throughout scripture.

Therefore, you begin to study a text by observing what actually happened. Then you begin to interpret the message: why was this passage included in Scripture, what are the general lessons to be drawn from it? And only after satisfying yourself on the first two points do you move on to the final (also important) step of deciding how to apply it to your own life.

Over the next three posts we will study a passage or two illustrating these steps. We will finish out the week with a simplified method to get you moving in the right direction.


  1. I think it's just great that you are doing this. I'm going to go back and catch every post in this series. Life has been crazy busy around here, but I want you to know I'm with you all the way.

  2. First, dine and dash dinners for me is an upgrade – I’m single – I’m a guy. So I have to go with “spagettios devotionals” ---- ohhhhhh now I get it :)

    And - ooohhhhh – so good “A text cannot mean what it never meant” – but you already had me at 6 questions.

    Continued best wishes in your Bible in 90 days thing – awesome goal – superhuman goal – God is just smiling with the effort I know.

  3. What a beautiful blog--and what a wonderful topic! I love Kay Arthur. Her inductive system is perfect for in-depth study.

  4. Important information in this post. It's far too easy for us to grab random verses and apply them to our lives haphazardly without taking into account the context, the author, and the intended recipient.


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