What Does It Mean To Study The Bible Inductively?
In the most simplest terms, Inductive Bible Study is applying a systematic method of looking at the text in order to understand God’s Word. It was derived from the Inductive Reasoning research method. This research method is objective, which is why this is an ideal way to study the bible. The Inductive Bible study method uses three steps: 1. Observation, 2. Interpretation and 3.Application.
As an individual grows spiritually, so does their desire to know God. What also increases is their desire to be able to walk by faith. As the scripture says, “… for faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” (2nd Corinthians 5:17)
How Did The Inductive Bible Study Method Come About?
The Inductive Bible Study Method is based on the Inductive Reasoning research method, not to be confused with Deductive Reasoning.
When conducting research the process can be approached one of two ways. Either with a theory already in mind,or the data can be observed first, before developing a theory.
“The main difference between inductive and deductive reasoning is that inductive reasoning aims at developing a theory while deductive reasoning aims at testing an existing theory. Inductive reasoning moves from specific observations to broad generalizations, and deductive reasoning the other way around. Both approaches are used in various types of research, and it’s not uncommon to combine them in one large study.” (1)
Notice the distinction. With Inductive reasoning the focus is to discover the theory, by using observations that have been gathered throughout the research process. Deductive reasoning comes with theories of what they believe to be true, and use the observations that are discovered to either prove or disprove the theory.
Why Inductive Method Is Best For Studying The Bible
The primary reason that it is better to study the bible inductively, is that you gather information, from the scripture, and then develop a “theory”. This means you do not place your personal theories and ideas at the forefront. (This is important, because often our ideas may be rooted in false ideas, while God’s word is rooted in truth and can be trusted).
When we study God’s Word, we should look for His truth, to apply to our lives. Versus seeking out affirmations to validate what we believe our truths to be.
This is why using inductive reasoning is an effective way to study God’s Word. It makes observations, using the text in the bible, then develops a theory –based on the word of God.
Taking this approach allows us to discover the truths about God, and His purpose for our lives. For the scripture says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
How do you Study The Bible Inductively?
This image illustrates from a high level what is involved in Inductive Reasoning. Notice the three steps, and their order. First you gather data. Second, look for patterns. Finally you develop a theory, or understanding of the data.
Consider applying this Inductive Reasoning – and turning it into Inductive Study where your three primary steps are. First, gather data from the scripture (God’s Word). Second, look for patterns in scripture and third, develop an understanding of what God wants us to know.
With that thought process in mind it helps to develop a much clearer understanding that Inductive Bible Study is applying a method of looking at the text in order to understand God’s Word. The three steps to inductively study the bible are:
- Gather data from the scripture (God’s Word)
- That means you are trying to understand, “What does the biblical text say?”
- Look for patterns in scripture
- That means you are trying to understand,“What does the text mean?”
- Develop an understanding of what God wants us to know.
- That means you are trying to understand, “What does it mean for my life?”
Why using the Inductive Study Method to study the bible is helpful.
At this point you may be thinking,… “ I don’t want to “research” the bible, I just want to read it and understand it.” The fact is the word of God is very rich, filled with interconnecting thoughts and principles.
It is not just a book that is read for entertainment. Neither is it a collection of thoughts from random groups of people. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” ( 2 Timonthy 3:16-17 KJV)
This means that God’s word, even though written by people, was inspired by Him. His word is here to guide us how we should walk through our journey in life. Most importantly His word has been designed to instruct us in God’s character, and His expectations for us. We can use His word as a measuring stick to determine what is right, and to expose the sin in our life. Not only can it help us to identify the Sin, the word of God can guide us on how to turn away from that sin in our life. (3)
It makes sense then, that the word of God instructs us to, “study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15). As stated on the website bibleref.com this means, “We need to study diligently, not only to defend the faith, but to know the difference between something worth battling over, and something which is just a distracting argument.” (4)
So if we are to study “diligently”, we will in fact have to dig into God’s Word, and search it and research it to better understand God’s will for us. While utilizing the inductive study method is not the only way to study God’s Word, it is a very effective way.
5 Resources That Will Help You
- 10 Steps of Inductive Bible Study
- A Beginner’s Guide To Inductive Bible Study
- The Inductive Method of Bible Study
- What Is Inductive Bible Study?
- 10 Tips for Getting Started With Inductive Bible Study
Applying the Inductive Study method will provide a very systematic and objective way to research the bible. By using these three steps: 1. Observation, 2. Interpretation and 3.Application you will grow to learn God’s Character and His will for your life.
Sources Used In This Post