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Word Studies, Devotionals, Sermons, Illustrations
Old and New Testament.
INDUCTIVE BIBLE STUDY
WHAT IS IT?
to skip the intro and go directly to OBSERVATION)
Do you long for a relationship with
God, but feel lost when you open your Bible, not even knowing where to
Or perhaps you begin each year with a
resolution to read through the Bible, only to give up in frustration,
wandering about somewhere in the "wilderness" of the book of
Or do you read passages of Scripture
and find that only moments later you can't even remember what you just
Are you frustrated that there are so
many different opinions about what the Bible says on a given subject and
you wonder which one is true?
Or do you doubt whether it's even
possible for you to understand God's Word, since you're not a pastor, an
elder or a degreed theologian?
If any or all of these questions
describe you, then take heart, beloved, for you are about to embark on a
journey called "Inductive Bible Study" (IBS), one that has
the potential to truly radically transform your life as you study God's
Word. Inductive Bible Study will expose you to an approach that can
be applied to any Scripture, any time, any place, by any one. All that is
required is the Holy Book, the Holy Spirit and a teachable heart.
But before we continue, let me give you a
Inductive Bible study can be habit-forming. Putting the principles into
practice can cause loss of anxiety, decreased appetite for
lying, cheating, stealing, hating and "symptoms" of growing sensations of love,
peace, joy, compassion!
So as you begin this journey, remember
that the Bible is to be your primary source "for no (spoken =
word from God (is)
void of power
literal rendering of Luke 1:37ASV).
sufficient is the Scripture for our spiritual life? Peter answers that "His
= 2Pe 1:2) divine
much?) pertaining to life and
do we gain access to this treasure? It comes...) through the
of Him (Where
found? Only in His Word)
Who called us by His own glory and excellence. For (term
by these (By what? His "glory and excellence") He has
to us His precious (How
precious? Ps 19:10, 119:72, 127)
promises, in order that
of purpose or result) by them (we) might become
partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in
the world by lust." (2Pe 1:3-4-note)
If you tried to answer some or all of
congratulations! You have just completed your first inductive Bible
Beloved, if you are not convinced on
the sufficiency and power of the Bible as your guidebook for abundant,
supernatural life, you might consider performing a simple study on the
Power of God's Word. You must
understand and believe that the Word of God not only is sufficient for
every need but that it is a "love letter" from God, because it is! "God so
loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes
in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16) Your objective is to
learn to read the Bible as if God were personally speaking to you. Why?
Because He is!
B. B. Warfield once said "The Bible is the Word of God in such a
way that when the Bible speaks, God speaks."
Allow the Author to speak directly,
personally and powerfully to your mind and also to your heart. Beloved,
many saints are sitting under the Word today in Bible
believing churches, but they are not in the Word for
themselves. The psalmist writes that the blessed man or woman who
flourishes like a tree by water is the one who delights not under
but "in the law of the LORD, and in His law
meditates (Biblical Meditation) day
and night." (Psalm 1:1-6-note). The great need for most
believers is to "get into" the Word for themselves. Instead many are
sitting in pews growing older, but not growing "in the grace
and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2Peter 3:18-note).
Inductive Bible Study is profitable...
not just that we should know
but that we might grow!
IBS is not a method to fill our head
with Biblical facts and make us "smarter sinners". The ultimate
goal of all IBS is the transformation of our lives from glory to glory,
daily becoming more like our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Are you ready to get into
the Word so that the Word can get into you in a way you
never previously thought possible? Then, my friend, get ready for the joy
and adventure of Inductive Bible Study.
THROUGH HIS WORD
DIRECTLY TO YOU
NOW YOU ARE EQUIPPED
TO STUDY OTHER
After observing the schematic, you
still may not appreciate the basic premise of Inductive Bible Study
so let's illustrate two different approaches to Bible study using the life
of a frog as our subject of study.
If you wanted to learn about frogs, you
could go to the library and check out a book entitled "The Life of Frogs"
(or in today's web savvy world you might "Google" the term "frog's
life"). But how would you know that the so-called frog expert had really
given you an accurate interpretation of a frog's life? You wouldn't if you
relied solely upon that one source. On the other hand you could go to a
nearby pond, sit by the water's edge and begin to observe and write down
what you observed about the local frogs - how they gathered food,
what they liked to eat and not eat, where they liked to sit,
how they mated, where, when and how they laid
their eggs, what transpired when the eggs hatched, and how
long it took tadpoles to grow into adult frogs. Then you could take one of
the slimy green creatures back home (not to your kitchen though), dissect
him and observe how he was constructed in great detail, even observing the
interrelationships of the innermost parts under a dissecting microscope.
Now, let's be honest. Reading a
reference by a "frog expert" is easier and more aesthetically pleasing
than sitting by a pond and (heaven forbid) even touching one of the little
green critters. And besides, you could glean the salient frog facts in a
fraction of the time it would take you to perform your own
observations of the frog's life cycle. So
what's the point? In the first method, you might remember what you read
for a few days, but with the second method you would likely be able to
recall your observations months, even years later. And which method
provides the potential for the joy of self discovery? Which method "costs"
the most (in time and effort)? I'm sure you can see the clear distinctions
between these two methods.
In terms of Bible study methods, you
can study someone's else's study or you can study the Scripture for
yourself. The inductive method provides you with the skills and
familiarity with the tools which make it possible for even beginning
students (and even children) to confidently study the Scriptures on their
Dr Howard Hendricks eloquently
sums up the differences in the two contrasting approaches to Bible study
writing that "Knowledge that is self-discovered is
stored in the deepest part of the mind and remains the longest in the
memory. There is no jewel more precious than that which you have mined
From the frog illustration, you can
easily see that the key difference in the inductive approach is personal,
active involvement in the process. As someone has said...
"I hear and I forget"
"I see and I remember"
"I do and I understand"
Instead of studying resources about the
Bible, inductive study focuses first upon the Bible. You need to be
willing to lay aside your preconceived notions, pet interpretations, ready
references, study notes, sermon tapes, etc, coming to the Scriptures as
for the first time. Your primary resource is God's Word, then other
secondary resources. The tendency for many Bible students at the beginning
of a study is to rally secondary resources that will do the "observing"
and "interpreting" for the reader. It's quick but is it correct? How can
you know if you don't make your own independent
and arrive at your own
interpretation based on those
observations? And why even go to the
Scriptures if you almost immediately forget what you've just read?
Research show that we learn more and retain more, the more actively we are
involved in the learning process.
COMPARED to METHOD of LEARNING
Of what we read
Of what we hear
By watching a
Combining #2 and #3
Combine #4 with writing
out what you learn
All of the above plus
application or practice
The key to effective, fruitful inductive
Bible study is personal involvement and learning how to
carefully, prayerfully observe... not sitting by a pond, but sitting
at the feet of Jesus, allowing the Spirit of Christ to lead you into all truth.
Give me the insight, Lord,
As I read Your Word today,
So I will truly understand
Your message and Your way.
Inductive Bible study has as one of its major
goals to give the student the knowledge and tools to allow them to "fish for
themselves" so to speak. The Bible is a remarkable book. Millions of copies
are bought each year. It has been the number-one bestseller for decades. But
tragically, the Bible is said to be the least-read bestseller of all time!
J. I. Packer is surely correct when
"If I were the devil, one of my first aims
would be to stop folk from digging into the Bible."
Alan Redpath (past pastor at Moody
Bible Church) once advised believers to "wreck" their Bible every 10
years! Do you use your Bible every day until it eventually falls apart? If
you've never studied your Bible inductively, then you are about to experience
that it is a wonderful "tool" by which you can wear out your Bible! Remember --
a well-worn Bible is a sign of a well-fed soul, and a Bible that's falling apart
usually belongs to someone who isn't!
The treasures of the Word of God
Are great beyond compare;
But if we do not search them out,
We cannot use what's there.
The godly missionary
indirectly alluded to the
value of inductive Bible study warning all saints to
"Never let good books take the place of the Bible (Ed:
It alone is the Best Book!). Drink from the Well,
not from the streams that flow from the Well."
INDUCTIVE BIBLE STUDY
IS IT "BIBLICAL"?
You may be asking "Did anyone in
Scripture study inductively?" It's a very relevant question.
In the book of Acts we encounter a
group of saints often referred to as the "Bereans" who seem to
approach the Scriptures with an
Luke records that as a result of
jealousy, the Jews stirred the city of Thessalonica into an uproar which
the brethren (to) immediately
(send) Paul and Silas away by night to Berea and when they arrived, they
went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these (Jews at Berea) were
those (Jews) in
("searched" KJV) the
daily to see
whether these things were
so. Therefore (term
of conclusion) many
The New Living Translation has a good
paraphrase of this Acts 17:11 - "the people of Berea were more
open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to
Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to check up on
Paul and Silas, to see if they were really teaching the truth."
The Bereans were open to the Truth, but
as any good inductive student would do, they searched the scrolls for
themselves which may explain why Dr. Luke referred to them as
noble-minded. This Greek word (eugenes, Strong's #
from eu = good, well + génos = race, family) can mean "of
noble birth", but in
conveys the idea that these men and women
were open-minded, unbiased and characterized by a willingness to learn and
evaluate something fairly. This is the attitude we should have as we begin
to explore a passage inductively. The moment we come to a passage and say
"I know what this one means", we are in "trouble".
Men and Women
Boys and Girls with...
A Berean Mindset!
To experience the most fruitful
inductive study, we need a "Berean mindset". We need to approach the Word
of God "as if for the first time" and avoid approaching it with our mind
already made up. We also need to approach the precious Word with teachable
hearts that continually exhibit a willingness to allow the truth of the
text to transform and renew our thinking if such a change needs to
transpire. This Spirit wrought supernatural transformation of one's thinking upon
confrontation with the Word of Truth (cp 2Cor 3:18-note,
Eph 4:23-note) is at the very heart of
the third aspect of inductive study.
As you have noted in the above passage
two key verbs are highlighted in
and merit further analysis by looking briefly at the original Greek words.
As you will learn later
Greek Word Studies can be a valuable,
illuminating component of inductive Bible study.
The first verb is
What did they receive? Who did they receive it from? (Begin
to practice the habit of "bombarding" the Scripture with these
5 W's and H type of questions) In the context of Acts 17:1-14 clearly the
Bereans received the spoken word from Paul and Silas (Acts 17:4-note). The verb received
describes a deliberate and ready acceptance. It means to receive kindly
and to take to oneself what is presented or brought by another. It means
to welcome as one would welcome a teacher, a friend, or a guest into one's
house. In modern day terms, the Bereans "put out the
welcome mat" for the Word of Truth taught by Paul (cp 1Th 1:6-note
and Jas 1:21-note
where "receive" =
was their attitude?
How did they receive Paul's message? Luke says with "great
eagerness" which is literally "all eagerness".
(5W/H) much? Not just
"some" or "partial" but "all eagerness", which the NAS
Bible Versions) as "great
eagerness". Eagerness is the Greek word
a compound derived from pro = before and
= mind, temperament, passion) which conveys the picture of
a mind ready and willing to receive truth. In short, the Bereans approached
the study of the God's Word not with a sense of drudgery but a sense of
anticipation regarding the divine truth their Teacher the Spirit would
Dear saint, does this attitude
describe the way in which you approach the Word of Life?
If not, keep reading and then begin practicing the inductive technique. If
you persevere you will be pleasantly, profitably surprised by the joy of
self-discovery and the spiritual growth which you experience! Remember
that God feeds the birds, but He doesn't throw the food into their nests!
The Bereans were not content with
simply hearing Paul, but continually sought to check out what he said by
daily (How often?) personally
("scrutinizing", Wuest) the Scriptures. The Greek verb (anakrino
from ana = up and
down, again +
= judge) (Strong's #
350) paints an interesting picture. It
literally describes a process of "judging up and down". One can almost
picture the Bereans "carefully sifting" the Scriptural scrolls, their eyes
going up and down the pages, "prospecting" as it were for the truth, as one
would for pure gold and then (on the basis of the truth gleaned) forming
an opinion regarding Paul's message. The Bereans had discovered the
timeless principle that it is amazing how much light personal study of the
Scriptures will shed on the commentaries about the Scriptures.
Anakrino has an interesting secular
association in that it was used of one who meticulously examined legal
evidence. In a related use
also described an
investigation for the purpose of passing sentence in a judicial setting.
These secular uses emphasize the careful, exacting nature of the Berean's
approach to the Scriptures. For the Bereans, God's Spirit along with God's
Word was their final "judge" which enabled them to assess the authenticity
and accuracy of Paul's "commentary" on the Scriptures! As good
Inductive Bible Students the
primary goal of the Bereans was to know what "saith the LORD", a goal
they achieved by practicing the art and skill of careful
observation which led to accurate
Although the Berean approach is not
specifically called "inductive Bible study", I think you will
agree that their approach to the Scriptures closely parallels the
Paul also used the verb
in writing to the saints at Corinth explaining that as believers we
have each received
not the spirit of the world, but the
Spirit Who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us
by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom,
but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with
spiritual words BUT a natural (psychikos from
psyche = soul; that part of immaterial life in common with the
animals; Latin Vulgate translates it "animalis" - in
the contrast is between the "spiritual" and the unregenerate natural) man
(who) does not (absolutely does not) accept (dechomai
- accept readily, welcome as a teacher, "put out the welcome mat for") the
things of the Spirit of God (why not?) for they are foolishness (moria ~
"moronic") to him and he cannot (does not have the inherent ability to)
understand them, because they are spiritually appraised (anakrino)
CALLS FOR CONTINUAL
DEPENDENCE ON THE HOLY SPIRIT
Alexander Maclaren said “He who has the Holy
Spirit in his heart and the Scriptures in his hands has all he needs.” The Bible, God's Holy Word, is our primary Source and
Spirit is our primary Teacher. But how do we engage and interact with our Teacher? In a word -
Before we open the Book, we should always ask the Spirit to Open our eyes -
"Open my eyes (the eyes of my heart) that I might behold wonderful things from
Your law." (Ps 119:18)
Open my eyes, that I may see,
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key,
That shall unclasp, and set me free.
As John Piper says "no
one can see these wonderful things for what they really are without God's
supernatural help...If God does not open our eyes, we will not see the wonder of
the Word. We are not naturally able to see spiritual beauty. When we read the
Bible without the help of God, the glory of God in the teachings and events of
the Bible is like the sun shining in the face of a blind man. Not that you can't
construe its surface meaning, but you can't see the wonder, the beauty, the
glory of it such that it wins your heart." (Ref)
Warren Wiersbe writes that "If we speak to
the Lord about the Word, the Word will speak to us about the Lord!"
To understand the Word of God,
Rely on the Spirit of God.
And as we prayerfully read and study, we must
actively think about what we are studying (Search for Mortimer Adler's comments
on the phrase "active reading" in
How to Read a Book), for as Paul instructed
(fix your mind upon, ask
reflect on) what I say, for the Lord (Your Teacher the Spirit) will give
you understanding in everything." (2Ti 2:7-note)
Our responsibility is to "Consider." The Spirit's gracious provision is to grant
us "understanding." John Piper explains "It is not you who can see it on your
own. Spiritual apprehension is a gift of God. But God has ordained to give the
gift of supernatural light through thinking...So by all means pray and ask God
to give you the light you need. But don't replace thinking with praying. Think
and pray. Pray and think. This is the way God has set it up. A historical
Christ. A book of preservation and revelation. All of that says: read and study
and ransack and think. But all is in vain without prayer. Both-and, not
And so as we open our Bible, we must ask the Author to open our heart and our
(Luke 24:45, Eph 1:17-note;
“The unfolding (unveiling giving
understanding) of Thy Words gives light. It gives understanding to the simple.”
(Ps 119:130) The Spirit’s illumining work is not to change the sense of the
Scriptures, but to restore us to our senses!
The Apostle John reminds us that the Holy Spirit
Who abides in every believer (Ro 8:9-note) enables
us to distinguish truth from error.
But you have an anointing from the Holy One,
and you all know....And as for you, the anointing which you
received from Him (in context referring to the Holy Spirit) abides in you, and
you have no need to have anyone teach you; but as His anointing teaches you
about an things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you,
you abide in Him. (1Jn 2:20-note,
John teaches that the Spirit of God,
Who lives in each believer, is our personal, private tutor. To be sure, God has
given us pastors and teachers for our edification (1Cor 12:28, Eph 4:11-12-note), but remember that they are in
addition to and not a substitute for the Holy Spirit. And so the humblest
believer in Christ may be taught of God through His Word, even when human
teachers are lacking.
The Lord Jesus makes it abundantly clear in
these words, "When
the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth for He will not
speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak and He will
declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take
what is Mine and declare it to you" (John 16:13,14).
The apostle John quoted
Isaiah 54:13 recording Jesus' promise that "THEY
SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father,
comes to Me" (Jn 6:45). He later explained that "It is the Spirit Who
gives life; the flesh profits nothing"
The Scriptures must be read in dependence
upon the Holy Spirit. This axiom is important to remember in Inductive Bible
Study, where we diligently seek to read the Scriptures objectively. The
danger is that in so doing, we might become "mechanical" and divorce ourselves
from the necessity of illumination of the Scriptures by the Spirit.
Ever-present, truest Friend;
Ever near Thine aid to lend;
Guide us as we search the Word,
Make it both our shield and sword.
The great 19th century preacher, Charles
Spurgeon put it this way "It is one of the peculiar offices of the Holy
Spirit to enlighten His people. He has done so by giving us His inspired Word,
but the Book is never spiritually understood by anyone apart from the personal
teaching of its great Author. You may read it as much as you will and never
discover the inner and vital meaning unless your soul is led into it by the Holy
Spirit Himself. You may have done well to learn the letter of truth, but you
still need the Spirit of God to make it the light and power of God to your soul."
The Holy Spirit has inspired the Word and He
alone can illuminate the Word in the "eyes of our heart" as we read it (see
The Bible and Illumination). As
Puritan Stephen Charnock wrote “The Word is the chariot of the Spirit, the
Spirit the Guider of the Word.” When we devote ourselves to
the study of His Word, with a keen awareness of our need to continually depend
upon our Teacher, the Holy Spirit, we will experience the joy of Spirit
led discovery of God's Truth ("self-discovery" enabled by the Spirit) and the Truth
He unveils to our heart will set us free so that we might be
free indeed! (Jn 8:31, 36) (See also:
John Piper's sermon on our desperate need for God's
C H Spurgeon writes that “If you do not
understand a book by a departed writer you are unable to ask him his meaning,
but the Spirit, Who inspired Holy Scripture, lives forever, and He delights to
open the Word to those who seek His instruction. God, by His Spirit, brings old
truth home to the heart, gives new light to our eyes, and causes the Word to
exercise new power over us. Blind men may read the Bible with their fingers, but
blind souls cannot. We want a light to read the Bible by; there is no reading it
in the dark. Thus the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth, by suggesting ideas,
by directing our thoughts, and by illuminating the Scriptures when we read
them.” (See link to sermon below)
Warren Wiersbe “Illumination is the work of
the Holy Spirit, and we must depend on Him to teach us new truths and to remind
us of truths we may have forgotten (Jn 14:26b). When (we are) “in the Spirit,”
the Word comes forth with power and penetration. We experience what the little
girl in London meant when she said to her mother, “Mother, is Mr. Spurgeon
speaking to me?” The Word becomes personal….The blessing doesn’t come because we
hear the Word; it comes because we do the Word. Anything else is pure deception.
(Jas 1:22)” Indeed, it is better to live one verse of the Bible, than to recite
an entire chapter. As Jesus taught “If you know these things, you are blessed if
you do them.” (Jn 13:17)
INDUCTIVE BIBLE STUDY
CALLS FOR A PROPER
J I Packer rightly reminds us that "One of the many divine qualities of the Bible
is this: that it does not yield its secrets to the irreverent and censorious."
And so, as you begin this journey, inductive Bible study
may seem somewhat labor intensive or academic, but if you desire to learn how to
rightly divide the Word of Truth, you will need to persevere and exert effort (an incredible illustration of desire and effort).
Bob Smith in his
of Bible Interpretation writes that
"God wants everyone to be able to understand
the Bible, for its message is essentially how we can have and enjoy the greatest
kind of life, free from the futility of pointlessness, free from the limitations
of our human, earthly thought patterns, free from the fear of death and dying.
Not everyone understands it this way. In fact, many are so convinced they can't
understand the Bible that they never give it a second look. It's strange how we
will study most any other subject with diligence only to have the acquired
knowledge perish with us. But the words of the Bible are words of life! (cp Dt
32:47, Php 2:16)"
Perhaps you have approached the Bible more as "snack food"
because of unfounded notion that deeper study was only for the "professionals."
In the inductive
approach to the Scriptures you will come to learn that you too can experience a veritable feast at
the King's banqueting table.
As Oliver Wendell Holmes once said "What you bring away from the Bible
depends to some extent on what
you carry to it."
And so in order to experience effective, profitable inductive Bible study we
need the right attitude as emphasized by the following Scripture. The
apostle Peter writes...
all malice and all
guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babes,
milk of the word, that by it you
may grow in respect to salvation, 3 if you have tasted the kindness of
the Lord." (1Pe 2:1-note;
Did you notice the order?
Putting aside the perverse precedes practice of the positive. The
Greek verb for "putting
aside" was used to describe taking off one's old dirty clothes!
Sin in one's life will destroy one's appetite for the Word and needs to be "cast
1John 1:9-note). So first seek a "clean slate" as did
David when he prayed
"Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me
and know my anxious thoughts and see if there be any hurtful way in me and lead
me in the everlasting way." (Ps 139:23-24-note)
Peter uses a
figure of speech ("newborn
babies") to draw a poignant comparison
(simile) between the appetite of a
growing baby for its
mothers milk and the appetite of a healthy believer for Gods Word. He
commands us to
long for pure milk, to desire it earnestly, to long for it greatly,
crave possession of it and to have great affection for it. David wrote "As
pants for the water brooks, so my soul
pants for Thee, O
God." (Ps 42:1-note)
where in the
Septuagint = Lxx
(the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT) the word for
is the same word translated
long for in first Peter.
Spurgeon explains the idea of panting "As after a long drought the poor fainting
hind longs for the streams, or rather as the hunted hart instinctively seeks
after the river to lave its smoking flanks and to escape the dogs, even so my
weary, persecuted soul pants after the Lord my God. (Note)
The meaning of this word picture is obvious.
Sinners bought with the precious blood and made into new babes in Christ are to crave the spiritual milk of God's
Word just like babies crave the bottle.
And just as the Bible is to be our primary
source in inductive study, Peter instructs us to make sure the "milk" we partake
-- genuine, without guile or deceit, unadulterated, not mixed with anything
else. So when you "eat" the Bible inductively, we seek to do so without "additives". (See related messages by Dr. John Piper -
Long for the Pure Milk;
Sweeter than honey;
Meditate on the Word;
Thank God for an Inspired Bible)
Why does Peter insist on a healthy diet of
pure milk? What is his goal? In context clearly it is spiritual growth,
which is only possible when one takes in pure milk. No intake of God's Word will result in
stunted spiritual growth and the off shoot, spiritual
maturity. In short, "no milk, no growth!" Test yourself -- How long have you been a Christian? How would you grade your spiritual
growth over this past year? Are you growing up in Christ or are you simply growing
Remember the principle - No regular intake of the Word = No spiritual growth! It
follows that we must be very wary of substituting Christian books and
devotionals for the intake of "pure milk," for only the God's Word carries God's
guarantee of growth "in respect to salvation (= sanctification)." (1Pe
Howard Hendricks adds that 1Peter
2:1-3 (1Pe 2:1-note;
"tells us: in order
that you might grow. Please note, it is not that you may
know. Certainly you can’t grow without knowing. But you can know and not grow.
The Bible was written not to satisfy your curiosity but to help you conform to
Christ’s image. Not to make you a smarter sinner but to make you like the
Savior. Not to fill your head with a collection of biblical facts but to
transform your life." (Ibid)
Search the Scripture's precious store
As a miner digs for ore;
Search, and you will surely find
Treasures to enrich your mind.
Francis Bacon once remarked that "some books are to be tasted, others
to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested."
Word of Truth and Life is to be "chewed and digested" so that it becomes part of our
innermost being, not merely informing us but transforming us. Such was
the approach of the weeping, downcast prophet Jeremiah who declared "Thy words were found and I
ate them, and Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I
have been called by Thy name, O LORD God of hosts." (Jer 15:16)
German theologian Johann Bengel
(1687-1752) said "Be like a maker of a well
who brings no water to his source but allows the water he finds there to
flow freely without stoppage, diversion, or defilement."
THE BENEFITS OF
INDUCTIVE BIBLE STUDY
If you're still not convinced that
Inductive Bible Study is worth the investment of your time and effort, glance
over a few
of the benefits listed below.
(1) You will learn how to
carefully observe the
Scriptures and in so doing you will be enabled to "rightly
divide the Word of Truth" (2Ti 2:15-note)
and you be equipped to accurately interpret God's Word on your own.
Roosevelt rightly declared that "A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth
more than a college education."
You will no longer be dependent on commentaries, devotionals, pastor's
sermons, conferences, etc. Please do not misunderstand. Believers should sit under a godly teacher of the Word, but this
should be a stimulus, not a substitute for getting into the book for ourselves!
(3) When you encounter differences
between interpretations in commentaries, which you frequently will, IBS enables
you to discern which comment represents the most accurate interpretation.
You will increase in the knowledge of God and His ways, growing "in the grace
and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2Pe 3:18-note)
"The Bible is like a telescope. If a man looks through his telescope,
then he sees worlds beyond: but if he looks at his telescope, then he does not
see anything but that. The Bible is a thing to be looked through, to see that
which is beyond; but most people only look at it; and so they see only the dead
Your personal faith will be greatly
strengthened for "faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ."
D. L. Moody - "The study of God’s Word brings peace to the
heart...light for every darkness, life in death, the promise of our Lord’s
return, and the assurance of everlasting glory."
Henry Ward Beecher - "The Bible is God’s chart for you to steer
by, to keep you from the bottom of the sea, and to show you where the harbor
is, and how to reach it without running on rocks and bars."
You will become increasingly aware of what it means to be "in
Christ" and to "be holy for I am holy" (Lev
1Pe 1:16-note) for Jesus prayed
"Sanctify them (His disciples) in the Truth. Thy Word is Truth."
(Jn 17:17) The NLT paraphrases it "Make them pure and holy by teaching them Your words
It has been well said that "This book will keep you from sin
or sin will keep you from this book."
Howard Hendricks quips that
"Dusty Bibles lead to dirty lives. In fact, you are either in the Word and the
Word is conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ, or you are in the world and
the world is squeezing you into its mold."
You will develop an increasing assurance that you are believing not what someone
else teaches but what the God's Word truly teaches. And since we behave on the
basis of what we believe, we can be certain that we are ""walking
(living) in a
So you can see why it is critical that what one believes about God is in fact
truly what God says and not what someone else's "systematic" interpretation
teaches, no matter how authoritative and respected the source. And make no
mistake -- this attitude is not one of arrogance but one of prudence! Howard
Hendricks once asked a group of businessmen
"If you didn’t know any more
about your business or profession than you know about Christianity after the
same number of years of exposure, what would happen ?
‘One guy said, “They’d
ship me!" to which Dr. Hendricks replied
"Thank, you, sir, for the
honesty"! (Living by the Book)
You will learn a method of independent Bible study that can be passed on to
others who in turn can go out and teach others. (cf 2Ti 2:2-note).
Bible gives us all we need
To live our lives for God each day;
But it won't help if we don't read
And follow what its pages say
INDUCTIVE BIBLE STUDY
At this point you may feel a bit
overwhelmed, and yet you are intrigued with the inductive approach. Let me
encourage you first of all to continue reading the remainder of the
summary notes on this website. Here are some other suggestions you might
to Study Your Bible" (click) by Kay Arthur is the most succinct, straightforward
synopsis on inductive Bible study currently available. (Or
try this similar resource -
Lord, Teach Me to Study the Bible in 28 Days)
New International Inductive Study Bible
was developed by Precept Ministry International
specifically with the inductive student in mind. This Bible is unique with
an excellent synopsis of the inductive method including an example of how
to mark the text, wide margins, paucity of study notes, suggestions at the
beginning of all 66 books on how to study that specific book inductively (click and "turn the pages") and at the end of each book there is
a blank "At A Glance" chart to record your chapter themes, key words, etc.
If you are serious about the inductive Bible study method, you should
strongly consider purchasing this Bible.
Minute Bible Studies (click) on a variety of topics (click following examples "How
Can A Man Control His Thoughts, Desires and Passions?",
Possessions, and the Pursuit of Peace", "A
Marriage that Really Works", "Discovering
What the Future Holds",
a study on prophecy, etc).
Each 40 minute study
(so named because the lesson can be completed in 40 minutes) is
self-contained, self-instructional, does not require advanced training and
is easily adapted to a small group setting even if participants are not
familiar with inductive study. These 40 minute studies are an
excellent, "painless" way to begin to experience inductive Bible study,
learning how to study the Scriptures on your own in a way you never
thought possible before.
Are You There? Do You Care? Do You Know About Me? This
self-contained study on the book of John will give you an excellent introduction to the inductive Bible study
technique. You could do this one in your personal devotional time to whet
your appetite for a full fledge Precept Upon Precept study discussed
5) Sign up for a Precept Bible Study in your area:
Precept Upon Precept Bible Studies are the best in depth studies
available for inductive Bible study. They take from 3-5 hours of homework
per week but are well worth the time investment for you will learn more
life transforming truth in these courses than you ever thought possible in
a lay setting. You can also download the first lesson of each of
their expanding selection of available Bible book studies in Pdf format (click
for list of available studies and Pdf downloads).
You may feel overwhelmed at first but all Precept leaders are trained in
the inductive method and are willing to assist you. If you are unable to
find a Precept Bible study in your call Precept headquarters at 1-800-763-8280.
6) Sign up for a Precept Workshop on Inductive Bible Study:
An Introduction to inductive Bible study is offered by Precept in
Chattanooga (a blessing to visit if you are able) in addition to periodic
seminars throughout the USA (call 1-800-763-8280).
Living by the Book: by Dr Howard
Hendricks. This work is an
entertaining and enlightening introduction to inductive Bible study which
one could use to supplement the more practical
and broader selection of inductive Bible study materials available from Precept
Ministry International. (Available in
Basic Bible Interpretation
by Dr Roy B. Zuck.
This book is an authoritative, well written, easy to understand textbook
on hermeneutics (the "science" of interpretation). Chapter 2 is especially
useful to give the student of Scripture an excellent historical summary of
how the Bible has been rightly and wrongly handled over the last 2000
book or also available on
Wordsearch Bible Software)
Basics of Bible Interpretation by Bob
Smith is a well written book available free of charge online. Although it is not
specifically a treatise on inductive study (click), this book does contain excellent guidelines on
and practical guidelines on how to utilize the original languages,
Hermeneutics - Study of Interpretation of
Dr Stephen Lewis. This 152 page Pdf is used as for the course on
hermeneutics at Chafer Theological Seminary and represents a compilation
of sound, useful material from a number of sources. On page 22 there is an
excellent summary of how the Bible has been interpreted over the past 2000
years (similar to resource #8 but no charge).
How Can I Understand The Bible?
: A brief, well done online
booklet from Radio Bible Class summarizing inductive Bible study.
How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler.
Howard Hendricks writes that "even though
How to Read a Book is about books in
general, it’s an outstanding resource for Bible study because it teaches
you how to read...I read it, and it transformed my study skills. In fact,
it changed the course of my life. And that’s what it can do for you in
terms of Bible study." (This book is available free online in Pdf - [I
presume that it is legal] -
How to Read a Book)
ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
Begin your great adventure by first learning what to look for
as you develop your God given ability to
the living and active Word of God.
Click the discussion on how to
observe the Scripture.
HOW MUCH DO YOU
In France, there once lived a poor, blind girl who
obtained the Gospel of Mark in raised letters and learned to read it with the tips of her fingers. By constant reading,
her fingers became calloused, and consequently
her sense of touch decreased until she could no longer distinguish the
letters & words. She became so desperate for the Word of God that she
literally cut the calloused skin from the ends of her fingers in an
attempt to restore sense of touch, but in so doing actually resulted in
completely destroying her sense of touch. Faced with the inevitable
reality that she must now
give up her beloved Book, with weeping & tears she pressed the Braille
copy of Mark to her lips, saying
“Farewell, farewell, sweet word of my Heavenly Father!” To her surprise,
she discovered that her lips were even more sensitive to touch than her fingers
had been & she was able to distinguish the individual
letters. All night she "perused" the Word of God with her lips and
overflowed with joy at this amazing provision from her LORD.
John Stott wrote
A man who loves his wife will love her letters and her photographs because
they speak to him of her. So if we love the Lord Jesus, we shall love the
Bible because it speaks to us of Him. (our Bridegroom)
THE WORD OF GOD
Inductive Bible study is meant not
merely to inform but to transform. (see note
Men do not reject the Bible because it contradicts
itself, but because it contradicts them. - E. Paul Hovey
The old covenant is revealed
in the New, and the New Covenant is veiled in the Old. - Augustine
The new is in the old contained, and the Old is in the New
explained. - Graham Scroggie
The family Bible is more
often used to adorn coffee tables or press flowers than it is to feed
souls and discipline lives. - Charles Colson
The Old Testament altar points to the New Testament cross.
The Bible is meant to be bread for daily use, not cake for special
8:3, Mt 4:4)
The Bible is the best "TV guide".
on Ps 101:3)
When you open your Bible, ask the Author to open your heart.
Luke 24:45, see notes
If a Christian is careless in Bible reading, he will care less about
Backsliders begin with dusty Bibles and end with filthy garments. -
You can't enjoy the harmony of Scripture if you play just one note of
To hear God speak, read the Bible carefully and study it prayerfully.
We cannot bear fruit without the water of God's Word.
The highest goal of learning is to know God.
When we look into the mirror of God's Word, we see ourselves more clearly.
A text taken out of
context becomes a pretext.
Let God's Word fill your mind, rule your heart, and guide your tongue.
The Bible: The more you read it, the more you love it; the more you love
it, the more you read it.
The best protection against Satan's lies is to know God's truth.
Like a compass, the Bible always points you in the right direction.
Those who only sample the Bible never acquire a taste for it.
If you're too busy to read the Bible, you're too busy.
God feeds the birds, but He doesn't throw the food into their nests.
We lose the joy of living in the present when we worry about the future.
And we lose the joy of living for the future when we focus on the present.
Opening your Bible can be a real eye-opener.
A well-read Bible is a sign of a well-fed soul.
A Bible that's falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn't.
Sin will keep you from the Bible or the Bible will keep you from sin.
It's better to live one verse of the Bible than to recite an entire
The Bible: read it through, work it out, pass it on!
Apply yourself to the Scriptures and the Scriptures to yourself.
Reading the Bible without meditating on it is like eating without chewing.
119:15, 23, 27, 48, 78, 97, 99, 148)
God speaks through His Word--take time to listen.
When the Bible becomes a part of you, you'll be less likely to come apart.
The Bible is simple enough for a child to read and too deep for a scholar
The Bible is like the ocean. You can wade in it, feed from it, live on
it--or drown in it. But those who take the time to learn its truths and
practice them will be changed forever.
With God's Word as your map and His Spirit as your compass, you're sure to
stay on course.
When you study the Bible "hit or miss," you MISS more than you HIT.
When the Word of God dwells in you, the love of Christ shines through you.
Beware! Error often rides to its deadly work on the back of truth!
--Spurgeon (2Cor 11:13-15)
Spiritual growth requires the meat of God's Word.
1 Peter 2:2)
Be diligent in your study of the Word of God. Then, instead of falling
into error, you will stand firmly on the truth.
Your life will run smoother if you go by "The Book."
If we want our life to run well, even through stormy situations and rough
circumstances, we must take the time to study the "Owner's Manual."
Many people store the Bible on the shelf instead of in their heart.
Some people make the Bible say what they want to hear
To be a healthy Christian, don't treat the Bible as snack food.
A well-read Bible is the companion of a well-fed believer.
We must approach God's Word as if our lives depended on it--because they
If your life depended on knowing the Bible, how long would you last?
We must align ourselves with the Bible, never the Bible with ourselves.
The branches of growing trees not only reach higher, but their roots grow
deeper. It's impossible for a strong tree to have high branches without
having deep roots. It would become top-heavy and topple over in the wind."
The same is true with Christians. It's impossible for
us to grow in the Lord without entwining our roots around His Word and
deepening our life in His commands." - Joni Eraeckson Tada
The roots of stability come from being grounded in God's Word.
Bible study demands pondering deeply on a short passage, like a cow
chewing her cud. It is better to read a little and ponder a lot than to
read a lot and ponder a little."
To get the full flavor of an herb, it
must be pressed between the fingers, so it is the same with the
Scriptures; the more familiar they become, the more they reveal their
hidden treasures and yield their indescribable riches. John Chrysostom,
There’s no better book with which to
defend the Bible than the Bible itself. - D. L. Moody
The study of God’s Word brings peace to
the heart. In it, we find a light for every darkness, life in death, the
promise of our Lord’s return, and the assurance of everlasting glory. - D. L. Moody
We fail in our duty to study God's Word
not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it
is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of
intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy. -
R. C. Sproul
The Bible is like a telescope. If a man
looks through his telescope, then he sees worlds beyond: but if he looks
at his telescope, then he does not see anything but that. The Bible is a
thing to be looked through, to see that which is beyond; but most people
only look at it; and so they see only the dead letter.” Phillips Brooks
The Bible was not written to satisfy
your curiosity, but to make you conform to Christ’s image. Not to make you
a smarter sinner, but to make you like the Savior. Not to fill your head
with a collection of biblical facts, but to transform your life.” --Howard
Hendricks in Living by the Book
has been said that the Bible is so deep that theologians cannot touch the
bottom, yet so shallow that babes cannot drown.
the midst of that period of intellectual history called The Enlightenment,
a philosophy known as deism was sweeping Europe. In the midst of this
development, the famous skeptic, Voltaire, proclaimed that within 25
years, the Bible would be forgotten and Christianity would be a thing of
the past. However, 40 years after Voltaire’s death in 1778, the Bible and
other Christian literature were being printed in what had once been
Voltaire’s own house!
My rule for Christian living is this:
anything that dims my vision of Christ, or takes away my taste for Bible
study, or cramps my prayer life, or makes Christian work difficult is
wrong for me, and I must, as a Christian, turn away from it. - Dr. Wilbur Chapman
The Bible is God’s chart for you to
steer by, to keep you from the bottom of the sea, and to show you where
the harbor is, and how to reach it without running on rocks or bars. -
Henry Ward Beecher
a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny. - Samuel Smiles
off reading the Bible till you find your hearts warmed...Let it not
only inform you, but inflame you. - Thomas Watson
Never let good books take the place of the Bible. Drink from the Well, not
from the streams that flow from the Well . -- Amy Carmichael
Gipsy Smith told of a man who said he had received no inspiration from the
Bible although he had “gone through it several times.”
“Let it go through
you once,” replied Smith, “then you will tell a different story!”
THIS BOOK contains the mind of God, the
state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness
of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its
histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise,
believe it to be safe and practice it to be holy. It contains light to
direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you. It is the
traveller's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's
sword and the Christian's charter. Here paradise is restored, heaven
opened and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand object, our
good is its design and the glory of God its end. It should fill the
memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently,
and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river
of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened in the judgement, and
will be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will
reward the greatest labour, and will condemn all who trifle with its
sacred contents.— Anonymous
Spurgeon in his sermon on
Hosea 2:23 exults in the authority and efficacy of God's holy Word...
To my mind, it is very instructive to
notice how Paul quotes from the Prophets. The revelation of the mind of
God in the Old Testament helps us to understand the gospel revealed in the
New Testament. There is no authority that is so powerful over the minds
of Christian men as that of the Word of God. Has God made known any
truth in his Word? Then, it is invested with divine authority. Paul, being
himself inspired by the Holy Spirit, and therefore able to write fresh
revelations of the mind of God, here brings the authority of God’s Word in
the olden times to back up and support what he says: “As he saith also in
Beloved friend, if you are seeking
salvation, or if you want comfort, never rest satisfied with the mere word
of man. Be not content unless you got the truth from the mouth of God.
Say in your spirit, “I will not be comforted, unless God himself shall
comfort me. I want chapter and verse for that which I receive as gospel.”
Our Lord’s reply to Satan was, “It is written, man shall not live by
bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
Give me, then, but a word out of God’s mouth, and I can live upon it;
but all the words out of man’s mouth, apart from divine inspiration, must
be as unsatisfying food as if men tried to live on stones.
Notice, again, how Paul teaches that
the very essence of the authority of the Scriptures lies in this, that God
speaks through his revealed Word:
“As HE saith also in
It is God speaking in the Bible whom we
ought to hear. The mere letter of the Word alone will hill; but when we
hear God’s voice speaking in it, then it has power which it could not
possess otherwise. It is a blessed thing to put your ear down to the
promises of Scripture, till you hear God speaking through them to your
soul. It is truly profitable to read a gospel commandment, and to listen
to its voice until God himself speaks it with power to your heart. I
pray you, do not regard anything that is preached here unless it agrees
with what is written there in the Bible. If it is only my word, throw it
away; but if it is God’s truth that I declare to you, if God Himself
speaks it through my lips, you will disregard it at your peril.
I will make only one other observation
by way of introduction. Is it not wonderful how God’s Word is preserved
century after century? There were seven or eight hundred years between
Hosea and Paul; and it is remarkable that the promise to the Gentiles
should lie asleep all that time, and yet should be just as full of life
and power when Paul was quoting it after all those centuries. God’s
Word is like the wheat in the hand of the mummy, of which you have often
heard. It had lain there for thousands of years; but men took it out of
the hand, and sowed it, and there sprang up the bearded wheat which has
now become so common in our land. So you take a divine promise, spoken
hundreds or thousands of years ago, and lo, it is fulfilled to you! It
becomes as true to you as if God had spoken it for the first time this
very day, and you were the person to whom it was addressed.
O blessed Word of God, how we ought to
prize thee! We cannot tell yet all that lies hidden between these covers;
but there is a treasury of grace concealed here, which we ought to seek
until we find it. (See full message on
Hosea 2:23 God's People, or Not God's People)
(Bolding added for emphasis) (Copyright
AGES Software. Used by permission. All rights reserved. See
for their full selection of highly recommended resources)
Quotations on Bible Study by various
MORE WORD FOR WORD
MORE CONCEPT FOR CONCEPT
NAS = New American Standard
Amp = Amplified Version
ASV = Authorized Standard Version 1901
ESV = English Standard Version
RSV = Revised Standard Version
KJV = King James Version
NKJV = New King James Version
NRSV = New Revised Std Version
NAB = New American Bible
NJB = New Jerusalem Bible
NIV = New International Version
NCV = New Century Version
ICB = International Children's Bible
NLT = New Living Translation
Phillips = J B Phillips Paraphrase
GNT = Good News Translation
CEV = Contemporary English Version
TLB = The Living Bible
Msg = The Message
For the most objective, non-biased and "pure" inductive study, do not use
paraphrased versions as your primary resource for they provide no way to determine whether
or not the translator's interpretation of the original Greek and
Hebrew is accurate. The more literal versions such as NAS, ESV, KJV,
NKJV more accurately render the words of the original biblical
authors and are therefore recommended for inductive Bible study. Although
more literal, the Amplified is not recommended as your primary text, but
can be helpful once you have done your study because in many verses it
functions like a "mini-commentary". Consultation (after your own inductive
study) with some paraphrases (e.g., NLT and Phillips) may also yield
insights into the meaning of the passage. Note that the NIV is a
thought-for-thought (dynamic equivalence) translation which can be helpful
for new believers, but it is not recommended for in depth bible
study because of the inconsistent way in which it renders the Hebrew and
Greek texts. In some cases, the NIV includes significant interpretation
which leaves the reader without any indication of the other possible ways
to understand that particular verse. Although every translation has some
degree of interpretation, the NAS is the least interpretative and
has the advantage over the NIV in that it identifies words in
italics that are not in the original language but which have been
added by the translators to make the passage more readable and/or
understandable. Do not base your interpretation on the words in italics.
As a rule of thumb
the most reliable translations for detailed study are those which include
italicized words (NAS, ASV, Darby, KJV, NKJV, YLT). These
translations use formal equivalence as evidenced by the italicized words
which signify phrases and conjunctions added by the translators for
clarity of reading, but for which no corresponding words exist in the
original language text. This also helps the careful student to know when
he or she is standing on solid ground (words not in italics) or "thin ice"
(italicized phrases). Note that popular versions like the ESV, NIV, and
NET Bible do not use italics (although sometimes they include notes to
help explain the specific rendering.)
DISCLAIMER: Preceptaustin is an
independent website and is in no way affiliated with Precept Ministries
International. The resources on Preceptaustin are provided for the purpose
of edification of the body of Christ and should be referenced only after
examining the Scriptures inductively. The resources on this site are
neither specifically endorsed by nor representative of the resources
available at Precept Ministries International.