What exactly is an inductive Bible study? Is this something that could give us a better understanding of the scriptures?
The command to study
Paul told Timothy, whom he was framing, to “Do your best to present yourself to God as an approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, correctly handling the word of truth.»(2nd Tm 2,15). We know that the apostles taught from the Old Testament and they used the scriptures for it. Paul said to Timothy: “devote yourself to public reading of Scripture, exhortation, teaching“(1 Tim 4:13) even though Paul told Timothy that he knew”how from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which can make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ»(2nd Tm 3,15). Even so, Timothy had to “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, reprimand and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction”(2nd Tim 4: 2). To Titus Paul wrote “So these are the things you should be teaching. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Don’t let anyone look down on you(Titus 2:15). Scripture is clear; we must study in order to be able ”grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ(2 Peter 3:18) and what better way to do this than to have an inductive Bible study, but what does that mean?
What does “inductive” mean?
Before we dive into the topic of what inductive Bible study is, I think we need to know what the word inductive means. Deductive study or deductive reasoning involves the process of reasoning from one or more statements (premises) to come to a logically certain conclusion like “all men are mortal, I am a man, therefore I am mortal”. It is a top-down study of logic or reason. On the other hand, an inductive study seeks to provide strong evidence for the truthfulness of the conclusion that 100% of the biological life forms we know of depend on liquid water to exist. We can look for strong evidence for this premise by studying all of the life forms we know of and starving them of water to see if they can continue to live without it. We may not come to absolute and conclusive proof because we cannot study all of life on this planet, but we can know with reasonable certainty that life needs water to survive; at least as far as we can come to know. I know this is a very simple definition, but it is a starting point for knowing what an inductive Bible study is.
An inductive Bible study
An inductive Bible study involves deductive reasoning (see paragraph above) and typically takes three steps in the process. This is generally what it is.
We can start with one or more verses from the Bible and read them and come up with a hypothesis and if we are wrong about that verse (s) we can move on to another possible hypothesis. We might find that this is absolutely not what this or these passage (s) say and that our hypothesis is not true. If we take as an example the verse that the love of money is the root of evil (1 Tim 6:10) but we study the best translations which say that the love of money is the root of all kinds evil, we have just deduced that it is not money that is inherently evil… it is the love of money that is at the root of all kinds of evil.
Second, we can better understand the passage (s) by reading the context in which the verse (s) is given or any verse reference to that passage that is found elsewhere in the scriptures and in the case of 1 Timothy 6:10a the context of this chapter speaks of being satisfied with what one has (1st Tim 6,6) and that it is those who have a passionate desire to be rich who “fall into temptation, into a trap, into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction“(1st Tm 6.9) and”It is by this desire that some have moved away from the faith and are pierced with many pains.”(1 Tim 6: 10b) this is why Paul told Timothy to“run away from these things ” and “Pursue justice»(1st Tim 6,11).
The third and final step is “what does this or these passage (s) mean to me?” What are the practical implications of this verse and how does it apply to my life as a believer in Jesus Christ. It seems like we have to seek righteousness and the kingdom first, and then God will add whatever things we need (Matthew 6:33). I have to ask myself; “Am I ready to obey this? How can I apply this to my Christian walk with Christ? Where do I go from here? I need to implement these truths in my life by applying them in a practical way… that is, I have to put them into practice once I have learned them. The truth is useless if it is not obeyed.
So my conclusion is that it is the pursuit of money that produces all kinds of evil in me. This is what the context of the first chapter six of Timothy is about. I must follow the directions of Paul’s admonition to Timothy and “run away from these things” and “pursue justice»(1 Tim 6:11) by first seeking the kingdom and that means first seeking the King of the kingdom (Mt 6:33).
We know we need to study the Bible, then learn its meaning for us, and then live that meaning in a practical way that allows us to grow in the grace and knowledge of God. This is a compelling commandment given throughout the scriptures, and inductive Bible study will help us achieve such a good and godly goal.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is the pastor of Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the senior editor of What Christians Want to Know whose mission is to equip, encourage and energize Christians and answer questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon.