Do you want to get more out of your personal bible study time? Have you ever wondered how it is that some Christians, pastors, or bible study leaders seem to be able to identify so much more truth in God’s word? Well, there’s a three step process that can put you on a path to understanding and applying God’s word to your life. This will help you to be a doer of the word and not a hearer only (James 1:22).
Here are the three steps of inductive Bible study:
1). Observation: What does it say?
This first step is a simple one. Read the text carefully a time or two in a Bible version that you can understand. (There are many great versions and translations available. The one that I use personally and recommend is the NET Bible. If you want to know why I like this one best, ask me some time.) As you read, look for the following things:
- Are there any commands?
- Are there any promises?
- Are there any repeated words or phrases?
- Are there any results or conclusions (look for therefore or so that)?
- What is the main idea of the passage?
2). Interpretation: What does it mean?
This can be a challenging step, and it’s the one that people sometimes fail to carry out correctly. To perform this step, you may need to seek out a few Bible study tools (commentary, concordance, etc.). But, don’t get too intimidated at this step. Simply, consider the following questions:
- Are there any terms, words, or phrases that need to be defined?
- How does the passage fit into the broader context of the chapter & book?
- What was the author of this book trying to say?
- What did the audience understand the author to have been saying?
3). Application: What does it mean to me?
Now, it is time to apply the timeless truth of the passage to life. Though all of the Bible may not be written directly to us, it is certainly written for us. And, we must ask a few questions to learn how this passage should change our lives:
- What attitude does this passage instruct me to have?
- What action does this passage instruct me to take?
- What does this passage instruct me to believe?
- What does this passage instruct me to avoid?
At this step of application, also look for the How and the Why. In addition to telling us what to do, believe, and avoid, the Bible also frequently tells us how and why to apply the truth of the passage. So, look for that.
Certainly, this is not an exhaustive guide, but it should be a great start to helping you learn more from your Bible study time. So, try taking these steps sometime this week, and let me know how it goes. And of course, feel free to ask me any questions that arise from your personal study of the Bible.