Christian Life & Discipleship

How to Read the Bible: Inductive Study Approach

Hopefully my last article inspired you to read the Bible more than you have before, wanting to get a better understanding of it and knowing God more through it.

In this article, I want to give you some tools on how I have started to read the Bible which has lead me to a greater understanding.

I am doing the Bible Core Course here at Youth With A Mission Perth, and the biggest thing I have learnt, and am continuing to learn, is how to study the Bible. We use a method called the Inductive Study Approach and I’m going to give you some information and tools about how this study method works and how it can teach you to study the Bible in context and understand it more.

Some important things to know is that this particular study approach is to help you understand what the text is actually saying. So when using this study approach, be sure to come with an open mind, not trying to prove what you already believe or trying what you read to fit into the box of what you think it should say. This study approach is designed so that we can gain a better idea to interpret what the author was saying and come to a conclusion at the end rather than coming to it with a conclusion already formed in our minds.

5 Steps of the Inductive Study Approach

  1. Pray – Invite the Holy Spirit to be with you as you read, pray that He would open up your eyes and heart to read and understand the scriptures. We can’t read Gods word effectively and understanding it without Him showing us and revealing His heart through His words.
  2. Observe – Colour code what you see in the text: people, places, time, commands that God gives people. Tip: use different colours for different categories (people, places, time, commands etc.). This helps you with interpreting the text.
  3. Interpret – What do you think the text is saying? What would it have meant for the original hearers and readers of the text? Think about how the people might have felt during that time of event.
  4. Apply – When you have done observation and interpretation, you will be able to see the principle or life lesson that the communicator was trying to get across. How does that apply to you?
  5. Proclaim – Whom can you share this with? Maybe some friends who don’t know Jesus? Or some church friends who need a bit of encouragement?

By doing this approach and really trying to do it to the best of my ability, I feel like the stories and texts have opened out more than they have ever done before. I stopped looking at what Jesus was trying to say to me, and started looking instead what He was actually saying to the people of that time. Then I look at how that can still apply to me today. God speaks through that! We weren’t around in the Old Testament and New Testament times so God wasn’t speaking directly to us when they were written, but the principles still apply to our lives; they are timeless truths. How cool is God?

I would also recommend getting a few friends together. Reading together and discussing opens it up even more, and people will see different observations or have different interpretations of the Bible. This helps to broaden your understanding of what the text might be saying.

Make this a daily habit! Set some time aside everyday to read, ask God when you should do it, in the morning when you wake up? Or in the evening before going to bed? Or maybe even over lunch? If you don’t set an actual time to read, you can skip it quite easily and just forget about it throughout the day.

So now you have set a time aside set an alarm or something that can remind you do your bible reading, you could even ask a friend or your spouse, pastor or family member to remind you or ask you about it. During your times of reading, questions will come up, I would encourage you to write them down on a piece of paper or on your phone, somewhere were you will remember them.

They could be questions you think about throughout the day and God may bring revelation or greater understanding as you do your daily things or you can take them to your pastor or a spiritual mentor if you have one. It’s an incredible help if you have someone you can bounce questions off of, who has a good understanding of the Bible and who has studied the Bible.

Understanding the Bible more is an incredible foundation for your life, it’s a platform that will allow you to springboard off of and God can use you in incredible ways. Anything you do in life, understanding the word of God is essential to living life, whether in church ministry or an office job, we all need it.

When was the last time you picked up your Bible?