13 May 2012

Inductive Bible Study, Part 2: Read

Dear Lissy,

In my last letter we gathered all the goodies to begin an inductive Bible Study.  We are going to use the example of music throughout our study to help grasp where each piece fits into the picture.
The Scriptures do not exist for mere study or intellectual absorption. They are meant to renew our minds, touch our hearts, and shape our lives. Put another way, the Scriptures are meant to be performed. The Psalms, for example, are meant to be prayed and sung. The biblical narratives are meant to be meditated upon and responded to. The revelation in the epistles is meant to be embraced and applied.
The vast richness of Scripture can be likened unto an elaborate musical piece that’s written out on a sheet of music. That sheet is meant to be interpreted and then performed. 
For this reason, the Bible, like a Divine musical composition, requires the contributions of various musicians to interpret and perform it in harmony with one another. Each musician may use a different approach to interpreting it. And each may perform it in a slightly different way. But taken together, those musicians comprise an orchestra that creates a beautiful melody, expressing the richness of the biblical message through different sounds, pitches, and tones.  
~ Frank Viola

Torrey lists eight conditions of the person who profits most from Bible study:
Students who benefit from their study are born again, have wholly surrendered their will to God, and obey the Bible's teachings the instant they see them.  They have a deep love of the Bible, study it as the words of God, and are willing to work hard. A profitable student of the Bible also studies the Word prayerfully, and comes with a child-like mind ready to be taught.
Notice that he does not list intelligence, a Bible college degree, or even an extensive library.

After choosing a book to study (we'll do Jonah or I Thessalonians as your very first study in a couple of years), it's time to READ it.  Continuing our music analogy, this would be like a musician "sight reading" a score through several times.  

Set aside 90 minutes and read through the book as many times as you can.
  • Complete the entire 90 minutes in one sitting using the copy you printed out with no verse or chapter markings.  Most books can be read through several times.
  • Begin with prayer.  
  • Read objectively.  This is not the time to be specifically looking for personal guidance or wisdom.
  • I like to give each reading a specific purpose so that I'm not mindlessly decoding words.  Not all of the questions pertain to every book of the Bible, but they do help keep me focused.
    • Read through slowly and silently.
    • Read it aloud.
    • Read looking for Jesus.  What information is given about Him?  What attributes of Christ are highlighted in this book?  Are there any prophecies or types of Christ?
    • Read looking for information about Who:  Who wrote it? Who are the main characters? To whom did he write it?
    • Read looking for information about Where.  Where did the author write from?  Where were the recipients living?  Where does the action take place?  Often these questions won't be fully answered until you begin study.
    • Next, look for When.  When did the author pen this book?  Look for indications of timing of events.
    • Why is the next thing I look for.  Why did the author write the book?  Why did he choose the topics and give them the space he did?  Why the character(s) do what they did?
    • Read looking for answers to How.  How did the author illustrate truths?  How were the recipients or characters behaving? How does the author interpret their behavior?
    • Read looking for answers to What.  This can take several readings.
      • What are the main events?
      • What are the megathemes, or major ideas?
      • What are the main teaching points or doctrines?
      • What attitudes and actions characterize these people?
      • What does he spend the most time teaching?  What is his purpose?
      • What is the key word/phrase for this book?
By now you should have a good handle on the book as a whole. As you grow used to inductive study you'll increase in your powers of observation.  Eventually you'll be able to read through a book a handful of times and get more from it than you did reading it a dozen times when you first began.

Read on!


  1. This is wonderful teaching for your daughter (and sisters in the Lord).

    Please consider linking this post to the Scripture Sunday link up. I would so love to have your join me :D


    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I think I've got the link up correctly. Let me know if it's not referring back to your site properly!

  2. So glad you linked up at ECTaS (Scripture Sunday) Rebecca! You are a fab teacher and I have been blessed by your blog.

    Wendy @ ECTaS