Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Stop Buying Bible Study Books!

A Case for Inductive Bible Study
A personal story

          For the longest time I felt cheated.  I couldn’t afford all the latest Bible study books on the market. We had eight kids and the budget was stretched to its max with their needs already. There was simply no room for something as luxurious as a Bible study book.  So I used my Bible, my concordance, my husband’s lexicon and his inter-linear Greek New Testament, a Bible dictionary and other tools to study my Bible.  I had taken Principles of Bible Study in college so I was familiar with the “how to” of  inductive Bible study. But, for the longest time, I felt like I was missing something.  Whenever we would go to a conference or I would go to a women’s seminar, all the ladies would talk about the latest Bible study book on the market and they were so excited.  But, I would return home to my own, independent Bible study methods time and time again, literally for a couple of decades. 

Ok, so the kids grew and some left home and the budget loosened up a bit.  I was finally able to purchase a couple of these Bible study books that were so popular.  Imagine my excitement!  When I got my first one, I was taken aback by its contents.  Why, it wasn’t a Bible study book at all!  It was filled with opinions, Scripture taken out of context and very shallow applications of what were, to me, rich passages of Scripture filled with promise and Truth.  I was sorely disappointed and a bit confused.

I quickly went back to my personal, inductive Bible study, by choice this time, and there I will remain!  Nothing on the market replaces or even comes close in comparison to inductive Bible study.  I make observations, do the interpretations and the Holy Spirit applies His Word to my heart and life.  My portion is observation + interpretation.  I have seen far too many good-intentioned teachers wrongly apply the Scriptures, leading to a false teaching that they, themselves, would never want to teach!  No one can apply the Scriptures to your life – only the Holy Spirit can do that and only the Holy Spirit should do that.  So, my study does not include application.  In the studies I teach, I often teach a Scriptural Truth, then I will ask my students if that Truth will change their perspective, and if so, how?

If you are studying God’s Word, you will learn God. 
Who He is. Why He is. What He is.

What I have learned in more than 30 years of personal, inductive Bible study:

1. Discernment - when we know Truth, we easily recognize error. Discernment isn’t necessarily something that has to be developed with effort.  Knowing the Bible produces discernment; it’s not up to me.  Biblical knowledge is the only way to get discernment.

2. Discipline - a dissatisfaction developed in me if I didn’t study a portion of Scripture thoroughly - I've always had to get to the bottom of it! This led to an overwhelming desire to see a study through to the end, to seek answers I didn't see right away.

3. Consistency - I had to approach all Scripture the same way every time. Even though I am the “creative type” and tend to go more according to my moods (like what I feel like having for dinner, etc.) I have been much more consistent with my Bible study than in any other area of my life.  I quickly learned that Bible study is not about my moods or even about what I want to learn; it’s about Jesus Christ and learning more about Him.

4. Grammar skills - grammatical content and structure is vitally important to inductive Bible study and I found that I lost meaning if I didn’t stop to consider the grammatical structure. This attention to grammar has helped even in my freelance writing, making me a better writer.

It's now easier than ever to do inductive Bible study. There are online lexicons, fabulous software programs and great concordances just a mouse click away. 

Stop buying Bible study books and just study your Bible. Don't settle for someone else's observations about the Bible, make your own, before you read theirs.


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