Introducing the book
Revelation. What comes to mind when you hear this book mentioned?
For some people, this book brings to mind a deep sense of hope and joy; for others, they feel grief for those who don’t know Christ as Lord and Saviour; yet, for many, it is a book that brings forth fear, is thought of as unknowable, or is avoided due to media misrepresentation; and still for others, it brings forth Hollywood images of a dark apocalypse, or the “Left Behind” series.
When I was growing up, I had put Revelation in the “unknowable – so don’t bother reading” category. My heart grieves this because, since my Bible school with YWAM 10 years ago, it has become one of the books I turn to most when facing discouragement, overwhelmed by the state of the world, or needing a fresh does of hope and joy. It is sad that many in the church do not feel equipped to read this book. It should be one of the best known and most loved books in our precious Bible.
I have been given the great honour of teaching this book later in the year and so I felt it time I compile another inductive Bible study blog series as I delve into the book once again. I pray that this blog series will reveal new and glorious truths from God’s Word to you, or encourage your spirit in truths already tucked away in your heart.
Recapping Inductive Bible Study
I recently came across this quote in “Surgeon’s Sermons, Vol. 1”** and feel it captures the heart of Inductive Bible study:
“We have listened to the preacher –
Truth by him has now been shown;
But we want a GREATER TEACHER,
From the everlasting throne:
Is the work of God alone.”
I am going to try and open this book up a little for you, but remember that the Great Teacher is the Holy Spirit, who dwells inside every believer. It is He that I pray will guide you through Revelation, and it is He who must quicken application in your heart and mind.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34, emphasis added).
So what is Inductive Bible study?
There are two ways to approach the Bible. One is the Deductive method, and the other is the Inductive method.
Deductive approaches come to the Bible with preconceived ideas – we want the Bible to confirm our ideas, beliefs, or thoughts. This approach includes topical studies where we search out verses that we know, or that hold to our view of the topic; studies that look at verses in isolation (not considering their context in the passage, book, and Bible); opening the Bible randomly during our quiet times; or reading a passage through the understanding of the latest Christian book or Sunday sermon. This approach IS NOT WRONG. It is great for quiet times, reflection, or to add to what we have learnt inductively. It just isn’t the way we should study the Bible.
Inductive approaches come to the Bible to see what it says. In this method, we take off the foggy lenses from outside inputs and look at the text afresh. There can be different styles of the inductive method, but four main steps to follow:
- Pray – the Spirit is our Teacher and Guide.
- Observe – only looking at what the text says; do not jump to any conclusions here.
- Interpretation – ask about the meaning to those to whom the book was originally written. Here we ask why questions; we do not ask about ourselves or our society in this step.
- Application – application is the goal of Bible study, leading to transformed lives and societies, but it is the last step in the method. Jumping to application prematurely can lead to incorrect doctrine.
I hope to take you through the book of Revelation inductively over the next few months, and also help you to gain confidence in this method of study.
Next blog we are going to consider some historical background of the book.
In the meantime, start the method for yourself:
Pray that the Spirit will guide you in all truth. Pray that He will transform your heart and mind whilst studying Revelation.
- Start observing.
Read through the book in one go, out-loud. This helps you to see the book as a whole. Reading out-loud also adds another sense into the reading (hearing), to help keep your mind from wandering. You can read through it as fast as you can talk – this also helps to keep your mind focused solely on the text.
At the end of the reading, you can jot down any ideas for the main idea of the book, or why you think it may have been written.
** Spurgeon, C.H. (1883). Spurgeon’s Sermons, Volume 1. Baker Book House; Michigan.