The foundational way Christians grow in our knowledge of God and in Christlikeness is through reading and studying the Bible. Amazingly, God has revealed Himself, His character, and His ways to us through His written Word. But, many Christians lack confidence in studying the Bible on their own. However, with a little help and encouragement, anyone can dig into Scripture, understand it, and apply it to their lives!
I love to help others do just that with “inductive” Bible study. Inductive Bible study is an investigative method. First, we observe the passage to see what it “says.” Then we apply proper tools to understand God’s original “meaning.” Finally, we seek God’s guidance to apply His eternal truths to our lives.
This type of study helps us avoid misunderstanding, jumping to conclusions, or allowing our attitudes or preconceptions to impact our study. Every passage in the Bible has just one original meaning, but there is endless application!
What is the 4 R Bible Study Method?
The 4 R Bible study method is a simple, but solid inductive method that’s easy enough to use every day. The alliteration of the 4 Rs – read, record, reflect, and respond – also make it easy to remember! Here’s a brief breakdown of the 4 Rs:
- READ: Read the Scripture passage humbly and thoughtfully. If you have time, it helps to read it in more than one Bible translation. (Also see “Why are there so many Bible translations?”)
- RECORD: Observe the passage by noting or marking things like important facts, key words, and truths about God. Each devotion will give prompts, but feel free to go beyond these limited suggestions. (See this post for more observation ideas.)
- REFLECT: After you’ve recorded your observations, prayerfully consider God’s original meaning. See “4 Tips to Help You Understand the Bible” for some helpful guidelines for interpretation.
- RESPOND: We aren’t finished until we apply what God has taught us. Spiritual transformation is always our end goal. For help on application see “4 Ways to Apply Scripture to Your Life.“
Video Teaching on the 4 R Bible Study Method
For a written explanation of the 4 R Bible study method see “The 4 R Bible Study Method for Everyday Use.“ But, if you have 30 minutes, here’s a more thorough video teaching! (Look below for links to helpful handouts you may want to refer to during the video.) One more thing – I recorded this teaching for a specific Facebook study group, so ignore the references to the group!
The 4 R Method in the Meaty, Deep Rooted Devotional Series
I have a passion to help Christians not only get into God’s Word, but also to LOVE it and be transformed by it! That’s why I developed the Deep Rooted devotional series. Really these books are a hybrid, a cross between a devotional book and an in-depth Bible study. They are formatted like a daily devotional, but are meaty like a good Bible study should be. Each volume walks all the way through one Bible book. So far I have volumes on Mark, Acts, and now Romans! (By the way, “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Book of Romans” is brand new! Check out the new book baby here!)
Each day’s devotion is formatted around the 4R method. I walk you through reading a passage, recording your observations, reflecting on the meaning, and responding to it personally. If you aren’t sure where to get started in Bible study, these are for you. If you’ve been at it a long time, but dependent on someone else’s teaching, these will help you learn Bible study independence. Or, if you just want to study the Bible with a friend, let’s do it together. (By the way, if you’d like some Bible study accountability in a group, check out my ongoing Facebook group “Reading the Bible Together.“)
Here are some helpful handouts & additional links:
- What you need to know about Bible translations
- Where does each translation fall on the spectrum. Check out this translation chart!
- How the literary genre of the Bible book impacts our understanding.
- Things to look for when you “observe” a Bible passage.
- How context impacts our understanding of the passage.
- Ongoing “Reading the Bible Together” Facebook study group
What insights or questions do you have about inductive Bible study? Have you ever tried inductive study before?