Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Inductive Questions has a great section on inductive Bible study.  Here is the part about the six inductive questions.  "Six Honest Serving-Men" by Rudyard Kipling is a helpful mnemonic devise.

Who? Where? Why?
? What?
As an aside, questioning the text does not mean that one questions the inerrancy, plenary inspiration or authority of God's Holy Word!
The more you practice interrogating the text, the more the text will be opened to you by the illuminating ministry of the Spirit. Below are some suggestive questions, but remember to allow the text (and especially the context) to guide your specific questions...
Who is speaking? To whom and/or about whom is he speaking? Who are the main characters? Who is mentioned in the book (Why? What do we learn about them?) (In the epistles ask) Who is writing (author)? Who receiving?
Where did (or will) this happen (Why? When?)? Where was this said/written (where is the author) (Why?)?
Why was this written (What purpose?)? Why is this said? Why is he there?
When is this written (When in Biblical history - where on the timeline? When in the author's life)? When did/will this happen? When did he say/do it?
What is the author doing? What are the main events? What are the circumstances? What is the historical/cultural setting (as determined from the text)? What is the main subject of the chapter/book?
How will/did something happen? How is the truth illustrated?
Do not panic if you cannot ask every 5W/H question. And remember that these questions should be asked not only when you encounter key words or key phrases, but every time you identify one of the other Observation "code words" -- Contrast, Conclusion (and terms of explanation such as "for"), Comparison, Chronology (time phrase), etc. Every encounter with one of these "code words" is an opportunity to hone (sharpen) your skills of observation. Yes, it does take time and practice to train yourself to employ this "questioning mindset." (As an aside, questioning the text does not mean that one questions the inerrancy, plenary inspiration or authority of God's Holy Word!) As you train your eye to observe the Scriptures (this training takes some time), your enhanced ability to keenly observe and intelligently interrogate will also make you a better reader of everything you read for the rest of your life.
Learning to interrogate the Scripture with the 5W/H questions yields a number of dividends such as...
(1) It will force you to slow down and will "counteract" the tendency to "speed read" the Bible. This travesty is especially common when one falls behind schedule on their "Through the Bible in a Year" reading program! Here is a little test you can perform today. Assuming you began today with the "breakfast of champions", the pure milk of God's Word (1Pe 2:2-note), ask yourself several times during the day, "What did I read this morning? What did it teach me about God? What did it say about me? How have I applied this Truth?" I fear too many of us have trouble recalling specific details of our time with God in His Word as the day draws nigh. I submit that if you pause and prayerfully ponder the pages of Holy Writ, your Teacher, the Spirit, will bring those passages to your remembrance during the day, giving you wisdom for living life to the full (John 10:10b)! On the other hand if it is the middle of the afternoon and you cannot even remember the book or chapter you read this morning, you have most likely read too fast and too passively. It is better to let one verse "read you" then to read a hundred verses that you cannot recall. Beloved, God's desire is that His book be our real time instruction manual for living, whether we are at home, at school or at work!
(2) It will engage your heart and mind with the text (and especially the Author of the text), forcing you to to read actively, more like an "explorer," rather than passively like a "tourist". The old adage "Stop and smell the roses" surely applies to acquisitively taking in the beauty of all of our Father's "good words" (Joshua 23:14, 21:45).
(3) It will create a "meditative mindset", as you pause and ponder the passages, chewing them like a cow chews cud, mulling them over in your mind, constantly seeking to ask the probing 5W/H questions. You will begin to gain insights into the Scriptures that you simply could not have been gleaned from a superficial, passive, unengaged reading of the Holy Word. You will begin to experience the joy of self discovery as your Teacher, the Spirit, illuminates and applies God's Truth to your life. In a very real sense, you will be learning how to meditate on the Holy Scriptures, a discipline which God promises to greatly bless (Read His promises which are applicable to you in Psalm 1:1-note, Psalm 1:2-note, Psalm 1:3-note and Joshua 1:8-note).
We interpret the Bible properly when we learn to ask the right questions of the text. The problem is that many people do not know the "right questions" to ask or are either too lazy or too rushed to practice them! Imagine if God were to beckon you to come into His presence. Would you want to leave or would you linger? In His living and abiding Word, the Father has called us into His very presence, into communion with Himself,  through the ministry of His Spirit and His Son, our Great High Priest, the Incarnate Word. May this transcendent truth motivate in all of us a continual "Mary like" attitude, so that we too would sit quietly at our Master's feet, lingering, listening, and learning the one thing that is really necessary (Lk 10:38 39 40 41 42)!
 A W Pink wrote that "No verse of Scripture yields its meaning to lazy people." It therefore behooves us to "gird the loins of our mind for action" (1Peter 1:13-note), so that we might diligently practice interrogating the Scriptures with the 5W/H's. As someone once pithily put it "God feeds the birds, but He doesn't throw the food into their nests!"
Learning to ask the right questions, to discern the answers and to carefully observe the text demands discipline, diligence and doing ("Just do it!"). Most "amateur sleuths" have never been trained in the "Sherlock Holmes Approach" to Scripture. If I were the Devil, that one who does not stand in the Truth (Jn 8:44), I would do everything I could to discourage the saints from learning now to carefully observe the Word of Truth for themselves, for fear that they might become equipped to fend off the fiery missiles of deceit filled lies leading to doubt, discouragement and despair. Had Eve been a better "inductive student", one wonders how events would have progressed on that fateful day in the Garden when our Adversary hissed those words calculated to generate doubt "Yea, hath God said...?" (Ge 3:1). So dear saint, let me encourage you to persevere in practicing the principles of Inductive Bible Study, for the reward you will experience in personal discovery and penetrating understanding of the Word of Life will eternally far outweigh your investment of time today (Ep 5:16KJV-note, 1Ti 4:7, 8-note)!
In short, the importance of a questioning mindset cannot be overemphasized as the answers to the 5W/H questions form the basis for every aspect of Inductive Bible Study - astute observation, accurate interpretation and appropriate application.
Although Rudyard Kipling was not referring to Inductive Bible Study when he wrote his poem Six Honest Serving-Men, you can still observe the parallel principle poetically phrased...
I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.
Kipling gives sound "Biblical" advice, except for his last line. Beloved, make it the goal of your life to never "give them all a rest" when you sit at the feet of Jesus, the Incarnate Word, Who alone is revealed in the eternal, holy Word of God, of Truth and of Life!
Most students of Scripture do not see the "gold nuggets" of truth in passages and paragraphs, because they do not know what to look for. One way you will learn what to look for is by asking the right questions. Questions will bring details to our attention. The following story from the secular classroom setting illustrates this point.

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