God speaks to people in many ways, such as prayer, special revelation, creation, our moral understanding of the world, other people, tradition, and history. Perhaps the deepest and most comprehensive way God has spoken to His people is through the written word, known as the Bible. The Bible encapsulates the principles of God and teaches people about both the nature of God and the nature of human beings. The Bible provides a depth of teaching that is difficult to find anywhere else. The Bible also provides a broad range of teaching methods, such as illustration, narrative, poetry, sermon, list, conversation, exhortation, and teaching.
Bible study is touted in churches and Christian schools all over the world, and with good reason. But with all the discussion about the importance of studying the Bible, relatively few people engage the Bible on a deep level. That is where Inductive Bible Study becomes important. Inductive Bible study begins by teaching the student how people have communicated with each other from the very beginning of time. There are certain rhetorical devises we all use each day in our communication and the Biblical writers used those same rhetorical devises intentionally in their writings to communicate their message. The ancients studied communication and intentionally incorporated these rhetorical devises in their writings to impart knowledge and persuade their audience towards Christian living. Inductive Bible study is a helpful method of studying the Bible in a way the original authors intended their writings to be read and understood.
As a former pastor I regret not having this level depth and structure of Bible study earlier. The structure and depth the process of Inductive Bible study provides is helpful for personal study, group Bible studies, and preaching. My personal study benefits greatly from IBS because I feel more equipped to hear the Bible in the environment for which it was intended. This leads to a deeper understanding and a more passionate connection with the writers and readers. When I then apply that understanding to my own life I am more confident that I am engaging with the principles of God.
Teaching people the structure of Inductive Bible study can be equated to teaching people to fish instead of merely giving them a fish. If I had studied Inductive Bible study before I became a pastor I could have not only taught those attending the principles of God’s word but also how they can easily observe those principles for themselves. When I think about specific people from those studies I know they would have been able to engage deeper and be more passionate about study if I was able to properly teach them this process.
Using IBS for preaching would have given me important guidelines for communicating the Bible properly to people and helped me exegete the Bible in a deeper and more consistent manner. It is amazing sitting in class listening to the wisdom of 30 years of experience with Inductive Bible Study. The professors are able to provide amazing insights simply by studying the text in the original context. The process enables them to make proper connections with the greater context of the passage and incorporate insights from the ancient world. Many students rightly liken a class session to trying to take a drink from a fire hose because of the depth and breadth of study presented. I remember one particular session on Matthew 1:1-17 which introduces the book of Matthew with the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Most people skip these parts of the Bible but the professor was able to demonstrate the many ways the author intentionally used the genealogy to communicate important truths he wanted his audience to understand. The professor then showed the class how these truths were reinforced by the author throughout the book of Matthew. It was amazing. I can’t wait to preach it!
We all know that Bible study is an important part of the Christian life. There is no better way to engage in Bible study than through Inductive Bible Study.
- Jerry Breen
Choosing a school for such a very important program as Biblical studies can be very challenging and requires careful considerations. These would include such pertinent concerns as the theological inclination of the school and the quality of its faculty. I want to make sure that I am getting a theological degree that is based on a bold and thoroughly faithful and respectful approach to the study of the Scriptures, one that is historically grounded, culturally sensitive, adequately broad and academically sound, comparing favorably with the same degree in standard evangelical schools around the world. I believe that a most authentic scholarly adventure in the world of the Bible is not an end in and of itself, but of necessity leads to faithful proclamation and demonstration of the new life of the kingdom of God. Such a degree in Biblical studies must be spiritually and ministerially formative, promoting transformation of character and fitting one for the ministry. Therefore, when I applied to Asbury Seminary for a degree in Biblical studies, these were my expectations. I must confess that the MA (BS) program has not only met these expectations but has surpassed them quite significantly. I have met some of the most informed and dedicated biblical scholars here at Asbury, who guide and mentor students in and through the Spirit of Christ. Although very academically demanding, the refreshing insight and skill acquisition that come with each class and the prospect of ministry properly informed and grounded in God’s word more than adequately offset the labor and time invested. The program affords students an immense collection of human and academic resources in an environment permeated by friendliness, something I think should be irresistibly attractive to anyone considering theological education. It has really been a privilege studying here with scholars who are setting the pace in the field.
- Kennedy Ekeocha
My name is Mike Wilson. I am a second year student in the Master of Arts program in Biblical Studies. During my first year, I took courses such as Inductive Bible Study and Elementary Greek. I am currently preparing myself for the fall semester when I will be taking my first course in Hebrew, Intermediate Greek, and Old Testament Introduction. LORD willing, after I finish my program here at Asbury, I plan to continue my formal education by pursuing a PhD in the field of Biblical Studies. Whether teaching in an academic setting or not, my ultimate goal is to faithfully and excellently communicate the message of the Scriptures to those within my sphere of influence and thus contribute to the ushering in of the fully consummated kingdom of heaven.
I consider it a great privilege to be a student at an institution like Asbury Theological Seminary. The courses I have taken thus far have been academically challenging and spiritually enriching. I have been inspired by my professors to pursue nothing short of wholehearted obedience to the teachings of Yahweh. As an unmarried, full-time student with no children, this first year has given me the opportunity to step back from the distracting busyness of American life, immerse myself in study and prayer, and listen attentively as the LORD guides my steps.
- Mike Wilson