The real benefit that this study Bible brings to the believer’s exploration of the Truth rests in the study method that it promotes. This Bible does not come with verse by verse notes as most study Bibles do. Rather, it promotes a method whereby the believer discerns the truth for himself, inductively. The old adage stands true that “If you give someone a fish you feed him for a night; if you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” This Bible will teach you how to fish.
The goal of Bible study should be to determine what the author intended the words, which he penned under inspiration, to mean. The text has many applications, but it has one meaning. This method guides the student to identify the historical, grammatical, and contextual meaning of each passage.
First, the reader is instructed to prayerfully seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We need to remember that Bible Study is spiritual work, and the truths are spiritually discerned. Next, the study attempts to establish breadth of view, by directing the student to read and re-read the book under consideration. After establishing a sound big picture, the details need to be identified. This is accomplished by asking yourself the five “Ws” and “H” (Who, What, When, Where, Why and How). It seems so simple, but it takes practice to do this well. Perhaps the most visible part of this method is the next step, during which the student is instructed to “mark key words.” The Bible gives an initial suggested list of these key-words for each book, but personal investigation will reveal more.
After gathering all of the facts, now it is time to synthesize them. This is done by establishing a title/theme for each chapter (sometimes paragraph) as well as for the entire book . This is not just what you are emotionally led to make the theme; rather, it is what the details and context dictate the theme to be.
You will find that practice improves your abilities to exercise this approach. However, from the very beginning you will find that the approach slows you down and forces you to reflect and mediatate upon what you are reading. The goal of the study is not to tally the chapters that you have read. The goal is to know what God’s Word means, what that reveals of Him, and how that reflects upon us.
I thought that I would begin the description of the Bible with a general overview describing the details of this Bible and its related resources. First, the Bible that I have is a hard cover. It comes in hard cover, bonded leather, or genuine leather formats, each with or without a thumb index. Regardless of the format, this is a big Bible (9.5 x 6.5 x 2.25), and it is heavy. Personally, I have a separate Bible that I use to preach and teach from as well as to carry to church. This Bible is solely for my personal study. My hard cover has held up to a lot of use. I have done some repairs (the inside hinge ripped). I also covered the entire Bible with clear contact paper because the binding was beginning to weaken. I must confess that it doesn’t look the greatest, but it continues to faithfully serve.
The pages are laid out with a single column. References are on the inside margins and there is a large outside margin for notes. The font is advertised as “9-10” point, and I find it very clear and readable. The color maps in the back are average for most Bibles available today; I wish they were better. The material in the front of the Bible includes an overview and simple examples of the study method. The front also has a detailed color Bible time line. In addition to the maps in the back there are sections on “Understanding the Value of God’s Word,” “Major Events in Israel’s History,” “Historical and Grammatical Helps,” a Bible reading schedule, a Harmony of the Gospels, Indexes to the 60 Historical Charts, 25 Topical Study Carts, 80 maps, and 56 Illustrations, a detailed concordance, and a few blank pages for study notes.
Each book of the Bible is sandwiched between a very brief overview, some study hints and tips, “Things to Think About” at the beginning, and pages at the end to record conclusions and results of your study. I will discuss these more in a later post.
Besides the Study Bible there is a companion book by Kay Arthur, How to Study Your Bible, that details the study method (see Table of Contents). I also found Discover the Bible for Yourself at a local used bookstore. This book contains all of the study helps and book overviews found at the beginning and end of each book without the Scriptures themselves. I have found each of these resources to be excellent and recommend them.
In my following post I will attempt to provide some insight into the study method and how the Bible contributes to successfully exercising it.
A recent count of Bibles on my bookshelf tallied approximately 25 volumes. This is not to mention the numerous versions on my computer or those available on the internet. I believe that reading a variety of translations and formats has given me a unique perspective on God’s perfect and inerrant Word. Yet, I have a special affection for one particular volume — the New Inductive Study Bible, New American Standard Version updated edition. This Bible sits beside my “study-chair” or is always at my elbow while working at my desk.
I initially purchased this Bible upon the recommendation of Dr. Steward Custer (Ph.D. in New Testament and chairman of the Division of Bible at Bob Jones University), a pastor, scholar, teacher and Christian of the highest quality. He writes: “The International Inductive Study Bible is perhaps the most delightful reference Bible to use that is now available. . . . This is surely one of the most fruitful editions of Scripture published in this century” (Tools for Preaching and Teaching the Bible, 2nd Ed., 1998). Though mine is but a small voice I must wholeheartedly concur with this recommendation.
I began utilizing this Bible and the approach that it promotes in 1998. God used this to produce an unquenchable desire to know Him more intimately. This consistent study has changed the way I read and listen to God’s Word. It has changed my ability to discern what the text says, its contextual meaning, as well as the appropriate applications to my life. Each believer’s devotional life is key to his walk with God. At the core of the that devotional life should be God’s Word. For that reason I thought that others might find my experience with this volume helpful. Though there are certainly greater scholars, and unquestionably better Christians, my qualifications for such a review are grounded only in the basis that I am a recipient of God’s grace.
Therefore, throughout this week I hope to post more about this choice weapon that the Christian has available for his armory.
“Then Apolllyon espying his opportunity, began to gather up close to Christian, and wrestling with him, gave him a dreadful Fall; and with that Christian’s Sword flew out of his hand. Then said Apollyon, I am sure of thee now And with that he almost pressed him to Death; so that Christian began to despair of Life. But, as God would have it, while Apollyon was fetching of his last blow, thereby to make a full end of this good man, Christian nimbly reached out his hand for his Sword, and caught it, saying, Rejoyce not against me, O mine Enemy! when I fall I shall arise; and with that gave him a deadly thrust, which made him give back, as one that had received his mortal wound. Christian perceiving that, made at him again; saying, Nay, in all these things we are more than Conquerors, through him that loved us. And with that Apollyon spread forth his Dragon’s wings, and sped him away, that Christian saw him no more.” (p 63.)