As we have seen, deductive bible study is in essence passive. Despite the participation of the individual, the primary points are supplied by an outside authority and the conclusion is one way or the other guided, often authoritatively. The Scriptural study is in support of the predetermined points to be addressed, not to facilitate fresh discovery of those points directly from Scripture.
On the opposite side we have Inductive methodologies. In this case, irrespective of the actual inductive method used, the purpose is essentially to come to the Scripture and discover the original meaning, timeless principle and present application, in that order, for oneself. This is accomplished individually and is up close and personal with the Scriptures, so to speak.
For a Biblical perspective let us recall John 1:1 where it states “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”. We are reminded here that the Word is the Lord. It does not just represent the Lord, nor is it just part of the Lord. It is the Lord. That being so, when we are up close and personal with the Word, we are likewise with the Lord.
If that isn’t a reason to rejoice, I don’t know what is. But it should also be a very sobering thought and a clear indication of how important this matter of individual bible study, and by implication the equipping for it, actually is.
Our relationship is not with external sources which exposit the Word for us, but with Him who is the Word. Since our relationship is not arms length, neither should our study be. It is with Him (The Word) directly. So our work with Him and with the Word are at the root synonymous in nature. All other sources, however important, informative and explanatory they may be, are second hand! Therefor we must equip for the direct interaction first and foremost.
With this in mind, it seems to me that a primary responsibility of the local church as an equipping body is to instruct and encourage deductive methodology in all forms. This is not an endorsement of one particular inductive form but the recognition of the absolute need.
Let me again stress that the use of this approach does not remove the need or value of outside exposition, commentary and other helps to understanding. These are vital and we are certainly called as part of the community of Saints to take heed of the work of our Church fathers, mentors, Pastors and others. However, the first level of responsibility in the post Reformation believer is to their relationship with the Lord directly. And since the Word is the Lord, to the appropriation of that Word for ourselves.
Recall 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” The dividing of the Word is first an individual responsibility in our relationship with the Lord, even if there is collaboration afterwards as there should be. It can not be wholly received from without.
The skills to divide the Word and determine its implications are deductive skills that must be acquired through training, collaboration and practice, and facilitation. In my view this makes a clear case for the pro-active teaching, encouragement and support of this activity as a primary responsibility of the local church.