The Character method of Bible study is simply: putting yourself in their shoes. By taking a look at the different people in the Bible, their reactions, successes and failures; you can truly get into the heart of the passage. There is 2 main ways to use the character study:
- The Personage – looking at the character specifically by name, their history, position, responsibility, ect.
- The Nature – looking at the nature, attitude, personality, character attributes
Character Study (the Nature)
Character is often defined as how you act when no-one is looking. This examination will look at a few different types of character or nature’s that people have. You might also have heard of people’s character of just “doing what comes naturally”.
Purpose of understanding character in ministry
( A Pastoral Note)
Understanding the character or nature of people is an important skill for areas of ministry. Many people develop different character traits or a nature that defines their personality… to the point of predictability. By understanding these different characters or nature’s will assist in areas of service, counseling and direction to include where that person might be best suited to minister.
Example: It takes a particular character strength to stand on a street corner and preach or give out gospel tracks. Placing someone in that position who’s character is to quietly share the gospel; could impair the impact of the Gospel.
By understanding each nature you can determine strengths in areas of ministry. Some have a character of fellowship, some a character of listening, some a character of compassion. By determining these character strengths you can discern what is best to accomplish the will of God for their lives.
We have all heard of different nature’s that people have:
- A kind nature
- A funny nature
- A serious nature
- A compassionate nature
- A leadership nature
- A servants nature
These nature’s or character’s are developed by 2 main means: natural disposition and external environmental influences.
Example: You can have someone who’s natural disposition is happiness be suppressed by an external environment. I have met many who’s natural disposition to love was suppressed by bitterness through peer pressure, stress, drugs and the like. By recognizing positive natural traits early they can be developed to their fullest potential with the external influences.
It is this nature or character that God used in the scriptures to get His will accomplished. He needed the character of a family man to set a people unto himself, so He chose Abraham. He needed a man of compassion to speak to the heart of Israel, so He chose Jeramiah. He needed an educated man to reveal the mysteries of the church, so He chose Paul.
The Divine Nature
In previous articles/sermons I have identified that there is a physical transformation that takes place when one gets saved; part of that change is a divine nature:
2 Peter 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Prior to salvation we did those things that just “came naturally” our nature again defined by our disposition and environment.
Romans 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
This Divine Nature takes some time for a person to reveal and understand. The more you remove their natural or external influences, the more the divine nature can be seen. This divine nature can also be called the Fruits of the Spirit:
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Character Study – Understanding the nature
For many bible characters (people) it is difficult to nail down their character (nature) because we have more historical references than perhaps intimate knowledge of their thoughts. There are many who, however, have enough information to discern their character. Peter is a great example. Peter throughout the scriptures had a singular wit. He liked to speak his mind and was a tough, rugged man.
Matthew 16:22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
Matthew 26:33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.
John 18:10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.
11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?
Despite Peter’s sharp character, God needed his rugged character to build a new testament church. (see the Pastoral Note) This is a great example of God using the natural traits or nature of someone to accomplish His will.
Matthew 16:15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
This examination of Peter’s character or nature help us understand how God can use different types characters to fulfill His purpose. God needed someone tough enough to be beaten and jailed for the sake of Christ and still keep going.