Friday, April 18, 2014
   
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Character Studies

Why Study Old and New Testament Characters?

An overview of why we should study Bible characters.

In this session, I want to offer an overview of why we should study Bible characters.

Some have asked, and I'm sure many have thought, "What does the life of someone who lived so long ago have to do with me today?" The cynic might even say, "The Old Testament has little to do with my life—who cares?"

This fall as Hillcrest's staff gathered for our annual retreat, we discussed this question, looking together at 1 Corinthians 10, which really begins in chapter 9, verses 24-27.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

The context here is on the race, and the potential of being disqualified from receiving the prize.

Ray Stedman has said this passage: "...is built around the figure of an athletic contest—a race. This was a familiar thing to these believers in Corinth. Every three years the Isthmian Games (very much like the Olympic Games we are familiar with, which were also held in Greece), were held right outside the city. If you go to Corinth, you can still see the arenas where the races were run. The starting blocks where the athletes started out the races are still embedded in the stones. Paul is using this figure, because to him, life is a race like that.

These Corinthians knew that every athlete who participated in the races had to take an oath that they had been training for 10 months, and that they had given up certain delightful foods in their diet to enable them to endure the race. They had subjected themselves to rather rigorous discipline in order to win. Paul says all that they are winning is just a fading pine wreath, but, in the race we are running, the prize, the wreath, is an imperishable one.

He sees life this way. Its aim, as Paul understood it, is that we are here to run the race of life in order to be a useful and a pleasing instrument of God, to be used whenever and wherever he wants to use us. That is Paul's objective."
Ray Stedman, Discovery Publishing, 3505 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, CA. 94306-3695.

Why study characters in the Old and New Testaments?

We all need models. Therefore we study the Bible: to give us examples of those who were disqualified from receiving the prize, and to see those who finished well. Example: The power of a model(for my generation, "The catch" by Willie Mays; today, the home run swings of Sosa and McGwire beating Roger Maris' record). In fact, it can be helpful even to look for biblical characters with your spiritual giftings, and use their models in particular. When it comes to the spiritual race, we need models for several reasons, all of them found in this text.

Read more: Why Study Old and New Testament Characters?