Philip Greenslade

Ten things worth knowing about the Old Testament

Ten Things worth Knowing about the Old Testament is the first of two seminars led by Philip Greenslade.

This evening explores ten key aspects of the Old Testament and serves as an accessible introduction or insightful refresher to understanding and interpreting God’s Word.

Philip helps us to consider the pivotal events, what unifies the Old Testament as a whole, how it relates to the New Testament, and how Jesus and His apostles used it themselves.

 

If you would like Small Group Rebooted, or any other CWR course or seminar brought to your church or small group, you can email courses@cwr.org.uk or telephone 01252 784719.

About Philip

Philip Greenslade Philip has worked with CWR since 1991 in the areas of biblical studies, pastoral care and leadership. With his passion for teaching God’s Word, he offers a refreshing and challenging perspective for all those who attend his courses.

 

Want to learn more?

If you want to explore the Bible further, you can pick up a range of Bible study guides from the Small Group Central Book Shop. Alternatively, if you would like to dig deeper into the Bible or study a particular theme with your whole church, take a look at our Church wide initiatives.

Ten things worth knowing about the New Testament

Ten Things worth Knowing about the New Testament is the second of two seminars led by Philip Greenslade.

This seminar explores ten key aspects of the New Testament, considering how the Gospels relate to the letters, how Jesus fulfilled both Old Testament prophecy and God’s redemptive story, and more.

Philip helps to discover what unifies the Old and New Testament as a whole and gain more understanding for applying God’s Word to your life.

 

If you would like Ten Things worth Knowing about the New Testament, or any other CWR course or seminar brought to your church or small group, you can email courses@cwr.org.uk or telephone 01252 784719.

About Philip

Philip Greenslade Philip has worked with CWR since 1991 in the areas of biblical studies, pastoral care and leadership. With his passion for teaching God’s Word, he offers a refreshing and challenging perspective for all those who attend his courses.

 

Want to learn more?

If you want to explore the Bible further, you can pick up a range of Bible study guides from the Small Group Central Book Shop. Alternatively, if you would like to dig deeper into the Bible or study a particular theme with your whole church, take a look at our Church wide initiatives.

Obedient worshippers and faithful friends: What we can learn from Ruth

By Philip Greenslade

The Story

The story of Ruth illustrates the gospel in a nutshell. It is also a remarkable story of unsurpassed loyalty and commitment, shining like a sparkling diamond against the darkness of betrayal and murder that often characterised relationships in the Old Testament.

In Hebrew the word Ruth means ‘friend’ or ‘associate’. It is derived from the word for a shepherd and his flock and carries with it the sense of close companionship and support on a common journey. Ruth was from Moab,  and therefore an ‘outsider’ to God’s promises to the chosen nation of Israel. When her Israelite husband died she could have remained in Moab with her sister Orpah. Instead she chose to accompany her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi, back to Israel.

It is intriguing to compare Ruth with Orpah who initially said she would go with Naomi and even kissed her. Eventually, however, she turned back to live amongst the familiar people and idolatry in the country of her birth. Ruth’s words to Naomi are some of the most beautiful in scripture: ‘Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.’

Like Abraham before her, Ruth launched herself on a journey of faith to a distant land that she had never seen, but trusting in the God of whom she had heard and come to believe in. Orpah sincerely offered Naomi her best wishes on a difficult and dangerous journey. Ruth faithfully offered Naomi herself.

The story of Ruth develops with God providentially arranging her marriage to Boaz. Ruth is redeemed from poverty, isolation and widowhood and becomes accepted as a member of a wealthy and powerful family amongst God’s people. She is chosen by God to be an instrument of His purpose by which Jesus can be introduced into the world.

Obedient Worshippers and Faithful Friends

Like Ruth, we were once ‘strangers to God’s promises’ and ignorant of His love and mercy. Perhaps, through unfortunate circumstances or the witness of others, we have embarked on a journey of faith that means we have to leave behind our old lives of sin and selfish thinking.

We have been specially called by God to be a companion of Jesus to live a new life amongst others who also know Him. We have been adopted as sons and daughters into the royal family of heaven with God as our Father. The new kingdom we find ourselves in is at first strange and sometimes frightening: but as we faithfully follow His directions, God blesses us and we become an instrument through whom Jesus is introduced to the world!

Ruth is also a wonderful example of real friendship.  In an age where many relationships break down, her loyalty and total commitment to Naomi is a perfect illustration of true dedication whatever the cost. Ruth’s relationship with Naomi was not based on shallow convenience or expediency, but on unshakeable principles of covenant commitment. Jesus put it this way: ‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’ (John 15:12.)

This is the depth of love and faithfulness that Jesus calls us to emulate. ‘By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ (John 13:35.)

Let the story of Ruth challenge and inspire you to be an obedient worshipper of God and a faithful friend to others.

 

Want to learn more?

If you want to find out more about the story of Ruth you can pick up a copy of Cover to Cover Ruth: Loving kindness in action from the Small Group Central Shop.

 

About Philip Greenslade

Philip has worked with CWR since 1991 in the areas of biblical studies, pastoral care and leadership. With his passion for teaching God’s Word, he offers a refreshing and challenging perspective for all.

Why read the Bible at all?

Ask me ‘Why read the Bible at all?’ and I reply ‘Because as you read you discover God’s Story.’ Jesus proved with His parables that there is no better way to communicate God than through stories.

The Bible

This is what the Bible essentially is – a thrilling, action-packed adventure with God, one in which we can play a part. It is not a pick-and-mix catalogue of religious goodies or spiritual recipes. It is not an occult code to be deciphered by ‘experts’. And the Bible is most definitely not a compendium of texts which we can use to buttress our own theological position.

Under pressure to ‘make the Bible relevant’, we too often trivialize or water down its message, reducing its impact to slogans and soundbites. We can end up draining the Bible of its colour, squeezing the life out of it and rendering it a ‘flat’ book, a bland moral mandate with passionless principles. But this is not the way the Bible came to us. It came as a story – a vast, sprawling, untidy, story, but a story nonetheless.

It’s not always the easiest book to read, but it is the most rewarding and enriching. As rambling and muddled and topsy-turvy as this long historical story can be, we can nonetheless find God at its centre, because He’ is the author. In saying that God wrote this story we are recognising that the threads of meaning and the trajectories of truth are all part of His sovereign plan. It is the One Creator God who initiates this story.

The God of the Bible

And as this One Creator God supervises His creation, steering it in the face of history’s setbacks and rebuffs, we find out who this God really is. It’s in the gripping narrative showing us how God achieves His purpose that we discover what kind of God this God is. God is not only the author of the story; He is the chief actor in it too. He works from the inside not the outside. So God shouldn’t be seen as an ‘Olympian’ figure, detached from the achievements and struggles of His creation. Rather, He has chosen to fully immerse Himself in the story, making Himself vulnerable to its pain and ambiguity. By working within – not outside – the drama, God leaves Himself exposed to misunderstanding, puts His reputation for holiness and omnipotence on the line, and risks His good name through association with some pretty shady characters.

In short, God is willing to become the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and even – particularly even – of Jacob! Meeting God like this in His own story, we find a God who is involved, intimate, wild, passionate, unpredictable, utterly faithful, vulnerable, open, persuadable – a tough and tender God who travels and travails with Israel with genuine emotions.

God never thought that being God was something to be exploited to His own selfish advantage, but humbled Himself to the level of His human partners, submitting to bear the cost of whatever His creation might come to. Which brings us to Jesus. And this is why we read the Bible – because it leads us to Christ. As they live in and through the biblical story, attentive Bible readers soon begin to experience the story’s cumulative effect.

Jesus and the Bible

Jesus gathers in all the historical threads that weave through the Old Testament and makes sense of them all. The story of Christ is the climax of the earlier parts of God’s story and the key to its unfolding in the future. Without the Old Testament we cannot begin to understand Jesus, and without Jesus the Old Testament makes no final sense. When we search the Scriptures looking to find eternal life, we will inevitably come to Jesus to whom all the Scriptures point. Luke 24:32: ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he opened the Scriptures to us on the road’ marvelled the Emmaus Two.

From Moses through the prophets, Jesus explained to them how the long redemptive story of God was filled full by His life, His death and His resurrection! In Jesus all the promise-plans of God converge. The Israel story is conclusively redrawn, the world’s story is redeemingly rewritten and the story of God is fully revealed to us. We read the Bible because it tells our story too.

Your story

‘The Bible seeks to catch us up in a grand narrative, a great saga of God’s dealings with humanity – a saga begun in God’s journey with Israel, continued in the surprising call of God even unto gentiles. The church is the product of that story’, wrote William Willimon. As we immerse ourselves in this great story we encounter the real God, and get to find out what He’s really like. As we relive God’s story with Him we find ourselves saved and shaped by it. We learn to appreciate the satisfying unity of Scripture while enjoying its fascinating diversity, constantly getting drawn into its action, finding ourselves caught up in the saving movement of God.

By reading the Bible we learn to ‘indwell’ the story more and more, and looking out on our contemporary world through more biblical eyes. We stop trying to make the Bible relevant to our modern lives and begin to find instead that we are being made increasingly relevant to the Bible!

Professor Gary Burge of Wheaton College recently lamented the inability of many of his evangelical students to put major events and characters of the Bible in the correct linear order. They just didn’t know what comes where in God’s great story. ‘No one’, he says, ‘is announcing that the biblical story is The Story that defines our identity and life in the church.’ Well, some of us are trying to do just that!

Read the Book and relish God’s story!

Want to learn more?

If you want to get your head around the Bible story you can pick up a range of Bible study guides from the Small Group Central Book Shop. Alternatively, why not have a look at Bible60, written by Andy Peck.

About Philip Greenslade

Philip has worked with CWR since 1991 in the areas of biblical studies, pastoral care and leadership. With his passion for teaching God’s Word, he offers a refreshing and challenging perspective for all.