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A Passion For God's StoryThe bigger picture

I've always maintained that most Christians, in reading the Bible, focus too much on the odd word, phrase or verse and fail to grasp the overall sweep of God's great purpose revealed there. In A Passion For God's Story by Philip Greenslade (Paternoster, 2002, ISBN 1-84227-094-X) the author outlines that purpose and shows some of Scripture's marvellous interconnections.

I found this one of the most inspiring books I have read for a long time—hence the larger number of quotes than usual. It is rich in content, warm in approach and full of hope. Read it!

The story of Jesus can only be properly understood as the re-running of the story of Israel.  (p22)

We affirm what postmodernism denies: there is a master-story—an overarching metanarrative that makes sense of all reality. It is the strategic plan of God revealed in the Bible.  (p25)

The biblical story…can be seen in the broadest way as the implementing of God's kingdom rule in history through a series of covenantal arrangements—all in pursuit of a coherent goal.  (p39)

In support of its theory of the 'rapture', one brand of pop-prophecy among evangelicals harks back to those verses (Mt 24:40-41), which speak of those 'taken' and those 'left behind'. This point of view, well represented by a best-selling Christian work of fiction, assumes that those 'taken' are believers and those 'left behind' are unbelievers. In fact, in context, the exact opposite is likely to be the case! Those 'taken' are those who, as in the flood (Mt 24:39), are 'taken away' by judgment, while those 'left behind' are God's vindicated people!  (p64)

The apostle Paul strove to convince his fellow countrymen, inside and outside the church, that Gentile acceptance of God's salvation in Christ was exactly what God had envisaged in the promise plan announced to Abram (Gal 3:8).  (p72)

God did not give the Law so that by keeping it Israel might be saved and qualify to be accepted as his people. The Law was given to a people already saved—Israel was already the recipient of God's grace and mercy and saving love. So, why did God give Israel the Law? The Law is essentially a description of how a covenant people are expected to live.  (p99)

God so loved the world that he chose Israel. God so loved Israel—and through Israel the world, that he finally sent his only Son to act out the story of Israel and her God by embodying the one and incarnating the other.  (p107)

Led not by a pillar of fire and cloud, but by the immediate light of God's Spirit, God's covenant family marches towards its God-given inheritance; except that, in this scenario, its promised land is no partial Canaan, but nothing less than a redeemed earth.  (p141)

The thrust of the temptations is clear: 'If you are the true Israel, God's "son", if you are her representative king, God's "son", then go the way of Israel and her kings before you', but—savingly—Jesus refuses.  (p150)

Salvation is not the abolition of our status as creatures in favour of some higher spiritual existence; it is the redemption and not the dilution of our humanness.  (p179)

We are not going to heaven; heaven is coming here!  (p194)

The God whose story this is…emerges as a God keen on entering into dialogue rather than authoritarian decree; a God who does not hastily opt for closure but keeps debate alive and his options open. This God appears curiously persuadable. He wants people to share the emotional turmoil of decision-making as if inviting persuasion, prayer and appeal.  (p217)

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