Understanding that grace is the main theme of the Bible changes our entire approach to it. It motivates us to seek it out, frees us to receive God’s words—even the hard ones—and motivates us to live for him in all aspects of our life. Only grace truly motivates because only grace truly frees. And grace—praise be to God—is the theme of the Bible!
Last week, I argued that Jesus is the main character of the Bible. This week, I will argue that grace is the main theme of the Bible.
John 1:16 says, “For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” Romans 5:20 says, “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Hebrews 4:15-16 tells us about the “throne of grace” that we can approach to “receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” James 4:6 says Jesus gives “more grace.” Romans 6:14 declares we are “not under law but under grace.”
Matthew 11:28-30 is the one place in the Bible where Jesus speaks of his own heart. What does he say? “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” That’s grace.
But, you say, that’s all in the New Testament. What about the Old Testament?
After the fall of Adam and Eve, what did God do? He clothed them (Gen. 3:21) and promised them a savior was coming (Gen. 3:15). When Israel was in slavery, what did God do? “God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.”
When God gave the Ten Commandments, where did he begin? On terms of grace. Exodus 20:1-2, “And God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.’”
Isaiah 55:1 says, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”
Psalm 86:15 says, “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22 says, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end.”
Time fails me to mention all the times we see God’s people fail and deserve death, and instead, God saves them and redeems them. Grace permeates the Bible, covering it like the waters cover the ocean.
The Princeton Seminary stalwart and New Testament scholar J. Gresham Machen said, “The very center and core of the whole Bible is the doctrine of the grace of God—the grace of God which depends not one whit upon anything that is in man, but is absolutely undeserved, resistless and sovereign. The theologians of the Church can be placed in an ascending scale according as they have grasped with less or greater clearness that one great central doctrine, that doctrine that gives consistency to all the rest; and Christian experience also depends for its depth and for its power upon the way in which that blessed doctrine is cherished in the depths of the heart.”