There is always a danger of squeezing the Bible into a mold we bring to it rather than letting the Bible mold us. And, there could hardly be more diversity within the Protestant canon–diverse genres, historical settings, authors, literary levels, ages of history.
But while the Bible is not uniform, it is unified. The many books of the one Bible are not like the many pennies in the one jar. The pennies in the jar look the same, yet are disconnected; the books of the Bible (like the organs of a body) look different, yet are interconnected. As the past two generations’ recovery of biblical theology has shown time and again, certain motifs course through the Scripture from start to end, tying the whole thing together into a coherent tapestry–kingdom, temple, people of God, creation/new creation, and so on.
Yet underneath and undergirding all of these, it seems to me, is the motif of God’s grace, his favor and love to the undeserving. Don’t we see the grace of God in every book of the Bible? (NT books include the single verse that best crystallizes the point.)
Matthew shows God’s grace in fulfilling the Old Testament promises of a coming king. (5:17)
Mark shows God’s grace as this coming king suffers the fate of a common criminal to buy back sinners. (10:45)
Luke shows that God’s grace extends to all the people one would not expect: hookers, the poor, tax collectors, sinners, Gentiles (‘younger sons’). (19:10)
John shows God’s grace in becoming one of us, flesh and blood (1:14), and dying and rising again so that by believing we might have life in his name. (20:31)
Acts shows God’s grace flooding out to all the world–starting in Jerusalem, ending in Rome; starting with Peter, apostle to the Jews, ending with Paul, apostle to the Gentiles. (1:8)
Romans shows God’s grace in Christ to the ungodly (4:5) while they were still sinners (5:8) that washes over both Jew and Gentile.
1 Corinthians shows God’s grace in favoring what is lowly and foolish in the world. (1:27)
2 Corinthians shows God’s grace in channeling his power through weakness rather than strength. (12:9)
Galatians shows God’s grace in justifying both Jew and Gentile by Christ-directed faith rather than self-directed performance. (2:16)
Ephesians shows God’s grace in the divine resolution to unite us to his Son before time began. (1:4)
Philippians shows God’s grace in Christ’s humiliating death on an instrument of torture—for us. (2:8)
Colossians shows God’s grace in nailing to the cross the record of debt that stood against us. (2:14)
1 Thessalonians shows God’s grace in providing the hope-igniting guarantee that Christ will return again. (4:13)
2 Thessalonians shows God’s grace in choosing us before time, that we might withstand Christ’s greatest enemy. (2:13)
1 Timothy shows God’s grace in the radical mercy shown to ‘the chief of sinners.’ (1:15)
2 Timothy shows God’s grace to be that which began (1:9) and that which fuels (2:1) the Christian life.
Titus shows God’s grace in saving us by his own cleansing mercy when we were most mired in sinful passions. (3:5)
Philemon shows God’s grace in transcending socially hierarchical structures with the deeper bond of Christ-won Christian brotherhood. (v. 16)
Hebrews shows God’s grace in giving his Son to be both our sacrifice to atone for us once and for all as well as our high priest to intercede for us forever. (9:12)
James shows us God’s grace by giving to those who have been born again ‘of his own will’ (1:18) ‘wisdom from above’ for meaningful godly living. (3:17)
1 Peter shows God’s grace in securing for us an unfading, imperishable inheritance no matter what we suffer in this life. (1:4)
2 Peter shows God’s grace in guaranteeing the inevitability that one day all will be put right as the evil that has masqueraded as good will be unmasked at the coming Day of the Lord. (3:10)
1 John shows God’s grace in adopting us as his children. (3:1)
2 and 3 John show God’s grace in reminding specific individuals of ‘the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever.’ (2 Jn 2)
Jude shows God’s grace in the Christ who presents us blameless before God in a world rife with moral chaos. (v. 24)
Revelation shows God’s grace in preserving his people through cataclysmic suffering, a preservation founded on the shed blood of the lamb. (12:11)