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The grace of God in the New Testament
Last week we looked at how God’s grace runs through every book of the Old Testament. That theme, which is central to God’s character, continues throughout every book of the New Testament as well, tying all of Scripture into a coherent tapestry.
The Bible contains great diversity and many important themes. Yet underneath and undergirding all of these themes is the motif of God’s grace, his favor and love to the undeserving. We can see the grace of God in every book of the Bible, throughout both the Old and New Testaments. We’ve already explored the themes of grace throughout the Old Testament. Now we will look at the New Testament. Each book includes a single verse that best crystallizes the theme of grace in that book.
Matthew shows God’s grace in fulfilling the Old Testament promises of a coming king (Matt. 5:17).
Mark shows God’s grace as this coming king suffers the fate of a common criminal to buy back sinners (Mark 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’) (Luke 19:10).
John shows God’s grace in becoming one of us, flesh and blood (John 1:14), and dying and rising again so that by believing we might have life in his name (John 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 (Acts 1:8).
Romans shows God’s grace in Christ to the ungodly (Rom. 4:5) that washes over both Jew and Gentile while they are still sinners (Rom. 5:8).
1 Corinthians shows God’s grace in favoring what is lowly and foolish in the world (1 Cor. 1:27).
2 Corinthians shows God’s grace in channeling his power through weakness rather than strength (2 Cor. 12:9).
Galatians shows God’s grace in justifying both Jew and Gentile by Christ-directed faith rather than self-directed performance (Gal. 2:16).
Ephesians shows God’s grace in his plan to unite us to his Son before time began (Eph. 1:4).
Philippians shows God’s grace in Christ’s humiliating death on an instrument of torture—for us (Phil. 2:8).
Colossians shows God’s grace in nailing to the cross the record of debt that stood against us (Col. 2:14).
1 Thessalonians shows God’s grace in providing the hope-igniting guarantee that Christ will return again (1 Thess. 4:13).
2 Thessalonians shows God’s grace in choosing us before time, that we might withstand Christ’s greatest enemy (2 Thess. 2:13).
1 Timothy shows God’s grace in the radical mercy shown to ‘the chief of sinners’ (1 Tim. 1:15).
2 Timothy shows God’s grace to be that which began (2 Tim. 1:9) and that which fuels (2 Tim. 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 (Tit. 3:5).
Philemon shows God’s grace in transcending socially hierarchical structures with the deeper bond of Christ-won Christian brotherhood (Philem. 16).
Hebrews shows God’s grace in giving his Son to be both our sacrifice to atone for us once and for all and our high priest to intercede for us forever (Heb. 9:12).
James shows us God’s grace by giving to those who have been born again ‘of his own will’ (James 1:18) ‘wisdom from above’ for meaningful godly living (James 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 Pet. 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 (2 Pet. 3:10).
1 John shows God’s grace in adopting us as his children (1 John 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 John 2).
Jude shows God’s grace in the Christ who presents us blameless before God in a world rife with moral chaos (Jude 24).
Revelation shows God’s grace in preserving his people through cataclysmic suffering, a preservation founded on the shed blood of the lamb (Rev. 12:11).