The Center and Core of the Whole Bible

I’ve been reading through Ned Stonehouse’s biography of J. Gresham Machen, the conservative New Testament professor at Princeton Seminary who stood against the liberal theology that was making inroads in the Presbyterian Church of America in the 1920s and 1930s.

Throughout the Book, Stonehouse highlights key sections from Machen’s works. In one of them, titled What is Faith?, Stonehouse recounts where Machen clearly sets forth what he believes to be the “center and core” of the whole Bible: the grace of God. And I couldn’t agree more. He writes,

“To say, therefore, that our faith saves us means that we do not save ourselves even in the slightest measure, but that God saves us. Very different would be the case if our salvation were said to be through love; for then salvation would depend upon a high quality of our own. And that is what the New Testament, above all else, is concerned to deny. 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 that one great and 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. The center of the Bible, and the center of Christianity, is found in the grace of God; and the necessary corollary of the grace of God is salvation through faith alone.”

From Genesis to Revelation, the core of the Bible is the grace of God, reaching its climax and fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus Christ. When we read our Bibles, let us read with searching hearts for this core theme, that theme that gives consistency to all the other themes, the grace of God.

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