In recent years, great strides in biblical theology and contemporary canonical exegesis have brought new precision to our grasp of the Bible’s overall story of how God’s plan to bless Israel, and through Israel the world, came to its climax in and through Christ.
But I do not see how it can be denied that each New Testament book, whatever other job it may be doing, has in view, one way or another, Luther’s primary question: How may a weak, perverse, and guilty sinner find a gracious God? Nor can it be denied that real Christianity only really starts when that discovery is made.
And to the extent that modern developments, by filling our horizon with the great metanarrative, distract us from pursuing Luther’s question in personal terms, they hinder as well as help in our appreciation of the gospel.
The church is and will always be healthiest when every Christian can line up with every other Christian and sing (or, in these musically dizzy days, learn to sing) P. P. Bliss’s simple words, which really say it all:
Bearing shame and scoffing rude
In my place condemned He stood
Sealed my pardon with His blood
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
~ J. I. Packer in the Introduction to In My Place Condemned He Stood