While discussing God's sovereignty in salvation, students have often been asked me if I could provide to them the Bible verses on both sides of the issue. I usually receive a skeptical look when I reply that there are no Bible verses on both sides of the issue, that God does not contradict Himself, and that all of the Scripture supports the teaching of the Doctrines of Grace (I am happy, however, to work through the passages that appear contradictory). There are difficult to understand passages, but sovereign grace is so pervasive in the Bible that those looking for it will begin to see it everywhere.
In his book, Foundations of Grace, Dr. Steven J. Lawson traces elements of the Doctrines of Grace through every book of the Bible. The book begins with a foreword by Dr. John MacArthur, which is an excellent theological essay that would itself be worth the price of the book. Lawson then argues that how one understands God's sovereign grace in salvation is foundational to their understanding of the biblical message and theology. He argues for God's sovereign plan to save fallen humanity through a gracious act of election as a unifying theme of the Bible. Lawson then works through each section of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation examining God's sovereign Grace and related truths. The book then concludes with a call to believers to stand firm in these truths in afterword by Dr. R.C. Sproul.
The book provides an accessible defense of the Reformed view of the unity and consistency of the Bible on these points. The treatment is not overly technical or complex and as expected, presupposes a Reformed understanding of various biblical and systematic theological positions. Since he explores similar themes in each chapter, reading the book from cover to cover becomes tedious at times. The upside of this style, however, is that the book will likely serve as a good reference resource to those who may want to examine these themes in relation to a particular book of Scripture.
Advanced readers looking for a comprehensive biblical theology, extensive exegetical detail, or a critical evaluation of theological issues attending the interpretations will not find that here. What readers can find here is a good introduction to why Reformed Christians are so passionate about God's sovereignty and the Doctrines of Grace.
* I received a free copy of this book from Reformation Trust Publishing as part of their book review program. Reviews are not required to be positive and the opinions I have expressed are my own.
Foundations of Grace is the first volume in a series from Steve Lawson titled A Long Line of Godly Men. In this volume Lawson traces God's sovereign grace through the pages of Scripture, focusing on the godly men. Beginning with Moses, he works his way through Joshua, Job, David, Solomon, the major and minor prophets, Christ and the the apostles. John MacArthur says rightly in his introduction that Lawson "clearly and comprehensively lays the scriptural groundwork for the doctrines of grace."
In Foundations of Grace Lawson takes the reader through the pages of Scripture and over and over again points to God's sovereignty and His amazing grace. Lawson's writing is very readable yet thought provoking. I have become a recent fan of his writing style while reading through this and his Long Line of Godly Men series. He is able to take theology and bring it down to an understandable level for almost all Christians. Sometimes when an author takes on a big idea, such as tracing the doctrines of grace through the Bible, the outcome can be somewhat chaotic, leaving the reader to keep up with the author's train of thought. This is not the case with Lawson's book. As he traces God's sovereignty and grace through the Scriptures the reader is left marveling at the continuity of Scripture and how it all point to His redemptive plan in Christ.
Christians would really bless themselves by buying this and being amazed at God's sovereign grace!
I received a free PDF copy of this book from Reformation Trust Publishing and upon completion of my review will receive a free copy in exchange for an honest review. If this review helped you please visit and follow my blog at parkerjreviews.blogspot
To grasp the entirety of Reformed Theology is definitely a monumental undertaking but to try to do that in under a year is even more of an insurmountable project. It seems since I've been a follower of, what I think to be, true biblical trademarks I have come across few authors which have helped me to grasp the full scope of the gospel and the over arching narrative of the Bible. Steven Lawson happens to be one of those authors who have, time and again, pointed to scripture and pulled some of the cob webs from the difficult passages and have clarified some deep truths in light of the whole canon of scripture. The whole work of, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), has been a labor to get from one cover to the other. Dr. Lawson takes a portion of history, 1400 BC - AD 100, and uncovers the long line of godly men who have preached and taught the doctrines of grace with zeal and compassion.
We begin at the beginning with the lawgiver and prophet Moses. A baby among the reeds who was sovereignly placed in a basket by the very hand of God and sent along his way not knowing what future would befall him. Moses became the lead trumpeter for the truth of God's sovereign grace. In regards to the book of beginnings Dr. Lawson tells us, "The book records that God does as He pleases, how He pleases, and when He pleases, and not only in the physical realm but in His spiritual kingdom. In all the spheres of His creation, God alone is sovereign. Most specifically, God is revealed to be absolutely supreme in bestowing His saving grace upon a chosen people." From the very opening letter we see that God, in control of all creation, breaks the darkness and brings to light the wonder of his grace and the plan of his mighty right arm.
We could spend all day in Genesis and pick apart the sovereignty of God which weaves its way in and out of this book, but we shall move on as Dr. Lawson does. We continue our trek through each book of the Bible in, building upon the previous sections. This is not a book which has to be read from front to back but it is very helpful to do so knowing those godly saints who wrote the pages of the Old Testament have much wisdom to share with us. It's important to note that those men and women in the pages of God's holy word were all in agreement over the fact that God does as he pleases with the creation and work of his hands. Even in those pages where questions arise and doubts rear their ugly heads, the outcome is always the same; a humble bowing to the unsearchable riches of God.
A quote used from Charles Spurgeon was most helpful when reaching the chapter dealing with David, Solomon and the books of wisdom.
"In the words of Charles H. Spurgeon, the sovereignty of God is 'a testing
doctrine.' That is, it is a truth that exposes the human heart for what it
is, revealing humility or pride. Spurgeon acknowledged, 'There is no doctrine
more comforting to [God's] children than the doctrine of Divine Sovereignty.
Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe troubles, they believe
that Sovereignty hath ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules
them, and that sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which
the children of God ought more earnestly to contend than the dominion of
their Master over all creationâ€”the kingship of God over all the works of His
own handsâ€”the throne of God, and His right to sit upon that throne. . . .
On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by worldlings, no truth of
which they have made such a foot-ball, as the great, stupendous, but yet most
certain doctrine of the sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah.'
To be sure, the awesome truth of divine sovereignty humbles some but hardens others."
That quote, for me, solidifies the message Dr. Lawson is pressing forth in this book. Let me caution you, however, if you plan to read this book. It is an undertaking not to be taken lightly. This is an intense book to digest, even more so if you are not immersed in a reformed theological understanding. After saying that, I do want to note, this book can be at times very redundant. It takes the tenants of the reformed faith and applies them to every book of the bible. It can be as daunting as reading through the book of Leviticus or Numbers. It's a lot to digest, but it's an impressive text to struggle with. Another word of caution to those who are taking a look at this book. We must be slow to take scripture as a whole and try to fit it into a reformed worldview. We must come to the bible with open eyes and minds and see what the pages and pages of text about God, have to tell us about a reformed kind of mindset. This can be true of any worldview, a slandering of biblical truth to fit any worldview you would have. We can even make the bible stand in support of gay marriage and abortions. It's easy to take the lines penned by the Holy Spirit and twist them to our own agenda.
Dr. Lawson does well to stay away from taking the text and twisting it into a reformed worldview, which can be tough to do at times. Even when I read the bible I want to make it say something that sits well with me but I mustn't let my feelings dictate the meaning of God's holy words. I commend this book to all faithful followers of Christ, no matter the set of theological beliefs you may carry. I don't commend this for the point of making converts to Calvinism but making converts unto the glorious truths of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
Dr. Steven J. Lawson has done the church a great and intense labor of love in Foundations of Grace. He so clearly and poignantly points us to a true understanding of God's Word. Take up this book with an attitude of prayer and a heart of gratitude. I am thankful for men like Dr. Lawson, who would champion the treasures of Christ to a church which desperately needs a solid foundation from which to build. Praise God for this work, and may all who read be blessed by the Spirit of Christ.
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This is a well written book, an in-depth look at faith through the centuries. Engaging and informative, Pillars of Grace is a grace-filled look at men who loved God and sought to serve Him with all they had. Dr. Lawson gives us insight into such men as Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin as well as offering a look into the faith of many "lesser knowns". Overall, this book is good and useful book for those seeking to understand biblical truth.
So, why didn't I like it as much as I thought I would?
Because Dr. Lawson seems to maneuver the beliefs of ancient believers so that they rest where he wants them to while ignoring beliefs that might be contrary to his own.
Because Dr. Lawson beliefs lie in the dispensationalist's court and I don't see how that belief lines up with biblical eschatology.
Still, even with those problems, overall, this is a helpful book and one that would be useful for Pastors as well as for the average believer who wants to know more about the beliefs of those who went before him.
DISCLAIMER: I received a free pdf of this book for purposes of review. When my review is published, I will receive an actual copy of the book. I was not required to give a positive review, only a fair and honest one. My opinions are my own.
Put your thinking cap on..but a life changing book
December 17, 2010
This has been a life changing book for me. For the last 35 years I have been involved in good Bible-preaching, conservative churches, but had not been introduced to the doctines of grace quite like this. Certainly from a lay person's standpoint this book is comprehensive in that it takes a reader all the way through scripture from beginning to end and is thoroughly biblical and shows the consistent theme of sovereign grace threading its way all through the Word of God. As a bonus it introduces the reader to great reformed writers such as D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Charles Spurgeon, S. Lewis Johnson, John MacArthur, James Montgomery Boice, R. C. Sproul and many others. If you have not read the works of these writers, let this book introduce them to you and get blown away by God's sovereignty in the salvation of men and every other matter.