Foundations of Grace, by Steve Lawson, lays the ground work for his “long line of godly men” series. The first instalment surveys the Biblical text with an eye for the doctrines of grace in each book of the Bible. As Lawson runs through the parade of biblical authors he highlights their heavy trust in the sovereignty of God over all things. Lawson demonstrates that the doctrines of radical depravity, sovereign election, definite atonement, irresistible calling, and persevering grace set the cadence for the entire bible. The doctrines of grace drench every page of the biblical text.
Lawsons energetic writing style makes the book a joy to read. Because the intention of the work looks to survey the entire Bible, Lawson never stops long in any one place. The hefty 577 page volume leaves the reader craving more, not because of any deficiency in his treatment, but because Lawson wets the appetite for further study of the rich theological banquet of the biblical text. The book would serve well as a reference book along side other Bible introduction and survey works.
I’m looking forward to his forthcoming “Pillers of Grace” in the series, that builds upon the biblical “Foundations of Grace” and traces church history. To get a taste of Lawson’s rich writing style and content, here are the first couple of pages from “Foundations of Grace:”
Beginning with the ancient prophet Moses and spanning the past thirty-five hundred years to this present hour, there has marched onto the stage of human history a long line of godly men, men who have faithfully upheld the royal banner of the doctrines of grace in their generations. These standardbearers of the sovereignty of God’s grace form a noble procession that has remained unbroken and uninterrupted for millennia. They stand as one man— one in truth, one in the faith, one in the doctrines of grace. While differing in secondary areas of biblical understanding, they nevertheless have spoken with one voice in chief matters of doctrinal concern, namely, the supreme sovereignty by which God has appointed saving grace to undeserving, yet chosen, sinners. What is more, each man has appeared in history precisely at his God-appointed time and faithfully testified to Gods sovereignty in mans salvation.
Who are these great men of history? These are the most God-entranced preachers of their day, the most Word-saturated teachers of their hour, the men who, for the largest part, most marked their times for the glory of God. These are stalwarts of the faith, the sturdiest pillars of the church, the men who impacted nations and influenced continents for Christ, the men who sparked reformations and ignited spiritual awakenings. These are the valiant warriors of God’s kingdom, men who translated the Scriptures into the mother tongues of their people—and were burned at the stake for doing so. These are the men who founded biblically based denominations and launched gospel-propagating missions—men who left an eternal impact upon the life of the church. These are among the most esteemed pastors, distinguished theologians, and prolific authors of their generations. These are the most passionate evangelists, scholarly professors, and venerable presidents of Bible colleges and seminaries—men who have upheld the standard of sound words. These are the men who have championed the doctrines of grace.
We witness them marching onto the stage of history, the world being their theatre and Scripture their rehearsed lines. Countless numbers of these men appeared during the most demanding moments in the divine script, in the days when the church was at its weakest. It was in such times that this long line of godly men grew most thin. Yet amid dark days of doctrinal error, these men remained faithful to God’s Word and stayed true to its message, even daring to march out of step with the theological cadence of the times. These resilient couriers of truth were, of sorts, the small hinges upon which the large doors of redemptive history turned, inevitably leading the church back into the rising sunlight of a bright tomorrow. Similarly, in the times of the church’s greatest reformations and spiritual revivals, these men stood resolutely at the forefront, heralding the glorious truth of God’s sovereignty in man’s salvation for all to hear. Century by century, this unbroken succession of spiritual stalwarts has increased its ranks to become a swelling parade—a long line of godly men, uninterrupted and intact.
What is the distant drumbeat by which these men march? What compels them to move out and move forward for God in their generations? What drives them to capture their hours for Christ? What ignites their souls to burn with passion for Him and be the brightest torches of truth in their times? The answer is clear and compelling. To a man, they are overwhelmed by a high view of the sovereignty of God. With a transcendent and triumphant vision of God ruling supremely over all things, these men comprise an army of expositors and teachers, trumpeting the unrivaled reign of God over heaven and earth. This is what makes them so unusually great. It is that they preach and proclaim an infinitely great God, One who is great in holiness and great in sovereignty. Their greatness is not found in themselves, but in the One who has called them into His glorious employ.
These are the men who believe that God is God, not merely in name but in living reality. These are the faithful messengers who hold fast to the core truth that God speaks and it is so. They proclaim that God comes to pass. They declare that God calls and it happens. They herald that God plans and so does. There is no force that can resist Him, either in heaven, on earth, or under the earth. He pronounces the end from the beginning. His purpose will be infallibly established. Their message is founded on the unmistakably clear testimony of Scripture that God is sovereign over all things.