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 creation—the kingship of God over all the works of His
own hands—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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