Foundations of Grace (A Long Line of Godly Men, Vol. I: 1400 BC – AD 100)

Steven Lawson

577 pages

Reformation Trust (2006)

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Recommend: Yes

Genre: Theology / Biblical Studies / Calvinism

Introduction:

I remember my first encounter with Calvinism back in high school. I was shocked at the thought of such people who would label themselves as such, who adhered to such strange teachings. And while I am always hesitant to label myself as a Calvinist, I have come to love the sweet doctrines of grace over the short years of my faith. The question that arises many times is, “Why would this be called Calvinism and not biblical teaching?” Well, the short answer is that Calvin articulated these truths in a very systematic way. He articulated them in a very organized way, but by no means did he invent them. If you’ve ever heard of the “5 Points of Calvinism” or the acronym “T.U.L.I.P.”, then that’s what I’m referring to.

These points or teachings highlight some facet of our condition or our salvation. Over the centuries there have been numerous caricatures that have come with this teaching; caricatures which portray a false and inaccurate view of Calvinism. Pastor Steven Lawson, who at one point had a hard time swallowing these teachings (as did I), goes back to the Word of God in an attempt to systematically work from Genesis to Revelation highlighting how these doctrines of grace have always been the foundation of Scripture itself, not man. He rightly points out that these teachings did not originate with Calvin nor with Luther nor with Augustine himself; these teachings flow out from the mouths and pens of the biblical writers who were “…moved by the Holy Spirit [and spoke] from God” (2 Pet. 1:21b).

Book Structure:

Lawson works systematically, from Genesis to Revelation, honing in on how the particular books emphasize one or multiple doctrines of grace.

Notable Quotes: (there are so many to choose from!)

  • “Frankly, the only reason to believe in election is because it is found explicitly in God’s Word. No man and no committee of men originated this doctrine. It is like the doctrine of eternal punishment in that it conflicts with the dictates of the carnal mind. It is repugnant to the sentiments of the unregenerate heart. Like the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and the miraculous birth of our Savior, the truth of election, because it has been revealed by God, must be embraced with simple and unquestioning faith. If you have a Bible and you believe it, you have no option but to accept what it teaches” (p. 11).
  • Thus, A Long Line of Godly Men is not primarily about men at all, but rather about the God to whom the lives of these men testify. Though godly men come and go, as any survey of history makes clear, the God who spoke through those men never changes, and neither does His message. . . . The God of Moses, the God of Peter, the God of Chrysostom, the God of Luther, the God of Edwards, the God of Spurgeon, and the God whom we serve today commands us to proclaim the unchanging truths laid down in the past” (p. 20).
  • “The message of the entire Bible is the truth of the sovereignty of God in the salvation of lost and ruined elect sinners. It is the message of God choosing for Himself a people through whom He will show His grace, supremely for His glory and intentionally for their good” (p. 99).
  • “Strong men always proclaim a strong message. They do not read the polls and check the surveys before they give their opinions. In fact, they do not even have opinions—they have convictions. They bleed convictions. They are strong men anchored in the strong Word of God, and, as such, they bring a message with gravitas and punch. When they stand to speak, they actually have something to say—and they say it, whether anyone listens or not. When they sit to write, they do not skirt the issues—they tackle them. When they address the times in which they live, they do not tickle ears—they box them. They do not have one message for one group and a different message for a different group. Wherever they go and whomever they address, they have only one message—God’s message. This is what makes them strong men. They speak God’s Word, or they do not speak at all” (p. 103).

Conclusion:

In short, this book is great way to go back to the Word of God itself and seeing for oneself how truly biblical the doctrines of grace are. It has been a delight to me to once again that our God reigns and that salvation is wholly His doing.

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