Sovereign Grace in the Garden

Posted on November 24, 2010

I recently began reading Dr. Steven Lawson’s Foundations of Grace: A Long Line of Godly Men, volume 1 of a 5-volume series on the doctrines of grace and the sovereignty of God. In my thirst to gain deeper understanding of the doctrines of grace, I found the premise of Foundations of Grace to be most intriguing. In this first volume, Dr. Lawson surveys the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation, from Moses to the prophets to Jesus to the Apostles, to clearly show these doctrines resound through the Word of God. As this first installment is the foundation from which the remaining series will be built, latter volumes will focus on the early church fathers, the reformers, the Puritans, stalwarts of the 17th and 18th centuries, and modern men of God who were chosen by Him to proclaim these sovereign truths. For more details on the projected series, please go here. You can also read Amazon reviews in addition to the foreword and afterword from John MacArthur and R.C. Sproul, respectively, here.

The second chapter of Foundations of Grace titled, “Where the Long Line Begins: The Lawgiver Moses – Genesis”, takes us through God’s sovereignty in creation and His sovereign attributes in relation to the salvation of sinners. It further displays God’s sovereignty in the lives of His chosen vessels found in the book of Genesis. In reading of God’s sovereign initiative for the redemption of His people, I stand in awe to witness this truth come alive from the first pages of Scripture. Though Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God, His mercy and love for His children is reflected through a bloody sacrifice to restore Adam and Eve to Himself. This is a picture of what the Lord Jesus Christ would one day accomplish to redeem His people – the innocent Lamb of God sacrificing Himself for the guilty.

The following excerpt is taken from page 64 of Foundations of Grace:

Specific Substitution. In the garden, God also gave a symbolic picture of the future death of Christ for His chosen ones. By His sovereign initiative, He made conveings for the nakedness of the first couple:

And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. Genesis 3:21

The Lord Himself killed an innocent animal and made coverings for the nakedness and guilt of Adam and Eve. This was the first death in God’s newly created world – a slain sacrifice. This animal was killed at the hands of God Himself, and He provided its skin freely for the first couple as an expression restoring Adam’s and Eve’s relationship with Himself. This bloody sacrifice pictured the coming of Christ into the world to redeem His people. God’s Son would be the Lamb of God, who would take away the sin of His people (John 1:29, 36). His sacrifice alone would provide a covering for the exposed nakedness of Adam and Eve’s guilt.

In explaining this substitutionary death, [Dr. James] Boice points out that it symbolized the shed blood and perfect righteousness of Christ. Boice writes: “In order to make clothes of skin, God had to kill animals. It was the first death Adam and Eve had witnessed, as far as we know. It must have seemed horrible to them and have made an indelible impression. ‘So this is what death is; this is what sin causes,’ they must have exclaimed. But even more important, the death of the animals must have taught them the principle of substitution, the innocent dying for the guilty, just as the innocent Son of God would one day die for the sins of those God was giving to him. When God clothed our first parents in the animals’ skins, Adam and Eve must have had at least a first faint glimmer of the doctrine of imputed righteousness…God saved Adam and Eve from their sins by clothing them in the heavenly righteousness of Jesus Christ, which he symbolized by their being clothed with skins of animals.”

I hope that gives you a taste of what to expect from this most fascinating book demonstrating the “joy-giving, life-changing, Christ-exalting, God-glorifying, missions-motivating, evangelism-encouraging, and discipleship-promoting truths” of the doctrines of grace and the sovereignty of God (1). Though I am just beginning chapter 3, I am driven with anticipation to grow deeper in understanding of these magnificent truths. The more I learn of God’s sovereignty, the more I rest in His grace and humbly rejoice in His mercy toward me. If you would also like to discover or sharpen your understanding of the doctrines of grace, then Foundations of Grace is a must-read for you. May God be glorified in our pursuit to know and love Him more.

(1) Review by J. Ligon Duncan III, PhD, Senior Minister First Baptist Church, Jackson MS