I went to the bookstore today in Seoul looking for a good, thick systematic theology to keep me busy. This one, folks, is from the Netherlands penned by Reformed confessionals J. Van Gendern and W.H. Velema.
Here are a couple of book puffs from the Westminster California faculty:
At a time when there seems to be renewed interest in the Reformation and, specifically, the Reformed stream, this concise theology is a wellspring of the best that our confession has to offer in the desert of American religion. This is a treasure to be read again and again, making the heart leap for joy!- Michael Horton.
For all but a few English speakers, insight into the world of contemporary confessional Dutch Reformed theology is limited to occasional glimpses. This tradition opens a helpful, orthodox, window on discussions in the Netherlands and beyond and is a welcome contribution to the renaissance of Reformed dogmatics in our time. – R. Scott Clark
I skimmed the book and came upon this gem:
50.3 Law and Gospel
1. The Word of God comprises law and gospel. In the law God reveals his will to us. His law encompasses much more than the “ten words” of Exodus 20 (Deut. 5), although the Decalogue is indeed of fundamental significance for the relationship between the Lord and his people. The core of the commandments is the commandment to love (Matt. 22:37-40). The gospel proclaims to us salvation in Christ. It comes to us in the promise of the gospel.
Through Luther the distinction between law and gospel became an important theological theme. It cannot be equated with the distinction between the Old and New Testaments, although it was customary to do so from the early centuries of Christianity till the Middle Ages. The result was that the gospel came to be viewed as a new and more perfect law.
Luther reacted to the legal interpretation of the Gospel, which he associated largely with Rome, by contrasting the law and the gospel. At no price could the law be confused with the gospel. Luther defined both the law and the gospel in terms of their roles: The law serves to identify sin and the gospel serves to forgive sin. While the gospel contains the promise of Christ, it is the role of the law to demand, to accuse, and to condemn. According to Luther, this is not the only, but definitely the most important role of God’s law.
For the classic Reformed view we refer especially to Calvin. According to this Reformer, the distinction between the law and the gospel is consistent with the unity of the Word of God. In the covenant of grace, demand and promise, law and gospel go hand in hand. The gospel grants what the law requires.
(pages 771-772, Chapter 14 The Means of Grace, The Word as a means of grace. The italics belong to the authors)
The Gospel gives what the law commands. Amen.