|Designed for one people||Carried to all people|
|Shadow and example||Substance of the good things to come|
|Fostered fear and servitude||Generates love and freedom|
|Could not fully justify||Enables recipients to keep God’s commandments|
|Conferred no riches of grace||Confers the power of grace|
|Gave no eternal salvation||Gives eternal life|
|The incomplete gospel||The complete law|
|Proceeds from God’s holiness||Proceeds from God’s grace|
|Known from nature||Known from special revelation|
|Demands perfect righteousness||Grants perfect righteousness|
|Leads people to eternal life by works||Produces good works from the riches of eternal life granted by faith|
|Presently condemns people||Acquits people|
|Addresses itself to all people||Addresses itself to those who live within its hearing|
|Power of sin to death||Power of God to salvation|
(Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, IV, 452, 453, 455, 458)
Careful readers will note something of a contradiction in this listing. The second pair and the third to last pair seem to be at odds with one another. This apparent disagreement is reconciled when one considers the pair: “Known from nature” and “Known from special revelation.” The Law as the five books of Moses and the entire Old Testament were indeed “designed for one people.” But the law as the knowledge that there is a God and that he will judge all men is known to all men everywhere. So now the Gospel is that special revelation that demands to be published abroad to all people. All people know they need a restored relation with God, whether by Law or law, but it is only the Gospel that reveals how the relationship may be restored.
What of the disagreement between the very first pair and the second to last pair? Bavinck writes, The gospel is temporary; the law is everlasting and precisely that which is restored by the gospel. Freedom from the law, therefore, does not mean that Christians no longer have anything to do with that law, but that the law can no longer demand anything from them as a condition for salvation and can no longer judge and condemn them.
While the New Covenant has been inaugurated how we long for its consummation when the proclamation of the gospel will no longer be necessary, “And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.