GOD’S ETERNAL GOOD PLEASURE, by Herman Hoeksema; Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1979; 371 pp., $9.95. (Reviewed by Prof. H. Hanko.)
In the early part of the 1940s Rev. H. Hoeksema, pastor of the First Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, preached a series of sermons on Romans 9-11. These sermons were eventually prepared for publication and were widely circulated in a hard cover book. For many years now this old book has been out of print. Because of the general interest shown in the material, there have been, over the years, many requests for the book — requests which could not be filled. Now the Reformed Free Publishing Association has reprinted the book and has made it available again to all those who are interested in the truths of sovereign grace.
Through an oversight, the original book did not contain Rev. Hoeksema’s sermon on the important passage,Romans. 9:17-18. This left the original book somewhat incomplete. Prof. H. C. Hoeksema has prepared a chapter on this text from the sermon notes of his father and from other writings of Rev. Hoeksema on this subject. The chapter fits well into the book and one would not know that it was prepared by a different author without the reference to this fact in the Preface.
This is an important book and we hope and pray that it will have increasingly wide circulation. It is important for a number of reasons, only a few of which we are able to mention here.
It is important, first of all, because it deals with what has often been called, “The Jewish Problem”; i.e., the question of the place of the Jew in the sovereign work of God in salvation in the New Testament. This problem continues to occupy the attention of the Church, numerous books are written on the subject, and it is of considerable concern especially to those who work in Jewish missions. Because Paul’s main concern in these chapters is with this very question, the author treats the whole problem in a thoroughly. exegetical way. The key chapter is, of course, chapter 11. And the book contains thorough exegesis of this chapter.
In the second place, the whole section of Romans 9-11treats the central truth of sovereign grace — the truth of sovereign predestination, including both election and reprobation. On the one hand, this truth is under severe attack today even within Reformed circles. On, the other hand, outside of Reformed circles there is a renewed interest in this truth and there are evidences that many are seeing clearly that this truth is indeed the central truth of Scripture. (There is something ironic about this: those who have historically maintained this truth are turning from it while many who have historically been Arminian are turning to it.) Nevertheless, this book deals with the whole question and does so with thorough and complete exegesis. This is its strength. And it ought to be noted in this connection that the discussion of predestination includes also all the doctrines of sovereign grace as Paul himself treats them in these chapters. The book is a lucid treatment of the fundamental truths of Calvinism as they are taught in these three chapters of Romans.
In the third place, the book is important because it deals with these subjects pastorally. This is the value of a book which is really a printing of sermons. It is not a verse by verse commentary; it is not an abstract discussion of the objective truths of the doctrines of grace; it is a pastorally warm and homiletically rich treatment of these truths which demonstrate beyond contradiction that (contrary to the allegations of Daane, Boer, c.s.) these truths of Scripture can and must be preached from the pulpit. It is also because of this characteristic of the book that the book can be read with such enjoyment. It is good to read for instruction; it is good to read for devotional literature.
Finally, the book is clearly written and easily read by all our people. So often it is thought that these doctrines are difficult to understand and that they are proper subject matter only for those who are old in the faith. This book proves that this is not so. The gift of Rev. Hoeksema was his ability to make the truths of Scripture clear. This book is proof of that. Even our young people can read it and understand it. But all can profit by it.
We hope that this book finds a place in the homes of all our people — even if you have the old edition; and we hope and pray that it may be circulated widely throughout the world to the instruction of God’s people and the strengthening of the faith of many.