The Rev. Malcolm R. Mackey, concerning whose writings in The Contender we have called attention before, in the November, 1956, issue of his paper continues his development of the above named subject. In the present issue he treats two aspects of the subject, calling attention first of all to: The Fact of Perseverance; and then in the second place to: What Perseverance Depends Upon. He informs his readers that he plans in the succeeding issue of The Contender to call attention to: Perseverance—and the Sins of the Elect. We, will be waiting with interest his development of this third point.
Concerning the first and second points mentioned above, we give our readers a few excerpts which we consider both interesting and instructive from the point of view of our own historic faith.
Rev. Mackay writes the following respecting The Fact of Perseverance:
“Putting this as simply as it can be put, there is one outstanding fact which has been seen from the beginning of human history, from Abel’s time to the present, and that is, that there has been a continuing line of people who have, by faith, seen the eternal, immortal invisible God, and in this faith they have persevered unto the end of their mortal lives. This is the essential fact, however widely differing their individual, racial or national circumstances have been. These people belong to the one body of the elect. They have been chosen unto life eternal by God the Father from eternity; they have been redeemed by Christ the Son in the fullness of time; and they are, as they take their predestined place in the unfolding course of history, called by God the Holy Spirit out of the guilt and bondage of sin into the peace and blessedness of God’s spiritual kingdom. This is a glorious fact against which the gates of hell cannot prevail. Nothing can stop the fulfillment of God’s plan whereby these people are at last brought to heaven . . .”
“Perseverance has in view, in particular, not the beginning of the Christian life, or any particular stage of it along the way, but the end or consummation of it . . . Perseverance in the faith to the end may be regarded as an indication of one’s election. That is, perseverance to the end is a practical proof, in this life, that a person is of the elect. It is the outworking, in daily life, of God’s eternal decree to give that person an inheritance in eternal life. We are to judge of the state of our souls, not on the basis of profession, or bf an intellectual assent to ‘orthodox’ doctrine, but on the basis of perseverance in the faith, through thick and thin to the end.” Having considered the plain fact of history concerning this perseverance of saints, the writer proceeds to look at this fact from the point of view of eternity. He continues as follows:
“Let us see God’s statement of this fact. In the words of our text (Phil. 1:6), the Apostle says, as a matter of fact, that it is God who makes this difference among men. God who begins the good work of saving faith in men, will surely finish what He has begun. Now this puts the matter on a proper and reasonable basis. God’s work is not thoughtless, hit-or-miss, haphazard, as is so often the case with the works of men . . . When we think of God, we are in an entirely different realm where sin, weakness, ignorance or any other kind of evils, defects, or limitations have no existence. They are not in Him. And, positively speaking, the being and perfection of God are infinite, eternal and unchangeable. Hence, what God has determined, or planned, to do He shall most certainly accomplish, regardless of how devils and men may rage against it. This is the case with the eternal redemption of the elect. Consider the fact that it is God who has decreed that this shall take place! And it automatically becomes unthinkable that this should not be accomplished with glorious and infinite perfection. Therefore, looking at the perseverance of the saints from the ineffable light of eternity and not from the shadows of this life, God is the one who does it: ‘Being confident of this very thing, that He who hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.'”
In the 10th chapter of John’s gospel, in connection with the parable of the Good Shepherd and His conflict with the bitterly hostile Jews, Jesus makes a plain statement of fact, which illustrates the truth of the perseverance of the saints from both the human and the divine points of view. First, He made a contrast between the hostile Jews or the non-elect and His own disciples or the elect under the figure of those who are not His sheep and those who are: ‘But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me.’ Here is a plain observable fact,—some are not Christ’s people while some are.”
“Along with this statement of fact, Christ tells us something about these two classes which otherwise we could not have known. This explanation which He gives is the divine revelation as to why some are not His sheep, and why those who are His sheep persevere in the faith unto the end of their mortal lives. This difference does not lie in the nature or will of men. How could it?—for by birth we are all alike dead in sin and enemies of God. Notice Christ does not say that some are not His sheep because they believe not, but that some believe not because they are not of His sheep! This gives the lie to the Arminian (or common grace) doctrine which teaches that the’ only reason why some are not saved is because they believe not. This lying doctrine teaches that the only obstacle in the way of the eternal salvation of these people is their own sin and unbelief, and that they could be saved if only they desired (or willed) it. This teaching would take away the sovereign gift character of salvation. And it has done just this in the mind of the average person. ‘Salvation’ to him is not a matter which God may grant to him or not grant to him, as seemeth good unto Him, as Jesus expresses it in Matthew 11:25-27 . . . .”
“Common grace men, no less than the Arminians, actually put God’s dealings with men on the same kind of universalizing, leveling, lowest common-denominator basis as does modern democracy in its theory of mankind. Just as democracy claims that all men are equal, and that if any man does not make use of the opportunity he has it is his own fault, so common grace (like out-and-out Arminianism) says that all men have the opportunity to be saved, and that if they are not saved, it is their own responsibility and fault, not God’s. This takes the sovereignty completely out of God’s dealings with men, and reduces God to the same level as the popular head of a democratic state who is supposed to be strictly impartial and treat all citizens alike. Thus Arminianism and/or common grace alike, teach that in the final analysis the answer to whether or not a person is saved, lies in man rather than in God. The common grace men cannot deny this for they do say that the only thing that prevents a man from being saved is his own unbelief and unwillingness of heart, for God, they say, wills their salvation, has provided a sufficient atonement for them, and offers it freely to them. This puts the ultimate cause for their salvation or damnation squarely upon man rather than God. This is very pleasing and satisfying to the natural, unregenerate heart for the natural man loves to say in the words of the atheist Henley, ‘I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul . . .”
Rev. Mackay has much more to say about the, fact of perseverance which we will have to pass over in order to leave room for a few excerpts of the material he gives us in his second point: What Perseverance Depends Upon. Under this heading he writes as follows:
“First and most important of all, it is based upon the infinite, eternal and unchangeable love of God for His elect people. Now this love is anything but what the average person takes for the love of God. If you were to strike up a conversation with any man of ordinary intelligence on a drab town street or in a general store in a country village or at a crossroads, and ask him what he, thinks of when he hears of the love of God, he would say something like this: ‘Oh, God loves everybody, everywhere, and makes no difference between one man and the next one. His love is everywhere, like the air we breathe, and all we have to do is to recognize it and receive it.’ Whether your man lives in Cape Race, Newfoundland, or Snag in the Yukon, or anywhere between, you will get the same reply. Yes, he says, God’s love is universal, impartial, all-embracing. God yearns for all men to receive Him and is grieved when they do not. And your man will undoubtedly leave it at that unless you continue the conversation. No other conception, of the love of God is in his mind. More than that, he is quite content with it that way, and it never seriously crosses hi: mind that it could be any other way. All is well. The ‘people on the street pass unnoticing, intent on their errands,—or the peace of the countryside and the mingled, pungent, old-fashioned store odors along with the crackling of wood in the stove, give a sense of solid contentment. And if, while you were speaking with your man, a funeral should be seen passing along, enroute to the cemetery (‘memorial gardens’), he would probably say, ‘Well, some day we too must pass away,’ implying quite naturally that all is well with the deceased, and will be with’ everybody else who dies. God is loving and He understands. Let us be good neighbors, and play our part. In the ordinary course of events, the conversation would end as it began,—peacefully. But if you were so undiplomatic, cold-blooded and cruel as to say that this idea of the love of God, is simply not true, but that instead of God’s love being universal and general it is partial and particular, the sense of peace and well-being would vanish. Let us suppose that you were, further, bold enough to say that God, by the counsel of His own will and by nothing outside Himself, makes a difference among men. Upon some He bestows His infinite and everlasting love, and because of this particular love to them, or on the basis of it, He chooses to deliver them from their sins and make them heir of eternal life, seeing to it infallibly that they shall reach the goal which He has marked out for them. Upon the rest He doesnot bestow this love. Instead of choosing to deliver them from their sins, His eternal ‘decree is to harden them in their sins, and make them ‘vessels unto dishonor’ (Rom. 9:21), ‘vessels of wrath fitted to destruction’ (Rom. 9:22). And, likewise, He sees to it infallibly that they shall fulfill the destiny which He has, marked out for them. If you undertake to say this to your man, he will undoubtedly blurt out that such an idea of God is preposterous. He will say, ‘Who believes such nonsense nowadays?! If people believed that way once upon a time,—well, we are more enlightened and broad-minded. We believe in a God whose love is like the sunshine, rain and air,—bestowed universally on all.'”
Rev. Mackay further develops the thought:Universal Love Implies Universal Salvation and Particular Love Implies Particular Salvation. Concerning the former, he posits two particular and outstanding cases from history to prove his point. The two cases he refers to are, 1. John Wesley and the Methodist Church. 2. Princeton Seminary and Common Grace. Concerning the latter he writes: “Now Wesley was dead twenty five years before Princeton was founded. Historically speaking, the Methodist Church turned to the rejection of hell and belief in (modernistic) universal salvation fairly fast. But Princeton went faster from common grace into Barthianism which is basically the same sort of humanistic rejection of the truth as modernism.”