The Reformed System And The Larger Hope -- By: J. N. McGiffert

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 048:190 (Apr 1891)
Article: The Reformed System And The Larger Hope
Author: J. N. McGiffert


The Reformed System And The Larger Hope1

Rev. J. N. McGiffert

ONE of the prominent theological questions of the age is the salvation of the heathen. Can one who has never heard of the name and work of the Lord Jesus Christ be saved? and, if salvation is possible for such a one, what can we learn from the Scriptures of the method of his salvation?

It is easy to understand how this question has arisen, and forced itself toward the front. It is a direct result’ of the missionary enterprise of the century. Previously to this missionary arousing, the thoughts of the church were engrossed with home questions. The distinction of the true doctrine from the false, which had grown about it for ages; the formation of definite creeds; the separation of schools of thought into denominations; the defensive and aggressive work of the divided parties; the settling forever the great questions of the rights of conscience and religious liberty; the conscientious preparation, through difference and sundering, for the realization of true Christian unity, not in compulsive bonds of outward form, but in the fundamental truth, the renewed heart, and the everlasting hope,— these were the burning issues in the days of our forefathers. His is conceited pride which condemns these seekers after truth, and combatants for doctrine, as narrow, bigoted, or unpractical. Theirs was a preparatory work, which needed thorough doing, to clear the way for the grand mission of the Reformed Church in giving the pure gospel to the world.

But the missionary work has aroused the church to think on matters of which before it had merely dogmatized. The adaptation of Christianity to the whole world and its power to bring all races of men to Christ have impressed on the mind of the church the likeness of men everywhere, and have emphasized the truth, which was accepted before, but was not realized, that “God hath made of one blood all nations of men,” and that in Christ Jesus “there is neither Greek nor Jew, barbarian nor Scythian.” Now that Christendom and heathendom are brought face to face, and arc throbbing heart with heart, God’s people are not only aroused with zeal to save the heathen, but questions of the divine purpose for these multitudes have forced themselves on the Christian mind. Has the salvation provided for all men no reference to them save as it has been brought to them by the church? Has the Christ who died for all no trophies of his death from among the nations yet unreached by the gospel, or from among those countless millions who died, before the church awoke to her mission? The question, in its breadth of reference, is immense. The conviction has arisen and...

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