SALVATION OR PROBATION – Which of these do we receive when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ?
When my son passed away several years ago, I was talking to a friend, and in the course of our conversation, I said that “Bob is safe in the arms of Jesus.” My friend said, “Well, you can hope so,” indicating his belief that I had no way of knowing for sure that my son Bob, was “safe in the arms of Jesus” Bob, though life was a constant struggle for him, was a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. My friend is (or was), as many people are, a “Galatians Christian,” i. e., one who believes that Jesus puts us on probation. He, quite apparently, believes that salvation consists of Jesus setting us on course, and then we keep ourselves on course by church attendance, good works, faithfully obeying church rules and ordinances, etc., etc., . The Apostle Paul, in Galatians 3 said this to the Galatians Church: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:1-3).
When someone believes that salvation through Jesus Christ requires their additional work to be effective, that’s an affront to Almighty God. Be they priest or pastor or one who sits in the pew, they are literally “turning to a different gospel!” Are such people saved? It’s not for me to judge, however, the shades of doubt are definitely extant in such cases. Paul admonishes the Galatians by saying, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel-not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the Gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6,7). Paul says, in effect, that people who add their works to (bolster) the Saving Work of Christ on Calvary are preaching a gospel different from the Gospel preached by Christ and the apostles. They preached the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Christ as revealed in Holy Scripture. The Holy Spirit, through the writer of Hebrews says that Christ, as the One who broke the power of sin and death by His resurrection from the dead, is “able to save to the uttermost all those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). I pray that my friend by this time has come to realize the Scriptural assurance in Christ that all believers should have. Christ is not a probation officer, He’s the Savior!
With love for the Lord Jesus, and for all of you,
A sinner saved by grace!