Hello Pastor Tom: Hope you are doing well. I have a question and am a little embarrassed that I have to ask it. Periodically I read through the book called Galatians by C. R. Stam I purchased some time ago at GBC. Now when I read Paul in his book of Galatians from the Bible he is saddened about all of the people having turned away from him, does he mean they are lost and were never saved? Or, does he mean they were saved but now they won’t enjoy their salvation because of adding works? It seems to be that Pastor Stam does not consider them lost. I’m thinking they are lost, but then maybe I am a different kind of strict legalist for grace! I am constantly reminding two of my daughters who attend Lutheran churches that baptism, confirmation, sacraments, are not requirements to be saved and they must not believe they are. The one family stays because they don’t want the kids to go to secular school. The other one attends church sporadically but her child will be going to a private school I think. It seems to me that if a church requires baptism; even say a Baptist church that says “baptism is an outward show of an inward change” or something like that, it is better if one walks away from that assembly because if a church requires baptism for membership it automatically becomes a work at least in the mind of a church. Especially so I would think those churches that believe only in the local church and not the universal church of God consisting of true believers as we know it at Grace. So am I a legalizer of another breed? This note sounds so stupid I know, but I am concerned for others especially in these various churches still participating in requirements of their religion. Thanks in advance for your consideration in this question. To me a little poison kills one just as dead. Also in the gospels somewhere I remember hearing one cannot serve two Masters. Then too, Pastor Fink mentioned about the wheelbarrow belief and I heard that a couple of years ago and think it is a good allegory of true belief.
The statements in your email reflects the mind of Paul. Whenever anyone brings into “grace” the works of the law there is a nullifying of grace (Romans 11:6) or as Galatians 5:4 says “… ye are fallen from grace.”
Anyone who has first trusted in the gospel of grace to save them, they are saved but drawn away from the doctrine that not only saves, but also empowers the Christian life. Galatians 3:1-3 “O foolish Galatians … Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”
But if someone did not get saved by the gospel of grace and from the beginning thought that a work was necessary for salvation, those have never been saved. Since only God knows the heart, he would be the only one who knows for sure if they are saved. We can only ask them. And if their words do not match the gospel of grace we could never be sure if they were ever saved. The Apostle Paul had this fear towards some in Galatia. We see this in Galatians 4:9 where he writes: “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God…” As if he is not sure they do know God. Again in Galatians 4:11 “I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.”
The one thing for sure is that Paul did not consider the doctrine of Judizers as truth, nor of them as saved brethren. He calls them “false brethren” in Galatians 4:4.
So your confusion is shared by all who know the grace of God. If anyone adds works of the law to grace that frustrates the grace of God and brings in confusion.