Read - Romans 2:25-29
Message - Alan Burke
We are all familiar with to some extent how God gave circumcision as the sign of the covenant with Abraham, It was a sign of God’s promises. It was to be placed every male among the people who was eight days old, when a gentile converted to Judaism, they were circumcised, for it was the the visible sign and seal of their entry into the people of God, as well as every male in that household no matter what age would have been circumcised as was the case for Abraham and is the case today if you convert to Judaism (Ge 17:12–13). But it is a sign of the reality of God’s promises, not of an inward reality. The backdrop to that which Paul writes is that of those who were insisting that circumcision was central salvation, that it was a requirement for salvation. Yet the sign bestowed upon the Jews was only a sign, a sign that was but a visible manifestation of the reality of the promises of God, but it meant nothing until the inward reality to what that visible sign testified came about. Circumcision pointed to the need for regeneration, for God to work in the hearts of people, the sign without the reality is meaningless. God looks at the heart and what was needed was a circumcision of the heart by the Spirit as Paul testifies to here.
Jews who knew and understood the scriptures knew that the sign testified to the inward reality that God would do, how God would give a new heart and put a new spirit in his people, removing the heart of stone and giving a heart of flesh (Ez 11:19, 36:26), the sign does not save, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly and spiritually. The efficacy of circumcision was not in its observance, it was not because any virtue in it, or the one that administered it but by the work of God. They had confused the sign with the reality and the sign without the reality is meaningless. While Paul was speaking of in effect his kinsmen for he was a Jew by birth there is a challenge us. The sacrament of Baptism that is given to us, is a sign of what the Lord has done for His people, He is the one who must work, it does not mean that there is an inward reality, there is no such thing as water baptism that regenerates, that makes one a “christian”, it is not a christening as some people seem to think it is, it is a baptism, it is a sign of the promises of God, it is not a sign of faith rather it is a sign of the covenant of Promise, it is a sign of the gospel of Jesus Christ that is reliant on God to work in the hearts and lives of individuals.
We are not saved by being baptised or participating in the Lord’s supper but by the work of God in us, through Christ that is applied to us by the Holy Spirit. For the unbeliever they are nothing more than a superstitious ritual, they will not bring blessing, in fact for the unbeliever taking the signs of the covenant will bring stricter judgment (Luke 12:41-48). All of us, we all need a right understanding of the gospel hope that we have, and the signs that we have been given of baptism and the Lord’s supper will point us more to the grace of God that He includes us and our children in our promises but they are but signs and seals of an inward reality, salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone!
Q1 What is the chief end of man?
Man’ s chief end is to glorify God, (1 Cor. 10:31, Rom. 11:36) and to enjoy him for ever. (Ps. 73:25–28)
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