Saturday, August 18, 2007

Paul, The Galatians and the "C"-word

Circumcision was a very important issue to the Jews. They viewed it as their part in their Covenant with GOD. Circumcision distinguished them from all the other nations around them. It was a sign that they were GOD’s Chosen people. When Goliath started challenging the army of Israel in 1 Samuel 17, young little David declared, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living GOD?”

The Jews trace circumcision to events described by Moses in
Genesis 17: Abram was 90 years old and GOD had already declared him righteous because of his faith (Gen. 15:6).

In Genesis 17 though, GOD appears again to Abram (“exalted father”) and commands him to change his name to Abraham (“father of multitudes” or “father of many nations”).

But there was more. Let’s read
Gen. 17:9-14… and then let's get an idea of what some legalistic Jewish Christians were preaching to the Gentiles in Acts 15:1

Now imagine hearing that as a 1st century Galatian Christian, wishing to please GOD. Imagine hearing it from someone who has been a Christian longer than you have. Imagine hearing it from someone who has been a Christian longer than you have and who was a biological descendant of Abraham. They did not have the internet, the printing press or the NIV. Many did not understand how the Old Covenant (Testament) was a shadow to lead us to the New Covenant. So what would you do?

PAUL was not speaking out or writing against circumcision per se. Paul did not proclaim that getting circumcised, in and by itself, was bad. What ticked him off though, was the false teaching that circumcision was essential to one’s salvation; and how the Galatians’ zeal for God were exploited by this false teaching.

Circumcision was an ordinance that was supposed to be a physical symbol, sign or token of a person’s faith in the invisible GOD and His Promises to come. Today, we have ordinances like Baptism and the partaking of the LORD’s Supper. These are the physical symbols, signs and tokens of our faith in the GOD who has made Himself visible in the flesh, in CHRIST--and His promise to return in Glory.

So yes, we should encourage all believers to never tire of doing good, to be Baptized and to partake of the LORD’s Supper in a worthy manner. But if we should ever suggest that any these ordinances or good works are necessary for one’s salvation, then we insult the Gospel… we insult GOD’s Grace… we insult CHRIST and His sacrifice on the cross.

  

Sinners are saved by GRACE Alone, through FAITH Alone, in CHRIST Alone, as taught in SCRIPTURE Alone, all for the Glory of GOD Alone.

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