Is Baptism Christian Circumcisn? Is Baptism Keeping the Law
Christian Baptism is denied its value because it is equated to circumcision and Paul therefore taught that to be baptized causes one to fall from Grace.
How are things going? Hope all is well in the Lord. I have a friend who sent me the following regarding baptism:
I QUOTE HIM:
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. .... 4 You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. .. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision inor uncircumcision has any value. THE ONLY THING THAT COUNTS IS FAITH EXPERSSING ITSELF THROUGH LOVE." which Christ paid the ultimate cost for us all..
6: 15 "NEITHER CIRCUMCISION NOR UNCIRCUMCISION MEANS ANYTHING; WHAT COUNTS IS A NEW CREATION. PEACE AND MERCY TO ALL WHO FOLLOW THIS RULE, EVEN TO THE ISRAEL OF GOD
And he is basically comparing baptism to the controversial issue of CIRCUMCISION back in that day
Do you have any good responses you'd like to share that will resolve his twisted logic that baptism is JUST LIKE CIRCUMCISION.... ?
in Christ, Tilley
Well, Tilley, baptism can be like circumcision if we trust our salvation to our parents having a bit of water sprinkled in our face when we were eight days old. Or baptism can be like circumcision if we trust what we do later in live in order to "make a fair show of the flesh." If we trust our act rather than exercise our faith in water baptism trusting Christ to do what He promised, then there is some similarity to cutting of the foreskin.
The circumcision under the Law was related to the law. It meant that one had died and been reborn pledged to obey the Law of Moses. Females automatically became citizens of the physical community. However, males did not become citizens until circumcised on the eighth day. Circumcision was given before the law and did not depend upon the law. However, it was adopted as part of a show and tell for the males:
As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. Galatians .6:12
Paul begins his discussion with those who had become citizens based upon Christ "cutting off sin" in the spiritual sense.
STAND fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1
Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. Galatians 5:2
For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Galatians 5:3
Circumcision made one a citizen of Israel and under obligation to keep every one of the 613 laws of Moses given as a curse to faithless people. If now one is circumcised they are trusting a law ritual. Therefore, they must keep all of the laws and keep them perfectly every time to be safe from death.
However, water baptism was not a part of the Jewish law. If one was baptized as a Nazarite it basically pledged self to be obedient to God and not to the law.
Christian baptism, to the contrary, trusts Christ for having kept every jot and title of the Law so that we are not under bondage to the Law of Moses. This does not relieve Christians from obeying Christ's commandments.
Therefore, there is no connection between the demand of circumcision and the freedom from those laws ordained by Christ after the law was abrogated.
Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified (trust in for salvation) by the law; ye are fallen from grace. Galatians 5:4
Paul went on to show that it was not having the flesh mutilated as a child which counted (justified) but keeping Gods commandments. Faith had to
For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Galatians 5:6 (work is to show forth, work effectually)
We saw that Paul and God were in agreement that Abraham was justified by faith because he kept God's commandments totally. If Abraham had not done the work (expended the energy) demanded by God, God would never have seen any faith.
In the sixth chapter, Paul denied that physical cutting had the true value but becomming a new creature. This of course happens at baptism which does not depend upon the washing of dirt off the body but asking God for a clear conscience (1 Peter 3:21)
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. Galatians 6:15
To the Corinthians, Paul wrote:
Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing but the keeping of the commandments of God. 1 Corinthians 7:19
Paul denies that works of human merit "purchases" our salvation. He does not deny that human effort must put its faith into action by keeping the commandments of God.
Furthermore, Paul equates Christian justification by faith to Abraham's justification by faith. However, listen to what God told Isaac:
The Lord appeared to Isaac He said that the blessings would come (not because of the Law of Moses) but-
Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. 26:5
The Law was given as a curse when Israel rejected the Abrahamic covenant restated as The Book of the Covenant at Mount Sinai.
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: Gal 3:13
That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Gal 3:14
The Law of Moses stood between the Covenant of Grace first given to Abraham and reoffered at Mount Sinai. However, Israel rejected grace by trying to worship with music and their own bodies. As a result, the law was given to control an unlawful people. Christ takes up where Abrham left off -- not where the Law left off.
Now the blessing of Abraham is not Abraham as a blessing. Rather, the blessing of Abraham is the promise made by the Spirit of Christ that Abraham's descendants and the whole world would be blessed as a result of faithful obedience to the promise made by the Spirit. That is, the promise was not that we would personally have a literal person living in us. Rather, the promise was the promise which the Spirit of Christ made.
The rest of Galatians shows that the promise of the Spirit was the promise which the Spirit of Christ (1 Peter 1:11) made:
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. Ga.3:16
And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. Ga.3:17
For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Ga.3:18
Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. Ga.3:21
What?: For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26
How and When?: For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:27
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28
And if ye be Christs, then are ye Abrahams seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:29
If there is no longer anything called a Jew in the spiritual sense, then circumcision to become a citizens of Judah pledged to keep the laws of Moses, then they would be trusting in something which did not exist.
They were children because they have imitated the faith of Abraham which obeyed the commandments of God each and every time God told Him to do something. God did not approve Abraham when he believed what He told him. However, once Abraham had obeyed God's commandments, God did not place any value upon the physical work of Abraham. However, the value was Abraham's obedience to God.
What was the word of salvation sent out after the baptism of John had run its course? Jesus sent them out to preach and baptize both Jew and Gentile:
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. Mark 16:16
Rather than obeying Jesus, they murdered Him:
For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. Acts 13:27
Now, if anyone is baptized and then goes around boasting about their salvation based upon their washing the dirt off their body by their own taking a bath then you have the identical parallel to boasting in the flesh because of your having your foreskin removed by a dull rock.
Circumcision never removed guilt, but Paul could use a physical symbol the Jews understood to show that God's inheritance and citizenship is based upon what ones spirit or mind does. If ones mind does not lead them to baptism then they, like in John's baptism, "reject the counsel of God for their lives."
When it is all over, God won't commend us for taking a bath but He will approve us because we honored Him by honoring His commandments.
Again: Circumcision identifed one with the demand to keep all of the laws and to keep them perfectly every time.
Water baptism identifies with Christ's having fulfilled all of the demands of these laws.
Circumcision was a Law Ritual which replaced God's grace.
Baptism is a Christian means of accepting God's free grace. This means that baptism is not a law and to compare it to circumcision is an unlearned position.
Paul used the value of the physical circumcision as a contrast to the Spiritual Washing which Christ does when we accept His will for our lives.
Hope this helps, Ken
Some Other Notes on The Gospel