Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter: The Christian and circumcison

I can't say it much better than my friends over at the Whole Christian Network.

"Jesus died and rose again, making all the old blood covenants void and unnecessary. Circumcision is not a Christian tradition."

It's Easter Sunday, and I have been celebrating with my family for the past several days.  I am so thankful for Jesus.  For the fact that He came to this earth as a baby. That He lived among those He came to save.  That He suffered death on a cross.  That He died, and was buried.  That He rose again on the third day.  He did all of this for me.

Ephesians 4:8-9 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."

We are saved to a life with Christ, through faith in His death on the cross.  This is what Easter is about! We serve a God who was willing to send His Son-Lay down His life for us, and say "It is FINISHED".  

Our salvation is through His blood-not our own.  What a gift! The ultimate gift-His own life for ours.  We will not eternally die, because of His death, and resurrection.  

To add anything to this truth found in Scripture is to cheapen the Gospel-and miss the entire point of Easter. 

Jesus' death on the cross finished the work.  We do not need to add to it, or provide our own blood sacrifice.

In the Old Testament, as part of the Old Covenant, Jews were required to shed blood as part of their covenant with God.  The blood shed occurred in two forms: animal sacrifice and circumcision.  In the New Testament, with the death of Jesus Christ, HIS blood was shed as the ultimate sacrifice.  Under the New Covenant, Christians no longer have any Biblical reason to circumcise, or offer animal sacrifices.

Galatians 6:12-15 says:

12: It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ

About this verse, The ESV  John MacArthur study notes say, "The Judaizers were motivated by religious pride and wanted to impress others with their external piety.  They were more concerned about their personal safety than correct doctrine.  By adhering more to the Mosaic law (Law of Moses) than to the gospel of Jesus, they hoped to avoid social and financial ostracism from other Jews."

In other words, Paul, the writer of Galatians is calling out religious Jews who were circumcising as a way to keep the old law, and impress others with their religiosity.

The rest of the related passage says this,

13: For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. 

14: But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

15: For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

Galatians 2:3 says:
3: But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek

"The Judaizers were teaching that there could be no salvation without circumcision.  Paul and the apostles denied that and it was settled at the Jerusalem Council.  As a true believer, Titus was living proof that circumcision and the Mosaic regulations were not prerequisites or necessary components of salvation.  The apostles' refusal to require Titus's circumcision verified the church's rejection of the Judaizer's doctrine". John MacArthur ESV commentary notes

Acts 15 covers the Jerusalem Council.  MacArthur's commentary description of this is as follows:

"Throughout history, the church's leaders have met to settle doctrinal issues.  The most important council was the first one-the Jerusalem Council-because it established the answer to the most vital doctrinal question of all:

What must a person do to be saved?

The apostles and elders defied efforts to impose legalism and ritualism as necessary prerequists for salvation.  They forever affirmed that salvation is totally by grace through faith in Christ alone."

Acts 15:7 shows Peter giving his speech, and explaining to the council how God saved Gentiles during the early days of his ministry and made no requirement that they be circumcised. 

 "If God did not require any additional requirements for salvation, neither should the legalists" MacArthur commentary notes (ESV)

There are many other examples, and I hope to continue to outline them in future posts.  

But for today, Christian, we are free! Christ's death on the cross provided all we need for salvation.  After Jesus, those who preached circumcision were CONDEMNED by the apostles as well the early church.  Circumcision is not a Christian tradition at all. Titus has his very own book in the Bible, and served God tremendously, and we are told plainly that he was not circumcised, and those who made an issue out of that were considered legalists.

Rejoice in Christs ultimate sacrifice, and know that it is finished. There is nothing else to add to it, and routine infant circumcision is not part of God's plan for the New Testament church.

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