In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. (Colossians 2:11-12)
Abraham And Baptism
Abraham was ninety-nine years old when the Lord came to him establishing a covenant that would pass through every generation of man. This covenant would be a physical promise first and then become a spiritual promise. The significance of the first covenant was the physical removal of the flesh of the foreskin called circumcision. Obedience to this covenant bound a man to the promises of God through the nation of Israel. The significance of the second covenant would not be realized until the time of the church in the first century. As a spiritual promise the blessing would come in the removal of the man of sin in the waters of baptism joining man to the redemption in Jesus Christ.
It took great faith and courage for Abraham to follow the covenant of circumcision at the age of ninety-nine. Ishmael was thirteen when he was circumcised and all the males in the family of Abraham were circumcised. There were no debates or denials for the command of God. No one discussed whether the covenant of circumcision was salvation by works alone. They obeyed in faith and by works showed their faith. Without the act of circumcision the promise of God would not be realized. This covenant would be the mandatory act for a man to become a child of God in the nation of Israel. At eight days old every male child would be circumcised. Jesus was circumcised in accordance with the Law.
On the day of Pentecost Peter and the eleven preached the covenant of circumcision. Showing the devout Jews gathered in Jerusalem they had killed the Son of God the apostle explained that salvation would now come in repentance and baptism for the remission of sins. Luke records throughout the book of Acts the multitudes of people who were baptized into Christ having their sins washed away in the blood of Christ. It was Paul’s letter to Corinth that unveiled with the disciples had been teaching about salvation. The covenant of circumcision was clearly embedded in the minds of the Jews as the moment when a child entered the family of Israel. Using that covenant established with Abraham so long ago the early disciples explained that baptism was a spiritual covenant of circumcision. Cutting off the old man of sin was how one was born anew. At moment of spiritual circumcision a person became a child of God.
Abraham believed in faith the word of God and obeyed (at the age of ninety-nine). He did not argue about the pain involved. It was not a matter for him to understand in the grand scheme of man’s wisdom. By faith he believed. Myriads of people today deny the power of baptism as having anything to do with salvation. Paul’s use of circumcision in Colossians 2 shows that without spiritual circumcision there is no salvation. Abraham believed but that belief alone did not save him. He obeyed the word of God. Belief today is necessary but faith alone cannot save because it never has. Believing the word of the Lord will move one to obey the command of washing away sin by the blood of Jesus Christ. This is baptism. At this moment a person becomes a child of God.
Those who are circumcised in Christ will be saved. Those who are not circumcised will be lost. Abraham proves that baptism is necessary for salvation.