No Baptism, No Covenant, And No Hope

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)

No Baptism, No Covenant, And No Hope

Circumcision was nothing to trifle about. God made a covenant with Abraham that was clear and demonstrative. He told the aged patriarch that circumcision was the sign of the covenant between God and Abraham. Every male child in his family must be circumcised. On the eighth day of the child’s life, he must be circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin as a sign of the covenant between God and the people of Abraham. The uncircumcised male child will be cut off from the people because he has broken the covenant of the Lord. Abraham understood and obeyed. At the age of ninety-nine, Abraham was circumcised along with his thirteen-year-old son, Ishmael, and all the men of his house. None were excluded. If anyone had refused to be circumcised, they would have been cast out of the family.

The Law of Moses included the commandment of God to circumcise every male child at the age of eight days. Every male born to a Jewish family was circumcised to establish the covenant of Abraham. Without the act of circumcision, there would be no covenant, and without the covenant with God, there would be no hope. Circumcision became a problem in the early church when Judaizing teachers taught unless one was circumcised according to the custom of Moses, they could not be saved. When the apostles, elders, and leading men among the brethren discussed the matter, it was concluded, according to the Holy Spirit; circumcision had no bearing on salvation. No commandment was given in the early church, requiring anyone to be circumcised to be saved.

Paul uses the teaching of circumcision to make a strong point about how salvation is found in Christ. He had argued to the Roman brethren the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus was the same fashion of the need to be baptized in water. Like Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, the penitent individual dies to his sins, is buried in water, and is raised up in newness of life to a new creation. Writing to the saints at Colosse, the apostle Paul affirms with no doubt the relationship of being in covenant with God and baptism. The circumcision Paul speaks of is not the literal cutting of the foreskin but the operation of the Spirit on the heart.

In Christ, one is circumcised with the circumcision made without hands. The circumcision of Abraham was a physical act of mutilation. Being circumcised in Christ is a spiritual act of purification. Baptism is putting off the body of sin by the circumcision of Christ. When someone is buried in Christ, they have cut off the foreskin of damnation in having their sins washed away. A man is buried with Christ in immersion (baptism), in which they are raised with Christ through faith in the working of God.

When Abraham was told at the age of ninety-nine to circumcise himself, his son, and all the men in his house; did he argue and fuss and debate the issue? What will cutting off some foreskins have to do with eternal life? Abraham believed in the working of God. He obeyed. Paul declares that baptism is circumcision in the kingdom of God. When a man refuses to be baptized for the remission of his sins, he denies the working of God. Without baptism (circumcision), there is no covenant, and if there is no covenant – there is no hope. If you have not been baptized into Christ for the remission of sins, you have no hope. Faith alone cannot save. Grace alone will not save you. Obedience to the working of God is the only hope you have. Have you been circumcised in Christ?

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