Faith Connected Obedience to the Covenant of Circumcision

  • Posted on: 19 January 2015
  • By: Jordan

1. “When Abram was [99] years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am El Shaddai—God Almighty.’  Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.  I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants, [although "...Sarai was unable to become pregnant..." (Genesis 11:30)].

2. …This is my covenant with you: ‘I will make you the father of a multitude of nations!  …I am changing your name.  …You will be called Abraham…. [With this change of name, God elevated His "...Friend..." (James 2:23), and guaranteed the following results]:

  • I will make you extremely fruitful.
  • Your descendants will become many nations….
  • I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you….
  • …I will always be your God and the God of your descendants….
  • I will give the entire land of Canaan… to you and your descendants.  It will be their possession forever, and I will be their God.

[These results or benefits come with the cost of responsibility.

3. Fatherhood has responsibilities].  …Your responsibility is to obey the terms of the covenant.  You and all your descendants have this continual responsibility.

  • …Each male among you must be circumcised… on the [8th] day after his birth.

…Your bodies will bear the mark of my everlasting covenant.  Any male who fails to be circumcised will be cutoff from the covenant family….  …On that very day Abraham… was [99] years old when he was circumcised” (Genesis 17:1-24, NLT).  Observe that there was no delay in Abram's response.  He acted expeditiously.  Is our faith like that or do we request additional time for analysis of paralysis, followed by feasibility and pilot studies to deteremine if we should obey?

4. Like Abraham, "...who trusted and was faithful" (Galatians 3:9, CJB), "...God would consider the Gentiles righteous when they live by trusting and being faithful..." (Galatians 3:8, CJB).  “...People are counted as righteous, NOT because of their work, but because of their faith in God….  David also spoke of… those who are declared righteous without working for it….  Now, is this blessing only for the Jews, or is it also for uncircumcised Gentiles" (Romans 4:5-9, NLT, TLB, CJB)?  One way to answer this question is to examine both the character of Christ and one of His policies.

5. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8, NKJV).  He says to us: "...Stop at the crossroads and look around.  Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it.  Travel its paths, and you will find rest for your souls..."(Jeremiah 6:16, CJB, TLB, NLT)  "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28, NKJV).  So what is the answer to the question: Are the Gentiles declared as righteous without working for it?

6. The Gentiles are declared as righteous without working for it!  Follow the line of reasoning.  "…Abraham was counted as righteous by God because of his faith.  ...God accepted Abraham before he was circumcised!   Circumcision was a sign that Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him to be righteous—even before he was circumcised.  So Abraham is the spiritual father of those who have faith but have not been circumcised.  They are counted as righteous because of their faith.  …God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based NOT on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith" (Romans 4:9-13, NLT).

7. Are you in a right relationship with God that comes by faith?  This is an important question for you to answer because the living faith narrative does not end with cognition.  Therefore, we may safely conclude with James that living faith leads to action.  Did it not lead Abraham to circumcision on the very day he accepted God's covenant?  “…Faith without works is useless” (James 2:20, NASB).  Faith is the motivation, the propellant, the impetus for obedience (Hebrews 10:36); hence, James notes, “…We are shown to be right with God by what we do…” (James 2:24, NLT), but it is faith that directs all works of righteousness.  “Faith is the substance of things hoped for…” (Hebrews 11:1), and “…the just, [a.k.a., righteous], shall live by faith…” (Romans 1:17 | Galatians 3:11 | Hebrews 10:38 | Habakkuk 2:4).  How are you living (Galatians 2:20, NKJV, NLT, CJB)?

Bro. Graham F. Watts, Sr.