May 25, 2012
Where Do We Go From There?
Claims are made. Sometimes in great arrogance. But what follows? Pride can be taken in having done proper things, but are we to then rest there? Sometimes we like lists so we can say, "I did this and I did that and I've done that and I've done this . . . I'm done!" However, not all of life can be reduced to such.
As John the Baptist was preparing the way for the ministry of Jesus and baptizing for repentance, some of the Jewish leaders began coming out to him. Note where John directed the focus.
We read. . .
"(7) But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (8) BEAR FRUIT IN KEEPING WITH REPENTANCE. (9) And DO NOT PRESUME TO SAY TO YOURSELVES, 'WE HAVE ABRAHAM AS OUR FATHER,' for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham." " ( Matthew 3:7-9 ESV)
Great pride was placed in referring to themselves as the circumcised and being "children of Abraham." Even Paul -- when he was known as Saul and a persecutor of the church -- had placed much pride in such designations of the flesh. (i.e. Philippians 3:4-5) So what about it? So they had submitted to the command. But what then? Though they could trace their ancestry in the physical covenant line to Abraham, what marked the life? Was there anything beyond a physical connection?
In Paul's letter to the church at Rome he noted how both Jews and Gentiles were in the same boat with regard to sin and in need of the justification that came through the blood of Jesus Christ. In Christ both shared a link to the covenant relationship with Abraham regardless of circumcision or non-circumcision. This was because the covenant was made with Abraham before the sign of circumcision was given to Abraham and before the Law came through Moses. To the Jews, circumcision was commanded and meant something, but there was to be consideration even beyond that.
We read. . .
"(11) He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, (12) and TO MAKE HIM THE FATHER OF the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but WHO ALSO WALK IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE FAITH THAT OUR FATHER ABRAHAM HAD before he was circumcised." ( Romans 4:11-12 ESV)
Though pride was taken in the claim of being the circumcised, what did the life declare? Whether Jew or Gentile, was there a faith like that of Abraham's? In Christ, Abraham is the father of us all! ( Romans 4:16-17) The real circumcision according to Paul are those who "put no confidence in the flesh", but instead "worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus." ( Philippians 3:3 ESV) So, what marks our life?
Though baptism for the forgiveness of sins in Christ is significant, is that it? As we submit to the command as those did on the day of Pentecost ( Acts 2:38), is there any expectation beyond the submission of having it done to us? Just like the Jews there are some who boast "I am a baptized believer" who don't seem to be living a life any different than the world?
As Paul provided a clear picture of baptism's parallel to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, we read. . .
"(4) We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, WE TOO MIGHT WALK IN NEWNESS OF LIFE." ( Romans 6:4 ESV)
Walking in THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE FAITH OF ABRAHAM and WALKING IN NEWNESS OF LIFE. Has something changed in our life because of Jesus? Have we truly surrendered to Him so that our life can be renewed and transformed. Have we truly become a "NEW CREATION" ( 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV) because we are IN CHRIST?
As James noted the example of Abraham's faith being revealed in his actions ( James 2:21-22), in acknowledging Abraham having "believed God" and that being "counted to him as righteousness", James noted that Abraham "was called a friend of God." ( James 2:23) What a great way to be viewed by God. Would we like to be viewed in a similar manner? Then let us also believe and "WALK IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE FAITH" of Abraham as we WALK IN THE NEW LIFE in Christ.
Have a great day CONTINUING LIFE'S JOURNEY WALKING FAITHFULLY IN CHRIST!
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