Thursday, December 05, 2002

Edifier du Jour-Romans 4:1-12(NASB)
1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? "ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS." 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 7 "BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED. 8 "BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT." 9 Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, "FAITH WAS CREDITED TO ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS." 10 How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; 11 and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.
Eileen and I just got done reading through Acts before moving into Romans in our (usually) daily devotional, and I didn't quite get the significance of the issue of circumcision at the time. Let's remember what circumcision is; it's the surgical removal of the foreskin. In the first century, this means no anesthetics and no antibiotics. That puppy would hurt. When the early church fought over the issue of whether to have the new Gentile believers circumcised, it was more than just a question of whether new Christians had to be Jews as well. This was, as we would say in economics, a barrier to entry. "You're going to do what to my [insert phallic euphemism here]?!?" Zeus and Apollo looked a tad bit better if that was the prereq to Christianity. However, they stetted it back in Acts by allowing the Gentiles in without circumcision. Does that make them second-class citizens in the world of faith? No, for circumcision, like baptism today, is something a believer did as a symbol of their belief, if it wasn't done for them as a baby. It was faith that saved Abraham, not the removal of foreskin. Likewise today, it's our faith that saves us, not the trip to the dunk tank. Having the courage to have that surgery sans anesthesia is something one could boast about, but that's not what gets you right with God. It faith that comes from God that saves us, and only God can get the props for that.

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