Was Circumcision God’s Ineffectual Grace to Ishmael?

Romans 9: 6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.
What follows needs a sarcasm alert.

Circumcision was not a sign of Ishmael’s faith. For Ishmael, circumcision was a sign of God’s covenant righteousness. Circumcision was a sign that Ishmael was commanded to believe the gospel. if Ishmael had not been circumcised, Ishmael would not have had any obligation to obey the law by faith. or to have believe in the gospel with works commanded by the law..

In circumcision, God takes the initiative with Ishmael. God speaks favor to Ishmael in circumcision and Ishmael “could and should have” responded in faith to God’s wooing. If Ishmael had not been a covenant child , if Ishmael had not been circumcised, then Ishmael would have had to be banished from the household as one cut off from the covenant. But because Ishmael was circumcised, Abraham was able to be a faithful parent to Ishmael.

Did Ishmael, possess any advantages by receiving the sign of circumcision? Was God’s goodness to Abraham heightened because of God’s grace also to Abraham’s son Ishmael? Does our “so great a salvation” terminate only upon isolated individuals, or does our salvation include a promise of eternal life (or alternatively greater covenant curse than common condemnation) to our infants? .

Is God less good to our children in this new administration than God was to Ishmael? If Ishmael was better off for receiving circumcision even if Ishmael ultimately perished, are our children (even if non-elect in the decree) better off for being watered? Was the sign given to help covenant children or hinder them? Denying our children water denies them a blessing from God.

If you disagree that water is a blessing, then your problem is with God commanding infants and Ishmael to be circumcised because you must agree that this circumcision was grace to Ishmael, even if circumcision did not result in Ishmael’s justification before God. That was not God’s fault but Ishmael’s fault, because circumcision was God’s grace and we know that.

Because really the distinction between law and grace is not very useful, except when it comes to saying that circumcision was grace and not law. At that point the distinction is useful. And also when it comes to saying that Ishmael sinned against grace and not only against law. Ishmael was blessed with circumcision even if that did not work out for Ishmael having lasting life in the age to come.

So the distinction between law and grace is not that useful, except maybe for talking about those born outside the covenant. As Mark Jones has explained, those not in the covenant cannot be commanded to believe the gospel. And those not in the covenant cannot be commanded to obey the law. Because obeying the law is finally not so very different from believing the gospel. And that’s why we must raised our infants under the gospel and not under the law.

Because if we tell our infants that they are forgiven, then they are forgiven. And if we tell our infants that their works are good and acceptable to God, then indeed their works are good and acceptable to God. And if we don’t tell our children that they were born under grace then we would have to tell them they were born under the law, and in practical real life the distinction between under law and under grace is not that useful in parenting.

So we tell our infants that they are born under grace and loved by God. and at least that way they are sinning against grace, and if they are not under grace there is nothing to tell them, because there can be no law if there is no grace. and when you think about it, law is grace and grace is law, at least for those in the covenant. Abraham was able to raise Ishmael in the covenant, and that is good because outside the covenant there is no such thing as law or sin.

Galatians 4: 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son.

Genesis 21: 10 So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” 11 And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. 12 But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. 13 And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.”
Genesis 17: 13 both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”
Genesis 17: 23 Then Abraham took Ishmael his son and all those born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 26 That very day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised. 27 And all the men of his house, those born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.
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8 Comments on “Was Circumcision God’s Ineffectual Grace to Ishmael?”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    Let the dead bury the dead. Luke 9: 60

    Genesis 25:9 Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, east of Mamre

    When Abraham died, his two sons Isaac and Ishmael came to bury him. And so we remember that God promised Abraham not only the land but many children.

    But is that all there is to the promises? Is that all the gospel Abraham knew? Is that all the gospel we know? There are two other promises here in this Genesis 25 text. One is the promise in v 19: counting that God was able to raise Isaac up from the dead. Abraham knew about resurrection. Abraham believed in resurrection. The gospel is about resurrection.

    Not today, but the day when Jesus comes, there will be a resurrection from the grave. Both the elect and the non-elect will be raised. At that resurrection day God will demand from us a righteousness, a perfect righteousness, a divine righteousness, a righteousness we do not have and cannot earn or produce…we need to receive it by grace. This righteousness is not grace changing us on the inside. This righteousness is Christ’s death for the elect to satisfy God’s law for all the sins of the elect. This righteousness we receive by God’s imputation, and not because of our faith.

    The resurrection day which is to come will not be good news for the non-elect. But for the elect it will be, because Jesus Christ did a work of righteousness, and the merit of that work is in time imputed to the elect so that they will stand perfect before God at the resurrection day.

    So what are the promises Abraham believed? Not only land and many children, but resurrection. But not only resurrection, because there is a resurrection to nothing but second death. Let me read Hebrews 11 verse 18 again: “In Isaac shall thy seed be called.” The promise Abraham believed is not only that he would have many children, not only that Isaac was his elect seed, his one and only, and that Ishmael was not. The promise was also and mainly about one specific child of Abraham, about one particular descendent of Abraham, the promise was about Jesus Christ.

    Abraham (as far as I know) did not know his name, but Abraham did know that there was one child, one seed, who was coming to do a work of righteousness for the elect. Abraham did see the need of that perfect righteousness, and he did trust God’s promise to bring in that righteousness. “In Isaac thy seed shall be called”. Yes, Isaac is the seed of Abraham. Yes, Isaac’s children are God’s firstborn son, God’s national seed. But in Isaac there is to be one seed, one child, and that human person is named Jesus. Jesus is not only God now; Jesus is also human now and Jesus was raised from the grave because Jesus had completed that perfect work of righteousness which God had promised to Abraham.

    Are you elect? You will never know, unless and until you believe this gospel that Abraham believed, trusting in the seed of Abraham and his perfect work of righteousness for the elect. Hebrews 9:27-28 “And it is appointed unto men once to die but after this the judgment. So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of MANY; and unto THEM that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

    All of us are going to die, unless Jesus comes back before then. After we die, it’s too late to believe the gospel. After we die, we must all wait for the day of resurrection, for the day of judgment. And on that day, the question will be: do we have a perfect righteousness? Have our sins all been taken away?

    What is the gospel for us, for today, for right here and right now? The gospel is that Jesus has taken away some sins. Some will die in their sins, but the good news is that others will die without sins. Why? Why do the elect die WITHOUT their sins? Hebrews 9:28 says it’s because Christ died WITH their sins.

    Listen to the gospel again! Christ was handed over to death, delivered, offered TO BEAR THE SINS OF MANY. Christ died because he was imputed with all the sins of the elect. But Christ no longer bears all the sins of the elect. Christ did something only He could do—He put away these sins, He bore them away, He took them away, He paid the full price for all the sins of all the elect.

    Jesus Christ is no longer imputed with these sins. Hebrews 9:28 says He shall appear. Christ rose from the grave. And when Christ rose from the grave, He was no longer imputed with the sins of the elect. Christ had by His death satisfied for all those sins. All the sins of the elect, past and future, were then non-imputed to Jesus Christ.

    This is the gospel. Not that you are going to die. Your death is no gospel. But the death of Christ for the elect IS the gospel. Christ the seed of Abraham died for Abraham and for all the seed of Abraham.

  2. markmcculley Says:

    I Corinthians 10″ 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

    Are baptized babies officially part of the one body? Do they have a right to partake of the one bread?

    I Corinthians 10: 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown[b] in the wilderness.

    Do baptized babies who have a part in Christ also have a right to participate in the manna? Is manna the sacramental food?

  3. markmcculley Says:

    This guy explains “imputation” as done by the clergy without regard to any other objective event or any explanation or doctrine about any other event (except the clergy imputing)

    Jason Loh
    Posted October 18, 2014 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Be that as it may, justification by faith alone was not a theological formulae in its original setting. Justification by *faith* alone refers to an event. Since faith in its Reformation setting as re-appropriated by Luther was never defined as a mental assent but situated in relation to the proclamation of the gospel in word and sacraments, justification by faith was not defined as faith in theological propositions including imputation.

    Instead of being a theological formulae that was part and parcel of the wider theological system, imputation was a reference to the concrete act of pronouncing the forgiveness of sins as embodied in for example, the absolution. That is to say, imputation simply meant that the word does what it says and says what it does.

    Good news is rooted in the concrete and tangible (and tactual) act of the proclamation of the gospel in word and sacraments in a specific context in time and space which is the living present of “I-to-you.” In other words, the Reformation was not about the true meaning of the external word of the gospel refashioned according to doctrine but the other way round.

    Once this is understood then we can proceed to say that the continuity between the Reformation and the medieval and patristic Church was grounded precisely in what the word and sacraments *actually* do to us. If Papists are to be saved or can be saved within the Romish Church it is because of the underlying or latent layer of the hidden gospel beneath the encrustation in the proclamation of word and sacraments.

    A non-confessional Protestant is saved despite jis non-Reformational confession because of “blood of Jesus Christ” as applied in baptism — one baptism for the remission of sins.
    Faith therefore is in the external word and sacraments — such is the simplicity and down-to-earth nature of the gospel. Faith is not in a theological system..

    This is why the Reformation can maintain continuity with the pre-Reformation churches. This is why the pre-Reformation Christians are justified even though the theological formulae of justification by faith alone and the corollary of penal substitution were alien to them.

    I realize this comes as a shock to the Reformed & Presbyterian but this is what the Reformation was about. This is why Calvin held to a high view of baptism (and not only the Lord’s Supper). This is why the Reformers could claim that there were true believers in the Roman Whore Church. This is why the Book of Common Prayer crafted by the Protestant Archbishop Cranmer maintained a realist language of baptism whilst exhibiting ambiguity in relation to the Lord’s Supper.

    Baptismal regeneration is not in conflict with justification by faith alone but is the concrete expression thereof. The issue is whether all baptised are regenerated or not. The language of baptism which is the language of proclamation is to be held in existential tension with the doctrine of election.

    One particularises the doctrine of election by the use of personal pronouns of “I-to-you” in the concrete setting of proclamation of the gospel. That is instead of being held back by the doctrine of election, proclamation is the doing of the electing of the ungodly itself.

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Renihan— A positive credobaptist argument asserts that the relevant covenant involved is the new covenant, and that this covenant is distinct from the biblical covenants that preceded it in history, particularly the Abrahamic covenant. Simply put, the Abrahamic covenant promised (not only Christ the seed to come but also) earthly blessings to Abraham and his offspring. This covenantal relationship was expanded and developed in the Mosaic covenant and the Davidic covenant (the Mosaic covenant added laws for life in Canaan, and the Davidic covenant provided kings over the people). These three covenants established and governed the kingdom of Israel, comprised of Abraham’s people. The … new covenant is established on better promises, different promises. The new covenant alone is the covenant of grace, distinct from the Israelite covenants.

    Throughout Israel’s history, many understood the messianic promises and looked to Jesus in faith prior to his advent (Hebrews 4:2-3; 11:13-16). The people of God, considered according to the federal headship and benefits of Christ… did not begin with the incarnation. The Israelite kingdom and its covenants were typological. Typology sustains two truths: on the one hand a type had significance in its own context while on the other hand a type pointed away from itself to a greater meaning in Christ. The author to the Hebrews states quite plainly that the blood of the Israelite sacrifices could not forgive sins. Why? Because although those sacrifices had meaning in the Israelite context, i.e., purification of the flesh, they were not Christ’s sacrifice and could not purify the conscience (Hebrews 10:1-4, 12-14).

    Paul treats God’s dealings with Abraham the same way by calling believers the children of Abraham and finding a greater meaning in the word “offspring” as relating to Christ rather than simply Abraham’s posterity (Galatians 3:7, 9, 16, 27-29). It is not ONE OR THE OTHER, as though promises were made only to Abraham and his natural children or to Christ and his offspring (Abraham included). It is both, each with its particular but related meaning in a typical or antitypical context. And thus the kingdom and covenants of Israel were not the kingdom and covenant of Christ though they were driving towards his birth and revealing truths about him all along the way. Old Testament saints were saved by the promise of one who was to come, and the covenant that he would establish. Consequently baptists do not use the kingdom of Israel and its covenants as the pattern for churches….

    Looking to the parent-child relationship is a misdirected attempt to understand covenantal membership. Redirecting our attention to federal headship brings clarity …. We blame Adam, not our parents, for the curse. The Israelites looked to Abraham, not their parents, for a claim to Canaan and its blessings, and to the conduct of the king, not their parents, for tenure in the land. So also, children must look to Christ, not their parents, for a claim to his covenant….We are born under Adam’s federal headship, and no one escapes the domain of darkness until God transfers them “to the kingdom of the beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:12-14).

    http://www.placefortruth.org/placefortruth/article/the-case-for-credobaptism

  5. markmcculley Says:

    P1 God promises to save the elect children born of Christian parents.
    P2 God promises to save the elect children not born of Christian parents
    (John 1:13; Gal 3:7-9; Rom 9:7-8, 11, 24-26; 10:11-13; 11:17; Eph 1:4-10,)
    C1 Physical heritage is irrelevant to God’s promise to save the elect.
    P3 Physical heritage is irrelevant to God’s promise to save the elect.
    P4 God’s covenantal faithfulness is determined by His promise to save the elect.
    C2 Physical heritage is irrelevant to God’s covenantal faithfulness. Brandon Adams, they are equivocating on what the promise is, precisely. Is it to the elect, or is it to all our children generally?
    P4 God’s covenantal faithfulness is determined by His promise to save those who he has promised to save.
    P5 God has promised to (among others) save the children of believers.
    C God shows His faithfulness (among other ways) when He saves (among others) the children of believers.
    In which case, there is nothing unique about the salvation of the children of believers since God’s faithfulness is also demonstrated (“among other ways”) when he saves the children of non-believers

    https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/gods-covenant-unfaithfulness/

  6. markmcculley Says:

    1. Were infant children baptized with water on the Day of Pentecost?

    2. How did they decide which infants had at least one believing parent?

    3. Did they have time to set up “confessional boxes” to obtain the profession of parents?

    4. Was one of your parents a believer when you were baptized with water as an infant?

    5. Does it matter if that parent is still believing the gospel? (or still believed it at death?)

    6. Does it matter if that parent was believing the gospel of Roman Catholics?

    7. Was the water baptism of already circumcised persons on the Day of Pentecost a form of “ana” baptism. a “re-circumcision”?

    bonus— Was the mother of Mary the mother of Jesus a believer or was it her father or was it the both of them?

    The Immaculate Conception, according to the teaching of the Catholic Church, was the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in her mother’s womb free from original sin by virtue of the foreseen merits of her son Jesus Christ. Although the belief that Mary was sinless and conceived immaculate has been widely held since Late Antiquity, the doctrine was not dogmatically defined until 1854, by Pope Pius IX in his papal bull Ineffabilis Deus. The Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8. In many Catholic countries, it is aholy day of obligation or patronal feast, and in some a national public holiday

  7. markmcculley Says:

    Mark Jones—, baptism is a sign that my child must look to, and embrace by faith until he/she dies.

    Circumcision was not a sign of faith, but a sign that faith embraced or looked to (cf. Rom. 4:11). Baptism represents Christ (Gal. 3:27), in whom our faith must rest. In baptism, God takes the initiative with our children. He speaks favour to them in baptism (“You are my child, whom I love”) and they are to respond in faith to his “wooing.”

    Crucially, as a parent, when the waters of baptism are poured upon the head of my child, I’m confronted with the sobering, yet glorious, reality that I am raising GOD’S CHILD for his glory.

    Because my covenant children belong to God and Christ, in terms of the nature of the visible church, the stakes are high. Very high.

    Yes, we have the promise (Acts 2:39), BUT baptism is also a solemn reminder to those who do not respond in faith, hope, and love to the God who set his seal upon them. The seal of baptism is more permanent than a tattoo, because the seal has eternal consequences, whether for good or bad.

    Baptism is a wARNING to parents that they cannot take it easy or presume upon the grace of God

    The covenantal dynamic that parents and children enter into is one whereby rejecting Christ, who is OFFERED IN BAPTISM, brings those who reject such grace under a divine curse.

    Thus, infant baptism is God taking the initiative to preach the gospel, and calling the child, FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE to repent, believe, and LIVE FOR the glory of the one into whose name he is incorporated or face the terrifying reality that covenant breakers will face a STRICTER JUDGMENT than those who never received such blessings.

    Parents mustn’t be ignorant of such things. For to whom much is given, much is expected.

    As Luther well said, “Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ,, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.” Not bad for someone who believed in baptismal regeneration

    http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/07/paedobaptism-scares-me.php#sthash.duXJBpmy.dpuf


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