One Circumcision–Circumcised by Christ in Christ’s circumcision–

Tianqi Wu– We are in a dead end Law problem with no other hope except for Christ’s satisfaction of law. There is no other solution apart from Christ’s death being counted as our death, so that it becomes a fact that we legally died when Christ died.

Christ’s death was a legal accomplishment. Christ’s death was Christ’s great work. The imputation of the elect’s sins to Christ and the imputation of Christ’s death to the elect are two different imputations

Romans 6: 6 For we know that our old self was CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST in order that sin’s dominion over the body be abolished, in order that we be no longer be enslaved to sin, 7 since a person who has died is justified from sin’s claims. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him, 9 because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over Him. 10 For in light of the fact that He died, He died to sin once for all time—- 11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin

The elect become crucified by Christ when God places them into Christ’s death.

Galatians 2: 19 For through the law I have died to the law, in order that I live for God. I have been CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST 20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives with regard to me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Colossians 2: For IN CHRIST all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and IN CHRIST you have been brought to fullness. Christ is the head over every power and authority. IN CHRIST you were also CIRCUMCISED with a circumcision NOT performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were CIRCUMCISED BY CHRIST, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised Christ from the dead.

The Baptism which saves the Christian is not with water or even with the Holy Spirit. The baptism into Christ’s death is being placed into “the circumcision of Christ”. Christ’s circumcision is not His new birth but His death .

“Christ’s circumcision” is not “by the Spirit” but His death. There are different baptisms, some in water and some in/with the Holy Spirit, but NO “baptism by the Spirit”. But to be circumcised by Christ in Colossians 2 is not baptism with the Spirit but to be legally identified with Christ’s death.

The Colossians 2 identification or “union” (in Christ) of elect sinners is not about the Holy Spirit in us , because “the circumcision of Christ” is His death and God’s “baptism” (Romans 6) places us into Christ’s death. :

Galatians does NOT say that

1. circumcision was both law and gospel

or 2 that circumcision has been fulfilled both as law and promise

so that 3, as gospel, circumcision has been fulfilled by regeneration and mysterious indwelling of the Holy Spirit (not fulfilled by the righteousness of Christ’s death)

so that 4. as law, circumcision with hands has been fulfilled by water baptism with hands.

Neither Galatians nor Colossians teach any of these four assumptions.

Mike Horton—”Covenant theology doesn’t teach that the covenant of grace itself is “breakable” (67). God promises his saving grace in Christ to each person in baptism, whether they embrace this promise or not. … The word proclaimed and sealed in the sacraments is valid, regardless of our response, but we don’t enjoy the blessings apart from receiving Christ with all of his benefits. …..To be claimed as part of God’s holy field comes with threats as well as blessings. Covenant members who do not believe are under the covenant curse. How can they fall under the curses of a covenant to which they didn’t belong? ”

Romans 9:7 “For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his children.”

Are these warnings law or gospel? Are they warnings to Ishmael that he many not have ever “really internally” been part of the covenant but only “externally” related to “the covenant”? Is it a possibility that many who enter the covenant are not promised they will be kept in the covenant?

Although the signs have changed, are we still in the same “the covenant” and therefore it’s possible that the law or gospel questions have not changed.

As law,circumcision with hands has been fulfilled by water baptism with hands?

So we don’t do circumcision with hands anymore, when we do water with hands?

Like law, water baptism is done by human hands is not our decision but God’s command and claim on Ishmael and Esau. So paedobaptists know that, even if they don’t know yet if it’s law or gospel? So there’s no need now to find out if God’s oath is about law or gospel? And as long as we live, we can’t ever find out if we are Isaac or Ishmael? Both were heirs of the covenant? Both received the promises of the conditional covenant?

In God’s act of water baptism, as in the preaching of the universal “offer”, God pledges His commitment to us who are “in the covenant”. But is that commitment law or gospel? Is that commitment the same for each and every person “in the covenant”? Even if it turns out that little Esau is never justified, it certainly feels good to think that Esau has been promised the same grace as Abraham has. Of course, if that means of grace turns out to be ineffectual in the face of human failure to meet conditions, then some of us begin to wonder about the nature of the grace promised.

Do we regard our babies as born under the law or do we assure them they are already not under the law? Do we cling to God’s promise to work by His Spirit to keep Esau in “the covenant” in which he was born, or do we have to fall back on some desperate notion of forensic imputation (with resulting conversion) in which every person begins life under condemnation and outside the new covenant? Even though we want to maintain God’s freedom in election (perhaps God will maintain that freedom for Himself), and we do not deny election. we see no need to mention election when we could be emphasizing “the conditional covenant” instead.

Colossians 2 and Romans 6 are parallels. Why does Paul use the “baptized into the DEATH” language in Romans 6 instead of talking about “inward circumcision of the heart” as Paul did in Romans 2? You can say, well Paul in Romans 6 didn’t use the word “imputed”. But Romans 6:7 does say “justified from sin” even though the people who want to read inward regeneration by the Holy Spirit into Romans 6 are so convinced that Paul has “moved on” from justification that they insist that 6:7 should read “freed from sin” and that it JUST HAS TO BE MORE than justification, because THEY JUST KNOW THAT THE POWER OF SIN IS MORE THAN GUILT, and they just know that the answer to “why not sin” CAN’T MERELY BE “NOT UNDER THE LAW”.

As long as you are saying that “possibly” Romans 6 is about being in the Spirit and not about Christ’s death ALONE, as long as you are saying that Romans 6 is also “possibly” about water with hands so that “baptism” in Romans 6 is possibly not about Christ’s death ALONE but also possibly about the new birth which gives faith, then you can say well “possibly” since infants were physically circumcised then “possibly” physical circumcision is the outward part of “saving circumcision” which means that “possibly” water baptism done with hands is the anti-type which fulfills physical circumcision even though the water is not the part that saves…

But none of that “possibly” is a logical inference from what Colossians 2 actually says. Why doesn’t Paul use the inward/outward language of Romans 2 in Colossians 2

Water does not replace physical circumcision in Colossians 2. That’s an assumption read into the text. Many commentaries (Bruce, Dunn, Garland, O’Brien) understand the “circumcision of Christ” as metaphor for Christ’s death by crucifixion. Two different circumcisions doesn’t work in the context of Colossians 2. It’s the same circumcision, both for Christ and for the elect, Christ’s one death. Our death is His death, not some other death done in us. It’s not Christ died and then we died. It’s we died when Christ died (by means of imputation) . Two different deaths don’t work in Romans 6. It’s one death. Being legally placed IN Christ’s death results in regeneration, faith, and justification.

Stephen Walton—Romans 6:7 reads “For one who has died has been set free from sin”. The verb translated “set free” is the perfect passive of dikaioo, which everywhere else in Paul is translated “justify”. Almost all the English translations that I have been able to check translate it as some variation upon “set free” in Romans 6:7 This is because Protestant commentators have traditionally seen a shift from justification in chapters 1-5 to “sanctification” in chapters 6-8; from release from the penalty of sin in 1-5 to release from the power of sin in 6-8.

The best translation is “has been justified from sin”. This interpretation is powerfully argued by Robert Haldane in his 1839 commentary, and by John Murray and John Stott. It has recently been defended by Peter Jensen….

In his Romans commentary, Thomas Schreiner argued that dedikaiotai “is not MERELY forensic in verse 7… The use of the verb in this context, however, suggests that righteousness is MORE THAN FORENSIC for Paul”. However, in Paul Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ, Schreiner changed his mind and argued for the interpretation given here.

The evidence against the traditional view (found in Calvin for instance) and for the Haldane–Stott-Jensen reading is overwhelming. In every other case where Paul uses the verb dikaioo,it is normally translated “justify”, in the sense of “declare righteous”. This creates an extremely strong presumption in favor of translating it to mean “declare righteous” in Romans 6:7. We would need very strong lexical and contextual evidence to translate it otherwise, and such evidence is not forthcoming.

Secondly, a few verses later when Paul wishes to speak of having been set free from slavery to sin, he uses the verb eleutheroo in v18…. Third, the lexical evidence is against “set free” as part of the semantic range of dikaioo. Liddell & Scott do not list it as a possible meaning, and Louw-Nida lists Romans 6:7 as the only place in the New Testament where it has this meaning[39]. BAGD (1957) lists Acts 13:38 as a possible example where dikaioo is followed by apo plus a genitive noun, as in Romans 6:7. However, in this case a forensic reading seems to make equally good sense, if not better.

Therefore, to translate dedikaiotai in Romans 6:7 as “having been set free” is completely arbitrary. The only possible reason for it would be if “having been justified” made no sense in context, and “having been set free” made very good sense. .. However, the forensic interpretation makes very good sense in context, and enables us to see how being freed from the penalty of sin also releases us from the power of sin.

If the traditional interpretation of verse 7 is correct, it simply restates verse 6 in rather confusing and unclear terms However, if the interpretation of verse 7 that I have offered is correct, it gives the grounds of Paul’s statement in verse 6: the believer who has been crucified with Christ has been freed from the power of sin because a person who has died (with Christ) has been justified from sin – that is, freed from its penalty.

This reading is confirmed by 2 Corinthians 5:14-21. Here Paul speaks in substitutionary terms of Christ dying on behalf of the all (huper panton, verse 15), and of reconciliation between God and believers being effected by the “great exchange” that took place on the cross, resulting in righteousness for Christians (v 21). In verse 14 he writes that “one has died for all, therefore all have died”. The result of Christ’s act of dying as a substitute for all believers is that the beneficiaries of his death are considered to have died. Here dying with Christ is surely seen in forensic terms… The assurance of salvation that comes from Christ’s death and the free gift of justification, far from encouraging complacency, encourages the believer to live a life that is not selfish, but centered on someone else: God. On this basis, Paul can exhort his readers to live as people who have been freed from sin (Romans 6:18-23).

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18 Comments on “One Circumcision–Circumcised by Christ in Christ’s circumcision–”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    One gateway drug to Christendom is the Lutheran notion of regeneration by water. ” There are many various (and contradictory) arguments for infant water. Augustinians for many years have argued that water cleanses away original sin, and the argument from “the one covenant, many administrations” is relatively new , and invented by Bullinger (with others, and with antecedents). And I rather suspect that not all who teach “reformed covenant theology” would agree with how Mike Horton describes “new covenant sanctions” .

    mark—So, is the indicative law or grace? When the law promises curse conditioned on the sinner, is that law grace? I am not assuming that you are agreed with Kline or Horton about the curses of “the covenant”. I really don’t know. All I was saying was, if you need to have children in the covenant before you can teach them, then you need a Christendom in which Christianity is assumed at birth, not presumptive regeneration, but presumptive water efficacy with the timing to be delayed ( or the grace and efficacy later withdrawn). Why not simply say that God’s law applies to everybody, without suggesting that the law is grace, or that the “covenant status” is grace?

    paedobaptist—Wouldn’t the implication be that OT Jews who circumcized by God’s command, were *necessarily* confusing Law and Gospel?

    mark: That’s a great question, and a very relevant question. My short answer is that no elect person was justified by means of “the circumcision covenants” (Abrahamic and MosaIc) but only by the promise of everlasting new coveenant. There is not “one covenant of grace in substance, with accidental administrations”. All who believed in the gospel during the circumcision economies (not only Mosaic but Abrahamic) did not find their hope in what circumcision had to say about their own physical children or even about what Abraham but about circumcision pointing to the bloody death of Christ, the one seed of Abraham.

    It’s true that I think a flattening of the Abrahamic covenant with the new covenant leads to law gospel confusion. But it’s also quite clear to me that not all who teach Reformed covenant theology flatten the covenants in the same way. Those like Mark Jones and John Frame and Richard Gaffin who think the law-gospel antithesis are overdone are much more likely to talk about grace before the fall and grace in the Mosaic covenant.

    The question does not come down to “credobaptists vs paedobaptists”. The question (how would they know how to distinguish law an gospel if they did circumcision ) was asked by a baptist (Schreiner) to a Klinean (Mark Karlberg) a long time ago.

    You see, in that case the credobaptist follows Daniel Fuller in confusing law and gospel in a way that Kline and Karlberg object to. Not all paedobaptists agree with Kline and Karlberg. And for sure, not all of us anti infant water folks agree with Schreiner.

    But even Kline argued (weakly many think) that the Mosaic covenant was of the same substance as the other post-fall covenants. Mike Horton, who despite being all about law vs gospel, in a context in which he’s debating Wellum and other creobaptists, says that the infant need to be in before they can be taught (or cursed)

    John Owen, comments on Hebrews 8:6-13)—This Sinai covenant thus made, with these ends and promises, did never save nor condemn any man eternally. All that lived under the administration of it did attain eternal life, OR perished for ever, BUT MOT BY VIRTUE OF THIS SINAI COVENANT. IT…. was “the ministry of condemnation,” 2 Cor. iii. 9; for “by the deeds of the law can no flesh be justified.” And on the other hand, it directed also unto the new covenant promise, which was the instrument of life and salvation unto all that did believe. But as unto what it had of its own, it was confined unto things temporal. Believers were saved under it, but not by virtue of it. Sinners perished eternally under it, but by the curse of the original law to Adam. …No man was ever saved but by virtue of the new covenant, and the mediation of Christ in that respect.

    paedobaptist–Aren’t you perpetuating Christendom by saying that babies need to be in “the family” before rearing them?

    mark–no , the gospel doesn’t depend on how many professing parents or grandparents you have, and certainly not on the fallible decision of a presbytery about which professions are creditable. The gospel does not even depend on being able to define what a “family” is.
    1. When circumcised Esau sins and asks for forgiveness from God, can I assure Esau that his sins are forgiven?

    2. When I ask Esau to obey me in the Lord should I get rid of the indicative-imperative model for Christian ethics? On what grounds do I ask Esau to forgive Jacob? Because it is the nice thing to do? Or because Esau should forgive in the same way the Messiah has forgiven him?

    3. Can Esau sing “Messiah loves me, this I know” and enjoy all of the benefits spoken of in that song? (“To him belong…He will wash away my sin”)

    4. When Esau prays during family worship to his heavenly Father, what are the grounds for Esau praying such a prayer? Does Esau have any right to call God his “heavenly Father”?

    -This seems very near the neighborhood of arguing that the Jews made a mistake in entering into the Mosaic covenant. David Gordon—“The Sinai covenant itself, as it was delivered by the hand of Moses ….was characteristically legal, Gentile-excluding, non-justifying because characterized by works, therefore cursing its recipients and bearing children for slavery. If this doesn’t sound like any bargain, recall that the original Israelites did not consider it a bargain either, and they resisted Moses’s efforts to engage them in it. All things considered, many of the first-generation Israelites, who received this covenant while trembling at the foot of a quaking mountain and then wandered in the wilderness, preferred to return to Egypt rather than to enter covenant with a frightening deity who threatened curse sanctions upon them if they disobeyed. I don’t blame them; their assessment of the matter was judicious and well-considered, albeit rebellious. The Sinai covenant-administration was no bargain for sinners, and I pity the poor Israelites who suffered under its administration, just as I understand perfectly well why 73 (nearly half) of their psalms were laments. I would have resisted this covenant also, had I been there, because such a legal covenant, whose conditions require strict obedience (and threaten severe curse-sanctions), is bound to fail if one of the parties to it is a sinful people.”

    Click to access abraham_and_sinai_contraste.pdf

    David Gordon–When Sinai comes along, the point is not that there aren’t conditional blessings associated with it; the point is that what is new and distinctive is the threat of curse-sanctions….And Paul, knowing (as any first century Jew would have known) Israel’s actual history under those conditions, knew perfectly well that the prophets were right for pronouncing judgment on a people who rather consistently failed to remain obedient to their covenant duties. So, even though in theory Sinai proffered either blessing or cursing, in plain historical fact it rarely brought anything but cursing. The Israelites were constantly harassed by the indigenous nations during the period of conquest; their first monarch was removed from office in disobedience and shame; their second monarch was not permitted to build the house of God because he was a violent (and adulterous) man; their third could not even teach his own sons to heed the counsel of their elders (though his Proverbs constantly encouraged such); after which the Israelites were
    divided into two nations, weakened, and increasingly battered by (and once captured by) their enemies.”

    Charles Hodge—“Besides this evangelical character which unquestionably belongs to the Mosaic covenant, it is presented in two other aspects in the Word of God. First, it was a national covenant with the Hebrew people. In this view the parties were God and the people of Israel; the promise was national security and prosperity; the condition was the obedience of the people as a nation to the Mosaic law; and the mediator was Moses. In this aspect it was a legal covenant. It said, “Do this and live.”…

  2. markmcculley Says:

    We cannot assume water in every act of baptism. But there is a baptism which saves.

    The water does not save anybody in I Peter 3, but the baptism does save in I Peter 3 , which means that baptism in I Peter 3 is not water. And this means that baptism in I Peter 3 is not water and the Spirit, because water does not save anybody. . And this means that baptism in I Peter 3 is not in the Spirit, but by context in reference to death (water judgment, ark, Noah)

    The “placed into his death” of Romans 6 cannot be confused with the “Christ in you” and “the Spirit in you” by use of the word “union”. But Jeff you have done this very thing. It is one thing to say that every justified person is a regenerate person. We agree about that (although I do not use “sanctified” as a synonym for “regenerate” and it looks like you (sometimes) do. But it another thing to say that regeneration has legal or temporal priority to God’s placing the elect into Christ’s death.

    Osiander argued that a purely forensic justification is impossible, that justification must mean “making just”, so that it requires a change of nature by definition . Calvin rebuts that Osiander fails to perceive the distinction between justification and sanctification, so that while the two are forever inseparable, they are nonetheless distinguishable.

    Being something of a “deconstructionist” myself, I tend to mistrust “difference” where definitions are missing. Most people who say that “justification is not sanctification” don’t define “sanctification” in the various ways the Bible defines that word. Most of them think they have defined something by saying “and sanctification is not justification”.

    We profit from reading Calvin against Osiander. Even though I agree with Bruce McCormack that Calvin is not consistently opposing Osiander, for purposes of our discussion, I would focus on Calvin’s comments about the forensic agency of the Father. Instead of the Holy Spirit giving us Christ, it is God the Father who places the elect into Christ’s death.

    Calvin—-Osiander holds in regard to the mode of receiving Christ,that by the ministry of the external word the internal word is received; that he may thus lead us away from the priesthood of Christ, and his office of Mediator, to his eternal divinity…..It would be incongruous to say that that which existed naturally from eternity was made ours. But granting that God was made unto us righteousness, what are we to make of Paul’s interposed statement, that he was so made by God? This certainly is peculiar to the office of MEDIATOR, for although Christ contains in himself the divine nature, yet Christ receives his own proper title, that Christ may be distinguished from the Father and the Spirit. Jehovah, when made of the seed of David, was indeed to be the righteousness of believers, but in what sense Isaiah declares, “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many,” (Isaiah 53: 11.) Let us observe that it is the Father who speaks.

    I would commend Edward Boehl’s The Reformed Doctrine of Justification . That book continues the fight against Osiander. Even though it has not been that influential, Boehl’s book has been a great incentive for me to continue to ask for definitions whenever theologians use the word “union” in slippery ways.

    p 110, “What’s At Stake in Current Debates Over Justification?”,

    Bruce McCormac—“Nowadays, we are suffering from ‘creeping perichoresis’, that is, the overly expansive use of terms which have their homes in purely spiritual relations between humans who do NOT participate in a common ‘substance’ and who therefore remain distinct individuals. This surely has to be the relation of the human believer to the human Jesus as well.

    McCormack—“The early church thought of an ontological union of a ‘person” in whom being is mixed with non-being (that’s us) with a ‘person’ in whom being is pure from non-being (Jesus). Where that occurs, the life communicated from the vine to the branches flows organically…But the difference between the relation between a vine and a branch and the relation between Christ and the believer is that the first relation is impersonal and the second is personal. The flow of nutrients from the vine to the branches take place automatically. But in the case of Christ and the individual believer,the ‘bearing of fruit’ takes place on the foundation of justification.”

    McCormack—That Paul in Romans 11 would preface his use of the horticultural image with the affirmation that the adoption belonged to the Israelites before the Gentiles suggests that the image of ‘ingrafting’ is used as a synonym for adoption. The horticultural image is subordinated to the legal.”

    I fear that more people still read Romans 6 the way Gaffin does than those who read it in context of Romans 5. And I would agree that it’s not our views of water or baptism which determine this reading. But I would also argue that if we read Romans 6 (and Colossians 2 and Galatains 3) less traditionally, we would likely have more to think about when it comes to water and baptism.

    Gaffin: “Typically in the Reformation tradition the hope of salvation is expressed in terms of Christ’s righteousness, especially as imputed to the believer…however, I have to wonder if ‘Christ in you’ is not more prominent as an expression of evangelical hope…”

    Gaffin—”Despite the exegesis of some Reformed commentators, this death to sin is almost certainly not to the guilt that sin incurs and justification. In view, rather, is a definitive deliverance from sin’s over-mastering power to being enslaved instead to God and righteousness. That Spirit-worked (7:6) deliverance, NOT JUSTIFICATION, grounds and provides the dynamic for the believer’s beginning to “walk in newness of life” (6:4), their being enslaved in their conduct to God and righteousness….This is the crucial soteriological truth that in the inception of the application of redemption, at the moment sinners are united to Christ by faith, they are delivered from sin’s enslaving power, from bondage to sin as master

    David Garner—“ The vital and intimate union between the sons and the Son remains unyieldingly robust….In Christ the forensic and the transformative are ONE. Justification, sanctification, and glorification are ONE. Declaratory, transformatory and consummatory COALESCE in this resurrection.”

    Even Moo has now gone over to Gaffin’s “future stage of justification” side.

    Moo, “Justification in Galatians”, p 172, (essay in the Carson f , Understanding the Times)—”Nor is there any need to set Paul’s “juridicial” and “participationist” categories in opposition to one another (see Gaffin, By Faith Not By Sight). The problem of positing a union with Christ that precedes the erasure of our legal condemnation before God CAN BE ANSWERED IF WE POSIT, WITHIN THE SINGLE WORK OF CHRIST, TWO STAGES OF “JUSTIFICATION”, one involving Christ’s payment of our legal debt–the basis for our regeneration–and second our actual justification=stemming from our union with Christ.”

  3. markmcculley Says:

    You were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
    Peter Leithart—-Does “washing” refer to water baptism? It seems so, since the whole passage is embedded in a baptismal formula: “you were washed . . . in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” The shift from what the Corinthians “were” to what they “are” is marked by their baptismal washing, which is both a sanctification and a justification.
    Paul actually uses the word “baptize” with “justify” in Romans 6. Whoever dies, Paul writes, is “justified from sin” (v. 7). When does one die to sin? Paul has already told us: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death” (vv. 3–4). Through baptism, we die to Adam and brought to life in society with Jesus. Paul calls that transition from the reign of Death to the reign of Life a “justification,” and it happens at baptism.

    If we’re Protestants, we want to be biblical. And if we’re biblical we have to say things like “you were washed, sanctified, and justified in the Name of Jesus” and “in your baptism you died with Christ, and whoever dies is justified from sin.” If we talk about baptism and justification in the same breath, aren’t we falling back into justification by works? No, because baptism is an act of God.

    A human pours the water and says the words, but God performs the baptism. Baptism is an enacted word that declares the forgiveness of sins and the justification of the ungodly. The big difference between the word and baptism is that the word offers God’s grace to everyone-in-general while baptism declares God’s favor to me. Baptism wraps the gift of forgiveness and justification and puts my name on the package.

    Like the gospel, baptism requires a response of enduring faith. Faith involves believing what baptism says about YOU

    The self-imputation of “righteous” is based on the baptismal declaration that we are “justified from sin” by union with the death and resurrection of Jesus. And I can’t, of course, live a life of unbelief and disobedience, and expect baptism to recuse me at the end. Such a life would betray my baptism.

    You might say, “I know I’m justified because I believe the gospel.” You know you’re justified because you’re confident that you have fulfilled the condition of justification, which is faith. That sounds a lot like putting faith in your faith, which is putting faith in something you’ve done, which is the opposite of what a Protestant should say.
    You might protest, “But faith is a gift. I’m not putting faith in my own belief, but in God’s gift of faith.” Fair enough, but you’ll notice that you’re still focusing on what’s happening in you. Instead of getting assurance by turning outward to God, you’re assured by turning inward.

    If baptism is not a public declaration of justification, where and when does that public declaration take place? Is it ever spoken to me in particular? Can I hear it anywhere except in my heart?To be sure we’re right with God, we need some sign from Him, and it has to be a sign to ME

    if we say that justification is a legal declaration, but then immediately say that this legal declaration is inaudible except to my inner ear, we are very much in danger of doing just what Newman worried about. Justification by grace through faith cannot be sustained, either in theology or in our experience, without confidence that God works in the sacraments.

    We cannot get assurance unless we’re convinced that God declares me His beloved child in the water of baptism.
    Which means, No baptism, No justification. And that implies, No sacraments, No Protestantism.

    The election of Isaac instead of Ishmael God shows that physical descent from Abraham does not guarantee that one will be a beneficiary of the covenant made with Abraham and his seed . But the covenant blessings for which Isaac is freely chosen (before his birth) and from which Ishmael is excluded from Abraham) do not include individual lasting life in the age to come. Isaac is not promised the life to come, and Ishmael is not excluded from the promise to as many as believe the gospel (even though they are not children of Abraham or Isaac)

    Romans 9: 3 For I could almost wish to be cursed and cut off from the Messiah for the benefit of my brothers, my own flesh and blood. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory,the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, and the promises. 5 The ancestors are theirs, and from them, by physical descent, came the Messiah

    Romans 11: 28 Regarding the gospel, they are enemies for your advantage, but regarding election, they are loved because of the patriarchs, 29 since God’s gracious gifts and calling are irrevocable.

  4. markmcculley Says:

    The Context of 1 Corinthians 12:13
    The Context of Scripture
    If this is Spirit baptism here in 1 Corinthians, as understood by either the Protestants or the Charismatics, it should look like Spirit baptism in the rest of Scripture. It doesn’t, which is a major reason why it can’t be Spirit baptism. We’ve already pointed out that Spirit baptism is predicted in the gospels (Mt. 3:11; Mk. 1:8; Lk. 3:16). That prediction is that the Jesus will administrate the baptism with the Holy Spirit as the medium and already saved, immersed individuals as the recipients. Spirit baptism was predicted in the Old Testament as well.
    Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.

    Joel 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions
    Acts 2:17, 18 says that this was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost.
    And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.
    Jesus talks about the same event in John.
    John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.

    John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
    The Lord Jesus Christ promises His disciples that after He ascends into heaven, He will send the Holy Spirit. He reminds them again of that in Acts 1:4-8. By reading this Acts passage, you can see for sure that those Old Testament passages, the early gospel passages, and the promises by Jesus in John are all speaking about the same event.
    4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
    First, nowhere do we see the Spirit doing the baptizing. Second, in no place do we see Spirit baptism being the same thing as the indwelling of the Spirit. Third, we do not see this experience of Spirit baptism occurring simultaneous with justification, but subsequent not only to justification, but also to water baptism. Fourth, nowhere is this revealed to be an ongoing experience.
    We see the outpouring in Isaiah and Joel to be the same as the gospel predictions and Christ’s promises. They are fulfilled as an event in Acts—the coming of the Holy Spirit as sent or poured out by Christ. This is what we should assume that Spirit baptism would be in the future. This event is not what we see in 1 Corinthians 12:13.

    1 Corinthians is an epistle to a church, one in Corinth. It is a problemed church, started by Paul and loved by him, so he helps the membership out by writing them. He isn’t writing all believers. He is writing people in one location who are members of one church. That should be kept in mind in everything that we read in 1 Corinthians. You can apply it to your church because it was written to another of Christ’s churches.
    The church at Corinth is having divisions that we see back in chapter one. The church has differences. The people have had different leaders and they have their favorites. They are of different nationalities, ethnicities, races, genders, traditions, socio-economics, and religious backgrounds. Some have a bad home life, while others seem to be squared away in their families. They possess differing gifts or mixtures of gifts even as parceled out by the Holy Spirit.
    A major goal for Paul is bringing these people in this church together. He wants to bring them together with biblical, spiritual truths. He wants to unify them around the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. He strives for a cohesive body of working, serving body parts.

  5. markmcculley Says:

    Peter does not say “that baptism does not save you, but this baptism does”

    Ephesians 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. one baptism.

    So, does this one baptism always save or only sometimes save? As long as you teach in such a way as to bring water into every “baptism” , you need to be clear about if you are saying–perhaps Baptism” will save? Or does “baptism” promise salvation? I have no problem saying that where there is God’s imputation into Christ’s death, there is the Holy Spirit, and salvation. But as long as you read water into every “baptism” verse”, I think you will equivocate ( even if you never speak of losing election and covenant apostasy when you do the baby)

    Leithart: “The big difference between the word and baptism is that the word offers God’s grace to everyone-in-general while baptism declares God’s favor TO ME . Baptism wraps the gift of forgiveness and justification and puts MY NAME on the package. Like the gospel, BAPTISM REQUIRES a response of ENDURING faith. Faith involves believing what baptism says ABOUT YOU . The baptismal declaration is that we are “justified from sin” by union with the death and resurrection of Jesus. And I can’t, of course, live a life of unbelief and disobedience, and expect baptism to rescue me at the end. Such a life would betray my baptism…..”

    Mark- You probably would t say that the water is not about the person being watered but simply a sign and a seal that water sometimes saves. But if that is so, why restrict the water to those who have one Christian parents? What would it matter who gets the water, if it’s only an objective but conditional promise?

    Scott Clark writes: “Fundamentally, baptism is to strengthen our faith, not replace it. It is a seal to those who believe, that what baptism promises is actually true of them.” (p 8, “Baptism and the Benefits of Christ”, Confessional Presbyterian 2, 2006) p 12: “Paul’s interest is not to argue that baptism confers Christ’s benefits, but rather to appeal to it as illustration of the union that already exists.”

    Greg Bahnsen—“The signs of the covenant, whether circumcision or baptism, declare the objective truth that justification comes only by faith in God’s promise. Circumcision and baptism are NOT an individual’s personal, subjective testimony to having saving faith for himself. So, those who are in the visible church but not elect are nevertheless within the covenant of grace but under its curse.”

    Mark—Certainly I think Bahnsen’s conclusion is less destructive to the gospel than Leithart at this point, but Bahnsen gets there by agreeing with Mike Horton that “baptism” does not save but rather speaks of a “visible church” which is needed before the gospel can be taught. How can you be cursed by the new covenant if you are not born in the new covenant?

    mark–So, is the water the sign and seal of the efficacy of law, or sign and seal of the efficacy of grace? Time will tell?

  6. markmcculley Says:

  7. […] One Circumcision–Circumcised by Christ in Christ in Christ’s circumcision– […]

  8. markmcculley Says: The Covenant of Circumcision (Genesis 17:9-14) and the Situational Antitheses in Galatians 3:28
    Troy W. Martin
    Journal of Biblical Literature
    Vol. 122, No. 1 (Spring, 2003), pp. 111-125

  9. markmcculley Says:

    Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 4:667—“The community of believers has in all respects replaced carnal national Israel. The Old Testament is fulfilled in the New.

    Bruce Waltke, “Kingdom Promises As Spiritual” , Continuity and Discontinuity, p274—“National Israel and its law have been permanently replaced by the church and the New Covenant”.

    see also Mark Karlberg, the Significance of Israel in Biblical Theology, JETS, 1998, p 257-69

    R. Scott Clark
    September 15, 2008 @ 6:52 AM
    My own reading of Rom 11, when Paul says, “so all Israel will be saved,” he is using the word “Israel” metaphorically or as a synonym for the elect.

    It was not the the church, under the old covenant or the new, who obeyed the law. Christ obeyed the law.

    We don’t obey them because they are Mosaic but because they are from God.

  10. markmcculley Says:

    DeRouchie—In contrast to previous covenants, the ‘seed’ of the new covenant are not physically born into covenant membership. Even Sarah ultimately experienced labor in pain at Isaacs birth (Isaiah 51:2), but the ‘barren ones’s’ lack of labor and childbearing in 54:1 suggest that spiritual adoption, not physical birth, would characterize the identity of the new children.”

  11. markmcculley Says:

    I Corinthians 7 Was anyone called while uncircumcised? He should not get circumcised.
    Galatians 3: 28 There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus
    Romans 4: 10 When was righteousness credited to Abraham—while Abraham was circumcised, or while Abraham was uncircumcised? Not while he was circumcised, but uncircumcised. 11 And Abraham received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that HE HAD BY FAITH while still uncircumcised.
    mark: not as a seal of the righteousness others would have by faith, and not as a seal of the righteousness others without faith would have, and not as a seal of the faith they had or did not have
    Romans 4: 11 The timing was to make Abraham the father of all who believe but are not circumcised, because righteousness is credited to them also. 12 And Abraham became the father of the circumcised, who are not only circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith our father Abraham had while he was still uncircumcised.

    is there still a difference between Jew and gentile, in this way?

    Gentiles are not allowed to be circumcised, because if they did the circumcision would force them to be justified by law?

    Galatians 5: 2 Take note! I, Paul, tell you that if you get yourselves circumcised, Christ will not benefit you at all. 3 Again I testify to EVERY MAN who gets himself circumcised that he is obligated to keep the entire law

    if you are already circumcised, is it too late to be justified by grace?

    John the Baptist—if you are already circumcised, it’s too late to not be circumcised but it’s not too late to be water baptized

    18 Was anyone already circumcised when he was called? HE SHOULD NOT UNDO HIS CIRCUMCISION

    is it necessary for all Jews to not become Gentiles
    is it necessary for all Jew to stay in “the covenant of grace” in which they were born?

    Abraham was justified by grace through faith WHEN Abraham was not circumcised

    did Abraham become obligated to all the law when Abraham became circumcised?


    did Abraham fall from (justification by) grace and become forced to be justified by law?


    Galatians 3: 2 Take note! I, Paul, tell you that if you get yourselves circumcised, Christ will not benefit you at all. 3 Again I testify to every man who gets himself circumcised that he is obligated to keep the entire law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law are ALIENATED FROM CHRIST. You have FALLEN FROM GRACE

    Galatians 3:2 I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith?[c] 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?

    f a person with a wife lives as if they did not have a wife, and does not come to dinner when the wife calls, that person may lose a wife

    If you have a wife, do not worry about it. if you do not have a wife, do not worry about it.

    because of the present situation

    I Corinthians 7: I have no command from the Lord, but I do give an opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 Therefore I consider this to be good because of the present distress: It is fine for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife.

    I Corinthians 7: 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. PEOPLE WHO MARRY WILL HAVE TROUBLE IN THIS LIFE and I am trying to spare you. 29 And I say this, brothers: The time is limited, so from now on those who have wives should be AS IF they had none

    the subjunctive

    I Corinthians 7: 17 However, each one must live his life in the situation the Lord assigned when God called him. This is what I command in all the churches. 18 Was anyone already circumcised when he was called? HE SHOULD NOT UNDO HIS CIRCUMCISION

  12. markmcculley Says:

    Tim Keller in a sermon about crossing the Jordan at the Gospel Coalition, taught that Christ’s death makes salvation possible, and the difference depends on how you respond to this possibility. He says that you can be included if your faith “unites” you to Christ’s death. They tell you that grace and Christ’s death has no effect until you believe. But the true gospel does not leave out the offense of election, and explains that God’s love for the elect exists before Christ’s death, and that Christ’s death is what purchased faith for all for whom Christ died. But the Gospel Coalition avoids the offense of denying that the lake of fire will be filled with those for whom Christ died.

  13. markmcculley Says:

    Sean said, “the signs of circumcision in the old and baptism in the new encompasses both [regeneration]”

    Can you provide any scriptural support that circumcision was a seal to anyone but Abraham? The paedobaptist makes this claim, therefore the burden of proof is on them.

    “Yet this same seal is place on reprobates, Esau and later Ishmael included and while as infants.”
    Hmm, I see where Writ says they received a sign, but still looking for a seal. And of course Ishamael preceded Esau.

    “What is pictured in circumcision is regeneration and is the same spiritual reality pictured in baptism…”

    Your prooftext actually says the opposite.

    ““In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands [the audience is regenerate], by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism [it is assumed that regeneration precedes baptism], in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God [it is assumed that those baptized possess faith and are raised with Christ], who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us [Baptism is intended to picture an accomplished reality of which circumcision pointed to as a mark of Abraham’s physical seed]. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”

    I love Genesis 17 and Colossians 2. They support, rather than destroy, a credobaptist position.

  14. markmcculley Says:

    Abraham and Moses both belong to the typological period, to that time in redemptive history before the reality, Christ and his kingdom, had come— Both were marked by bloody rituals that looked forward to Christ’s suffering obedience and death, which was to be the fulfillment of the bloody rituals. There were sacrifices under Abraham. There was the Sabbath under Abraham.

    Circumcision pointing ahead to Christ does not turn the Abrahamic covenant into the new covenant any more than circumcision pointing ahead to Christ turns the Mosaic covenant. The administration of the Mosaic covenant is not God’s covenant of grace by Christ’s death for the elect alone. The administration of the Abrahamic covenant is not God’s covenant of grace by Christ’s death for the elect alone.

    Those who believe the gospel are all children of Abraham.

    The children of Christians are not all children of Abraham.

    None of the children of Christians are children of Abraham because they are children of Christians.

    All of the physical children of Abraham are children of Abraham, except those who are cut off for not being circumcised.

    The Abrahamic covenant is NOT THE NEW COVENANT that Jeremiah 31 contrasts with the old.

    God promised to Abraham a land and a seed (Gen chapters 12; 15; 17). The land promise will be fulfilled by the new earth and the seed promises was fulfilled in Abraham’s physical children and also in Christ (Gal 3:16) and also in the justification of all of God’s elect when they believe the gospel.

    The new covenant is now permanent and is distinct from the temporary Abrahamic covenant

    Judaizers still seek to present their infants to God on the basis of their parents being Chrsitians , as if God’s promises to Abraham meant that God had made a promise about the children of Christians.

    But Christ did not die for all the children of Christians, and God will save nobody for whom Christ did not die. Saying that God has grace for the children of Christians is cheating, because the gospel taught in the Old and New Testament teaches no such thing.

    Even those who add the water baptism of John the Baptist to their circumcision are not promised the lasting life which is knowing Jesus Christ.

    Judaizers take the three different promises to Abraham and try to turn those promises into a promise to them about their children being in the new covenant. And then these Judaizers talk out of both sides out of their mouths, on the one hand suggesting that their children may be born in the new covenant and then lose that “grace”. and then on the other hand, agreeing that their children are only in the new covenant “in a conditional sense” so that their children may end up with greater condemnation than those who have no Christian parents.

  15. markmcculley Says:

    2. Circumcision was commanded in view of the physical, earthly aspect when Israel needed to be kept distinct as a nation from neighboring peoples, so nothing was needed to replace it for the Church Age.
    a. The rationale for circumcision, relating to the physical aspect of covenant, was that Israel as a nation needed to be kept apart from her heathen neighbors

    b. The Reformed position relies greatly upon Romans 4:11, the only passage calling circumcision a sign and seal of faith. To reply, this verse speaks only of Abraham. Circumcision provided a sign and seal of Abraham’s faith in God’s promises.

    c. Circumcision must not have been considered a sign and seal of the faith of anyone but Abraham. First, it is never so described. Second, it could not be such for infants, for they had no faith when circumcised (even today Reformed writers do not say baptism seals a child’s faith, but only his covenant blessings). And third, it could not be a sign and seal for adults, for Genesis 17:12–14 says all servants, as well as male children, had to be circumcised; no exception is given for a lack of faith.

    baptism is applicable to both sexes of children, whereas circumcision is not.

    Sometimes Colossians 2:11 and 12 are used, but the circumcision mentioned as “made without hands” cannot be baptism, for baptism is performed by hand.

    . The New Testament, rather than calling baptism a seal of the believer’s faith, gives that designation to the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).

    . Jews who had been circumcised were not excluded from baptism in the early church. At Pentecost Peter directed the Jews to be baptized (Acts 2:38). Doubtless, many at Samaria had been circumcised (Acts 8:12). Certainly Saul at Tarsus had been circumcised (Acts 9:18).

    4. In addition to this reply to the Reformed argument, strong evidences in favor of the Baptist viewpoint can be mentioned.

    : Matthew 28:19, which is Christ’s Great Commission to His church—“make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them”; and Acts 2:38, which is Peter’s answer on Pentecost, the first day of the church, to inquirers as to what they should do—“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized.”

    . In every instance of baptism in the New Testament, the act follows the manifestation of faith: Acts 2:41, three thousand baptized; 8:12, Samaria converts; 8:37 and 38, Ethiopian eunuch; 9:18, Saul of Tarsus; 10:47 and 48, Cornelius; 16:15, Lydia; 16:33, Philippian jailer.

    c. No places indicate that infants were baptized. Baptism of households (Lydia’s, Acts 16:15; jailer’s, Acts 16:33; and Stephanas’s, 1 Corinthians 1:16) provide at best an argument from silence, for never are infants said to be involved; and in the case of the jailer, it is significantly stated (Acts 16:34) that he “believed in God with all his household” (emphasis added).

    .Leon J. Wood was the dean of Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary from 1952 to 1973. This article appeared in the September 1962 Baptist Bulletin.

  16. markmcculley Says:

    Circumcision was NOT a preliminary sign for those in the Abrahamic covenant. Everybody circumcised was by that seal in the Abrahamic covenant.

    But God’s imputation of Christ’s circumcision (His death) and the Father’s gift of the Holy Spirit to Christ, and Christ’s gift of the Holy Spirit to those imputed with His death is the seal for those who have left Adam and who have now come into the NEW COVENANT.

    Galatians 3: 26 for you are all sons of God THROUGH FAITH IN Christ Jesus. 27 For AS MANY OF YOU as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ like a garment
    Even though paedos put most of the Jews out of the covenant, they still want to put their own infants in the covenant. But when they do this, do they tell their infants that they are now already children of God through faith? Do they tell their infants that they have already put on Christ? Do they tell every infant in their household that they shall be watered or do they tell every infant in your household that they shall be saved?

  17. markmcculley Says:

    Galatians 6:15 “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but new creation.” II Corinthians 5:14 “one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live would no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sakes died and was raised. From now on, we regard no one according to the flesh”.
    I Corinthians 7: 19 Circumcision does not matter and uncircumcision does not matter, but keeping God’s commands does

  18. Mark Mcculley Says:

    It was not the spiritual or covenantal status of the mother and/or father of an infant Israelite boy, in itself, that established their right to circumcision, but rather their identification as the “offspring” of Abraham.

    To get from “you and your seed after you for the generations to come” to “those who believe and their children” is not the continuation of an established practice.

    Joshua 5:8 records that the entire nation was circumcised because—as specified by Genesis 17—circumcision was for the entire nation, not just for believers and their children within the nation.

    Nehemiah Coxe– The right of the remotest generation was as much derived from Abraham and the covenant made with him, as was that of his immediate seed, and did not at all depend on the faithfulness of their immediate parents. Thus, the seed of those Israelites that fell in the wilderness under the displeasure of God were made to inherit the land of Canaan by virtue of this covenant with Abraham

    The conditions of excommunication introduced by the Mosaic law
    hundreds of years after the institution of circumcision did not
    redefine the Abrahamic covenant as “those who believe and their
    children,” as would be necessary to establish continuity with
    contemporary paedobaptist practice.

    The “promise” in Acts 2:39 is not covenant membership per se, but the Holy Spirit who has just been poured out, as identified in the immediately preceding clause: “you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” The recipients of this promise are not just “you and your children,” but also “all who are far off” (v. 39). Both these classes of people are in the same position. It is not clear how we might regard children as recipients of the promised Holy Spirit in a different sense than those far off are recipients of this promise.

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