11. Certainly, if circumcision was a literal sign, the same view must be taken of baptism, since, in the second chapter to the Colossians, the apostle makes the one to be not a whit more spiritual than the other. For he says that in Christ we “are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ.” In explanation of his sentiment he immediately adds, that we are “buried with him in baptism.” What do these words mean, but just that the truth and completion of baptism is the truth and completion of circumcision, since they represent one thing? For his object is to show that baptism is the same thing to Christians that circumcision formerly was to the Jews. Now, since we have already clearly shown that the promises of both signs, and the mysteries which are represented by them, agree, we shall not dwell on the point longer at present. I would only remind believers to reflect, without anything being said by me, whether that is to be regarded as an earthly and literal sign, which has nothing heavenly or spiritual under it. But lest they should blind the simple with their smoke, we shall, in passing, dispose of one objection by which they cloak this most impudent falsehood. It is absolutely certain that the original promises comprehending the covenant which God made with the Israelites under the old dispensation were spiritual, and had reference to eternal life, and were, of course, in like manner spiritually received by the fathers, that they might thence entertain a sure hope of immortality, and aspire to it with their whole soul. Meanwhile, we are far from denying that he testified his kindness to them by carnal and earthly blessings; though we hold that by these the hope of spiritual promises was confirmed. In this manner, when he promised eternal blessedness to his servant Abraham, he, in order to place a manifest indication of favour before his eye, added the promise of possession of the land of Canaan. In the same way we should understand all the terrestrial promises which were given to the Jewish nation, the spiritual promise, as the head to which the others bore reference, always holding the first place. Having handled this subject fully when treating of the difference between the old and the hew dispensations, I now only glance at it. (From the Institutes)
There is so much good theology here, that it is better to simply let it stand, adding nothing to it.
Over the weekend, Dr. West posted some information that he had gathered from somewhere concerning a group of Pentecostals which require their Deacons to be circumcised. This feeds into the false notion that we have to obey the Jewish ceremonial Law; however, Paul, under grace, gave us true circumcision:
In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, 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. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Colossians 2:11-14 NKJV)
Paul, himself a circumcised Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, wrote as well,
For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; (Philippians 3:3-5 NKJV)
In Romans, to a congregation of Jewish and Gentile Christans, Paul wrote,
For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God. (Romans 2:28-29 NKJV)
There is a warning, of course, in Paul’s words – that we are not to turn back to the Law. Grace has given us freedom of the Law, yet so many people are willing to forsake the Grace of Christ for a dead religion. Is it me, or it this an every increasing heresy faced by those that profess Christ? The turn to heresy is not an immediate action – it starts small, like a cancer, and spreads faster as it picks up steam. It eats up anything good, leaving only the bad. It starts as a new take, perhaps, on an old doctrine, or even better a new doctrine that hasn’t been seen in a long time, that the Church ‘needs to get back to.’
I have noticed a pentecostal place that has over the past 30 years loosened their doctrine so that now, they have dropped any semblance of their former self and has now started to look to this ‘Hebrew Roots’ movement. Last weekend, they brought in Manhu.org. It started earlier, with a fascination of the Jewish things and now it has spread to the Manhu. I do not intend to let this heresy enter into the congregations that I love, so when I can, I will point these things out.