As I continue my study through Galatians, both in personal study/devotion and on my YouTube channel ministry, the most beautiful picture of justification continues pouring out of the pages like a spring of living water. Scripture continually refers to this Justification as a free gift (Eph 2:8-9, Rom 3:24), the result of faith given by Grace (Rom 4:16), and a covering of our sin by Christ’s blood, (Rom 3:7-8) while we were yet sinners! (Rom 5:8-9)
This is how God proves His eternal love for us, as the father of the Prodigal son who placed his signet upon the returning child. The son’s elevation was not born of efforts, works, a strain to attain, ceremonies, rituals, formulas, or doctrines. Indeed, it was those efforts to attain that caused the fall from grace! (Gal 5:4) Rather, the son’s justification born of the eternal love of a father! Justification comes from love, not human effort. From faith, not function. And it’s beautiful!
It must be human nature, born into us early, to distort and distend even the simplest things around us. Even when writing, I re-read my paragraphs, and each time I add to much more than I ever take away. My YouTube channel teaches me this – the analytics tells me that the average duration that one of my videos is watched is <9 minutes, and yet I can’t seem to help myself – each video ends up being 15-20 minutes, even on simple topics.
I’m wordy – have a lot to say – and it seems that character blends itself into everyday life and – for the Gospel, it’s been being distorted from infancy by some who cannot accept the simplicity of it and feel it necessary to continue adding to it.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. ~ Galatians 1:6-7
One of the topics I’m always battling is Legalism and distorting the Gospel of Grace into a Gospel of works. My former life convinced me that unless you followed particular rituals, signs, and practices, Grace was not applied to you. You were not saved, justified or sanctified, and that indeed, Salvation was a process. Of course, Scripture teaches we are sealed instantly with the Spirit when we believe! (Eph 1:13)
There are quite a few distorted gospels out there, teaching that salvation is a process, it has steps, how to know when it is 25% complete, or 50% complete…then…fully complete.
This twisting of salvation is an amalgamation, a distortion, and it is fallen from Grace and turns justification into a progressive man-focused work instead of the free gift it always was! The greatest error of any ‘plan’ is that at any stage, having turned your faith to Christ, you are still unjustified, uncircumcised, and doomed before a just God if one step is left undone.
Are you Justified Before, or After, Circumcision?
My friends, the beauty of Grace, and Justification by Faith, Alone, is that it is just the opposite of what I just described. We know that circumcision was a sign, a seal, to the ancient Jew, that they were a part of the promised covenant God made to Abraham, who was the father of the faithful.
But that sign and seal of circumcision has been mistaken through the eons as being the what, that justifies, rather than the sign of being justified.
Just as Abraham was counted righteous (justified before God) by faith, receiving the gift of God’s promise (Justification) through promise – so too are we, who turn our belief to the God who sent His Son to be our propitiation, counted as righteous before a Righteous God.
Today, instead of physical circumcision, we are publically sealed with the sign of baptism after being counted righteous before God, just as Abraham was counted righteous before being sealed with the sign of circumcision.
The seal (σφραγίς, sphragis, signet) [circumcision] was something done publically as the proclamation of faith, not something that is done to attain saving Grace. Just like the prodigal son who returned to his father’s house, a signet was placed upon his finger to show his unending Father’s love and inheritance, not to gain his Father’s love.
Is this blessing then only for the circumcised or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he was circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign [semeoin – ceremonial token] of circumcision as a seal [sphragis] of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. ~ Romans 4:9-10
When I read through this I simply cannot stop and meditate on it long enough. Yes, Abraham obeyed God’s call, just as we are to obey God’s call. His faith, that led to obedience, is what counted him as righteous. Obedience was a signet of his faith.
And how eye-opening it is, not as a freedom to skip obedience, but as a reason to be obedient, when we read, “of the righteousness he had by faith, while he was still uncircumcised.” His obedience is not what merited grace, or righteousness, the grace he received is what motivated Abraham’s, and now our, obedience!
Baptism is the new Circumcision
Likewise, we are now circumcised through Baptism with Christ. Some have turned baptism into a necessary part of an amalgamated plan of works in order to gain the Grace of Ephesians 2, but baptism is the signet of our righteousness, not a step to gain righteousness.
And just like we read above, that comes by Faith Alone when placing our faith in the Messiah, the son of the Living God, Jesus Christ!
“In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” ~ Col 2:11-12
If Abraham was counted righteous before circumcision, and the new circumcision for New Testament believers is Baptism, then likewise, we are counted righteous because of God’s imputed righteousness, as a free gift, and our baptism is the signet of our adoption, and is done in obedience to faith!