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FROM THE PASTOR'S STUDY

Topic: Message Outlines: Chapter 4

Romans 4:9-15 (5)

by Darrel Cline
(darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)

Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 2 Study # 4
October 18, 2005
Lincolnton, N.C.

(168)

Thesis:To what does circumcision really point?

Introduction:In our studies of Romans 4 we have seen that Paul goes to significant lengths to put distance between the issues of "justification" and "circumcision". His argument is that a person can be "justified" without being subject to "circumcision". He makes this argument on the basis of the fact that Abraham was justified for years before he was subjected to circumcision. So, his point is made: justification is not by circumcision.

But, this question naturally arises: what was the real point of circumcision? If a person can be made right with God apart from human performance issues, what is the point of human performance issues? Why did God put forth a "post-justification" covenant that clearly has an element of human performance involved in it? Circumcision was imposed upon Abraham by God. As far as Abraham's family was concerned, circumcision was imposed on every male in it. And, not only so, but circumcision was imposed upon every male born to it. As an imposition, it was not a large matter for those who came to it by physical birth. For adult men, it is a rather significant, though short-term, physical issue of pain. For eight-day-old babies, it is not a big issue: they do not "hurt" for very long, nor does it make any kind of "impression" upon them. And, as they grow up, there are only three ways they will ever even realize that their condition is not the natural condition: when they witness the nakedness of a baby brother and his circumcision on the eighth day; or if they are, for some other reason, in the presence of a naked, uncircumcised male; or if they are "taught" about it by someone. Thus, "circumcision", though in their flesh, has no "significance" brought about by the act itself. All significance comes through "teaching". And, that being the case, why not just "teach" and forego the physical involvement issues? Why did God want Abraham to both experience the painful reality of circumcision himself and then impose it upon his offspring at the eighth day? What is the real point of circumcision?


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