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CIRCUMCISION: What the Bible teaches



     Circumcision was a necessary part of the old covenant under the law given by Moses (although it was not "of Moses, but of the fathers", meaning it was commanded of God to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel before Moses was ever born)—John 7:22. It began with Abraham in Genesis 17:9-14, and continued until the day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), when the new covenant began. We can see from Acts 15:1-29, as well as Paul's teachings in Romans 2:25-29 andGalatians 5:2, 6:12-16, etc... that physical circumcision (that of the removing of the foreskin of the male member) is no longer required of God for salvation.

     But— There is another circumcision; one which God actually prefers, and isstill necessary to become a part of his household... in fact even in the Old Testament, it was this circumcision that he really wanted all along. (Deuteronomy 10:16, Jeremiah 4:4) The apostle Paul wrote it this way: "...circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter (of the law)..." (Romans 2:29). This circumcision was commanded of God and illustrated by "shadows of things to come" (Colossians 2:17) in the Old Testament (see 1 Corinthians 10:11, Romans 15:4); but until Jesus Christ wasglorified (John 7:39, Acts 2:33), which was evidenced by the outpouring of his Spirit on the day of Pentecost, 33 A.D., this "circumcision of the heart" had not yet been fully revealed to the sons of men. It was part of a mystery which had not been made known in other ages to the sons of men, "as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit". (Ephesians 3:5). We know that circumcision (that of the heart, and not in the flesh) is still a requirement of God for salvation, because the apostles of Christ taught it in the New Testament, and the prophets spoke of it in the Old. God told Abraham that the uncircumcised man among them would be "cut off from among his people; he hath broken my covenant." (Genesis 17:14). He also told the prophetEzekiel, "No stranger, uncircumcised in heart... shall enter into my sanctuary." (Ezekiel 44:9).

  • If we want to know the Lord, and see his power and glory, we must enter into his sanctuary. Psalm 63:2
  •  
  • In order to worship him in truth, we must enter into his sanctuary.
  • Psalm 134:2, 150:1
  •  
  • When we need to pray to the Lord, we must enter into his sanctuary.
  • Isaiah 56:7, Matthew 21:12,13,
  • Hebrews 6:19,20, 9:1-15
  •  

How can we get this circumcision of the heart?

 
     Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:5:
 

"Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of theSpirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.".

 
     Jesus knew that the flood of Noah's day was a baptism. The apostle Peter confirmed that in 1 Peter 3:20,21. Through that flood of water:
 

the world was destroyed,

Noah and his family were saved,

 

and God made a new covenant with him when he came out of the ark,

 

(Genesis 9:11)

 
  ...and gave him the "token" of that covenant—the rainbow (Genesis 9:13). A rainbow, seen from heaven, is a complete circle, and was given to Noah and his generations as a shadow, or type, of circumcision. 
 
     At the Red Sea (which was also a baptism—see 1 Corinthians 10:1,2),
 

the enemy of Israel (Egypt, which represents the world and bondage to sin) was destroyed,

 

Israel was saved,

 

God gave unto them the pillar of cloud (sea and cloud—water and Spirit), and took them to Mount Sinai and made a covenant with them.

 

(Exodus 14-20)

 
     At the Jordan river 40 years later, 
 

Israel came through the river (water),

entered into the land of promise (Spirit),

 

and they were circumcised at Gilgal, where God declared that he had rolled the reproach of Egypt off of them.

 

 (Joshua 3:1-5:9)

 
     That is why Jesus expected Nicodemus to understand about beingborn of water and of the Spirit. And when it was evident that he did not understand, Jesus replied,
 

"Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?".

(John 3:10)

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