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Abraham's Circumcision: Sign and Seal, Not Source (Romans Sermon 22 of 120)

Abraham's Circumcision: Sign and Seal, Not Source (Romans Sermon 22 of 120)

June 25, 2000 | Andy Davis
Romans 4:9-12
Faith, Salvation by Promise, Covenants, True Israel, Justification

I. Paul’s Genius: Total Concentration

Please take your Bibles if you would and open to Romans chapter 4. This morning we're going to be looking at verses 9-12 on the issue of Abraham's circumcision. Now as we've been moving through Romans, we start to see the train of thought and we start to see exactly why it is that Paul gave us these words. The Book of Romans is written that sinners like you and me might stand before God on judgment day free of our sins. I can't say it any more plainly because all of us have sins, every last one of us. We know it and we experience it every day. And we may or may not have a sense of God's attitude towards those sins, of His holiness, His righteousness, His blamelessness. But as we read the Scripture, we can't miss it that our God is a God who has a great wrath against sin. A great wrath. And that wrath is removed only in one place, and that is the cross of Jesus Christ. And we've seen that, we've seen the nature of our sin and how deeply it's woven into our very being, so that we cannot escape, we can't help ourselves. But we struggle against sin day after day and there's no way to escape it apart from the salvation that God has given us. And as we have seen, that salvation is so beautifully manifested in the cross of Jesus Christ. It's the only place of salvation and that we are connected to it only by faith.

And so we're talking about justification by faith alone, apart from works. And you have to ask yourself as you go through this, and as we move from chapter 3, on into chapter 4 and then into chapter 5, Paul, why? Why so much on this one theme of justification by faith alone, apart from works. William James, author, said this, "Men of genius differ from ordinary men, not in brain power, but in the aims and purposes on which they concentrate and the degree of concentration which they achieve." In other words, what separates a genius from the rest of regular people is the thing that they're concentrating on and how powerfully and totally they can concentrate on that. Napoleon said the same thing. He spoke of his own ability or mental power to concentrate on his objectives for a long periods of time without tiring. And so also it was with Churchill, that same kind of genius. In the midst of all the swirling activities in the '30s, when all kinds of events were coming and going, he had his mind and his concentration fixed on what was happening in Hitlerite Germany. That was what mattered. All the other things were trifles, and he was right. Total concentration on one thing despite all the other swirling things. And so it was with Paul.

That is the genius that he brings to us here, he is concentrating on what really matters; how sinners like us can be made right before God like him. Justification by faith alone. And so with Paul we get a total concentration on Christ. How many times in the writings of Paul do we have a phrase like 'In Him.', 'In Christ.', 'Through Him.', 'Through our Lord Jesus Christ.' A total concentration on Christ. And so also a total concentration on Heaven, the glory that waits for us. Which I have already referred to, the fact that every day brings us Christians closer to seeing it. And that we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Every day brings us closer to that glory. And so Paul also just saturated with Heaven. You couldn't get near him without him talking about the glory that is to come and the way that we sinners can see it through justification. And a total concentration from Paul on pure doctrine, the gospel of our salvation, the message which can transform us and bring us into Heaven. Total concentration. And here again, as we come to this section, we see justification by faith alone. And we're tempted to say, "Paul we got it. We got it, we understand. We understand Romans 3:22, that there's a righteousness from God apart from law. And this righteousness comes to us by faith alone. We got it."

We got it in Romans 3:28, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law." We got it. And then we got it with the illustration of Abraham, "What then shall we say that Abraham our forefather discovered in this matter. If in fact Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about. But not before God." We got it. Romans 4:1-5. And then Romans 4:6-8 the same thing. David's experience with all the sin in his life with Bathsheba, the whole thing. How is that sin cleansed? By faith alone. We got it, a blessedness. But Paul isn't finished, now he's going to deal with the issue of circumcision and through that, I think connected with that, the whole thing of observing the law. How does that relate to our justification? And he's going to move on through the rest of chapter 4, on into chapter 5. And he's going to keep teaching this doctrine until we get it. And why is it? I think perhaps because of our nature. There's something inside us that wants to save ourselves, thank you very much. We want to do it ourselves. Have you ever seen a little child? "Me do it. Me do it." From very early age, they're grabbing the crayon from your hand. They want to show that they can do it. We want to do the same thing with our own salvation, that we may save ourselves. Paul says not possible.

Now I want to give you the blessedness that comes from a salvation apart from yourself. I want to give you the blessedness of getting your eyes off your own puny powers, onto an immeasurable power which is at work in you, to confirm your salvation. That's what he's doing. And so he's going to take us through this whole discussion of justification by faith alone and we're going to understand it.

II. Overview of Romans 4:9-12: Justification & Circumcision

And so we come to Romans 4:9-12. Look down at the text with me if you would. Beginning at verse 9, "Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised? Or before? Is was not after but before. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then he is the father of all who believe, but have not been circumcised in order that righteousness might be credited to them. And he is also the father of the circumcised, who not only are circumcised, but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised." And what is Paul saying in these verses? He begins by speaking of a blessedness. Verse 9, "Is this blessedness only for the circumcised?" What is the blessedness he's referring to? Well, he just got done talking about it.

Romans 4:6,7 & 8, the word blessing or blessedness in there three times. It is the blessing or the blessedness of the state of justification, that you as a sinner can stand before God free of your sins. Remember, we've been saying that justification has a positive and a negative side. Positively, that Jesus Christ will take His righteousness, and cover you with it. Remember, we've called that an Asbestos robe that enables you to survive the fire of judgment day. It's a righteousness that doesn't belong to you. It's Jesus' and He'll cloak it on you by faith positively. Then we saw the negative side of justification, whereas Jesus' righteousness is imputed to you or considered to you by God. Your sins, however many they may be, are not thought of by God. They're not imputed to you for He has covered them in the blood of Christ. Now, that is a blessedness, isn't it? And the question Paul asked here is, "Is this blessedness only available for Jews? Is it only available for the circumcised? And do we Gentiles, do we need to become Jews in order to get into this thing? Do we have to become circumcised? Do we have to follow the law of Moses?" That's what he's dealing with here.

The Jewish Perspective: Circumcision is Part of the Covenant

Now, what would the Jews of Paul's day have said? "Oh yes, oh yes, we are the children of Abraham, and blessedness comes to us alone through the covenant." And circumcision is part of that covenant. If you don't keep that covenant, you have no blessedness. There is no forgiveness of sins apart from that covenant. And so they divided all the world into two categories, circumcised and uncircumcised. Now, where would we fit into that categorization? Every last one of us were Gentiles as far as I know. We're Gentiles. And is it possible for Gentiles like us to receive the blessedness of justification? Now, they called Gentiles by such cute names as dogs, Gentile dogs, and all that. I think they were worn out by five empires one after the other, tramping on the promised land, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, Persians, Romans, one after the other trampling on it. They're worn out, so they hated the Gentiles. Furthermore, within God's own law, there were some barriers, weren't there? There were some walls, which prevented us as Gentiles from coming into the presence of God, couldn't come close.

And if you as a Gentile, you wanted to be saved, you could become a Jewish convert. You would have to be baptized, a cleansing ceremony, washing away all that Gentileishness from you, and of course you would have to be circumcised if you're a male. And in this way, you could become somewhat of a Jew, but you're still a second class citizen because you couldn't call Abraham, father. That was reserved only to the genetic descendants of Abraham. And Paul cuts through all of this, and he does with it Scripture. He asked about this blessedness, and he says, "Okay, what are we going to do? Do you Gentiles have to become like us Jews in order to be saved?" And everywhere that Paul went, he preached the gospel to Gentiles. They're coming to faith in Christ. They're believing. And in his trail is this group of Jewish Christians maybe who were coming along and saying, "The gentiles must be required to obey the law of Moses." They were called Judaizers. And everywhere they went, they said, "You've got to follow the laws of Moses or you can't go to heaven." Well, this brought them into great dispute. And there was a controversy, and they worked it out in Acts 15. Praise God that they got it right under the authority and the inspiration the leading of the Holy Spirit, so that we Gentiles are not troubled with the burden, the crushing burden of the law of Moses in order that we may be saved.

What Dos the Scripture Say? – The Chronology is Crucial

But Paul just cuts through it very simply here in Chapter 4, doesn't he? And he does it by asking a simple question. We've asked it before. "What does the Scripture say?" Sit up when you hear that. "What does the Scripture say?" It answers everything.  The Scripture answers these questions. And Paul just simply goes back into Genesis, and asks a simple question. "What does the scripture say? How was Abraham justified? And how did his circumcision relate?" And he answers it very plainly. "Was Abraham circumcised when he was justified? No, he was not." And in effect, therefore, Abraham was a Gentile when he was justified. He's a Gentile, just like you and me, uncircumcised. And look what he says. He goes back in time. He says, "Under what circumstances was Abraham's faith credited as righteousness?" Verse 10. "Was it after he was circumcised or before?" Verse 10, "It was not after but before." Remember the context, Genesis 15. God invites Abraham out of his tent and says, "Come on out and look up at the stars. Look up at all the stars, and see them. Count them if you can, so shall your offspring be. You're going to have that many descendants, even though you're childless." And Abraham believed God. He thought "it's true."  And at that moment, God saw his faith, invisible. But He saw his faith and justified him. He declared that all of his sins are forgiven. Past, present, future, all of it wiped away.

Now at that moment, Abraham had not yet been circumcised, for that came later in Genesis 17:9 and following. "Then God said to Abraham, 'As for you, you must keep my covenant. You and your descendants after you for the generations to come. And this is My covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep. Every male among you shall be circumcised.'" And He goes on to say, "If you're not circumcised, you're not part of the covenant." So what is Paul doing? It's a simple chronological argument. Genesis 15 happens before Genesis 17. In Genesis 15, Abraham is not circumcised. He's justified in that chapter. Genesis 17 comes anywhere, we don't really know, but from 12 to 30 years later, and all that time Abraham was justified by faith alone without being circumcised. It's just simple, a simple argument. Chronology.

And so therefore, Paul draws out some conclusions. Circumcision is not the source of Abraham's justification. Couldn't be, because he was justified before he had it. It is instead a sign and a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith. Sign and seal, not source. That's what he's speaking. Well, then you may ask then why did He give circumcision? And that brings us into the whole reason for all those regulations and the dietary laws and all that stuff in the Law of Moses. I think He wanted the Jewish people to be a separate people until the Christ came. And when the Christ came, the need for all that separation from the Gentiles was over. It was over. It was fulfilled, in the fullness of time Jesus came. Born under the law, but to free us from all that law that we might be justified by faith.

III. Why is Justification by Faith ALONE So Important?

Justification by Faith Alone Excludes Boasting

Now to take a step back and look at this, we have to ask again why is this so important to Paul? Why justification by faith? And I think there's five answers. We're going to look at each one of them. The first is that justification by faith alone excludes boasting. Now we've already seen this at the end of chapter three, you remember? In verse 27. It says, "Where then is boasting? In the face of the cross of Jesus Christ, how can we boast?" Answer, it is excluded. It's left out. There's no boasting available. He deals with the same thing at the beginning of this chapter. If Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about. Now, why is this boasting thing such an important thing? Well, it has to do with our nature. It's in our nature to boast about ourselves. We live in the most self-focused, self-esteeming, boastful age, perhaps in the history of the world. And it's funny as you look at the curriculum and all the other thing, what we need is more and more self-esteem. Self, self, self. I'm thinking, "Oh my goodness. You are trying to put out a fire with kerosene."

We need to have our pride slain, not encouraged. And the gospel does that. It humbles us. And you say, "Well, why do have to be humbled? Why do have to have the boasting removed? Do I have to have my boasting removed?" It's like asking a doctor, "Do I have to have the infection removed in order to get well?" Oh, yes. You must have the infection removed in order to get well. You must. And justification by faith alone is good at that. There's nothing in us to boast. How does boasting fit into justification? Jesus answered that with a parable. To some who are confident of their own righteousness and look down on everybody else Jesus told this parable, "Two men went up to the temple to pray. One a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself." He prayed about himself. What a topic. How limited is that? I'd rather pray about God. But this man, who stood up and prayed about himself, "God, I thank you that I'm not like other men. Robbers, evildoers, adulterers, even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get."

Oh, by the way, that last little part, that's the resume, that's intrinsic to justification by works. You've got to have a resume. You've got to be able to say what good things you did. "I went to church for 20, 30 years. I was on this committee. I did that." That's your resume. And if you're standing on the basis of that, then you're no different that this Pharisee who's standing on the basis of his fasting and his tithing and the other good things he did. "And I'm not like this other person. But the tax collector stood off at a distance and he wouldn't even look up to heaven but instead beat his chest and said, 'Be merciful to me, oh God, a sinner.' And then the one who has been appointed as judge of all humanity," that's Jesus Christ, "He said, 'I'll tell you the truth. That one went home justified.'" He went home justified because of his broken-hearted faith. "Be merciful to me, oh God, the sinner." And so we must have our boasting slain. We must have it destroyed, and justification by faith alone does this.

Justification by Faith Alone Ensures Imputed Righteousness

Secondly, justification by faith alone ensures a righteousness for us. It ensures that on Judgment Day, we're going to be covered with something that'll stand up to the test. It ensures that we will be as righteous as Jesus Christ because of an imputed righteous, a gift of righteousness that is not ours. Now, we've talked about that so much, there's no need to belabor it, but it comes by faith alone. It ensures imputed righteousness. And thirdly, it explains the relationship between faith and works. We talked about this last time, remember? We're always confused about this. We always get the order wrong. Which comes first, faith or works? Well if they're genuine works, faith always comes first. Justification by faith alone enables us to stand holy and blameless before God, and from that standing comes a river, a lifetime of good works not the other way around. And if you try to present to God a river of lifetime of good works and say, "On the basis of this justify me", then you're like the Pharisee.

Justification by Faith Alone Explains Relationship Between Faith and Works

Now we've talked about the strife or the conflict between Paul and James on this point, there is none. The faith that justifies always produces good works, that's all. And justification by faith alone explains the relationship between faith and works. We see it here in verse 11, look down with me. It says that Abraham received the sign of circumcision. A seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So therefore Paul calls circumcision two things here. He calls circumcision a sign of inner righteousness and also a seal of inner righteousness. In other words the righteousness is there first and then the act of circumcision comes along as a sign and a seal. Just like this wedding ring is a sign or a symbol of my marriage but it is not my marriage. It's just a symbol of it. External, visible to all who can see my hand but it represents my relationship does not consist in it, it's not the source of it.

And so also circumcision, a seal of the righteousness. And so what does this mean, the seal? Well back in those days if you're writing a document or writing a letter they would take a candle and they'd melt some wax on it and then they'd take their signet ring, or a seal and they'd push it into the molten wax and it would leave an imprint. And it meant this letter comes from me, this is mine. It's almost like a seal of ownership. An authoritative seal of ownership. And so also circumcision sealed these people as God's people and also when one did this, when one was circumcised, they were putting their own seal to the fact they were children of the covenant. That's how the sealing worked. Paul talks about his sealing as an apostle. In 1 Corinthians 9, there were some people questioning him, they're saying, "Is he really an apostle?", and then there's others that were boasting and very strong in themselves and Paul says, "I've got a seal of my apostleship."

You know what the seal of Paul's apostleship was? The Corinthians. "I led you to Christ. I came to your town, you were pagans. Utter pagans before I got there, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, now you're believers in Jesus Christ, you are the seal of my apostleship." Let me ask you a question. Was Paul an apostle before they came to Christ? Absolutely. But they were the outward, visible sign or seal of the fact that Paul was truly an apostle. "You are the seal of my apostleship." Now you can come along and say, "Now if there was nothing like that, if there was no seal like that, would Paul still have been an apostle?" Foolish question, because apostles bear fruits don't they? They're indwelled by the Holy Spirit, everywhere they go they speak with passion, with power, there's going to be fruit. That's an absurd question, you can't separate the faith and works. You can't separate the righteousness and the seal. And so we understand it properly.

Justification by Faith Alone Empowers Worldwide Evangelism

The fourth point is this, that justification by faith alone empowers worldwide evangelism. Look what it says in verse 11, "So then he is the Father of all who believe, that have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness may be credited to them." The law of Moses was symbolized by circumcision, in other words circumcision represented the whole law. If you're going to be circumcised, you got to keep the whole law, and that involved all kinds of regulations other than just circumcision. For example, dietary regulations. Have you ever read the list of foods that you are and are not allowed to eat in Deuteronomy? I actually was only able to identify less than half of what these beings, these animals, were, but there was a very careful list of what you were and were not able to eat. And they gave regulations about whether they chewed the cud, or their hoof was divided and all this kind of thing. You know one food they definitely couldn't eat was pig. All of these dietary regulations.

Now what was the purpose of all this? Now you would say the purpose was, and I've heard this before, the purpose was they didn't have refrigeration back then. Have you ever heard this argument? They didn't have refrigeration and so God was trying to protect them from all those diseases that came from eating pig. Don't you believe it, because God forbid the Jews from eating it, but said that the gentile guests can eat it, go ahead. So God doesn't care about them? And even more Jesus, in Mark 7, declared all foods clean.

Did you know they didn't have refrigeration in Jesus' age either? I don't think they had Amana or anything else back then. They still didn't have refrigeration and yet Jesus coldly, cruelly declares all foods clean? What is that? It's not for protection, it was that the Jews might be a separate people. That they might be a different people. And when He declared all foods clean, Jews and gentiles alike, go ahead and eat pig. There may be other reasons not to eat the pig, find out about those in the 20th century. There are other reasons, but it's not for this. The time had come because the Messiah had come and the need for the separation of the Jewish people was no longer, the Messiah had been identified. He was a child of Abraham, born under the law, but the time for those ceremonial regulations was over.

Wasn't just food, it extended to your clothing, you couldn't wear clothes with a certain fibers woven together. It extended to your hair style, you had to let the hair in the corners of your head grow long, you couldn't trim the edges of your beard. Have you ever seen Hasidic Jews? And they have those long locks going down from here? That's because of the literalistic reading of that text. Let me ask you a question. Can you take a gospel like that to the ends of the earth? I've been reading recently this wonderful missionary biography, Peace Child, by Don Richardson. I don't know if any of you have heard of it, it's an incredible story. In 1962, Don Richardson and his wife Carol and their seven month old baby went to Irian Jaya, Netherlands New Guinea.

It's a wild island north of Australia. Went there to preach the Gospel, and they worked with the Sawi people. Now, the Sawi tribe were a bunch of head hunting cannibals. Great place to bring a seven month old, but they had faith and God had called them. Head hunting cannibals. And in their culture, they came to found out that these people revered and respected treachery above all things. That makes sense for head hunting cannibals. And they had a saying that they were fattening so and so for the day of slaughter with friendship. You see how that works? You befriend them, you're kind, you welcome them in and then the day of slaughter comes, and they never suspect it. Let me ask you a question. As you think about the Gospel and all the events that led up to Jesus' arrest, the whole thing, who would be the real hero of the story in that mindset? Not Jesus, but Judas. You see? Judas is the real hero. Jesus is the weak one, and Judas' kiss is the moment of triumph. How perverted is that? But they came to understand through what Richardson calls a redemptive analogy.

Two Sawi tribes when they're at war with each other and they want to make peace, they give each other a peace child, a son of one of the chieftains. And as long as that child lives, there's peace between the two tribes, but if the child dies, there's no peace, and as soon as the child died they'd be back at war again. And Jesus was in effect God's peace child to the world, but He lives forever and as long as He stands firm and lives forever there's peace between God and man. Well, he explained the Gospel and they came to Christ. What's fascinating about the Sawi tribe is that they revered and respected treachery but also strength with a bow, and their chief became chief, because he was able to take a bow and an arrow and drive it through a wild boar all the way through without hitting bone. Amazing. Now, let's say we go and preach this Gospel, the Gospel of Justification by law, by Moses, by works and all that, and they have to submit to all those rules and regulations. And you're saying to the Sawi tribe, "You aren't allowed to eat pig. You must be circumcised. You're not allowed to eat pig. You have to go to Jerusalem three times a year. I don't know how you're going to get the plane fare, but we'll figure that out later.

You're gonna have to do all of these rules and regulations in order that you may be saved." Is that gospel transportable to the ends of the earth? Absolutely not. No, the time for that had passed. The Gospel is simple as this: If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved, and the Sawi tribe they were saved. It's a simple Gospel message.

Justification by Faith Alone Enables final unity between Jew and Gentile

And fifthly, justification by faith alone enables final unity between Jew and Gentile. Let me ask you a question. How in world can a believing Jew and a former head hunting cannibal Sawi tribesman truly be one? The way is through justification by faith alone, because God does the exact same thing in both of them, the exact same thing. Look what he says in verse 12. "He [Abraham], is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our Father Abraham had before he was circumcised." In other words, he is the father of the Sawi tribesman who comes to simple faith in Christ. The Holy Spirit enters the Sawi tribesman and He begins to put sin to death. He begins to walk by faith. He begins to serve God. And how does it work out?

By the law, by the law but not that old law… The law of loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving your neighbor as yourself. The Holy Spirit fulfills that in the Sawi tribesman; does the same thing in the believing Jew. It's not the Law of Moses anymore but the same law, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself." And when you're justified by faith, the Holy Spirit enters you and you are able, empowered to obey those two laws. What does he say here? "Those that walk in the footsteps of the faith that our Father Abraham had." Have you ever seen a child walking behind a father maybe on the beach or in the snow trying to keep in step with the father, jumping from footprint to footprint? That's the image I get here; Abraham a giant of faith. And what it meant was that Abraham's faith had footprints. Do you see that? Abraham's faith had footprints. You could trace out his life.

His life was different, because he believed and so also will yours be if you are justified by faith, and you're going to follow in those footsteps of Abraham, the same faith. And God by His Spirit is going to work it in you, and you're not going to talk about the footprints. You're not going to talk about all the work you did and present it to God on Judgment Day. You're going to talk about Jesus Christ and Him alone, and Paul clears this whole thing up. It is not circumcision that saves the Jew. If you're Jewish living in the first century, cast it aside. Cast it aside.

Galatians 5:6 "For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything. The only thing that counts is faith working itself out through love." Faith which works itself out through loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; loving your neighbor as yourself. Well, today we've looked again at the issue of justification by faith alone. We've seen Paul continuing to concentrate on this one thing, that we may turn away from our confidence in our own obedience, our own law keeping, our good deeds, that we may turn away from these things. The Jews had an obstacle to all this. It was circumcision. "Now, God told us to be circumcised. You're telling us now that we shouldn't have been or that we should disobey that? God gave us a warning that if we're not circumcised, we're going to be cut off." Paul explains all of that. We're in a New Covenant now. There's no need any longer for circumcision. Abraham himself was a Gentile when he was justified. He's our example.

Righteousness comes by faith. And we've seen how this excludes boasting, that we may not boast in anything but Jesus Christ. It ensures a righteousness that is not ours, but will cover us on judgment day. It explains the relationship between faith and works. It empowers worldwide evangelism, a gospel that's transportable to the ends of the earth. And it enables the final unity between Jew and Gentile in heaven. But what are the applications for us? I've written them out for you on your outline.

IV. Applications

The first is a lesson on right boasting. "Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord." Your salvation is all of Him. If in your quiet moments you think, "On what basis am I going to heaven?" And you begin to think to yourself of good things you've done, you're in trouble. You have not understood justification by faith alone apart from works. Let him who boasts, boast in what Jesus Christ has accomplished and Him alone.

Second is a lesson on ritual baptism. Now where does baptism come in here? Well, what is the sign and seal, the outward visible sign and seal of our inward justification? What ceremony has God given to us? Baptism. Baptism. And may I say to you that your baptism doesn't save you anymore than Abraham's circumcision saved him. Your baptism does not save you any more than Abraham's circumcision saved him. Both of them commanded by God, both of them in and of themselves good righteous obedience. But they are not the source of anyone's righteousness, only a sign and seal of it. Don't rely on religious ritual even if God commanded it.

And it's sad to me if I go and meet with people who may be on the edge of death, and I talk to them, and all they can talk about is certain things in the past. "I was baptized, I walked the aisle, I signed the card, I did, I did, I did, I did." Your righteousness is Christ. Talk to Him, praise Him, give honor to Him, and don't rely on ritual baptism for your salvation.

The third is a lesson on radical obedience. What are the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had? Where did his faith carry him? To another land, a distant place. It was an incredible life of radical obedience. Are you living that kind of a life? Is your faith in Jesus Christ radically changing your life? Has it made any difference in your life at all? Are you following Abraham's footsteps? And furthermore, what kind of footsteps are you leaving so that others will follow in your tracks? What legacy are you leaving to your children? What kind of footsteps are you leaving behind you? Are they footsteps of faith, faith in God alone?

And then the final is a lesson on worldwide evangelism. Are you living to take the gospel to the ends of the earth? This gospel travels light and moves. Are you involved in the worldwide evangelistic endeavor? Are you praying for our missionaries in Uganda? It's a simple way. They saw someone come to Christ this week. Somebody say Amen. Amen. And all of you who prayed, you have a part in this, 2 Corinthians 1. We take part in our prayers, by our prayers. We take shares. We're not to be credited for that anymore than they are. It is God who gives new birth in Christ. But are you taking part in the worldwide outreach?

God has brought some of the world right to our door. We've got international students. Are you taking part in the harvest? You may say, "God hasn't called me to go to the ends of the earth." Well, all right, God made it easy for you, brought the ends of the earth right to you. Are you involved through your prayer and through your footsteps? Is there any action, any activity in your life toward worldwide evangelism? If not, just let God work it in you. Let Him work it in you. There's nothing like the life that follows in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had while he was still uncircumcised. Will you close with me in prayer please?

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