Know Your Bible

VOL. 7                           June 8, 2008                           NO. 20

Circumcision Proves The Necessity Of Baptism

    The apostle Paul appeals to the "saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse" to discharge the philosophies of men and embrace Him who has the preeminence in all things (Colossians 1). The church at Colosse had been troubled by the teachings of men that distracted from the glory of the church and pure teaching of the Savior. Paul seeks to admonish the brethren to maintain their faith in Jesus Christ in writing, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:1-3).

    Paul reminds them of their obedience to the gospel of Christ in the use of the remembrance of their being raised with Christ and the death experienced in that raising. He wants them to keep their focus on the one who sits on the right hand of God establishing the preeminence of Christ in their lives and removing the shackles of this earth from their minds. The apostle had earlier shown how this "raising" took place and when. "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses" (Colossians 2:11-13).

    Most religious people today deny the necessity of baptism. Modern preachers delude the masses into believing that baptism is only an outward sign of an inward grace that has no connection with salvation. Paul establishes firmly in the book of Colossians the necessity of baptism as clearly as the necessity of circumcision commanded by God in an earlier time. The covenant of circumcision was given to Abraham in Genesis 17. "And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant between me and you" (Genesis 17:11). Circumcision was established in the Law of Moses (Leviticus 12). This was a fleshly circumcision. Under the Law of Christ, circumcision would be a spiritual act "without hands."

    Imagine someone in the days of Moses preaching that circumcision was not necessary for salvation. Paul told the church at Colosse that the "circumcision made without hands" was not the putting off of a fleshly foreskin but the "putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ" being buried in baptism! The covenant of God is established through baptism and without this covenant there is no salvation.

    Paul also reminded the brethren they had died for Christ. Where does this death take place? Did they die in the Lord when they accepted Christ as their personal Savior? No! Their death took place in the waters of baptism. "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:3-4).

    Colossians 3:1-3 shows the necessity of baptism. Have you been raised with Christ?

---Kent Heaton

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    One day, you will depart from this life to never return. The Hebrew writer says "It is appointed for man to die once" (9:27) and he is exactly right. "All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away" (1 Pet. 1:24). Every year the flowers and grass fade away for the season, passing from their life of color and vigor - as do men. Each year humans fade away into eternity, never to return to "share in anything done under the sun" (Eccl. 9:6).

    One day someone else will occupy your place in life. They will live on "your" land, dwell in "your" house and possibly be married to "your" spouse. This is only fair since you yourself have assumed properties from those before you. Since this is so, what are you doing to enjoy each moment with what you have today? Solomon warns, "Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life" (Eccl. 9:9). One day, you will hold your mate's hand no more and your children will no longer be yours. These are your "portion in life" (on loan from God for a season), so why neglect them for worldliness and vanity? One day your portion will be taken away.

    One day your name will be forgotten from the pages of time. Those who know you today will eventually pass away as well, taking the memory of you with them. This is only fair since you yourself have lived without the knowledge of all who lived before you. Since this is so, what are you doing to make a difference in the world while you are still here? "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might" (v 10) shouts Solomon because you won't get to come back and try it again. If you have the chance to share, share with all your might. If you have the chance to encourage, encourage with all your might. If you have the chance to work, work with all your might (see Rom. 12:8). "For there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going" (Eccl. 9:10).

    One day, your talents as a Christian will be taken away and given to another to test his faith in God. This is only fair since you yourself have been allowed to partake of the fruit of the labor of Christians from the past. You've been a member at a church that started with the hard work of other humble servants, and have heard a gospel message that has been defended and handed down through time. Since this is so, what are you doing to prepare the next generation to have knowledge of Christ's unique plan of salvation and pattern for the church? One day, the opportunities to labor in God's vineyard will be yours no more. The task of inviting others to services or defending the truth publicly will be taken from you and given to another. One day, you will no longer have the burden of encouraging sinners to repent, nor will you be allowed to ask for an opportunity to teach and warn the lost. These are duties and privileges of those who partake of life under the sun. Will you cry out in eternity for Abraham to send Lazarus "to my father's house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them" (Luke 16:27-28)? Or will you be at peace knowing you did your best to make a gain on your talents while you had them (Matt. 25:20-23).

    One day the responsibilities of Christianity will be taken from you, so what are doing to make the most of your time on earth? Will you "wear out" in zeal as a Christian, or will you "rust out" in apathy and indifference?

    May God give us the wisdom to appreciate the vapor of time we have to partake of this life's blessings and to labor for Him while we still can. "LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeing away" (Psa. 39:4).

---Mike Thomas

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