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Covenants

  1. 310 times in the Bible the word covenant is recorded. 310! (as per BibleGateway specific search of the entire bible: covenant)

    The first is spoken and enforced with Noah with the sign of the rainbow.

    The next major covenant is the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 17) with the sign of circumcision.

    The last covenant of God in scripture is the "eternal covenant" (Jeremiah 32:40; Ezekial 37:26; Hebrews 13:20). This covenant is enforced by the blood of Jesus with the sign of spiritual circumcision, otherwise known as baptism (Colossians 2:11-13).

    Hebrews 9:16-22 NIV
    16 In the case of a will,[d-alternative interpretation for "will" is covenant, also v17] it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19 When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

    This passage lays out the basics of all God's covenantal dealings. When a covenant is made, blood must be shed for the covenant to be enforced.

    Noah made a sacrifice upon God sharing his covenant.
    Abraham made a sacrifice upon God sharing his covenant.
    Jesus was sacrificed to enforce God's eternal covenant.

    Even in modern times, if I have a will (and I should ;) ) that will only takes effect when I die. Death is required to enact the covenant of God. What does this have to do with baptism?

    I hinted at this earlier and will do so now. Abraham is the father of all who have faith in God. (Galatians 3:7; Romans 4:16) Actually Paul says in that chapter of Galatians 3, that the promise God made to Abraham in enacting his covenant "that all nations would be blessed through Abraham" would come to us who have faith. (Galatians 3:7-9)

    Now what was the sign of the covenant of Abraham? It was circumcision. Now this is important to get before I go any further with this. Abraham believed God and hoped in God before he was circumcised. Scripture also clearly states that God credited Abraham as righteous before the sign of circumcision was given.

    What is circumcision to us in the New Covenant? Clearly we don't need to be physically circumcised to be acceptable to God. Well in Colossians 2, Paul writes about this topic:

    Colossians 2:11-13 NIV
    11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,

    The flesh as written above is in reference to the old nature, the body of flesh, what we are told and commanded to put to death (Galatians 5:16-25).

    What does this passage say actually? Allow me to start in verse 13.

    You were dead in sin and the uncircumcision of your flesh.

    DEAD, as in not alive. You can not be alive in Christ if you are uncircumcised in your flesh.

    Philippians 3:3
    For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—

    We as believers are referred to as the circumcision, not a physical circumcision (Paul denounced that just the previous verse), but a Spiritual circumcision (Romans 2:29). The circumcision of Christ! (Colossians 2:11)

    Now circumcision itself (talking the physical act) is the process where the flesh of the foreskin is cut away. This is important to understand in that circumcision represents a cutting away of the flesh, even the physical act. Now God, when he enacted the 2nd and eternal covenant, switched this process from being a physical one to a spiritual one.

    Romans 2:28-29
    28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

    Philippians 3:3
    For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—

    It is not against God's nature to do such a thing. To switch a physical manifestation for a spiritual one.

    The Temple, the most holy building of the Old Covenant, was translated from a physical building into a spiritual one, the Church (1 Peter 2:5-9; 1 Cor 3:16-17, 6:19-20)

    Acts 7:48-51
    48 “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says:

    49 “‘Heaven is my throne,
    and the earth is my footstool.
    What kind of house will you build for me?
    says the Lord.
    Or where will my resting place be?
    50 Has not my hand made all these things?’
    51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!

    Now in that scripture, Stephen is speaking to the Sanhedrin (Paul was there on that day). He makes a statement that sends the audience into a murderous frenzy, God does not reside in the Temple any longer! Then he goes one step further and read what Stephen said. The Sanhedrin were uncircumcised!

    Now that's a ridiculous idea. Of course they were circumcised, they were the Jewish leaders that were model citizens of the Law. But what does Stephen say about that? They were uncircumcised in their hearts and ears. Circumcision of the heart, inner circumcision, the circumcision that enables us to love the Lord God as He desires (Deuteronomy 30:6) is what God wants now.

    After all, God is spirit and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth! (John 4:24)

    God requires spiritual circumcision, the cutting away of the body of the flesh, "the circumcision of Christ" (Colossians 2:11) now. But as with all things, even this circumcision only has power if it is backed by faith. Because this circumcision is done when we are baptized! Read Colossians 2:11-12 again...

    Colossians 2:11-12
    11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

    Having been buried... To be continued in next post!

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