I resonate with verses 1 and 2 of Romans chapter 3. Verse 1 asks the question is there any benefit to being a Jew and being circumcised. Here the question related to circumcision is not speaking of the physical benefits, but rather the act of knowing and doing the law. Verse 2 answers the question, “the benefits are great!” Why? Because the Jews whether they followed it or not or believed it or not they had been given the “truth.”
I said I resonate with this because when I accepted Jesus due to my upbringing I did not have a lot of mental hurdles to overcome about what is and isn’t truth. I had already been exposed, so even the things I had once not believed in, they were not new concepts to me and thus it was easier for me to embrace those ideas through faith as I saw them revealed through scripture.
All of us that have been raised in Bible believing homes should rejoice at the advantages we had over so many others. All of us that were able to attend Bible believing schools should rejoice at the privileges we had/have.
I’m going to go on a tangent here…this is why I believe that every Adventist parent should do everything in their power and through the resources offered to them through local churches to send their kids to Adventist schools. I know our schools aren’t perfect, neither was the Jewish nation, but Paul here under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit tells us that even with all the imperfection…oh and what was that imperfection? Staunch legalism, at times idol worship, different factions some who believed in resurrection of the dead, some who didn’t, i.e. there were heretics in the camp, even the camp of leaders…even with all that imperfection Paul tells us that in “EVERY RESPECT” the benefit was great. Something for us to think about when we complain about our schools, not perfect, but still beneficial in the long run. Okay off my tangent.
Let me jump down to verse 20…the next text that resonated with today’s reading.
Let us get it straight once and for all, the purpose of the law is to show us that we NEED justification from Jesus, not to justify us!
And we do ALL need justification, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (3:23)
But we must maintain with Paul and all the teachings of scripture, “that a man (humankind) is justified by faith APART from works of the law.” (3:28)
Some people resist this, they just can’t accept that they are saved without any of their own works.
Others embrace this and go to the opposite extreme so Paul has a word for them too,
“Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! (or ABSOLUTELY NOT!) On the contrary, we establish the Law.” (3:31)
Paul then goes back to reaffirming the truth that justification PRECEDES works, he does so by pointing out that Abraham was credited righteous by faith PRIOR to being circumcised, “not while circumcised but while uncircumcised.” (4:10)
This is important because Abraham is then not just the father of the Jews, but also of all humanity! And when I say father I mean yes our ancestral heritage, but more importantly our example. (4:11-13)
Circumcision was a sign of righteousness. It was not righteousness it was a sign of faith in Jesus and commitment to Him. I believe in the garden of Eden that sign was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If you had faith in the promises of God you would stay away from it. Then the sign as Paul tells us in Romans, but as we also see in the Old Testament was circumcision, again it did not save but it showed that you trusted the promises of Jesus. Then I believe that baptism by immersion was the sign in the New Testament and continuing throughout history, a public declaration not that you are saved through baptism, but that you have faith in the promises of Jesus. And I believe at the very end of time, that the sign will be the seventh day Sabbath. I do not believe it is the sign yet, but that it will be (Revelation 13 & 14), again the Sabbath won’t save anyone or make anyone righteous, it will simply be an outward sign in the midst of opposition and standing against the world of one’s faith in the promises of Jesus. But this will come just like circumcision did after righteousness is received by faith, it will not precede and create righteousness!
Let me throw in maybe a disconnected comment about one of my favorite promises in all the Bible (4:17) and I like the way the New King James renders it,
“(as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;”
This text is speaking of when God called Abraham, and He called Him not as He was but as God knew He could/would become.
I am grateful that God calls me/sees me not as I am but at what I can become through faith in Him!
Then I want to close with something I believe is very beautiful and shows the love and care God has for us,
“Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, (that righteousness was credited to Abraham through faith) but for the sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him (God) who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.” (4:23, 24)
Why is that beautiful to me? Because God didn’t just say to Abraham your salvation has nothing to do with your works, God inspired it to be written down so that we would not be buried under the burden of thinking that we’d only have access to God through our own merits our own works. Too many of us still live like this, but it is not because God has taught it, it is because we believe the lies of the devil who says “you’re never good enough.” He’s right, praise to Jesus I don’t have to be, “He (Jesus) who was delivered over because of our transgression, and was raised because of our justification.” (4:25).
Thank you Jesus!
Tomorrow’s Reading: Genesis 4-7