“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; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross.” Colossians 2:11-14
Why would anyone want to insist that it is necessary for a Christian to be circumcised and follow all the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament to be saved when believers are complete in Jesus and are blessed with all that they need through their baptism into Christ Jesus?
Old Testament circumcision (Genesis 17) was a cutting away of the flesh, performed by human hands, which indicated that one had entered into God’s covenant with man in which God promised to send a Messiah and Savior of the descendants of Abraham to redeem fallen mankind. It signified that a man could not stand before God in the power of his own flesh, but through the promised Seed of Abraham — Jesus Christ.
Baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost (Matt. 28:19; cf. Acts 2:38-39) has replaced and superseded circumcision as the sign and means of becoming a recipient of God’s covenant with man. But baptism is so much more.
Circumcision was performed by human hands. Baptism, though administered by the hand of a minister (or, in the case of emergency, a believer), is a work of the Triune God and administered in His name. It is God’s work.
Baptism is called “the circumcision of Christ” because the one who is baptized into Christ is joined to Christ in His death and in His resurrection.
The sins and fallen nature of man (the sinful flesh) are buried with Christ in baptism; for Christ Jesus, on the cross, paid in full for the sins of the entire world. He died our death for us and took the just condemnation of God’s law in our place. He blotted out “the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross.” Though God’s holy law condemned us all, Jesus suffered our punishment that we might be forgiven and acquitted through faith in Christ Jesus.
Not only is the Christian joined with Christ in His death through baptism, having all his sins blotted out and washed away through Jesus’ sacrifice; he is also joined to Christ in His resurrection, so that as God raised up Jesus from the dead on the third day, after He had made atonement for the sins of all, so also He through the “operation of” the Holy Spirit raises up to faith and new life those joined to Christ.
As Paul writes, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses.”
In his letter to Titus, Paul writes by inspiration of God’s Spirit: “But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).
Thus, we see that through Baptism God washes away sins and grants His life-giving Spirit, who creates and strengthens faith in Christ Jesus. Through baptism, God offers and gives to us all the blessings which Jesus won for us upon the cross and makes them our own. In and through baptism, God offers and gives forgiveness of sins and life eternal in His Son, Jesus Christ!
Baptism is so much more than an outward profession of faith in Jesus. Rather, it is the means through which God graciously works to make all of the blessings won for us by Jesus our own!
Therefore, if one has been baptized into Christ and has God’s forgiveness, His life-giving Spirit and the certainty of life everlasting for Jesus’ sake, why would he want to go back to Old Testament circumcision and the old covenant which pointed ahead to Christ and the salvation he has provided for all? In Baptism, Christians are joined to Jesus and are complete in Him!
Thank You, gracious Father, for working through our baptism to wash away our sins for Jesus’ sake and to raise us up to new life in fellowship with You through the gracious working of the Holy Spirit. Keep us in the true and saving faith unto life everlasting for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
[Scripture quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]