The Gospel = “A Calling Out” into Separation
1) A Calling Out: Separation Begun
2) A Law of Circumcision: Separation Continued Under Government of Law
Abraham is called “the Father of faith” for a good reason (Rom. 4:11). This reason began in the hour of his redemption. In the following verses we can see that it was by faith Abraham obeyed. What did Abraham obey? The Gospel was preached to Abraham in this very specific way – God “CALLED” (Heb. 11:8-10) – and this God-vocalized “calling out” Abraham obeyed so that he and his fellow companions became The Church of his generation. Hallelujah!
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the Land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God.” - Heb. 11:8-10
“Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.” - Isa. 51:2
“Who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of the Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name Abraham.” - Neh. 9:7
New Testament Correlation
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” – 1 Peter 2:9-11
This Gospel call to Abraham was historically recorded in Genesis 12:1-3, as you can see. Hebrews 11:8-10 cites this event to be Abraham’s first saving response to the Gospel call. After this time Abraham maintained saving faith through many trials for many years, thus he became a biblical beacon of salvation for all to follow. The Lord’s Gospel call to Abraham was a call to “go out” (Heb. 11:8). God preached the gospel to Abraham (in Old Testament type/shadow) in these very words: “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a Land that I will shew thee” (Gen. 12:1). As Abraham responded to the Gospel call he was separated from country and kindred both inwardly and outwardly, even as it is now for Christians in the New Testament. This interpretation may seem to be a stretch in your estimation, my reader, but as the biblical history progresses it becomes evident that this is what Abraham was experiencing when he obeyed the Gospel which was preached to him in Genesis 12:1-3. Like Abraham, we too are separated from the devil’s country (this world)! We too are born again into another family or kindred (God’s)! Do you see the parallel?
This call severed Abraham from his former kin so that from him, a chosen lineage could be established as a generational line of salvation. Abraham separated from the house of his father, Terah, so that with Abraham was the company of God’s “called out ones” (The Church). To mark this separation, God instituted an outward sign to be put upon all the males of His newly born Church.
“And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep My covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is My covenant, which ye shall keep, between Me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt Me and you…And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken My covenant.” - Genesis 17:9-11, 14
Abraham and “his people” were a separated people by this sign! Outward circumcision was of such importance to God that, without it, “that soul shall be cut off from his people”! Circumcision was the very “token of the Covenant”. In other words, circumcision was the “token of salvation”. This outward sign indicated that God was working in the midst of this “called out company” of persons--this is true, but it was not the physical circumcision that saved these men, was it? If so, then from henceforth every man who is of the seed of Abraham would be henceforth recognized as a part of The Church, “the called out ones”, by the outward mark of physical circumcision and that alone… but this is not the case! Many 21st century “Christians” reading Genesis 17 might conclude that physical circumcision, and that alone, was the means of their salvation in Old Testament terms. This conclusion would suggest that the Old Testament saints were saved by faithful observation of and bodily subjection to the physical and ceremonial rituals which God had commanded them to keep. This would mean that they were saved by their works: outward, physical, and carnal obedience that any man on earth can accomplish irrespective of their inward and spiritual condition before God Almighty. Aye, is this true!? The question could be otherwise put: did the Old Testament Law save lost men through the means of “earthly things” (John 3:12)? Is the Old Testament to be understood by us as a Covenant of mere “carnal commandment” (Heb. 7:16) and “carnal ordinances” (Heb. 9:10) which are strictly physical, and that alone? Is there nothing more?
If so then one would conclude, wrongly, that a Jew is a true Jew who is one “outwardly”, and all the practices of the Gospel figures and Lawful shadows which revealed Christ were strictly “outward in the flesh”, meaning that, nothing ever touched the man in “the heart”, and nothing ever saved the man “in the Spirit”, “inwardly” and “by nature”, rather than “outwardly” (Rom. 2:25-29). Do you believe this way, my reader? If we were to adhere to this interpretation and faith, we too, like the unsaved Jews of the 1st century who were dead men’s bones, would have “a zeal for God but not according to knowledge”, and we would be “going about to establish [our] own righteousness” because we are “ignorant of God’s righteousness” (Rom. 10:1-3). The Bible explicitly states that Abraham was saved by faith apart from works in Romans Chapter 4 and Hebrews Chapter 11, my reader! Do you think that Abraham was saved by faith but all of his fellow companions and coming posterity, The Church, were saved in some other way? Do you think that Abraham was saved by faith but all the other saints of his day were saved by the outward observance of physical circumcision? The Old Testament Law was more than physical ordinances, my reader! The physical ordinance of circumcision, which pre-dated the establishment of the Mosaic Law, was more than a physical ordinance! These physical ordinances were meant to be observed by faith through an inward spirituality which was enabled by the inner-working of the Holy Spirit. How did this happen exactly? These physical ordinances depicted saving messages: messages which contained Gospel powers - Gospel powers which were accessible by faith. Each message, according to God’s will, was “a figure” of Christ’s Gospel which was yet to be unveiled as an operation of redemption. Theretofore, until Jesus Christ came in the 1st century, all men were saved by grace through faith apart from works by a revelation of the Gospel of Christ through shadows. This is the supreme reason that all physical ordinances existed (before or after the Mosaic Law); they were a Gospel-message or a Gospel-similitude, “a shadow of things to come” (Col.2:17)!
The Two-Fold Purpose of Physical Ordinances & The Law
Through faith, Physical Ceremonies which were to be observed outwardly and inwardly for the accomplishment of a spiritual salvation, a salvation which enabled the man to be regenerated from moral depravity so as to “keep the righteousness of the Law”.
Of Carnality (Physically) & Outwardly
“The Law of a carnal commandment” – Heb. 7:16
“A figure for the time then present” – Heb. 9:9
“Carnal ordinances” – Heb. 9:10
Of the Spirit (Nature) & Inwardly
“For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the Law: but if thou be a breaker of the Law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the Law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the Law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the Law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” – Rom. 2:25-29
Just as Romans 2:25-29 describes, even so it is with Abraham in the Genesis 17 circumcision. The Genesis 17 circumcision was not meant to be a mere physical circumcision that is “outward in the flesh”. This circumcision was used by God to communicate a message of saving faith which resulted in a spiritual circumcision of the heart, in the Spirit, establishing God-to-man communion with the pre-Incarnate Christ! And as Romans 2:25-29 underlined, this God-to-man communion with the pre-Incarnate Christ must have existed via an inward regeneration of the morally depraved sons of Adam. Why? Paul argued that the whole purpose of the Law as it pertained to mankind’s salvation was so that all men might be enabled to “keep the righteousness of the Law” or “fulfill the Law”, for this man is a Jew (a Church Member) and no one else is! It has always been true all throughout the Old Testament generations, that a Jew “is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Rom. 2:25-29). If this is the case, then the Law itself would explain and declare this vital truth: spiritual circumcision is what saved men all throughout the Old Testament scriptures. Well did it, my reader? Did Paul’s explanation of the Law provided in Romans 2:25-29 exist in the Old Testament as well. It did! Paul was contriving this argument from the Old Testament scripture, my reader! From scriptures like,
“And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” – Deuteronomy 30:6
“Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.” – Deuteronomy 10:16
“Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.” - Jeremiah 4:4
Abraham alongside all saved men (true Jews) in the Old Testament were, evidently, such that they had their hearts circumcised, that had the Spirit of God within them, so that the chief token of the Old Testament Covenant was a spiritually circumcised seed of Abraham that did “love the LORD [their] God with all [their] heart, and with all [their] soul” (Deut. 30:6). Therefore these men who had circumcised hearts did “keep the righteousness of the Law”, which means they loved God so as to “fulfill the Law” (Rom. 2:26-27), for if they had not kept the righteousness of the Law then their “circumcision is made uncircumcision” (Rom. 2:25), according to scripture. The spiritual work of the Law, spiritual circumcision, is what saved men… not the outward and physical circumcision – so much so that if a man is spiritually circumcised and not physically circumcised then God will judge him to be physically circumcised, and if a man is physically circumcised and not spiritually circumcised then his physical circumcision will be counted as uncircumcision (Rom. 2:25-29)! Herein is the bottom-line principle validating the outward, carnal, and physical precepts of the Law which were observed by Israelites: spiritual salvation! Take a careful look at what Jewish salvation really was, my reader.
“And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.”– Deut. 30:6
In the Old Testament, apparently, to love God “with all thine heart and with all thy soul” was a necessity, without which one would die. This was a matter of life and death, not only in the Old Testament (Deut. 30:6, 10:16, Jer. 4:4) but in the New Testament. Deuteronomy 30:6 equates the spiritual circumcision of the heart as an operation one and the same with loving God with “all thine heart and with all thy soul”, and Romans 2:25-29, Colossians 2:11, and Philippians 3:3 identify spiritual circumcision as an inward experience which is equivalent to what is performed in the operation of salvation which is in Christ Jesus. All true Christians become Christians via regeneration, but apparently all Jews do likewise become Jews via regeneration --- seeing that both of them were required to “keep the righteousness of the Law” via the spiritual circumcision of the heart.
Such clarity is provided by Paul in Romans 2:25-29, but did this Church Polity exist in Abraham’s day? Were they conscious of this by what was written in the biblical pages of Church History (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s life-stories)? the answer is clearly yes. Their consciousness of inward salvation which enabled them to live a holy and righteous life, morally speaking, is evident in the events which transpired. Abraham’s seed did abound in number according to the promise, and although all of them were physically circumcised NOT ALL were spiritually circumcised, therefore biblical history recounts to the reader a repetitious enmity, division, and separation taking place. By separation, I mean, Isaac was separated from Ishmael, Jacob was separated from Esau, Joseph was separated from his brothers… all the way until the Exodus Generation. From thenceforth the Law of circumcision (physically & spiritually) became the legal framework by which God, in His own government, continued and maintained separation and holiness amongst the newborn posterity of His “called out people”. Whosoever was not inwardly and spiritually circumcised would not and could not “keep the righteousness of the Law” (Rom. 2:25-29), therefore they, by wicked works, were made manifest as spiritual enemies to The Church. For example my reader, take note: not all of the men who were the children of Abraham did inherit the promises of salvation (even though it was unto Abraham and his seed that the promises were given), but only those who were the spiritual seed of Abraham did inherit the promises of God. This spiritual seed of Abraham came to be inordinately mingled in the vast lineage of Abraham’s physical seed during lapses of apostasy, thus there was a need and reason to establish and reestablish separation throughout the centuries. The physical circumcision was the physical “token” (Gen. 17:11) upon all the “Covenant” (Gen. 17:9) inheritors after Abraham; however because The Church understood circumcision to be physical and spiritual (outward and inward), vast numbers of Abraham’s sons who were physically circumcised became disqualified from their inheritance in Abraham (i.e. Ishmael, Esau, etc.). This is because they were denounced from the family of Abraham altogether, as a father would renounce the existence of a son. Even so, these literal and physical children of Abraham came to have no spiritual inheritance in Abraham, for they were not his spiritual sons.
I repeat, it must be understood that even in the midst of Abraham’s seed, which was God’s chosen lineage, again and again The Gospel Call went forth… it was preached over and over to the end that Abraham’s seed was severed from Abraham’s seed, Jew was separated from Jew, kin was separated from kin: Isaac from Ishmael, Jacob from Esau, Joseph from his brethren. My reader, this continued in all the generations from Joseph to Jesus Christ. The chief example of all salvific divisions in the midst of Abraham’s seed was Jesus Christ (He, a spiritual Jew, was severed from the 1st century Jews according to the flesh). This “Jew severing from Jew” Gospel call is of great significance in the New Testament, my reader!
Study the centuries of history to trace the lines that came forth from Abraham’s flesh, and you will find that salvation is of the Lord and not of the flesh, and of the vast amount of carnal seed which came from Abraham, you will find that “the purpose of God according to election” did stand to call forth the seed, “not of works, but of Him that calleth” (Rom. 9:11). Therefore God chose Isaac rather than Ishmael, and said, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called” (Rom. 9:7), and by the power of the Gospel experience Isaac was Abraham’s spiritually circumcised and worthy seed. “What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded” (Rom. 11:7). As you may know, after Isaac was called and Ishmael was rejected, so also Jacob was called and Esau was rejected. God said of Jacob, “I have called him” (Isa. 48:15). When any man received the “call”, a call of Divine-power unto a Gospel experience of salvation, he became a part of the community, congregation, or assembly of “called out ones”: The Church.