At the very moment sin entered the world, God revealed His plan of salvation. The serpent that beguiled Eve was condemned to slither upon its belly, and the power behind the serpent was warned of his defeat. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Gen. 3:15)
Convicted of the offence of not obeying God, the only two people on earth stood before the wrath of God. Having no one to justify them, Adam and Eve stood helpless and ashamed. But God did not leave them without hope; mixed with His wrath was the sweetness of His mercy contained in the promise of salvation for them and their descendants. The mother of all humanity was promised that in her seed salvation and victory over sin would come.
Adam and Eve’s sin abolished righteousness in man and brought death and sin to the world, but immediately following the offence, God promised salvation for them and all who would come after them. So in contrast to the notion that Jesus is national Israel’s Messiah, the Savior was first promised to all humanity. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
We know that salvation came by the sacrifice of God’s only begotten Son. So how was God’s Son to come into this fallen and sinful world? By what standard was He to show both the righteousness and mercy of God? Only God could provide such a standard and today we know that standard as the righteous Law that was given through Moses the prophet.
The Law, God’s righteous standard, had to be given to man to prepare the way of salvation. God chose to make for Himself a nation through whom His power, glory, mercy, and righteousness could be manifest. “And who is like Your people, like Israel, the one nation on the earth whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people, to make for Himself a name–and to do for Yourself great and awesome deeds for Your land–before Your people whom You redeemed for Yourself from Egypt, the nations, and their gods?” (2Sam. 7:23)
Eleven generations after the deluge, Noah’s descendents were scattered throughout the earth. One man, Abram, the descendent of Shem, was chosen by God to be the father of a great nation. “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen. 12:2-3)
Literally God told Abram that He would make a great people of him, and in him all the families (tribes, peoples, etc.) of the earth will be blessed. This is a direct reference to Christ our Savior and all those who by Him have been and are being saved.
After Abram and his nephew Lot parted because the land could not sustain the numerous livestock they held, the Lord showed Abram all the land of Canaan. “For all the land which you see I give to you and your seed forever. And I will make your seed as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your seed also could be numbered.” (Gen. 13:15-16) This promise is reiterated in Gen. 15:5-7.
What did Abram do that God should do such a thing? He believed God! And the promise given to Abram is extended to all who believe because it is a promise wrought by faith. And all who believe by faith are the descendants of Abram.
When Abram was 99 years old the Lord appeared to him and told him he would be the father of many nations thereby changing his name to Abraham. God made a covenant with Abraham and his seed that He would be a God to them forever, and all the land of Canaan would be their inheritance. And God made a sign for the covenant; He told Abraham that every male child shall be circumcised on the eighth day after birth.
God made His covenant with Abraham and then established the sign of the covenant. In other words, the covenant was made before the sign was given. This means that Abraham was uncircumcised when the covenant was made. The covenant, therefore, cannot be to those of the circumcision, but to those, like Abraham, who believe by faith, thus becoming heirs of the promise through grace. The Apostle Paul said the following concerning this:
“Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised. For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.” (Rom. 4:9-13)
Circumcision signified the promise; it did not mean that those who bore the mark were heirs simply because they were descendants of Abraham’s flesh. The heirs were those who, like Abraham, believed God by faith. The significance of circumcision, however, would not be realized until after Messiah had come.
Circumcision is the cutting asunder of the foreskin. The cutting away of the useless flesh signified the putting away of the old life when a person, by faith, believes in Jesus as the Son of God and receives the Holy Spirit. This is called circumcision of the heart. “And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of [the sins of] the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ.” (Col. 2:10-11) It is the circumcision of Christ that signifies an heir to the covenant. The circumcision of the flesh avails nothing at all, for if one is in Christ he is heir to all the promises including the inheritance of the promised land.
“For all the land which you see I give to you and your seed forever.” The Apostle Paul gives insight to the word “seed” used here in this promise to Abraham: “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.” (Gal. 3:16) Christ is the recipient of the blessings promised to Abraham and through Christ many are made heirs – “I will make your seed as the dust of the earth.”
“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1: 11-13)
By the Jews rejection, the love of God was manifest through Christ to all men. The temple, a model of the heavenly dwelling place of God, was destroyed and a new temple erected. Justified by His blood, sanctified by His love, those who hold the testimony of Jesus Christ are the dwelling place of God; His temple.
Having no knowledge of God, the nations had no part with God; but through Christ those who were far from Him are drawn near to Him and become His children. Having only known life in the flesh, the Gentiles were under wrath. But God in His mercy and great love, loved us even when we were dead in our sins and saved us through Christ.
Through faith what becomes apparent to others is that we are the workmanship of God, created in Christ unto good works – you will know us by our fruits. If the Spirit of Christ is in you, you will bear spiritual fruit.
“Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors–not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Rom 8:9-14)
So let each of us examine ourselves and prove we are the children of God as we say we are. If we walk according to the Spirit, though we are different, we are one because God is one. Therefore, if we are in the Spirit, we are one bread, one body, and one with Christ who is the head.
The church indeed is one; the church indeed was founded by Christ; the church indeed are the children of God from Adam to the last at His glorious appearing.
Those who are of His church, who walk in the Spirit “are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” (Eph. 2:19-21)
Paul, having been sent to preach to the Gentiles, laid the foundation of the Gospel of Christ for us to build upon. Paul knew what he had been called to do and he knew is was the work of God in him. Indeed he also knew his letters were inspired by God.
“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles — if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.” (Eph. 3:1-7)
We are not saved by simply accepting the Lord Jesus into our hearts. The word is received into a variety of hearts — some like the stone pathway, some like the shallow soil, some like the weed infested ground, and some in the good soil. If the heart that receives the word of God is like the good soil, he will bear fruit beginning with the fruits of repentance. For such a one can echo the inspired words of Paul, who said:
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”