The Anatomy of Faith: Timing
Changing the oil in your car.
9 Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.” 10 How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; 11 and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.
There is a direct correlation between circumcision and good works.
In Bible times circumcision was the seal of God’s covenant with Abraham (Gn 17:1–14).For the Jew then, circumcision was evidence of God’s approval and subsequent blessings. They underwent circumcision and it became a sign to remind them and God of their rights as God’s people.This is no different than people thinking that their good works are a sign of their standing with God. “I am good therefore God is good to me!”
1 Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless. 2 “I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly.” 3 Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, 4 “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, And you will be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 “No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 “I have made you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you. 7 “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. 8 “I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” 9 God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 “This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 “And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. 12 “And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. 13 “A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 “But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”
Paul’s point is that in the course of events, Abraham’s faith and the crediting of it as righteousness by God came before God’s command to circumcise (Gen 15:6).
6 Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
This order of events communicates two important points about Justification.
It explains how Abraham can be the father of both Jews and Gentiles. Rom. 4:11-12; Gen. 12:3; Gal. 3:8-9
11 and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.
3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.
It shows that salvation comes before works. We become Christlike as a result of our faith in Christ, not as a prerequisite to salvation. 1 Cor. 15:10; Heb. 13:20-21
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.
20 Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 21 equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Conclusion: So What?
Editor's Note: The doctrine of imputation involves the idea that God reconciles sinners to himself by declaring them to be righteous on account of Christ. We are judged by God on the basis of Christ's action and identity, which he has freely given (or "imputed") to us.
On May 1, 2009 at the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby a smaller horse named Mine That Bird entered the race at 50-1 odds. Mine That Bird had not fared well in his two previous races. So it was no surprise that the long-shot horse struggled from the start of the race. Mine That Bird and jockey Calvin Borel got squeezed between the other horses and quickly dropped into last place. At the first quarter-mile stage, Mine That Bird was still running dead last. At one point, he was so far behind the other horses that NBC's announcer Tom Durkin at first missed seeing him.
But at the three-eighths pole, Mine That Bird started gaining on the other horses. After passing Atomic Rain, the horse took off. As Borel rode his horse around the eighth pole, he guided Mine That Bird between the rail and another horse. From that point Mine That Bird took off to victory, winning the mile race by 6 and ¾ lengths.
The victory stunned the horse racing world. Even Mine That Bird's owner said, "[The victory] wasn't something that was on our radar." Another horse owner said, "I was like, What happened? It was a shocker."
But Mine That Bird's jockey, Calvin Borel, wasn't shocked. When asked what happened during the race, Borel simply said, "I rode him like a good horse."
Possible Preaching Angles: This isn't "the power of positive thinking." Imputation implies the crediting of qualities that are external to yourself. Mine That Bird won the race because a higher authority (Calvin Borel) rode him as if he were a winning horse. Like Jesus, Borel calls into being something that was not there previously—his righteousness in us.