Standard; Ro 3:1 What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision?
2 Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God.
Paul has just finished a scathing condemnation of the Jew who is resting on the laurels of his circumcision. Before that he had condemned all the self- righteous, (those relying solely on their good works) and before that he had condemned the unrighteous. (those who had no regard whatsoever for God)
For the sake of our discussion this morning, we will liken the circumcised Jew to the baptized Christian. In reality, the baptized New Testament Christian is a “spiritual Jew....a child of the faith of Abraham.
For as Paul stated in Ro 2:28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh;
29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.
Baptism coupled with faith is what makes us spiritual Jews.
Was there an advantage to being born into a Jewish family and to being circumcised? Is there an advantage to being born into a Christian family and being baptized? Not if you don't remain in the faith, not if you don't remain in trusting in Jesus alone for your salvation.
Does family pedigree get you into heaven? I don't think so.
Mt 3:9 "and do not think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
Does circumcision alone get you into heaven? Not! For the Israelites who left Egypt were circumcised, yet they did not enter the promised land because of their unbelief.
Heb 3:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
Does baptism alone do it? Negatory!
Mr 16:16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
So, is there any advantage then to being raised in a Jewish or Christian home? Oh yes! And the chief advantage is the exposure to the Word of God! It is this exposure to the Word that removes any and all reliance upon oral traditions for salvation.
The Jew didn't have to rely on oral tradition to know the necessity of circumcision in the salvation equation, and the Christian doesn't have to rely on oral tradition to know the necessity of baptism in the salvation equation.
It is this written word of God, that assures us of the efficacy of baptism.
The Jews didn't circumcise their children on the 8th day simply because “we've always done it that way!” And we don't baptize our children for the same reason. .....or do we? I wonder how many Lutherans bring their infant children to be baptized, simply because we've always done it that way? I wonder how many today really understand the significance of this blessed means of bringing God's grace to a child conceived in sin to deal with it's sin problem in such a definitive way?
Can you defend the doctrine of infant baptism by your knowledge of the Scriptures preserved and handed down to us through the ages? Or do you have to say, “We've always done it that way?” Do you understand what is being stated in Mark 16:16? Baptism is a necessary element of salvation, but it must be accompanied by faith. If not, I strongly urge you to take a copy of the book “Baptism and Spiritual Life” home with you today.
Have you ever wondered why it was necessary for Jesus to be baptized? He was baptized to “fulfill all righteousness” (Mt 3:15) Baptism is a righteous requirement for all, for it is the robe of Christ that one must wear in order to enter heaven.
All other righteousnesses are as filthy rags, Isa 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.
Jesus, in allowing Himself to be baptized was baptized in the stead of all the OT believers, who trusted in God's promise of a coming Messiah. Adam and Eve, Moses, Abraham, David, etc, believed in the coming Messiah, therefore His baptism was there baptism, because they received by faith all that Christ would accomplish for them in the flesh.
Those who reject the necessity of baptism for salvation often point to the thief on the cross as an example of someone who was saved without being baptized, but he and all others who did not have opportunity to be baptized were covered by their faith in Jesus and His submissive act.
So, one of the advantages of exposure to the written Word of God is to have the requirement of baptism for salvation, and it's effectiveness, spelled out for us in black and white.
Still another advantage of exposure to the Word of God is the inherent power of the Word of God to generate and sustain faith, which is the other necessary element of salvation. Remember, baptism alone does not save it must be accompanied by faith.
Ro 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Ps 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
So, this Word is alive and is found and revered in all true Christian hearts and homes! What an advantage over those who do not have this Word! What a shame to have this Word and let it gather dust on the coffee table or never taking the time to expose your children to it through daily devotions.
More than a shame it is downright dangerous, for the treasuring of God's Word is proof of one's saving faith.
1Jo 2:3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
The word “keep” does not mean obey. It means more than that it means to treasure. It is the idea of building a fence around something to keep it from harm because it is so valuable to you. Do you see how that gives clarity to these verses?
Now by this we know Him, if we treasure His Word. He who says I know Him and does not treasure His Word is a liar. (And liars have no place in heaven. Re 21:8 "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.")
“But whoever treasures His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.”
Because God's Word is treasured, it does not go in one ear and out the other, it produces godly action (love) and is the proof of our true faith. (Faith without works is dead.)
Are you treasuring God's Word? If not, your eternal soul is in grave danger, and if I were you I would ask God to give you a heart that treasures His Word.
Still another advantage of exposure to the Word of God is, it shows us how to live as followers of Jesus Christ.
2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Still another advantage of the Christian upbringing is the indwelling of the author of the oracles of God. When you were baptized, your heart became a home for the author of this book......the Holy Spirit. He will teach you this book like no other. He is the perfect teacher bringing you along at the perfect pace.
Joh 14:26 "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things,
Still one more advantage of exposure to the Word of God and the Holy Spirit is they work together to convince us of our sin. It is this word that shows us our desperate need for a Savior!
All these advantages....and there are even more, but we won't go into them today. Yet the average church going, professing Christian seldom opens their Bible for serious study, edification, and guidance. Or if they do open it, they soon weary of it.
Duncan Leighton, a minister in New Zealand writing in Evangelism Today (August 2000 edition) spoke for all who have a concern about this when he wrote:
There are many who feel that church has become an irrelevance. Music dominates. Sentimental jingles have replaced largely doctrinal-teaching hymns which prepare people for the uncertainties of life. The messages are often pick and mix affairs with the Bible treated like a Promise Box full of goodies with everything nice inside. Much of the resulting doctrine is built upon little more than clever observations and personal experience rather than upon the timeless revelations of God.
Pastors and Christian leaders who do not hold up to their congregations the importance of getting into the Bible for themselves may one day be in the position of pastoring communities who are charismatically sophisticated but biblically illiterate.
When our Bibles get dusty, our hearts get dusty, if our hearts get dusty our lives get dusty and the light of Christ placed within us at baptism dims and we lose our luster, our witness, and eventually our salvation, because the Word of God is no longer kept. (Treasured) .
The Law that God has written on our hearts needs to have life breathed into it, and that life comes when we are exposed to the Word. It's like John the Baptist (who represents the Law) leaping in his mothers womb when the Word of Life was brought alongside him in Mary's womb!
Far too many people are relying on their Sunday worship experience alone. Bible reading and exposition is being placed solely in the hands of the professional clergy, and if you want to see the end result of such philosophy, just visit the cathedrals of Europe. They are cold and empty, just as your heart will be if you turn your Bible reading over to professionals.
“But pastor, I'm unlearned.” Yes you are, but so am I, and the more of Scripture I read, the more unlearned I learn I really am. But that doesn't stop me, rather it encourages me to continue to dig deep into the treasure of God's Word.
Don't forget, the perfect Teacher resides in you, but He can't teach you if you're not in school!Get started! Commit to a regular time of Bible reading, journaling, praying back what the Holy Spirit has taught you, and then demonstrating you have learned it by acting on it, and I guarantee you that you are on your way to having “the love of God perfected in you.” And you know who do these things? Those who treasure God's Word.
I love the liturgical church's treatment of the Word of God in this regard. When my son was married last week, it was not the bride and groom who led the procession down the aisle...it was the Word of God. A Bible held aloft by one of the wedding attendants. Showing the primacy of the Word of God in a marriage.
If you've ever attended a liturgical worship service, you likely have seen the Bible as part of the procession into the church. Sometimes the pastor or priest will actually kiss the Bible.
As beautiful as that symbolism is, there is danger in it. Sometimes it reinforces the message that the Bible is beyond the reach of the person in the pew. May that never happen here at Living Word.
May this pulpit always be filled by men who encourage personal Bible reading and personal Bible study at all levels. You have an advantage Christian. You have the oracles of God.......ask God to help you treasure them anew beginning today. That's one prayer He will gladly answer.
Ex 33:13 "Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight.