How To Make A Disciple
Rom 2:25-29 GW For example, circumcision is valuable if you follow Moses' laws. (The idea here of Moses’ Laws would be what is contained in the Torah, the Pentetuech, the first five books of the Bible which were written by Moses. The essence of the Torah is the call to fear, love, and trust in God above all things. )
If you don't follow those laws, ( if you don’t fear, love, and trust in God) your circumcision amounts to uncircumcision. (26) So if a man does what Moses' Teachings demand, (fears, loves, and trusts in God) won't he be considered circumcised even if he is uncircumcised? (Wouldn’t such a person demonstrate that his heart was circumcised even though his body was not?)
Deu 10:16 GW So circumcise your uncircumcised hearts, and don't be impossible to deal with any longer. (We become impossible to deal with when we cease to fear, love, and trust in God and are bent on doing things our way.)
(27) The uncircumcised man who carries out what Moses' Teachings say (namely that we should fear, love, and trust in God) will condemn you for not following them. (for not fearing, trusting, and loving God) He will condemn you in spite of the fact that you are circumcised and have Moses' Teachings in writing.
(28) A person is not a Jew because of his appearance, nor is circumcision a matter of how the body looks. (29) Rather, a person is a Jew inwardly, and circumcision is something that happens in a person's heart. Circumcision is spiritual, not just a written rule. That person's praise will come from God, not from people.
We could sum up these passages by simply saying, the OT rite of circumcision had to be accompanied by faith in order to have any saving value. And we will spend most of our time today applying the same concept to baptism. Baptism alone will not save you, it must be accompanied by faith. A faith that produces, fear, love, and trust of God.
Paul has been demonstrating to the self-righteous Jews that they are not as righteous as they think. He mentioned three sins that they had been caught in...stealing, adultery, and sacrilege. Now he goes after another timber that the Pharisaic Jew will use to prop up his false sense of righteousness namely his ....... circumcision.
I found it very interesting that words associated with circumcision are mentioned a total of 32 times in the OT, but 71 mentions are given in the New!
You’d think that since it was an OT practice that there would be more mentions in the Old, but there aren’t. The reason being that Paul was constantly dealing with the subject as converted Jews kept insisting that the practice be continued and that it was still necessary for NT salvation, and it is in a sense it is, but we’ll touch on that later..
Act 15:1 GW Some men came from Judea and started to teach believers that people can't be saved unless they are circumcised as Moses' Teachings require.
In a way, you can’t blame the Jews. To give up this OT rite would seem to be the equivalent of asking you and I to give up water baptism.
Circumcision was the seal of the old covenant of grace and promise that God instituted with Abraham. Kretzmann calls it “ a sacrament of God’s mercy.” It was a “means of grace” through which the Lord transmitted the blessings of His covenant with Abraham to Abraham and all of his descendants.
It was a necessary element for salvation in the Old Testament, to be aware of it and reject it was to reject God’s promise of salvation connected to it.........
Gen 17:14 GW (14) Any uncircumcised male must be excluded from his people because he has rejected my promise."
Just as baptism is a necessary element of salvation in the New Testament. To be aware of it and reject it is to reject God’s promise of salvation connected to it. Why is baptism necessary?
Because God says it is.
Mar 16:16 GW Whoever believes (fears, loves, and trusts God) and is baptized will be saved, (believes and is what? Baptized. Will be what? Saved!) but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
In the OT, infants were brought into the covenant relationship with God by the rite of circumcision at the age of 8 days.
Gen 17:12 GW For generations to come every male child who is eight days old must be circumcised, whether he is born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner who's not related to you.
In the NT infants are brought into the covenant relationship with God by the rite of baptism as soon as possible, but quite frankly, I like the 8 day rule, and I like it because it connects us to the OT covenant. Imagine baptizing all our children on the 8th day of their lives! How inconvenient, but that’s my point. Maybe then baptism would become more about what God does than what we do.
We have turned the timing of baptism into our own convenience. We have to find a date that is convenient for all the relatives to make it to the big event. While that certainly is a nice sentiment, we need to ask ourselves, “hey, who’s getting baptized here?”And “what is really taking place?” There should be a sense of urgency here!
You know what else I like about the 8 day rule? It gave the Jews a great deal of comfort concerning those babies who were miscarried. They couldn’t be circumcised in the womb and God was saying, “don’t worry, it’s not a requirement until the 8th day. Those children are My responsibility. Your responsibility begins on the 8th day. Could we not get the same comfort from practicing baptism on the 8th day?
Why do we baptize infants? Because they are stained with original sin, that sin needs to be taken care of if they are to enter heaven, and because God promises to forgive their sins in the waters of baptism.
Act 2:38-39 GW Peter answered them, "All of you must turn to God and change the way you think and act, and each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins will be forgiven. Then you will receive the Holy Spirit as a gift. (39) This promise belongs to you and to your children and to everyone who is far away. It belongs to everyone who worships the Lord our God."
Now, those who wished to convert to Judaism also had to be circumcised.
Exo 12:47-49 GW "The whole community of Israel must celebrate the Passover. (48) "Foreigners may want to celebrate the LORD'S Passover. First, every male in the household must be circumcised. Then they may celebrate the Passover like native-born Israelites. But no uncircumcised males may ever eat the Passover meal. (49) The same instructions apply to native-born Israelites as well as foreigners."
Those who wish to convert to Christianity must be baptized. Baptism, wherever possible is inseparable from salvation for the Christian.
The Ethiopian Eunich had the Gospel clearly shared with him by Phillip. Look what happened.
Act 8:35-37 GW Then Philip spoke. Starting with that passage, Philip told the official the Good News about Jesus. (36) As they were going along the road, they came to some water. The official said to Philip, "Look, there's some water. What can keep me from being baptized?"
Why would he ask that question if Phillip had not presented the idea of the necessity of baptism in his gospel presentation? Where you find the Jew you find circumcision, where you find the Christian you will find baptism. To reject circumcision in the OT was to make a statement. “God, I reject your covenant of grace, I don’t want my child to be a part of it.” To reject baptism in the NT is to do the same thing.
Why do you think He gave us the great commission? What is the great commission? If you answered to make disciples, you are correct. But how do we make disciples? The answer is, by baptizing.
Mat 28:19-20 GW So wherever you go, make disciples of all nations: Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. (20) Teach them to do everything I have commanded you. "And remember that I am always with you until the end of time."
The essence of the Greek here is that disciples are made by baptizing. What IS a disciple? A disciple is a student, a follower of a certain teaching, or teacher. The teacher that Christians follow is Jesus, and the teaching is that we are saved by grace through faith and this not of ourselves it is the gift of God not of works lest any man should boast.
When a person is baptized, they become a disciple, a student. They are enrolled in the school of Christ, they are in Christ and will remain in Christ unless they decide to drop out of His school.
Gal 3:27 GW Clearly, all of you who were baptized in Christ's name have clothed yourselves with Christ. (He is the school uniform)
Jesus said we should “make disciples,” How do we do that? Shouldn’t we know how if we are going to fulfill the Great Commission. Well, the truth is, we can’t make disciples on our own. The Holy Spirit can create a desire in someone’s heart to be a student, a disciple, a follower of Christ as we preach the Word as Phillip did to the eunich.
But the actual making of the disciple happens in baptism, and that’s why the eunich was so eager to get baptized! He was anxious to enroll in the School of Christ, in the kingdom of God.
Another way to make a disciple is for a Christian parent to bring their infant child to the waters of baptism, thereby enrolling them in the School of Christ or the Kingdom of God. The enrollment process is the same for all. Baptism.
The beauty of it all is that baptism is sheer grace. It is God putting His stamp or seal on the eunich or the infant child saying, “I officially enroll you in my kingdom.”
What did Jesus tell His disciples?
Joh 15:16a GW You didn't choose me, but I chose you.
This is how He chooses....through baptism. How else could we accomplish the commission that He has given us and still say that He does the choosing? How can WE MAKE disciples? We can’t! Only He can choose and make disciples and He has chosen to make them through baptism.
Yes we bring the infant, and we perform the ritual, but God does the work of grace. Another beautiful thing to remember is that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. All the sins were paid for on Calvary and no matter who we bring to Him, anywhere in the world, anytime, the rite of baptism washes away their sins as they enter the school or Kingdom of Christ.
You see, you cannot enter this school, this kingdom if sin clings to you, so you must be washed and clothed in Christ and He washes us and clothes us in baptism.
Tit 3:5 GW he saved us, but not because of anything we had done to gain his approval. Instead, because of his mercy he saved us through the washing in which the Holy Spirit gives us new birth and renewal.
What is the washing in which the Holy Spirit gives us new birth? Water baptism.
Listen to what Peter wrote.
1Pe 3:20-21 GW They are like those who disobeyed long ago in the days of Noah when God waited patiently while Noah built the ship. In this ship a few people-eight in all-were saved by water. (21) Baptism, which is like that water, now saves you. Baptism doesn't save by removing dirt from the body. Rather, baptism is a request to God for a clear conscience. It saves you through Jesus Christ, who came back from death to life.
Baptism saves, not because it is an outward removal of dirt, but it is God coming to you and clearing your conscience which He does through the finished work of Jesus Christ.
This was one of the points that Paul was trying to make with the self-righteous Jew who clung to his circumcision for his salvation. Circumcision was an outwardly visible sign. You can tell if someone has been circumcised. If water baptism would just be a matter of rinsing away exterior dirt, you could view it as a mere outward physical sign too, and in fact sadly many do in the Christian church today.
Many view baptism as nothing but an outward visible sign, they view it as an act of obedience and make it something they do rather than something that God does.
But this is not what circumcision was meant to be and it was not what baptism was meant to be.
Deu 30:6 GW The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants. You will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and you will live.
Circumcision was an outward picture of an inward reality and the inward reality was that in circumcision the thing in the Jews heart that would separate him from God (sin) was cut away or removed. It was circumcised. In baptism, the inward reality is that sin, which would separate us from God, is washed away.
As Ananias told Paul.
Act 22:16 GW What are you waiting for now? Get up! Be baptized, and have your sins washed away as you call on his name.'
Much more could be said about baptism and indeed needs to be said in the Lutheran church. Because many bring their children to be baptized but don’t have a clue about what they are doing. If Lutherans truly understood this powerful means of grace, they would not be so quick to attach themselves to those churches that have turned the sacrament into a work of men, a mere outward and visible sign such as circumcision.
Let this be said for right now. When you brought your child to be baptized you enrolled that child in the school of Christ. When you were brought to the waters of baptism, you were enrolled in the school of Christ. The kingdom of God.
Classes need to be held daily as you spend time in the Word allowing the Holy Spirit to instruct you and enable you to “do everything that Jesus has commanded of His disciples.” Daily, we need to revisit our baptism, as we remember that in our baptism we died to ourselves and are now living for Christ.
Rom 6:4 GW When we were baptized into his death, we were placed into the tomb with him. As Christ was brought back from death to life by the glorious power of the Father, so we, too, should live a new kind of life.
Circumcision is of no value in the New Covenant because in Christ you have already been circumcised. And that’s what I meant earlier when I said that in a sense we need to be circumcised. We need to be in Christ, who was circumcised as an 8 day old infant. When Christ walked this earth He fulfilled all the requirements of the Law for you. Including circumcision. His circumcision serves as your circumcision!
Luk 2:21 GW Eight days after his birth, the child was circumcised and named Jesus. This was the name the angel had given him before his mother became pregnant.
When you are baptized you put on Christ and every part of the Law that He fulfilled is yours. And so it would be an affront to require circumcision again, it would be saying that Christ did not do enough for your salvation.
But, when Christ was baptized, He was not baptized for you, He was baptized for all who were rightly related to Him in the Old Covenant, that’s why He said to John, “Permit Me to be baptized, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”
He was not fulfilling the Law in His circumcision for the NT believers, He was fulfilling righteousness for the OT believers. They too are in Christ and will be able to say that they believed and were baptized, they fulfilled this righteous requirement of the New Covenant for salvation when Christ was baptized for them. Just as NT believers will be able to say that they were circumcised, because Christ was circumcised for them.
Paul speaks of this in his letter to the Colossians.
Col 2:10-12 GW and God has made you complete in Christ. (all the Law and all righteousness fulfilled in Him) Christ is in charge of every ruler and authority. (11) In him you were also circumcised. It was not a circumcision performed by human hands. But it was a removal of the corrupt nature in the circumcision performed by Christ. (12) This happened when you were placed in the tomb with Christ through baptism. In baptism you were also brought back to life with Christ through faith in the power of God, who brought him back to life.
So Paul is saying here in Romans that circumcision is only of value if you follow Moses’ teachings, that is if you fear, love, and trust in God. The evidence stands against the Pharasaic Jew as Paul has already pointed out their sins of stealing, adultery, and sacrilege. So the Pharasiac Jew cannot stand before God on Judgement Day and say, “you must let me into heaven because I have been circumcised.”
God will reply, “we can all see that, but I am looking for the inward circumcision and I’m not seeing it.” Does that mean that none of the circumcised Jews of the OT will be in heaven? Of course not.
Those who were circumcised in their heart as well as in their body will be there, because they believed the promise of God. Abraham believed God and it was accounted to Him as righteousness, and the sign of his belief, the seal of his belief was his circumcision.
Baptism, works the same way. Mark 16:16 says:
Mar 16:16 GW Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
What are the two requirements for salvation? For righteousness? Be baptized and believe....have faith in Christ, and receive the seal of God’s promise in the waters of baptism.
What disqualifies one from salvation....only unbelief. Baptized or not, the one who does not believe, the one who walked away from the school of Christ will not be saved.
The point of this portion of Romans is this: Don’t rely on the Sacraments alone to save you, they must be accompanied by faith. (Fear, love, and trust in God) Not just a mental assent to faith but an utter dependence on Christ for all things. Depend on Him for fulfilling the requirements of the Law, depend on Him for the requirements of righteousness, depend on Him for forgiveness, depend on Him for faith, depend on Him to produce the works worthy of faith.
You or someone you know have been brought to faith and enrolled in the School of Christ in your baptism. But it is possible to disenroll yourself from the kingdom...you can lose your faith. Paul spoke of such people later in this letter:
Rom 16:17 GW Brothers and sisters, I urge you to watch out for those people who create divisions and who make others fall away from the Christian faith by teaching doctrine that is not the same as you have learned. Stay away from them.
False teaching can lead you away from the faith. The cares of the world can also cause you to lose your salvation.
2Ti 4:10a GW Demas has abandoned me. He fell in love with this present world and went to the city of Thessalonica.
So be on guard and warn others. You have been given a great gift in your baptism. Don’t go enrolling in other schools with false teachers, and don’t be a dropout that thinks he doesn’t need any more Christ.
Finish the race! Finish the School of Christ! Remain in the Kingdom of God! And if you have dropped out, God is still holding a chair for you, there is still time to come back to school. There is no need to be re-baptized. Just show up at the door humbly like the Prodigal son did and the Father will welcome you back with open arms.