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The True Circumcision.

The True Circumcision.

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" For we are the circumcision which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice
in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." — Phil, iii, 3.

" For we are the circumcision which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice
in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." — Phil, iii, 3.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Aug 09, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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The True Circumcision. By R. . SLEDD, " For we are the circumcision which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." — Phil, iii, 3. From the call of Abraham until the death of Christ the Jews were God's peculiar people. They con- stituted His visible church. To them " pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises." All others were accounted " strangers and foreigners." " But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." That Son, who was the theme of their prophecies, and the object of their faith and hope, and the antitype of all their sacrificial offerings, has " blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and has taken it out of the way, nailing it to His cross." He has broken down the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles, " having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances." The question naturally arises, who now are the peculiar people of God? Those things in which [216] True Heroism and Other Sermons. 21 7 consisted the peculiarities of Judaism distinguishing it from all other systems and separating the Jews from all other peoples have passed away. Those promises of salvation which it appropriated to itself as its exclusive heritage have now been given to all men. The Messiah has come, and, by the sacrifice of Himself, has made atonement not for their sins
only but also for the sins of the whole world. Who now are the circumcision? Who now consitute the true Israel, the true church of God? Where is it to be found? What are its essential characteristics? We have an answer to these inquiries in the text. " We are the circumcision which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confi- dence in the flesh." We have a parallel passage in the letter to the Romans : "He is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which iss outward in the flesh, but He is a Jew which is one in- wardly; and circumcision is that of the heart in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men but of God." These scriptures exclude the idea that anything of a mere external character is essential. owhere is the outward form of the church a subject of clear and distinct enactment. While the doctrines and morals of Christianity are succinctly defined, the servants of Christ have a large liberty with respect to forms of government and the adoption of measures for the advancement of the ends of the gospel. But these forms and measures do not enter into the 14 218 True Heroism and Other Sermons. essence of the church itself. They are only the scaf- folding around the building. They are but temporary in their nature and purpose. When the capstone shall, at last, be brought on with shoutings of " Grace, grace unto it," they shall disappear and be forgotten forever. We shall then see with a clearness and im- pressiveness that may not be possible now that the true church of God is comprised only of those who " worship Him in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." I. Its first mark is the spirituality of its worship. " The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. For God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth." Hitherto He had been worshiped in the splendid ceremonial of
the Jewish ritual. But every part of that ceremonial was typical — a shadow of good things to come. ow these types are all fulfilled, and we have the sub- stance, these good things, in the gospel. There is no longer need of such ceremonial, for we now have access by faith in the presence of God, and, as spiritual beings, are privileged to hold direct intercourse with Him. God is a Spirit as man is a spirit, but with this difference: God is infinite, while man is finite; God is above all, and in all, and through all; while man is subject to the limitations and oppressions of matter, True Heroism and Other Sermons. 219 and the disadvantages of multiform imperfections. To worship Him in spirit is to worship Him in the exercise of those powers that make us spiritual beings and in which is found our likeness to God. Our intellect contemplates and meditates on His adorable perfections; our judgment reverently approves all His methods and means of providence and grace; our will bows submissively to His decisions; our con- science, abhorring evil in all its forms, responds promptly and perfectly to every demand of His in- finite rectitude, while our hearts glow with ardent love to Him, and our spirits exult in His matchless grace. To a soul thus in harmony with Him, and renewed after His image, what need can there be for a gorgeous ritual? A child of God, a partaker of the divine nature, having in him, though in an in- finitely inferior degree, the moral perfections of the infinite Spirit, he feels that forms and ceremonies are but so many hinderances in the way of his com- munion with his Father. He has no need of words, nor of any external symbols in which to express the yearning, the adoration, the trust, the love, the joy of his spirit in communion with God. When under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we can thus rise superior to everything that is merely formal and outward, and in our spirit adore, and praise, and trust, and rejoice in God, we reach the highest perfection of spiritual worship attainable in the flesh.

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