Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | October 14, 2007

Lord’s Day Quote: Meredith Kline

On the one hand, the theophanic oath passage signified hypothetically, the judgment curse that the Lord would suffer as a covenant-breaker.  But in its historical-theological context it also pointed to the redemptive sacrifice of the Son of God in fulfillment of the covenant promise.  It was prophetic of that judgment curse of Golgotha that was the salvation of God’s people, a death of the One that brought justification and life to many.  Circumcision is in fact employed in the Scripture as an image for that redemptive judgment undergone by Christ.  Paul referred to the crucifixion as “the circumcision of Christ” (Col 2:11), seeing it as antitype to the circumcision-sacrifice of Isaac (Gen 22), a “putting off” not merely of a token part but the whole body of his flesh through death (cf. Col 1:22), a veritable perfecting of circumcision.

…Both the Old and New Testament expound the theology of circumcision in its proper redemptive meaning.  True circumcision, Scripture insists, is a matter of heart-consecration to the covenant Lord (Deut 10:16; 30:6; Jer 4:4; 6:10; 9:25,26; Rom 2:29; 4:11; Phil 3:3).  Circumcision, properly experienced, means identification with Christ in his crucifixion-circumcision as a satisfaction of divine justice and it thus means safe passage through the death-judgment to the resurrection unto justification (Col 2:11 ff; Rom 4:11).  To be circumcised in Christ involves further dying to sin, a putting off of the old man not only in the forensic sense but subjectively in the spiritual transformation of sanctification (Col 2:11 ff; 3:5 ff).  In such spiritual, soteric realities does the meaning of circumcision consist, according to the analogy of Scripture.  Those who, due particularly to a misguided desire to separate circumcision from baptism, desacralize circumcision, reducing its significance to some sort of Jewish nationalism or territorialism stripped of typological redemptive-covenantal meaning, produce a fiction.  The significance of the Abrahamic ordinance of circumcision as consistently interpreted in the Bible is through and through religious, spiritual, covenantal, and indeed Christocentric.

In sum, circumcision was a vow of consecration marking entrance into God’s covenant.  By this oath-sign one was consigned to a status of discipleship under God’s sovereign lordship in expectation of his judgment in accordance with the stipulated terms of his covenant. Reception of circumcision was not an infallible index of faith or election.  It was not in a given instance a guarantee of eternal salvation.  Circumcision threatened the covenant-breaker with ultimate excision.  Nevertheless, its proper purpose was found in its significance as an invitation of grace to undergo God’s judgment in the Redeemer-Substitute and so experience the death-passage as the way of life.

Matching circumcision in all major respects is the new covenant ordinance of baptism…Baptism symbolizes the divine judgment ordeal and, indeed, the curse of death.  The outstanding water ordeals of the Old Testament are identified in the New Testament as baptisms.  (On the Noahic Deluge ordeal, see 1 Pet 3:20-22; and for the Red Sea ordeal, 1 Cor 10:1,2).  John the Forerunner describes Messiah’s impending judgment of the covenant community as a baptism and he interpreted his own ministry of water baptism as symbolic (Matt 3:11,12).  also, Jesus referred to his death on the cross as a baptism (Luke 12:50).  The New Testament exposition of Christian baptism as a participation with Christ in the judgment ordeal of his death, burial, and resurrection (Rom 6:3 ff; Col 2:11 ff) further evidences the basic, generic symbolism of baptism as a judgment ordeal of death, but at the same time it points to the specific kind of baptismal death properly in view in this rite, namely, death with Christ.  According to its proper redemptive purpose baptism speaks of justification, reception of the Spirit with all the attending soteriological benefits; it is an invitation to undergo the baptism and death ordeal in Christ unto resurrection and everlasting life.

 Meredith Kline, Kingdom Prologue Genesis Foundation For A Covenantal Worldview


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