Romans (09): The Abrahamic Covenant vs Gnosticism

Date: 8/10/2008
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Romans 4: An Exposition (09) - The Abrahamic Covenant
All Saints * Dr. Gregg Strawbridge * August 10, 2008

Romans 4:11 Then, he received the distinguishing mark of circumcision, an official seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised, so that he would become the father of all those who believe but have never been circumcised, that they too could have righteousness credited to them . . . 16 For this reason it is by faith so that it may be by grace, with the result that this promise may be absolutely certain to all the family—not only to those who are of Torah, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all. (GS tr.)

The Covenant is not ______________ Descent or _____________ Identity
Circumcision was not a sign of ethnic identity, physical descent, temporal blessings, but it was of covenantal identity and the heart of the covenant union was faith. Abraham “received the distinguishing mark of circumcision, an official seal of the righteousness.” Neither is it about national identity. Ishmael, though circumcised, was not in the nation “Israel” (Gen. 17:20-25). Moreover, though Ishmael was circumcised, he did not receive the “Land” promise of Israel. Neither does it require “physical descent.” Rahab was not born into the physical descent of Abraham (Mt. 1:5), neither were the 318 men of Abraham’s household (Gen. 14:14). Circumcision is a sign of the covenant, a seal of the righteousness of faith. It is a sign that God would be God to Abraham and his faith-descendants.
The Covenant is not “__________________ vs _____________________”
We new covenant believers are a physical community who will have physical, resurrection bodies like Jesus’ physical resurrection body. That is implicit in the restoration of the Abrahamic covenant. And God does not neuter us when we come into His kingdom. He gives us children and hope for an “earthly” future. He calls our children part of the Church and kingdom ((Eph. 1:1/6:1-4, Col. 1:2/3:20, 1Cor. 7:14; Matt. 19:14, Mark 10:14, Luke 18:16). A “physical” vs “spiritual” approach misses the resurrection in the promise to Abraham (see Rom. 4:17, 25, 1 Cor. 15:22ff).
The Covenant is Still in Effect as a ______________ __________________
The covenant promised dominion in the world/land/earth. Believers do have “land” now (Eph. 6) and lot of it forever - Romans 4:13 - “heir of the cosmos.” This “land” is not a temporal feature of the Abrahamic covenant. Jesus said, “The meek shall inherit the earth.”
The Covenant is not about __________________ but ________________.
Faith, then faithfulness was always required (Gen. 15:6, 18:19). The means God provided for covenant fidelity included that each individual in covenant from infancy be raised in the knowledge of God and taught the way of the Lord in every aspect of life (Gen. 18:19; Deut. 6). Signs and seals, like circumcision or baptism, hold forth promises and obligations. Genesis 18:19 - “For I have chosen him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice; in order that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.”

Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more