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The Glad Tidings

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    A Question of Profit

    “If ye receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing.” It should be understood that much more is involved than the mere rite of circumcision. The proof of this is found in the fact that this Epistle, which has so much to say about circumcision, has been preserved by the Lord for us, and contains the Gospel message for all time; yet circumcision as a rite is not a burning, living question now. Nobody is seeking to have Christians submit to the rite of circumcision in the flesh.GTI 204.1

    The question under consideration is how to obtain righteousness—salvation from sin—and the inheritance of righteousness. The fact is that it can be obtained only by faith—by receiving Christ into the heart, and allowing Him to live His life in us. Abraham had this righteousness of God by faith of Jesus Christ, and God gave Him circumcision as a sign of that fact. It had a peculiar significance to Abraham, serving continually to remind him of his failure, when he tried, by means of the flesh, to fulfil God’s promise. The record of it serves the same purpose for us. It signifies that “the flesh profiteth nothing,” and is not, therefore, to be depended on. The mere fact of being circumcised did not make Christ of no avail, for Paul was himself circumcised, and as a matter of expediency he had Timothy circumcised. Acts 16:1-3. But Paul did not count his circumcision nor any other external thing of any value (Philippians 3:4-7), and when it was proposed to circumcise Titus, as a thing necessary to salvation, he would not allow it (Galatians 2:3-5).GTI 204.2

    That which was to be only the sign of an already-existing fact, was taken by subsequent generations as the means of establishing the fact. Circumcision, therefore, stands in this Epistle as the representative of all kinds of work done by men with a view of obtaining righteousness. Outward circumcision, in the flesh, which was what Judaizing teachers were seeking to impose on believers from among the Gentiles as the great means of salvation (see Acts 15:1), stands for the works of the flesh, as opposed to the Spirit.GTI 205.1

    Now the truth is stated that if a person does anything with the expectation of being saved by it, that is, of getting salvation by his own work, Christ profits him nothing. If Christ be not accepted as a complete Redeemer, He is not accepted at all. That is to say, if Christ be not accepted for what He is, He is rejected. He can not be other than what He is. Christ is not divided; and He does not share with any other person or thing the honor of being Saviour. Therefore it is easy to see that if any one were circumcised with a view to receiving salvation thereby, that would show absence of faith in Christ as the all-sufficient and only Saviour of mankind.GTI 205.2

    God gave circumcision as a sign of faith in Christ; the Jews perverted it into a substitute for faith. So when a Jew boasted in his circumcision, he was boasting of his own righteousness. This is shown by verse 4: “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” This is no disparagement of the law, but of man’s ability to keep the law. It is the glory of the law that it is so holy, and its requirements are so great, that no man is able to attain to the perfection of it. Only in Christ is the righteousness of the law ours; and true circumcision is to worship God in Spirit, to rejoice in Christ Jesus, and to put no confidence in the flesh. Philippians 3:3.GTI 206.1

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