The Seal of Authenticity

In Romans 4 Paul makes it clear that working earns a wage but trusting receives a gift. He quotes Genesis 15:6 to show that no one, not even Abraham, the venerated father of the Hebrew people, can earn their own righteousness.

          Genesis 15:6 “Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”

Early in Abram’s adult life (before he was Abraham), the Lord chose him to play a crucial role in a great plan to redeem the world from evil. He did this by establishing an unconditional covenant with the man and his descendants in Genesis 12.

Time passed, however, and Abram was 85 years old still without the promised descendant. Even so, Abram believed, not in himself or even the promise but, as Genesis 15:6 says, “Abram believed in the Lord.”

Abram believed that God was willing and able to fulfill His promises despite the natural difficulties due to his and Sarai’s old age. The Lord’s response was to declare Abram just.

Paul declares that the grace Abraham received through faith is available to us as well! Paul is not saying that faith is another means of payment; believing God is good but it does not make one worthy of grace.

There is a difference between our position and our condition.

When one receives God’s grace through faith, they are considered righteous and treated as such despite their current behavior. This is the good news. By the sovereign act of God, the unjust person who receives God’s grace through faith is declared just.

In verses 9-12, having addressed the fact that Abraham was declared righteous by grace, Paul moves his attention to the rite of circumcision, the Jewish seal of authenticity. Paul asks, is this faith principle intended only for those who are identified with God’s covenant with Abraham?

Through the centuries after Abraham, the Jews placed greater and greater emphasis on the outer symbol of circumcision and virtually forgot the internal spiritual significance of their relationship with God. Today, thousands have submitted to baptism and observe the Lord’s Supper yet without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

The Lord intended circumcision to be a seal of the authenticity of the covenant between man and God. While this covenant with Abraham was unilateral and unconditional-God gave an oath to do what He promised regardless of the people’s response. The Lord intended Hebrew participation in the agreement to include more than a mere outward sign.
In the same way, baptism follows one’s decision to trust in Jesus Christ.


1. Baptism shows I am taking Christ seriously and desiring to follow Him.

Jesus didn’t need to be baptized; He was perfect. If we are really followers, we will follow Him in baptism.

2. Baptism shows I am taking Christ seriously and desiring to obey Him.
Christ commands that every Christian be baptized (Matthew 28:19). Baptism occurs right after you make the decision to follow Christ. If you are a disciple then you will be baptized. Baptism is an issue of obedience. Will you obey or not?

3. Baptism shows I am publicly identifying with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ
Baptism doesn’t make you a Christian, it shows that you are a Christian. In the same way, a wedding ring doesn’t make you married, it is a symbol of a commitment that I made to be married.

In the first century, people were baptized in a public place like a local pool and following Jesus wasn’t popular. Baptism meant that you were all in, publicly identifying with Jesus as a believer.

Baptism is your way of saying “I’m denying self, obeying Scripture, and following Jesus!”
Pastor Chris Williams
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