AiG: “In Colossians 2, Paul explained that the Colossian believers, who were of the uncircumcision (i.e., Gentiles) had been “circumcised with a circumcision made without hands” having been saved “through faith in the powerful working of God” (Colossians 2:11–12). This circumcision made without hands refers to a circumcision of the heart, which comes through the Spirit (Romans 2:25–29).”
Me: This is absolutely correct. Whereas a physical circumcision was requirement for a physical entry into the physical commonwealth of Israel, a spiritual circumcision (aka, salvation) is a requirement for entry into the spiritual commonwealth of Israel. The physical is always an object lesson to help us understand the spiritual. Physical circumcision never saved anyone, past, present, or future. No one is saying that it does.
AiG: “The previous paragraph laid the framework for what Paul told these Gentile believers next. “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:16–17). As we have already seen in Acts 15 and Galatians, the early churches often consisted of contingents of both Jews and Gentiles, and they struggled with the dynamic of Gentiles being “brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). Many of the Gentile believers had been told that they need to believe in Jesus and follow some or all of the Mosaic law. But, as he did in Galatians, Paul rejected such a view and told these Gentiles not to let anyone judge them if they did not follow Jewish customs, such as the dietary laws, festivals, new moons, or Sabbaths.”
Me: Yes it does lay a framework. It shows us, as I stated above, that the physical things are representations of the spiritual things. The object lessons help us understand the realities. These are a shadow (representation) of things to come, but the substance (the actual body casting the aforementioned shadow) belongs to Christ. He’s telling us not to confuse the shadows with the realities. The shadows are in place to help us understand the realities – they are not the realities themselves. If the Colossians chose not to be circumcised or to take part in the feast days, etc, these were not salvation issues. Throughout his epistles, Paul tries over and over again to make clear to people (people who had a very high regard for the Law and were keeping it) that keeping the Law is not what saves us.
AiG: “Amazingly enough, HRM teachers flip the meaning of this verse on its head, claiming that Paul is telling them not to let anyone judge them for now keeping these practices.8 Such an interpretation is exactly the opposite of what Paul stated. The whole thrust of the passage is that a person is saved by faith alone and not by human effort, such as legalism. Paul urges these Gentile converts to understand that they are in danger of losing their reward if they seek to be sanctified in any way outside of faith in Christ, whether it be legalism (verse 16) or other fleshly practices, such as asceticism and mysticism (verses 18–23).”
Me: I’d say the verse works either way. If we are not to judge those who have not yet developed a desire to keep God’s Torah, why in the world would we think it’s okay to judge those who have? It doesn’t say let no man judge you for not keeping Torah, and it doesn’t say let no man judge you for keeping it. It says “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath” (Colossians 2:16). Mr. Chaffey, why are you passing judgment on me? Calling my practices (my obedience to the Word of God) dangerous? We are not in danger of losing our reward because we are not making an effort to save ourselves. However, let me make an effort to explain why those in the HRM flip this verse on its head, and why I believe they are justified in doing so. A cursory reading of Colossians (go ahead, read it; it’s a short book) will show you exactly why. Those in Colossae had been practicing abnegation (self-denial), neglecting their bodies and abstaining from any kind of fleshly pleasures in an effort to gain spirituality: “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh” (Colossians 2:19-23). So when some of the new believers began to have a desire to please the Father and keep His sabbaths and His feast days (which, let’s not forget, are still legitimate object lessons concerning things to come), they were most likely receiving backlash from all sides. From their own people, the Gentiles in Colossae, who most likely believed that God’s party days were sent from the very depths of hell itself, and also from Jews, who were probably jealous that the Gentiles felt eligible to keep what they considered to be their sabbaths and their feast days.
Let me take this opportunity to chase a couple of rabbits: Remember how the Gentiles are going to provoke the Jews to jealousy? “I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy” (Romans 11:11). Right now the Jews are in denial. They know that they are God’s chosen people, and they can’t see that there’s room for the Gentiles that wish to join themselves to God’s original covenant (although they have no problems with Gentiles joining rabbinical Judaism as we know it today).There are millions of Gentiles all over the world that have accepted the salvation made possible through Christ. However, until our faith has obedience to back it up, our salvation will remain invisible to the Jews.
Remember that faith without works is dead? (Read James; it’s a short book.) There is no way to prove you have faith without also having works. Others will know that we are God’s people by our love, but they will only recognize our love through our works. There is no way to prove you love God or the brethren by sitting at home or in a pew and having nice thoughts toward one another. You cannot actively love without actively engaging in loving works. So the question then becomes: how do we love each other? The Law tells us how to love God and how to love our neighbor as ourselves. The entire Law hangs on these two commandments and clarifies them, so that we’ll know how to love our Creator and our fellow man. If we don’t keep the Law, then we will forget how to love each other: “And because iniquity (lawlessness) shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12). If you didn’t know that iniquity means lawlessness, then you should read through the New Testament again, taking this information into consideration. It really helps to clarify a few things.
My theory is that the Jews will know that salvation has come to the Gentiles when they observe three things happening. First, they will observe that we serve their God and keep His commandments out of desire, and not out of mere tradition or ritual (this is God’s definition of the new covenant given through Jeremiah in chapter 31, verse 33). Second, they will be jealous when they see us reaping the direct blessings of obedience (read Deuteronomy if you don’t know what I’m talking about). Third, they will see a mass influx of Israel and believing Gentiles (adopted Israel) returning to the land of the covenant: “Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. The Lord God, which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him” (Isaiah 56:6-8).
Unfortunately, we aren’t seeing much of any of those things, not yet. However, as the HRM increases worldwide, the blessings on the obedient will become more and more obvious to the outside world and to the Jews. “And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” (Deuteronomy 4:8).