Charles and Norma Ellis
1And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
2And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
3And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
4As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
5Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
6And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
7And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
8And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
9And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
10This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.
11And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
12And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.
13He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
14And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
When God made formal agreement or covenant with Abraham to be his God and the God of his children after him, He gave a sign to mark them off from the world. That sign was circumcision. Adults entering into covenant with God were to receive this sign. And male children born into their families were to receive it likewise, because God was including them in His covenant (17:9-14).
As time went on it became clear that not all who had received this sign were demonstrating obedience to God which would show that they were His children. To these God said, 'Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked' (Deuteronomy 10:16). He had to call them to repentance and-"often through experiences of captivity or calamity-" draw them back into fellowship with Himself.
God has given us today the sign of baptism which both adults who believe and their children are to receive, a sign involving not blood (since the shedding of the blood of the Perfect Sacrifice was accomplished at Calvary) but water (the cleansing by God's Word and Spirit). We are people set apart within God's covenant, and baptism is the God-given outward sign of that distinction.
Is it not the same today as it was before Christ? Those who are bearing the outward sign of inclusion within God's family do not always show evidence of baptism into the death of Christ, with the newness of life that should follow. They often need to be called to repentance and new obedience. Sometimes God has to use gracious severity with us, too, to bring us back to Himself.
How is it with us? And with our children?
We are happy to have obtained permission to post as our current daily devotional Heirs Together of Life: Daily Bible Reading for Husbands and Wives, published by The Banner of Truth Trust. Don't be misled by the subtitle. As the book's "Preface" indicates (see below), although Heirs Together of Life is "especially prepared for couples,"the authors declare, "Since the basis for this guide is God's Word, we believe it would have value for any reader."
Charles and Norma Ellis are husband and wife and the authors not only of Heirs Together of Life (which was first published in 1980 and continues in print today), but also of Wells of Salvation (first published in 1985, and likewise still in print today). The latter contains a series of short studies covering the entire book of Isaiah, while the former contains a series of almost 200 short studies covering the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Both books by the Ellises can be ordered from the publisher, The Banner of Truth Trust. We trust that these daily Bible readings, posted daily on our site, will be helpful to you in your Christian walk before God. Whether married or not, all of us are members of families and members of the family of God.
Charles Ellis was educated at Wheaton College and Westminster Theological Seminary. Upon graduation from Westminster (where he earned not only a Th.B. but also a Th.M.), he was ordained to the ministry in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and pastored a number of OPC churches, including Immanuel OPC in West Collingswood, New Jersey; First OPC in Cincinnati, Ohio; Covenant OPC in East Orange, New Jersey; Knox OPC in Silver Spring, Maryland; and Lakeview OPC in Rockport, Maine. Less biographical information is available about his wife, but it is known that they served as parents of seven children. After retiring from the ministry, Charles Ellis went to be with the Lord in 2003, but he and his wife left us with a beautiful legacy in the two books they have given to the world, and we are proud to share the daily Bible readings from Heirs Together of Life here with you.
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