As Christ Has Received You
7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. 8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: 9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. 10 And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. 11 And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. 12 And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. 13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
Receive Others as Christ Received You (v. 7)
The love and grace of Jesus Christ forever settles the way fellow-believers should treat one another. O glorious reception – Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Mediator of the covenant – has received us! We were his enemies, but he died for us. We deserved everlasting hell, but he shed his life-blood for us. Our salvation cost him sorrow, agony, and horror that we cannot conceive, but he considered no price too high to reconcile us to God. Before such love, we must receive and cherish one another. He prayed for us to be unified and sanctified in the truth (John 17:17,21). He prayed that he we might behold his glory (v. 24). We cannot glorify God with one mouth and mind unless we live in peace and fellowship with one another, love patiently, and readily forgive as we have been forgiven. Has Jesus Christ been so kind to us only for us to be unkind to those for whom he laid down his life? The thought is revolting. The reality among those who profess to look with awe and adoration upon the suffering Savior is even more revolting.
And why did God in Christ receive such vile men and women into his favor and fellowship, raising us from the dunghill of sin and death to be kings and queens with our Savior? It was certainly not so that we would divide into parties and limit whom we receive based upon their total agreement with us on secondary matters. There may not be any tears in heaven, but there will likely be much intense reconciling with those whom we treated badly on earth. As this paragraph makes clear, God has graciously received us so that we may glorify him. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). There would be far less time for bickering and cliques if we devoted our time to praising God for his mercy, learning his truth with humility, and falling all over ourselves looking for ways to serve those whose feet Jesus Christ did not hesitate to wash! When was the last time you praised God for his mercy; truly lauded him, sang his praises for his saving grace and love to you? Each time we think about God’s receiving mercy, our hearts and lips must overflow with praise and adoration to him. His glory, not our foibles, scruples, and differences, must be on our tongues. One reason there is not as much visible unity among professing believers is because there is too little glorifying of God for his receiving of us through Jesus Christ.
He Received the Jews by becoming a Servant (v. 8)
The glorying should begin and be loudest among the Jews, for they were God’s first work of receiving. He looked upon that idolatrous folk with a merciful eye. He made numerous promises to their fathers and sent his Son to be “the minister of circumcision” to confirm those promises. This phrase teaches us, first, that the ultimate goal of the “covenants of promise” (Eph. 2:11) was salvation from sin through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He is the fulfillment of the covenant of circumcision. The old covenant must be read through this lens, or it is read wrongly. It was not about the Jews’ permanent possession of Palestine, or earthly blessings, or a coming Jewish millennium, as misguided souls have affirmed. That covenant was about Jesus Christ (Luke 24:27,44). He alone gives the heart cleansing to which circumcision pointed. “Minister of circumcision” also teaches us how low the Son of God humbled himself. He became the servant of the very people who killed his prophets, spurned his law, and broke his covenant again and again. Men are treacherous, but God is faithful. Men are liars, but God is true.
The Jewish people should take the lead in glorifying God, for he has kept his word to them. One day, the Holy Spirit has told us, they will glorify him. Until then, we must not be led astray by the Jewish fables that have infected many parts of the church: that the Jews are in covenant with God apart from faith in Jesus Christ; that they are God’s “special” people even in their state of apostasy; that the church should politically support Jewish statehood in Palestine, which is a farce, for the promises God made to Abraham belong to Abraham’s seed, who is Christ (Gal. 3:16). His promises do not belong to covenant breakers. We do not help but harm the Jews when we encourage them in these grievous errors. Jesus Christ alone is the heir of the covenant and the Savior of sinners. Faith in him alone gives men the right to claim any favor from God. Apart from him, there is nothing but spiritual death, alienation from God, blindness, and judgment. But what a mighty shout will rise to heaven when the Jews are recovered from their living death and brought to confess that the One whom they rejected and crucified is their only Savior! When they confess that Jesus is Lord! Let us pray and labor for that day. As long, however, as the Jews claim some exceptionalism in God’s purposes apart from faith in Jesus Christ, they will remain under the wrath of God. Let them, with us, be humbled by the condescension of God our Savior, that though he “came unto his own and his own received them not,” he will one day receive them back to the glory of God.
He Received the Gentiles According to God’s Promise (v. 9)
Until that glorious day, the Gentiles must keep unending rounds of praise ascending to God. Though aliens from the covenants of promise, we were included in God’s original saving purposes. No promises were made specifically to us in those darks days of idolatry, but prophecies were made about us. Here begins a citation of four of those prophecies, truths now confirmed by the coming of Jesus Christ into the world and the spread of his gospel through the formerly blind Gentile nations. The first is from Psalm 18:49, where David, speaking as a type of Christ, for David never gave such a confession to the Gentiles, says that the Messiah will confess God and his truth to the Gentiles. He will sing praise unto God’s name among the Gentiles. The happy result, as we have seen and are seeing, is that the Gentiles will glorify God for his mercy. Are we? In this context, the citation is more than a general directive to praise God for his mercy, though we must. As the Gentiles praise God for his mercy, there will be far less bickering among us, far less separating over differences of ritual or secondary principles that do not touch closely upon the gospel. What will mark the Gentiles is praise to God. We shall be humbled by God’s mercy to us and devote ourselves to his service. Do the Jews hear us praising God for his mercy? Unless they do, how will they ever be provoked to jealousy and repentance (Rom. 11:11,14)?
Glory! Rejoice! Praise! (vv. 9-12)
God’s purpose in bringing the Gentiles to salvation is to magnify his mercy. Again I ask, are we? Does each day begin with praise to God for his mercy? Throughout each day, do we celebrate his mercy, rejoice in the forgiveness of sins, and bless him for helping us? Each evening, do we praise him with his people? Is our Lord’s Day worship marked by hearty praise to God for his mercy? It was prophesied that we would praise God. Moses spoke the words of v. 10 in Deuteronomy 32:43. David spoke v. 11 in Psalm 117:1, that short little celebration of God’s mercy and truth. Astounding would be our transformation if we would but imbibe those two brief verses! His sworn love is worthy of our constant adoration. His enduring truth has saved us. He has sent his Son into the world to join us to God’s ancient people into one praising body, one glorious, beautiful church, without spot or blemish. Jesus Christ has come to confirm the promises made to the fathers. He has sent his apostles to us. By his Spirit, he sings praise to God in his church (Heb. 2:12). What! The Son of God was crucified in our flesh to bring us, the dregs of humanity, into the fold of God? It is one thing for him to “come unto his own,” but we were not his own. We were alienated from the life of God, cut off from the covenants of promise, without God, and without hope. If the Jews had nothing to commend them to God’s mercy, we had less than nothing. What else can we do but praise God? We should want to do little else but bless his name, serve his name, and speak to others of his name. The more we love the gospel of grace, the more we “look upon him who was pierced” for our transgressions, the more we shall praise God. Praising him, we shall be humbled. Humbled, we shall receive others with kind and loving hearts.
As if this were not enough to set us to praising God, he brings forward a fourth prophecy, one spoken by the prophet Isaiah (11:10). That wonderful servant of God foretold that the root of Jesse would rise to reign over the Gentiles. Paul here cites almost verbatim from the Septuagint, which changes slightly the wording of the Hebrew, but more by Spirit-guided clarification than alteration. He is the “ensign” or standard that has been raised: a standard announcing the great and dreadful day of the Lord, the day of salvation, the opening of the kingdom of God to the Gentiles. Each time the gospel is preached, the standard of the Lord is raised against our sin. The gospel trumpet is blown, and we are called to stream into the wide-open, gospel gates of heaven. We enter by trusting the Lamb of God. We enter by submitting to his reign over us. It was prophesied that we would believe and enter, that we would rally around him, that as soon as we hear of him, we should submit ourselves to him (Ps. 18:44). This hope sustained his tormented soul as he hung on the cross. He knew what his death would mean for us, for the world: our liberation from sin; our deliverance from man’s tyrannies and submission to him as the Prince of Peace, YAHWEH OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
What shall we say to these things? Glory to God! Rejoice! Praise, laud, and honor to God and to the Lamb! Whatever else the gospel may accomplish in history, however many institutions may be brought under its glorious sway, however much darkness the Light of the World is destined to scatter by the bright beams of his rising, there is one certain effect of his coming to confirm the promises made to the fathers. We shall praise God. We must praise God. He died and rose again so that we would praise God. Praising God is the remedy for our pettiness, our narrowness, our clannishness. Praising God warms the heart, illumines the mind, and sets the will toward loving God and loving his people. This is the great destiny of the gospel, of God’s promises, of his purposes for creating man and redeeming sinners. Think of this often, child of God. With so many other concerns pressing upon us, needs and fears, hopes and dreams, are we fulfilling this hope of so many prophesies, this dearest wish of our Savior as he suffered for us on the cross? That we would praise and glorify God for his mercy? It is no wonder that we often fight and devour one another, for we are not praising God with one another. We do not worship with fear and awe. We do not listen to God’s preached word with wonder, that very word upon which our Savior fed in his darkest hours in the wilderness and when struck down for our transgressions. Praising God means a God-centered, God-thinking, God-loving, God-consumed life. It means that we think not first of our problems but of God’s grace. It means that we think not first of how much others have disappointed us but how the Holy and Just God has saved us, struck down his Son for us, worked in untold details and seemingly happenstance occurrences for six millennia so that we could be privileged to praise him for his mercy, now, this morning, tomorrow, all our days, in heaven before his throne forever. As we near the conclusion of the entire letter, should not our hearts be stunned and stung that it ends on a note of praise? Why would the HIGH AND HOLY ONE want us to praise him? He is wonderful. He is life. Fellowship with him is heaven. To know him is to have eternal life. Do you? Do you praise him? Do you glorify him for his mercy to you through Jesus Christ? Are you joining with his people to praise God? Learning to sing better, or at least more warmly? Our God sings over us (Zeph. 3:17), and our Savior sings with us. If we know mercy, we shall sing back to him.
A Closing Prayer of Hope (v. 13)
The God of hope has come to us! We had no hope, but he has become our God. He is the God for whom nothing shall be impossible. When we trust and praise him, he fills us with glorious hope. He saves us through his Son to “fill us with all joy and peace in believing.” Joy and peace are the fruit of trusting his gospel mercy. Paul prays that the Roman believers will know more of this joy and peace; we must also pray for these gospel fruits. They add much to God’s praise. Will sad servants praise him? Magnify his grace to the world of hopeless men? The Philippian jailer was led to seek salvation through the praises of Paul and Silas, while they were bruised and bleeding. Is not the world in desperate need of men who sing and praise God for his mercy? Who are at peace with life, in pain, with others because they know the Christ of peace? We shall possess more of these blessings as we believe the gospel, praise God for his mercy, and rejoice in his goodness to us.
The God of hope wants us to abound in hope. Hope is confidence in God’s love and mercy, his intent to bless and to do us good. Our hope is built upon God’s faithfulness to his promises. He always keeps them: “there has not failed one word of all his good promise” (1 Kings 8:56). Life’s struggles, our sins, and the attacks of wicked men tend to obscure the hope of the gospel. Men let us down, and we let ourselves down. Even among the godliest, as we see in Job, afflictions sometimes attack our hope with such vehemence that it seems impossible that we shall endure them. Who is God? The God of hope. We have his promises. Jesus Christ has sealed them with his precious blood. We must sing while we are struggling, rejoice in God’s mercy even while bearing the cross. We may do this because God has given us the Spirit as a down-payment of heaven. He is constantly working in us, sanctifying us, making us to feel the glory of our redemption. If we would have more hope, and thus praise God with greater joy and zeal, we must be where the Spirit is: in his word of truth; in the fellowship of the saints; before the throne of grace, burning as seven lamps of hope that cannot be quenched.
Do not, child of God, receive such grace in vain (2 Cor. 6:1). Make use of it. Think often of the gospel, of Christ crucified, raised, reigning, and interceding. Bring yourself often to the throne of grace and remember who you are in Jesus Christ: raised and reigning with him, a favorite of heaven, an heir of everlasting life. These will rekindle your hope. The God of hope will rekindle your hope. One cannot know and trust him without being hopeful of his help, his presence, and his heaven. He has done great things for us. He has many great things yet to accomplish, for he intends to set the whole world praising him for his mercy. Let us set our hope upon that certainty, live praying for his glory to fill the earth, and singing of mercy and of justice. Righteousness and peace met and kissed at the cross. Our Savior has kissed us. Praise him! Rejoice in his love! Glorify the God of our salvation!