Sunday, 12 January 2014
“…and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written:
‘For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles,
And sing to Your name.”‘ Romans 15:9
In the previous verse, Paul showed that “Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers.” But now, he will demonstrate that even the Old Testament, which was predominantly directed to “the circumcision,” also showed that Christ would come to be glorified among the Gentiles as well. He begins by quoting a portion of David’s writings. The quote is actually found in both 2 Samuel 22:50 and Psalm 18:49. Paul amends it for the purpose of explaining the gospel. The original is recorded as –
“Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name.”
Romans 15:8 & 9 are actually one unified thought which have been divided into two verses. By linking them together as he did, Paul is showing that Jesus is God’s truthful fulfillment of the Old Testament to the circumcision as well as the merciful embracer of the gentiles apart from the law in the New Testament. In this then, praises should flow to God through Christ from the Jew for His fulfillment of their law and praises should likewise flow from the Gentiles for His grace upon them apart from the law. There should be a harmonious chord of rejoicing that both Jew and Gentile are saved by the work of Christ and freed from the constraints of the law. Both can now participate in the covenant community by faith in His work alone without reverting to that which He has fulfilled.
It is evident that what God did in Christ completed two different actions – one towards Jew and one towards Gentile, but it doesn’t result in doing two different things. Rather, it results in one gospel. This is why Paul said in Romans 10:12, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.”
The intent of God’s work in Christ was not a resulting Jewish community of believers who would continue to failingly adhere to the Law of Moses and a separate Gentile community who would be granted heaven’s access completely apart from the law. Rather, the work of God in Christ is the fulfillment of the law for both Jew and Gentile. And so the Jew is told to not remain under the burden of the law, but to rest in the work of Christ alone. In Hebrews 13:12, 13 the Jew is thus instructed –
“Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.”
There can be no “one foot in the law and one foot in Christ.” It is all Christ or it is no Christ, for Jew and for Gentile. As obvious as Paul’s writings are, many fail to see and receive the pure gospel which is the work of Christ on behalf of all. The re-imposition of the law on Jew, or the imposition of the law upon Gentile, can only lead to condemnation. There is no longer a sacrifice from the law which is acceptable because Christ is the end of the law for all who believe.
Life application: It has become popular in many circles today to place the stress back on the law as a necessary part of one’s Christian walk. This is particularly so in many Messianic communities. But this is not the truth of God in Christ. Christ is our rest and in Him alone can we rest. Do not be led astray by those whose terminology twists the purity of the gospel of Christ.
O God, today I want to reaffirm the principle tenets of my faith: I stand on the Bible alone as the word of God and no other teaching or church tradition is necessary to my faith; I stand by faith alone in the work of Christ with nothing added to it for my justification; the grace of Christ is my only plea before You, my hands are empty and I will boast in nothing but the cross of Christ; my hope is in nothing more and nothing less than the work of Jesus Christ. Thank You, O God, for the all-encompassing and all-sufficient work of Jesus. Amen.